Thursday, February 01, 2007

Damn right they're not... er..funnybooks!

Mike over at Progressive Ruin has this little item up a while ago:

So I was doing a little internet searching, and came across several links to a review of Blood and Chocolate (such as this one), which relates this exchange between two of the lead characters:

"Maybe she's impressed by what Aiden does for a living. 'I write graphic novels.' 'You mean comic books.' 'Noooo. Graphic novels.'"

Are people really uptight about this? I've never noticed in among my customers or my circle of comic-reading friends a tendency toward correcting folks who dare to call graphic novels "comic books," but I've seen or heard this sort of thing referenced in the media before. It's like the new shorthand for establishing someone is a geek..."oh, isn't it cute how he refers to his comic books as 'graphic novels,' like they're real books or something."

I don't know...I call 'em "funnybooks," because I'm a bad person.

Yes, you're a bad person. ; - ) While the rest of us are busting our butts to come up with innovative stuff that adults might want to read, we have 80 years of cultural baggage that we're trying to overcome and its not that easy.

On the other hand, the label "Graphic Novel" has finally taken hold as far as I'm concerned. I was watching the TV and some mainstream show had a reference to a "graphic novel" and no one blinked an eye. Clearly in the years since "A Contract With God" and today, we've made the term acceptable.



James Meeley said...

So, does that mean we should be calling "comic books" something that more fits the term of what they are? Like "graphic serials." They are serialized graphic novels (given how they are writtien today), so wouldn't that be the more "correct" term for them?

Personally, I think it's all a bunch of hogwash. Grahpic novels, sequential storytelling... all of it is just a fancier term for comics. Stay true to what it is.

"A comic by any other name, would still read as good or bad as the writer and artist make it." Not exactly rolling off the tounge, like Shakespeare's version, but the sentiment remains the same. :)

RAB said...

Yeah, "graphic novels" and "comic books" are two different things, the same way "books" and "magazines" are two different things. You may want a different word for "comic books." You may also want a word for the concept both have in common, in the same way both a book and a magazine contain "prose" -- something akin to "graphic stories" though that one seems a bit ungainly.

And "funnybooks" is the equivalent of the N-word -- it's one thing if we say it among ourselves but another if it gets used by outsiders.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to assume you're joking and you don't REALLY think Mike Sterling is a bad person because he uses a term for comic books that you don't care for.

I had a boyfriend who would get upset if I referred to an Ingmar Bergman film as a "movie." I dumped him.

inkdestroyedmybrush said...

Oh yes, I'm joking. Seriously. I don't know mike at all, but I have to assume that hes not a bad person at all. I'll edit and put in a smiley face to hopefully mitigate the potential offense.

The internet sucks for making a joke sometimes. The boyfriend sounds like a jerk. Good thing you dumped him!

Mikester said...

Well, I did declare myself to be a bad person for using the word "funnybook," so I have no room to complain if someone agrees with me! :)

Ragnell said...

RAB, tell me that you didn't just seriously compare general literary snobbery to overt racism.

inkdestroyedmybrush said...

My view is that perception is reality in certain cases. This is why much of owning a demon is based on the idea of knowing its true name: i.e. Names Have Power.

My experience as reading this medium, regardless of printed form, is that there has been a shift in many of the adults over the last 20 years and the comic book is now regarded differently from the graphic novel. It may not be a big difference, but it conveys a certain weight to a piece of work that "comic", a word rooted in the humor vein, cannot convey.

So while I don't think anything different if someone in our chosen circle was to call "A Contract With God" a funnybook, because I would almost expect them to be doing it in an ironic way. Certainly a long time comic fan knows the difference between "A Contract With God" and Omega the Unknown. But the average layman (or laywoman) won't be able to make such a crucial critical distinction, and could use all the help they can get.

My thought is that we've been leading the average person to slowly understand that this medium is capable to much bigger, better and grander things that most have seen. It a separate label helps with that, then I'll make a point of using that label for all its worth.

RAB said...

Ragnell: it never once occurred to me that my comment would be taken as literal or serious, or I would have worded it differently. That said, I'm honestly disappointed that I've earned so little credit or respect from you that you'd assume I'd be so chowderheaded. I know we both spend far too much time butting heads with the humor-impaired, but surely that's all the more reason for us to give one another the benefit of the doubt?

Which, funnily enough, seems to have become the second theme of this comments thread...

James Meeley said...

Rab: If it makes any difference tfor you, I got what you mean. Both the serious part and the humorous one.

Just thought it might help you out in knowing that. ;)