By Darryl Ayo
Things that don’t make sense in North American comics: 1) comics that exist after their creators have ceased to. 2) these comics’ existence continues despite minimal effort to applicable to contemporary culture. Things that make perfect sense in North American comics: people’s general lack of interest in comics.
It’s no coincidence, people. A resounding success in comic books is a hundred thousand units sold. A thunderous applause in comic strips is merely getting a new strip into the door. In rap music, bragging about either of these things would get you laughed out of the industry. The bar for success in comics needs to be set much higher and it should be enforced by those of you who operate under the pretense of bettering comics. Slowly, but surely, we will not find ourselves needing to boast about terrible sales or projects that merely get optioned.
I know that a lot of you do not believe me and have long accepted the current climate (past thirty years) of comics to be normal and expected. To that I tell you that your opinion is wrong. Comics are popular with people, but they’re held back by a self-defeating industry.
1) write better stuff: Easier said than done, right? Well, you’re a professional writer, you don’t get to complain. Stop being terrible. The people in item number three below will help you with that.
2) draw better stuff: This is a graphic medium; this is visual culture. There is no excuse for some of the stuff that comes across my field of vision these days. Stop trying to copy Peanuts, simplicity is only for real bosses.
3) edit more; edit smarter: Seriously people. Tell these cartoonists and writers when they’re off their game, when they’re messing up, when they’re doing right. I feel like a lot of comics are edited with a rubber stamp. “Welp; that sure is a comic.” :stamps “APPROVED” on the object:
4) marketing matters: Lots of people don’t think that comics are a real thing because comics aren’t marketed outside of venues in which they’re already sold. I don’t need to know if you can convince some guy who likes Green Lantern to buy a Batman comic. Heck, I don’t particularly care if you can convince a Green Lantern fan to buy a Gary Panter book. A person who buys superhero comics is a lot more likely to read another kind of comic than a person who has no exposure to the medium at all.
5) criticism matters: But critics, please try to avoid becoming the unpaid PR arm of another company. Just read comics and write down what you think of them.
6) readers have power: Vote with your dollars. Vote early and vote often. In the case of comic strips, which come as a feature of a larger product, let your voice be heard with letters addressed to editors. It’s one of the few ways in which the editors will know what it is that their audiences are specifically responding to.