Over at comic book resources, we've had Jimmy Robinson write a post entitled Are You Helping Comics? that seems to be generating a little bit of controversy partly for the irony of someone who has a What If: Wolverine coming out calling for the health of indie comics, and partly its rather rambling nature.
I'm resigned to the fact that Jimmy is probably muckraking a little bit, or a lot, and not in the good Man-Thing kind of way. Because while Jimmy is preaching to the converted, the national press is reporting that Dave Cockrum died in his Superman pajamas, as opposed to focusing on his being a pivotal force in the genesis of the modern superhero phenomenon known as the X-Men.
Should we be working harder to introduce people to comics and to educate them that comics are not all Archie or Superman but Maus and Jimmy Corrigan and Sandman and Vertigo? I think that the national press has actually done a lot of that over the last 20 years (Despite it "POW ZAP BAM" failings everytime a headline is to be written). Its the fallout from Dark Knight and Watchmen finally hitting ground level. The question really is: now that they have the idea that different works exist, how do we get them to read them? How do we keep them coming back?
The manga books seem to have very little problem with this, and in fact their marketing strategy has been pretty smart from the very beginning. They have outfoxed the American comic publishers at most every turn over the last couple years, which has been both funny and disheartening to watch.
How do we get them to keep coming back? Months ago I put together a post that spotlighted a Paul Levitz interview where he talks about DC's old efforts to break out of the format that constrained comics in the USA for so long. I keep revisiting that in my head, as well as all the variable sizes and printing options that are out there, wanting to see what sort of book would sell to an adult. I'm convinced that it has to be a correct combination of art, story and packaging to get adults to finally break down and buy the work.
Am I helping comics? You bet, I'm trying pretty darn hard.
Jimmy, by writing a What If?, what are YOU doing that is helping?