Wayne Rutherford's picture
Wayne Rutherford from Columbus, Ohio is reading NOS4A2 May 29, 2012 - 2:42pm

I'm sorry if this is a repeat topic as I'm still reletively new to the community.

What place do comic books/graphic novels hold at the literary table? Should they get more credit than they currently do or are they, merely, child's toys that should be put away with adulthood?

ReneeAPickup's picture
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ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading A truckload of books May 29, 2012 - 3:53pm

I am of the belief that most stories can be told in many mediums, and some stories have only one where they will shine. When I think of Maus or The Watchmen, I can't imagine them working in any other format (and the amount that The Watchmen movie had to leave out, I think proves that, to a point). So...The Watchmen is a superhero story of sorts, so maybe one could argue that superheroes are better left to children (I disagree, but one could), but Maus? A father and son taking one last chance to connect? An account of the Holocaust? Not childish at all. The graphic novel format added so much to that story that I can't imagine being represented any other way.

I'm not a huge graphic novel/comic book reader, but I definitely think they have their place and can be the right medium for really powerful stories.

JEFFREY GRANT BARR's picture
JEFFREY GRANT BARR from Central OR is reading Nothing but fucking Shakespeare, for the rest of my life May 29, 2012 - 4:03pm

What a boring, flamebait question. On the same subject, should subtitled movies be considered literature? They have pictures and words! What about cereal boxes? Ad copy? Fortune cookies?

Short answer: Who the fuck cares? Enjoy it or don't; what difference would it make to you?

Wayne Rutherford's picture
Wayne Rutherford from Columbus, Ohio is reading NOS4A2 May 29, 2012 - 4:13pm

I was just wondering because I've seen them glossed over, at best, and, more commonly, completely dismissed. I think it's such a shame because there are some wonderful things to be found within the pages that people have such a stigma about. Books other than Maus and Watchmen, which are both classics.

JEFFREY GRANT BARR's picture
JEFFREY GRANT BARR from Central OR is reading Nothing but fucking Shakespeare, for the rest of my life May 29, 2012 - 4:19pm

When you say you've 'seen them glossed over' or 'completely dismissed', you mean that's your interpretation of other's opinion. There is no answer to this question. Someone else's opinion should never interfere with your enjoyment or preference. 

Ok, so, something something flame flame - Macs vs. PCs, go!

Fylh's picture
Fylh from from from is reading is from is reading is reading is reading reading is reading May 29, 2012 - 4:44pm

Jesus, man, chill out.

Jack Campbell Jr.'s picture
Jack Campbell Jr. from Lawrence, KS is reading American Rust by Phillipp Meyer May 29, 2012 - 4:44pm

Watchmen was 97 on Time Magazine's 100 Greatest Novels of All-Time. I wish people would dismiss me that much.

GaryP's picture
GaryP from Denver is reading a bit of this and that May 29, 2012 - 4:46pm

I can't stand my Mac. Okay, that's not completely true, but it taunts me. 

I grew up on comics and still read them in trade format. And I still enjoy them. But I don't expect them to be as deep and "literate" as prose. Like spaghetti-os. I really like 'em, but I don't for a moment believe they're fine cuisine. 

JEFFREY GRANT BARR's picture
JEFFREY GRANT BARR from Central OR is reading Nothing but fucking Shakespeare, for the rest of my life May 29, 2012 - 4:48pm

I won't rest until Hentai's gravitas is given equal billing as Pynchon!

Wayne Rutherford's picture
Wayne Rutherford from Columbus, Ohio is reading NOS4A2 May 29, 2012 - 4:58pm

Ok, I'm sorry I posted this. Let's just close the topic and not bring it up again.

Fylh's picture
Fylh from from from is reading is from is reading is reading is reading reading is reading May 29, 2012 - 5:04pm

No, don't be sorry. Don't let the overzealous win.

JEFFREY GRANT BARR's picture
JEFFREY GRANT BARR from Central OR is reading Nothing but fucking Shakespeare, for the rest of my life May 29, 2012 - 5:07pm

No, let us win! 

Do you see how letting other people's opinion influence you kills all the fun you could be having? Stand up for your Life with Archie collection and tell the morons (i.e. me) to fuck off!

Wayne Rutherford's picture
Wayne Rutherford from Columbus, Ohio is reading NOS4A2 May 29, 2012 - 5:22pm

It wont stop me from reading and collecting. I just dont care to talk about it, anymore. If I couldve deleted this post I would have already.

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading A truckload of books May 29, 2012 - 5:34pm

What the hell? I don't even understand attacking the guy--we talk about reading and writing her ALL DAY. So he asked a question about reading--and you flame him while calling the post flame bait? 

Anyway, yes! Many people consider Graphic Novels a lower form of literature, so the question is valid. I don't see what it has to do with film or cereal boxes, at all. 

JEFFREY GRANT BARR's picture
JEFFREY GRANT BARR from Central OR is reading Nothing but fucking Shakespeare, for the rest of my life May 29, 2012 - 5:39pm

Well, it stands to reason that flame bait would attract flames. 

ReneeAPickup's picture
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ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading A truckload of books May 29, 2012 - 5:41pm

Riiiiight.

JEFFREY GRANT BARR's picture
JEFFREY GRANT BARR from Central OR is reading Nothing but fucking Shakespeare, for the rest of my life May 29, 2012 - 5:42pm

Fine. It's not flame bait. It's chocolate cigarette bait.

 

*waits*

Wayne Rutherford's picture
Wayne Rutherford from Columbus, Ohio is reading NOS4A2 May 29, 2012 - 5:45pm
bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. May 29, 2012 - 6:18pm

Yours isn't flamey.  I think that, taken as a whole, The Sandman is the greatest work of literature I've read.  

Batman: Year One is a masterpiece.  I love that book.  Hellboy is great horror.  Spider-Man is great adventure comedy.

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. May 29, 2012 - 6:21pm

I got Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited and have read the hell out of comics for the past 2 months.

Jack Campbell Jr.'s picture
Jack Campbell Jr. from Lawrence, KS is reading American Rust by Phillipp Meyer May 29, 2012 - 6:54pm

When I got Marvel Unlimited, I read something like 150 comics in one month. It was amazing. I am also totally getting the new Sandman set in the slipsleeve.

I don't think there is really anything wrong with this topic, although I think it is about twenty years too late. These days, comic writers are definitely credible. Comics have never been taken as seriously as they are now.

GaryP's picture
GaryP from Denver is reading a bit of this and that May 29, 2012 - 6:56pm

Miller's The Dark Knight Returns. Awesome.

I love that it's easy to go back and re-read a favorite, such as recently re-reading Kingdom Come. I think you could have an argument about comparing the good ones to good short stories, but probably not to full-length novels.

avery of the dead's picture
avery of the dead from Kentucky is reading Cipher Sisters May 29, 2012 - 7:00pm

When I saw this topic posted, I thought of Howie first and hoped he would see it.

Nothing wrong with the topic at all. 

Covewriter's picture
Covewriter from Nashville, Tennessee is reading & Sons May 29, 2012 - 7:31pm

Anything that gets people interested in stories and words is positive. I don't think graffiti is usually great art, but sometimes it is inspiring.

So many literary people I know were giving Hunger Games a hard time, saying they would never read it..so of course I didn't read it either. But my younger friends all read it and loved it and couldn't wait to tell me about it. I saw the movie and it was great. My Mom compaired it to the days of the Romans! It got peope reading who might not otherwise enjoy novels, and a lot of people saw merit in the trilogy. So who is anybody to judge? I personally don't read comic books or graphic novels because I never really have, but Maus was pretty dramatic -- got a lot of kids interested in learning about the Holocaust. And Super hero's came to America at a time when we needed them. So, all art can be positive in its own way.

OtisTheBulldog's picture
OtisTheBulldog from Somerville, MA is reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz May 29, 2012 - 8:02pm

I grew up reading comics, mostly in the late 80s and early 90s. I stopped when I was around 13 and didn't want to be discovered as partaking in a hobby that was obviously not cool (right around Spider-Man's Maximum Carnage story arc, if you want to be nerdy and precise). Since then, I haven't really read any comics, though I did dabble in Marvel Unlimited for a bit.

I have read and re-read some graphic novels. I read most of Preacher (kind of got bored with a few books to go). I reread Batman: Year One. I bought the collections leading up to the recent "death" of Bruce Wayne and the new Batman & Robin (I understand Bruce is back?) I read the first Walking Dead compendium, which is something like 1000 pages (and awesome).

I plan on reading Alan Moore's Swamp Thing run. I know I need read Sandman. I know there's a bunch of other books I should and will read.

Writing is writing is writing, no matter the platform. If you can tell a story, be it short story, novel, song, poem, comics - I'm into it. If it makes me feel something, I'm grateful for the craftsmanship.

Howie - it's good to know you're one of the resident experts at comics. I will probably hit you up in the very near future for some suggestions.

I tried following Spiderman again a couple of years ago (apparently he was no longer married or remembered being married to Mary Jane). But I lost interest (again) and felt that it was more geared towards young adults (obviously) for my tastes.

So I ask - what is a good series to try and follow? There's a really great indie store in my area that i'd love to give more support to. I do kind of miss the soap opera aspect of following a monthly storyline and all that.

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading A truckload of books May 29, 2012 - 8:18pm

Hmmm. I don't know that it is twenty years too late. I think that, while comics and graphic novels are becoming MORE accepted, there is still a general snobbery about the whole thing. 

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. May 29, 2012 - 9:24pm

If you want superhero comic books, then anything by Greg Pak is at the top of my list right now.  I've been reading the backlog of all his work that available on MDCU (Marvel digital comics unlimited).  The Incredible Herc stuff was great (as was Planet Hulk and World War Hulk).

Joss Whedon did a good run on Astonishing X-Men.  

I really like the new Wonder Woman.

Preacher and Sin City are great, of course.  I really liked the first 4 phonebooks of Cerebus (of course, there's a character in there that is basically my spirit guide [Groucho Marx]).

The New Avengers was awesome.  I love Spider-Man and Wolverine together.

One of my all time favorite comic series was The Maxx.  It was deep and crazy and just fantastic.  It had all the smashing of a good comic with the deep core of mental illness that we all love.

Gotham Central is a good series.  I haven't read that many, but the second they go on sale on comixology, I'll end up spending a ton of money (Comixology sale page -  Right now it's a Grant Morrison sale, so that's good.)

I would go with anything written by Brian K. Vaughn, Brian Michael Bendis, Warren Ellis, or Greg Pak.

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. May 29, 2012 - 9:30pm

I started reading a lot because of comic books.  Comic books and Stephen King.

razorsharp's picture
razorsharp from Ohio is reading Atlas Shrugged May 29, 2012 - 10:01pm

I think that, while comics and graphic novels are becoming MORE accepted, there is still a general snobbery about the whole thing.

Comic books never did anything for me. Not even the 'graphic novels' that people tout as some form of higher art. When I worked in a book store I would sometimes flip through them because they could be picked up for a few seconds at a time. I was told that Maus, for example, was a true work of art. I found it juvenile, exploitive, pretentious, and silly.

People always tell me that comics have the potential to match up to great movies and books but no one has ever shown me a comic that lives up to that potential. This leads me to believe that this potential isn't real, or at the very least the conventions of the industry prevent it from being realized. Maybe there just has yet to be that breakthrough artist or maybe I just never cared enough to find out who that is.

Basically, I'm of the opinion that comics as a medium lack the expressiveness of other storytelling mediums. Does this make me a snob? If so, does that make me wrong? I've always found the accusation of snobbery to be a weak argument for anything.

The best comic I've ever read is Pearls Before Swine. It's on the funny pages and it looks like it was drawn by a child. But unlike the super hero stories and mangas and Jewish mouse stories, there's substance to it. I think comics work best for satire. Movies do a better job of potraying action, which is why super hero movies do better than the comics they're based on. Books do a better job of examining non-visual stuff like character and deep themes. Comics are at their best when they're comical. I find the notion of adults taking comic books seriously to be quite bizarre, although it does seem to be pretty common these days.

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. May 29, 2012 - 11:11pm

Does this make me a snob? If so, does that make me wrong?

I can't taste bitter.  One of the five basic tastes doesn't register on my tongue.  I can chew on a grapefruit rind and I don't taste anything.  My mouth goes numb, but no taste.

So not liking comics doesn't make you a snob.  Not enjoying them doesn't make you wrong.  You said that comics don't do anything for you.  That's a perfect way of putting it.

Bitter doesn't do anything for me.

If, on the other hand, you were to say that comic books aren't a valid art form simply because you don't like them... then yes, you would be wrong.  If you were to say that you're better than other people because you like different things than them, then you would be a snob.  I don't think you're saying those things, though.

You just don't find comics to be a rich source of entertainment.  A friend of mine has the exact same opinion of books.  He thinks that everything is said better in a comic book or a movie.

underpurplemoon's picture
underpurplemoon from PDX May 29, 2012 - 11:10pm

Wayne, sometimes it's best to post new discussion topics because you may not be able to find what you're looking for in the "archives"...you have eager people wanting to comment on things.

Laramore Black's picture
Laramore Black from Joplin, Missouri is reading Mario Kart 8 May 30, 2012 - 12:10am

Smells like home in here.

 

Bob Pastorella's picture
Bob Pastorella from Groves, Texas is reading murder books trying to stay hip, I'm thinking of you, and you're out there so Say your prayers, Say your prayers, Say your prayers May 30, 2012 - 7:49am

If it wasn't for comics, I wouldn't have started writing. Well, that's not exactly all true...if it wasn't for comics and Ray Bradbury I wouldn't have started writing is truer. I cut my teeth on Creepy, Eerie, Vampirella, Morbius, Ghost Rider, Blade, Hulk, I could just type names all day long.Those comics lead me to the written word, but I still love the comics. I owe a lot to comics, and at 44 about to be 45 years of age, I have absolutely no problem telling anyone that I love and have loved comics, and will continue to love comics. 

Laramore Black's picture
Laramore Black from Joplin, Missouri is reading Mario Kart 8 May 30, 2012 - 8:17am

Yeah, on a more serious note that is somewhat unrelated to this thread. When I was in fourth grade I began playing a video game called Final Fantasy VII, unlike most video games of today not a single word on that game was spoken and it was made for adults with big fancy words I'd never heard before.

That crap was like three PlayStation discs long and took like 60-120 hours to beat, even longer when I was a child because I would have to look things up in a dictionary to make sure I wasn't missing any valuable information in the dialogue of the damn game. In fifth grade I was tested for enrichment classes and had a college sophomore reading level. I also began writing short stories based on video games and big dumb wrestlers. That was later ruined with my discovery of drugs and the beauty of female organs.

BUT, I'm back on track now in college and reading big fancy books with big majestic words.

Needless to say I can see why anyone has found their way here from comics and the like.

ReneeAPickup's picture
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ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading A truckload of books May 30, 2012 - 8:51am

Razorsharp--you can like them or dislike them, that isn't snobbery. I don't like most of them. I do think, however, if you are going to call a well loved book "juvenile, exploitave, pretentious, and silly" that you may have to back that up with something, or risk a few people thinking you're being a little snobby.

And I think the way you brushed off the "higher form of art" thing was questionable as well. They are art, as much as any drawing/painting is art. You may not like it, and truly, you may not like many of the pieces I have in my home from local artists, but that doesn't make the books nor the stuff in my house not art.

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. May 30, 2012 - 9:34am

If you guys have any extra money for kickstarter, here's a great one for getting Cerebus in digital format.  

I swear kickstarter is going to steal all my money 5 bucks at a time.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like May 30, 2012 - 10:13am

comics (and other things) are to Literature as pop is to Music

Which is to say some people don't get it.  For a time, opera was essectially a pop form, a spectacle, but many operas are considered classics.  So will some 20th century pop music be.  So will some comics be.  But you can't really argue that the comic form itself should be exalted because a lot of comics are crap, like a lot of pop music is crap, like a lot of basically anything is crap. 

Whether you actually care what "the establishment" thinks about comics or just like whatever you like is an entirely different matter.

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. May 30, 2012 - 10:18am

But you can't really argue that the comic form itself should be exalted because a lot of comics are crap

I don't get this.  Are you saying that nothing should be exalted because the majority of anything is crap?

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like May 30, 2012 - 10:38am

I'm saying the form itself shouldn't be made into a big deal because the form itself can (and you might say, usually does) produce crap.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like May 30, 2012 - 10:39am

By the "Form Itself" I mean sequential narrative art.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like May 30, 2012 - 10:41am

And what should be exalted, (if anything,) are the best examples of any particular form, (which will always be a matter of debate.)

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated May 30, 2012 - 10:45am

@Razorsharp - Yes, thinking that makes you wrong.

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading A truckload of books May 30, 2012 - 11:04am

J.Y. --but the majority of books are crap, too. And crap is subjective. So, while you can say the form itself shouldn't be exalted because a lot of it is crap--the form itself also shouldn't be looked down on, because it is as crap-filled as any other form.

Laramore Black's picture
Laramore Black from Joplin, Missouri is reading Mario Kart 8 May 30, 2012 - 11:06am

I have seen a lot of crap be good crap while the rest of it was crap.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like May 30, 2012 - 11:28am

@Sparrow  --  I never said the form should be denegrated. 

Another example:  most novels are crap.  It's because the form itself has no inherent value.  There have been people who thought "The Novel" was the highest, most worthy form of narrative art.  I disagree, not because I think other forms are better; I disagree because I don't think creative forms have inherent value.

A story will not necessarily be either improved or diminished by the very act of making it into a novel or comic book or movie; we know this because there are crappy novels, crappy comic books, and crappy movies.  There is no form in which the artist will always "get it right."

Also, crap is not necessarily subjective (but I doubt anyone wants to get into that.)

JEFFREY GRANT BARR's picture
JEFFREY GRANT BARR from Central OR is reading Nothing but fucking Shakespeare, for the rest of my life May 30, 2012 - 11:44am

So, long story short, you all agree with my contention that it matters not one whit whither your tastes lay - some people dig it, some people don't. So, discussion of this non-issue is pure wankery. Thank you for proving my point. 

But, since I like to argue/wank/bullshit as much as the next writer, I'll counter J.Y's take on pop music. Opera was never pop music. Pop music didn't even exist until partway through the 20th century, and refers to something very specific. You're saying it's a moving window that points to whatever happens to be the most widespread--or 'popular' at any given time. Instead, pop music is a construction created to sell music. Mozart was not pop music.

 

avery of the dead's picture
avery of the dead from Kentucky is reading Cipher Sisters May 30, 2012 - 11:56am

@Jeff - you're a charmer.  I can tell.

 

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. May 30, 2012 - 11:58am

Thank you for proving my point.

You have a point?

JEFFREY GRANT BARR's picture
JEFFREY GRANT BARR from Central OR is reading Nothing but fucking Shakespeare, for the rest of my life May 30, 2012 - 12:02pm

@averydoll You ain't just whistling Dixie.

@howie I have a point. It's under my hat.

 

 

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like May 30, 2012 - 12:03pm

pop music is a construction created to sell music

If you only want to discuss the term "pop music" and not all the things which the term can refer to, then you're right.  Pop music, in that sense, is a consumerist phenomenon and didn't exist until the 20th century. 

If you think a recently-coined phrase can refer to things which existed prior to the coining, then you're wrong.  The Anvil Chorus was pop.  Vaudeville was pop.  Scott Joplin was pop.  And so on...

JEFFREY GRANT BARR's picture
JEFFREY GRANT BARR from Central OR is reading Nothing but fucking Shakespeare, for the rest of my life May 30, 2012 - 12:13pm

I enjoy concision. So, if you mention a concept (i.e. Pop music, Vaudeville (which has it's own definition), Opera), but you don't mean the actual thing, then put quotes around to to allude to your wishy-washy classification system. By all means, just call stuff anything. Pants are shirts for your legs, so 'in that sense', shirts are pants and pants are shirts. Call hamburgers Big Macs, why not, everyone knows what you mean. To hell with truth!

Regarding ​consumerist - "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."