Does Comics Culture Have an Inferiority Complex?

WIRED | 7/17/2018 | James McLauchlin
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Here's the truth: Comic book publishing—yes, just the business of selling printed comics—is a billion-dollar industry. This month, 1,194 new comic books and 391 new graphic novels and collections will hit shelves. That's a lot of titles for a single month, and those aren't uncommon numbers. Comics are everywhere; even your grandma knows who Thanos is. If anything, comics are a bigger deal now than they've ever been.

And yet, many people who care about comics seem to live in perpetual fear of the industry's demise.

Matter - Metrics - Evidence - Shows - Things

No matter how many metrics and how much anecdotal evidence shows that things are looking up, there's a persistent undercurrent in comics fandom that seems to want things to go down. Every new storyline is lambasted. ("It's just a gimmick!") Every new publishing initiative is criticized. ("You're disrespecting the real fans!") Every single store closing is met with a strange schadenfreude. ("See? I told you it was all going to ****!") And it's been this way for years.

To quote a well-known comic villain, why so serious? And more to the point, why so sad? Does comics have an inferiority complex?

Joe - Quesada - Officer - Marvel - Comics

"We shouldn't, but sometimes I fear we do," says Joe Quesada, chief creative officer for Marvel Comics. "This kind of doom-and-gloom thinking started with Dr. Fredric Wertham [and his 1954 book, Seduction of the Innocent], which then trickled down into American society in general. For decades, comics were labeled a dumbed-down kids medium. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth."

Back in the 1950s, Wertham's book caused a panic over comics. Parents freaked out that the books were warping children's minds. Eventually publishers, fearing the worst, formed the Comics Code Authority, which for years regulated anything even remotely edgy to within an inch of its life. The industry took a big hit, creatively and financially, and...
(Excerpt) Read more at: WIRED
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