On comics

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I read two things today about “comic books” that seemed to be saying separate and contradictory things. And I found myself agreeing with both of them.

Here are the two items:

Superheroes a ‘cultural catastrophe’, says comics guru Alan Moore

and

It’s hard to speak about these things in public, so he drew this instead

Take a couple of minutes and skim them. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

I have some real sympathy for Alan Moore’s position. Comics can be such an expressive medium, it’s sad that (American) comics are predominately focused on superheroes. Such fare is too often dumbed down to adolescent power fantasies and highlights the message that there is no problem so large you can’t punch your way out of it.

But to say that is all there is to be found in superhero comics is too simplistic, almost as two-dimensional as the medium itself.

The genre is also capable of speaking to people who feel powerless, and offering them hope. It can offer the example of someone who fights on in the face of hopeless odds. It can offer moral lessons about helping those people who have less than you, and trying to make the world a better place. And it can offer comfort and hope to people who may feel like they haven’t a friend in the world. And those are the aspects of the genre that Dean Trippe addresses in his piece.

Frankly, Moore’s piece comes off sounding angry, bitter and cynical, while Trippe’s is sad, wistful, and finally just a bit optimistic. I know which essay will echo in my head longer.

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