I do not hate super-hero comics...

posted October 4, 2002 by Jer


I do not hate superhero comics. I like them in the same way I like, say, cheeseburgers. I usually seek out comics that challenge me intellectually, like Art Spiegelman's Maus: A Survivors Tale or Joe Sacco's Safe Area Gorazde: The War in Eastern Bosnia, but every once in a while I'll shut my brain off and enjoy a classic battle between good and evil.

There are some really well written stories in the superhero genre. The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller and The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb (both Batman stories) are two delightful examples. The problem is that too many comic authors and readers decided that superhero stories were the only purpose for comics. The result is 507 Stan Lee comic spin-offs with an "X" in the title. Fortunately, with a little help from Scott McCloud and the country of Japan, Americans are starting to see that there is more to comics then capes and spandex.

This is also why I'm such an active supporter of online and indie comics. What really moves me about online comics is the sense of community among the artists. I watch how clans build around certain related comics, and watch as these clans intermingle. It puts me in mind of pre-civilization tribal politics. Where once tribal artists would come from afar to paint their visions on the wall of a sacred cave, the internet now offers an endless wall upon which the truly creative can tell their stories to all who will listen.

There's nothing wrong with superhero comics, just as there's also nothing wrong with cheeseburgers. Keep in mind, though, that there's much more to comics then metahumans who shoot lasers out of their eyes. Comics can be funny, moving, powerful, or just plain fun. In fact, I expect that as television and cinema become more and more processed and corporate, independent comics will blossom like never before as people seek out stories worth reading.

The next time you're at the book store, take a look at the graphic novel section. If something catches your eye, read it.

You'll have fun, I promise.