Saturday, November 08, 2008

What I hate about comics

I usually try to follow comics industry news but lately I've checked out. First, it's football season and then in case you didn't hear we had a little election. So, I've spent a lot of time reading about the NFL and the GOP. For a while I was hitting the comics shop on a regular basis but quit when I realized I wasn't buying anything I really wanted.

But really what's got me down reading about comics is that lately there's some things making me sort of angry about comics. Let me vent....

I hate the fact that some big link blogs seem to always pick up on every doodle from certain artists while completely ignoring others. I saw a link today on a well-trafficked site which featured an artists new avatar which was simply a photo turned into a vector drawing (not even by the artist!) which can now be done with one click in Illustrator.

I hate that all it takes to be a "comics industry advocate" is be a female comics reader with a LiveJournal account and sexual trauma they're willing to share in public. It's a little too easy to beat up on comics for being sexist but most of the outrages offered aren't even that outrageous compared to those in the real world and so it's hard for me to take them seriously. When given a chance to be outraged between a rape of a very minor comics character or that real rape victims are charged for the evidence collection kits police use to find their attacker, I think one just seems silly. Especially when much more popular forms of entertainment are even worse in their sexism. I see it as a cheap way to fame and way to insulate one's views from criticism.

I hate the endless cliques that seem to form where it seems that anything that falls outside of a very narrow parameter is seen as being without merit. I like a lot of different styles, genres, artists and I generally just look for what's good without paying attention to whether it's cool enough for the art comix snobs or if it has enough Star Wars reference for the super spandex fan boys.

I hate that there are more great comics now than ever but you can't find them anywhere outside of a few metro area without ordering on-line. I live within an hour of at least 6 comic shops and most don't carry more than 1 or 2 titles each from Fantagraphics, Drawn and Quarterly or Top Shelf and never carry stuff from Alternative, Buenaventura or other boutique publishers. Yet they seem willing to buy numbers of unsold comics from the Big 2.

I hate that some news sites seem to think it's new when an artist is having a fund drive in order to buy a new XBox or pay for their colonoscopy. I'm all in favor of charity but it doesn't seem to be applied evenly. Also, I'm practically a socialist but even I understand that private health insurance is available and if you are low income there may be programs like Medicaid that are available. Let's keep the charity for the people who need it.

I hate that many popular comics figures aren't even all that good. Mediocre work is championed because someone lives in New York and has lots of important friends they go drinking with on weekends. While there will always be the gadflies and socialites in any scene, comics seems overwhelmed by networkers who are famous (in comics, anyway) for being famous and haven't really done work of any significance. As long as you have the right friends you can get your foot in the door. This opens the door to many bad artists feeling their work would be more popular were it not for a conspiracy against them. Things would be better if comics were a meritocracy. Being a fun guy to hang with after a convention at the bar should get you friends, not a contract worth 6 figures.

I hate that monthly, serialized comics don't do a good job of giving you value for your money, a self-contained story that can be read on a one-off basis or even a recap so people who can't remember every little detail from something they read a month ago or don't buy every single issue can get up to speed. If comics people can't figure out to make a distinct unit of entertainment them maybe the monthly comic should just die already.

I hate that most comic artists can't draw ears to save their lives. Even the great manga artists seem to not understand the very simple structure of the human ear. Some things are hard to draw but ears are not. I know not everyone is aces with anatomy but most artists don't even try to draw ears correctly.

These are some of the things bugging me about comics lately. I know I can't change them and bitching about them will only get me accused of being jealous I'm not more successful than I am but I still had to do it anyway. I know my attitude is bad but sometimes somebody needs to give the comics industry a kick in the pants.