23 June 2010


Oh the comic industry... where did we go wrong?

According to Scott McCloud's Reinventing Comics, there has not been adequate change in recent years to move comics to the next level. McCloud proposes that comics focus on "twelve revolutions" to realize the full potential of comics. These "revolutions" will better the comic industry by achieving what McCloud feels is missing from comics today. The revolutions include comics as literature, comics as art, creator's rights, industry innovation, public perception, institutional scrutiny, gender balance, minority representation, diversity of genre, digital production, digital delivery, and digital comics.

In McCloud's chapter, "Big World: The Battle for Diversity," we are exposed to the idea that comics are only as real as the life experiences of their creators. McCloud claims that since, comic creators are, as a majority, are white upper-class males then the audience they appeal to will mostly be those of the same circumstances. His theory is that by making the industry more diverse, comics therefore will be able to evolve into a more diverse medium and it's audience will also follow suit. Okay. Simple, logical theory, right? Well, execution is another story.

I'll let this slip (as much as I can) for McCloud's sake... But in the process of explaining why gender balance is important, McCloud is guilty of such horrible gender stereotyping (i.e. women are more emotional and capable of expressing this better than men) and refers to comics created by women as "women's comics!" What is that about, Scotty? In the same sense, minorities are classified by McCloud. He calls the attempts of creators to portray a certain minority "just guessing." Although this isn't an unreasonable assumption, his first revolution--comics as literature would imply that creators should have the ability to write in many perspectives, not just those that are familiar to them. There are a million writers who research or put in more effort to portray a culture they are not apart of... and though I agree that every industry should be more diverse, does it mean that comics are doomed if there isn't fair representation throughout? Probably not. The weaknesses in this argument are hard to ignore. McCloud's final thought is regarding genre. McCloud claims that genre is the result of the type (gender/race/religion/sexual orientation/etc) of creator that makes the comic. His main argument is that when considering comics, one of the first (if not the first) thoughts is the infamous superhero comics... Catering to white male audiences and created by white males. And it is a common perception of comics, the superhero comes to mind. I am not saying that is always the case... but in my case, it happens to be. I have very little exposure to comics and believe that there is room to reach out to other audiences through different genres... does that mean that I would enjoy a comic made by a Hispanic, twenty-something woman who grew up in a Christian religious home?... probably not. I find that most writers I enjoy reading are nothing like me, and yet I am able to relate to their work. I can like a painting without needing a connection in economic class. And like other women in America, I resent being categorized in any reference to my economic class, religion, sexual orientation, race, and especially gender.

Shame, McCloud. You fell in the trap and published your own prejudices while trying to reveal those of the industry. But at the same time, you were right... I mean, what does a white upper-class male know about anything but his own?

1 comment:

  1. Not a bad post, Beth. But I'd curious to see a citation for, "McCloud claims that genre is the result of the type (gender/race/religion/sexual orientation/etc) of creator that makes the comic." That seems a little out there for me :-/

    But good job finally inserting some opinion into your blogs ;-)