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The Un-Saving of Comics

| January 4, 2012 | 30 Comments

I’ve been having some ideas about comics lately. I said to myself, hey, I have a forum. Why not get up on my Soapbox and put those thoughts out there?

Welcome to the inauguration of the ComixTribe Soapbox! Here is where we invite you to come in and say your piece about comics. There are a few caveats, though:

If you get up here, you have to put forth at least a single solution to your problem, or at least admit that you don’t know what you would like to see in its place. You also have to be prepared to defend your stance.

The goal is to foster thinking and dialogue about the various aspects of comics, their problems, and possible solutions.

So, with that said, I guess I should go first, huh?

I have a few thoughts. First and foremost, I don’t think that comics needs saving. We’ve all heard the doom and gloom of comics. We’ve been hearing it for years. Then, someone said something I’ve been thinking about for a while, and really just nailed it. It helped to crystallize a lot of thoughts for me.

Comics don’t need to be saved. There are a few things wrong, but that’s because of the changes we’ve had in our industry over the past ten years.

The first thing I believe that needs to happen is that comics needs a name change. Something that isn’t a mouthful, and something still speaks to the essence of what comics is. In North America, whenever we think of comic books, we think of men (and women) in tights, beating up on each other for the slimmest of reasons. This, however, is a relatively recent thing, a natural evolution of what we did to ourselves with the Comics Code Authority.

There aren’t many of us that remember when comics was robust with many genres of stories. Westerns, romance, crime, horror, fantasy, science fiction…and superheroes were just a very small sliver of that. And even before that, they were just strips in newspapers, until they were first collected into magazines, or “books.”

Yes, the days of the newspaper strip are dying. The delivery method of what we now call comics is changing. With that change in method, there needs to be a change in name. Just look at the cars of today. An evolution of the horse and buggy. With that evolution came a name change. Why are we clinging so tightly to a name that is leaving us as a stigmatized portion of society? Do we really want to be seen as Comic Book Guy (or Girl)?

And no, I don’t want to have the name be called e-anything. That’s a 90s branding tactic in order to differentiate what was then the norm from what was then the new. E-books and digital comics, while still in their infancy, are not “new.” They haven’t been “new” since the 60s, or don’t you watch television or read science fiction books?

Let’s come up with something that resonates, and that may lessen the stigma we all carry. Do I have a suggestion? No. Because I’m not that smart. But one of you will come up with it. I have no doubt.

The next thing that needs to happen in the not-saving of comics is the rebirth of the Comics Code Authority. And I’m not talking about the licensing that the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is doing.

If you haven’t been paying attention, the CCA is dead. It was the first step of “saving” comics from itself. Was it needed? Possibly. We may not have gotten out of the 50s without it. We definitely didn’t get out whole. But the Code had been something that, in its last form, hadn’t been needed in decades. It finally died last year. Marvel Comics were first to leave about 10 years ago, followed by DC late last year. Archie Comics was the last to leave, and the Code died with a whimper.

It needs to be revived. It needs to be revived, but changed.

I would like to see it become a seal of quality. No, not to say that the contents are family friendly, but that the contents are held to a certain standard of quality, in both writing and art. Does that mean that Marvel and DC are automatically the standard to be held to? I would say no.

I would say they have a ways to go, in many respects.

I’d rather see books put out by First Second, Top Shelf, some Archaia books, and some Image books be the standard bearers here.

Who decides what books are and are not of quality? And what would those standards be? About the latter, I couldn’t tell you. About the former, we get a panel of judges like the one that judges the Eisners. This should be a rotating panel, with members on it for no more than four years, and a President rotating every five years, in order to provide some sort of continuity. Those people, who are going to be admittedly more intelligent than myself, will have their own ideas of quality, and come up with rules and bylaws for their reasons for either giving or withholding the seal of approval.

The second reason that the CCA was important is because it acted as an archive of comics that was sent to it for approval. Even if the comic doesn’t meet the standards to gain the seal, companies should still submit their publications to the CCA in order to maintain the archive. Our history is deep and lush, and the creation and maintenance of the archive is incredibly important.

And I mean all comics: newspaper strips, digital comics that have a certain following, and print comics that have a certain level of distribution. Huge? Of course. But important.

The last thing that needs to happen in the un-saving of comics is the embracing of the middleman.

I’m not talking about retailers. No matter how you cut it, you’re really selling to them. You may THINK you’re selling to the public, but you’re not. You’re selling to the retailer. Your job as a creator is to make something they can sell. The reader is the end-user, but you’re not seeing money from them. You’re seeing money from the retailer. So, the retailer is your true audience.

How do you get your wares to the retailer? Through distributors. These are the middlemen you need to embrace.

Yes, Diamond has taken a lot of flak for seeming to be a monopoly for comic book distribution in the United States. However, they aren’t the only game in town. The biggest, yes, but not the only one. And that is only going to change even more.

You also have the digital distributors for your digital comics. ComiXology, Grapic.ly, iVerse, and others are all there to bring your books to the different platforms out there. Some of them embrace small publishers, some don’t. You’ll have to do your research to see which is a good fit for you.

But by embracing the middleman, you’ll get a lot further in your creative endeavors than by trying to buck the system and go it alone.

And that’s my three-step approach to the un-saving of comics: a change in name to coincide with the change in format/delivery; the bringing back of the CCA to act as quality control and as an archive of American comics; and the embracing of the middleman.

All around me, I see the effects of comics upon our culture. It is in advertisements, logos, popular culture, and all forms of media. It is becoming ever easier to purchase them. Celebrities are starting to come out of the woodwork saying they read comics. In many ways, technology has caught up to our imaginations, so Hollywood is now circling us, trying to find the next major blockbuster to make.

Everyone wants what we have. But we have to do our part, too, in throwing off the not-unearned stigma of comics being a boys club, and knowing tons of minutia in order to get in and stay in. (Softball question! Is Captain America a founding member of the Avengers? This is an essay question!)

Comics doesn’t need saving. It just needs a facelift. I believe this three-pronged attack will get us there.

What do YOU think? Let us know in the comments!

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Category: CT Soapbox

About the Author ()

Steven is an editor/writer with such credits as Fallen Justice, the award nominated The Standard, and Bullet Time under his belt, as well as work published by DC Comics. Between he and his wife, there are 10 kids (!), so there is a lot of creativity all around him. Steven is also the editor in chief and co-creator of ComixTribe, whose mission statement is Creators Helping Creators Make Better Comics. If you're looking for editing, contact him at [email protected] for rate inquiries.

Comments (30)

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  1. Jules Rivera says:

    Well, WHAT we call comics are really just stories comprised of sequential images. Sequential stories if you will. That’s by no means catchy, but I can sell the elitist anti-spandex crowd on a sequential story a lot better than I can on a comic book.

    Also, I still like graphic novel. Yes, it makes me sound pretentious as all get out to say I’m a graphic novelist or illustrator, but I feel like people don’t take me as seriously if I say I draw comic books, or worse, web comics. Holy crap, do people ever not give you the time of day if you say you’re a webcomicker.

    So…sequential story. Or graphic novel. Or illustrated novel. I think I’m just spitballing now…

    • So, do you think a name change would be dependent upon the format of delivery? Or can a name change transcend the delivery method?

      Can we just call it ‘sequentials’? Its still got three syllables like ‘comic books’, it can still be pretentious, and it transcends the naming conventions of delivery method.

      It also loses the stigma of sounding like it’s for kids, or something that comedians do.

      Comic book artist –> sequential artist
      Comic artist –> sequentialist
      Comic book writer –> sequential writer
      Comic writer –> sequencer

      Thoughts?

      • Jules Rivera says:

        I don’t think the format of delivery should change the name. Nobody says “digi-movie” or “e-movie” when they’re talking about streaming a movie through Netflix or on their respective tablet/media gizmo. Why should it change for graphic stories?

        I have a couple of nit picks about calling this stuff “sequentials.” While the word wins over the pretentious “I’m not reading superhero stuff for babies” ninnies, the more regular joes might get snared up on it. Sequentials. Sequential what? Sequential pictures? Sequential numbers? Sequential times around a merry-go-round? There’s gotta be something after sequential so that the average guy knows what it’s a sequence of. At least that’s my thought.

        As for calling me a comic book artist vs. a graphic novelist, vs a sequential artist, I don’t really care what you call me as long as I get paid. (Though at parties, I just tell people I’m an illustrator; that saves headaches). I don’t know what to call a sequential writer though. You’re on your own on that one.

        • In my view, ‘sequentials’ is short for ‘sequential stories,’ in the same way that ‘comics’ is short for ‘comic books’ or ‘comic strips.’ Like with anything else, if you use it long enough, it becomes part of the vernacular, and the connotations that become associated with it make it that much easier to understand.

          Could it be a mouthful? Most definitely. But the air of pretension also helps to lift us out of the ghetto in people’s minds. People will flock to watch a Batman movie, but turn their noses up at a Batman comic. Maybe we can add some hesitation if it were introduced as a Batman sequential.

          Whenever a creator says ‘comic,’ we know what we’re talking about. To a layman, a comic is a person on stage, telling jokes. Put appropriately, I don’t think most people will even think of it in terms of what it is a sequence of, be it numbers or anything else. I think that, put appropriately, everyone would grasp what a sequential is through connotation, and that connotation will not have the stigma that ‘comic’ or ‘comic book’ has in the public mind.

  2. DonU says:

    I don’t mind the term graphic novel, so could we call comic books graphic magazines?

    Captain America doesn’t show up in the Avengers until issue #4. Sorry the answer is not in the form of an essay.

    • Hmm. I dunno, Don. I’m getting into the thought of calling them sequentials. Just have it be plain, without tying it to a format or delivery method. Have everything revolve around that word. I’m looking for feedback. What do you think?

      • DonU says:

        Honestly, Steven, I’m not loving the sequentials as a replacement for comic books. It’s kind of non specific. Are you proposing comic book stores now be labeled as sequential stores (I realize this is hyperbole)? Everyone knows what a comic book is, it has instant recognition. It’s the connotation that goes with it that causes trouble. “Ah, that stuff is for nerds” or “aren’t those funny books for kids?” are what a lot of people think when you mention comic books today.

        Maybe what we need to do is rehabilitate the name of comics by producing a higher quality product, which you did touch on with your idea of bringing back a modified CCA that concentrates on quality as opposed to morality. After having a bit of time to think about this article, I realized that I would truly miss the name comic book. I fell in love with these things 38 years ago. Changing the name now seems analogous to trying to change my wife’s given name. It just wouldn’t be the same. I’m married to the comic book name.

        • I know you are. I understand it. Just like most people are married to the useless letters of the alphabet: c and q. Neither of these letters do anything that a standalone letter such as k cannot do. C would only be allowed when combined with h, and q would go he way of the dodo. I suspect it would take a couple of generations to make that change.

          Changing from comics to sequentials would only take a generation. There would be hardcore people who would still call it a comic, but those would be in the minority. We could see he change as well as the benefits of it within our lifetimes.

          That thing you go to the store in. The one that transports you from place to place. Is it an automobile, or is it a car?

          • DonU says:

            I know there are a couple letters that resemble the vestigial legs of the alphabet serpent, but the fact is those letters are still there. Having the c, q and k allows you to trace words back to their Latin roots which gives the english language some depth, should we kick c and q to the curb just to make spelling easier for our kids? Sorry, I’m off topic.

            Say I fully agree that we should switch to sequentials as a name. In the future, when you tell someone that you’re a sequential writer, they’ll still think; Your a dude who likes to write about men in tights. Changing the name won’t change the cred of the medium.

            When you go in for a facelift, it’s to try and make yourself look better. Maybe it’s time to change how comic books are perceived. Also, a face lift is immediate. The point of the post seems to how do we make things better (now-ish). Waiting a generation for a rename seems like a long term idea.

            My other problem is that we can embrace the distributor, but only for now. There are a lot of parallels between comic book retail and the movie rental industries. When I was younger, Blockbuster was a big deal. Years later, On Demand and Netflix show up and remove the inconvenience of going out to rent movies. As soon as this happened, Blockbuster had a heart attack. It’s still alive, but it’s been diminished significantly. When online distribution for comics is worked out, and there are enough tablets/phones/iTouches out there, the local comic book shop will be in the same predicament as Blockbuster.

            When the retailers are diminished (I’ll still be supporting the local comic book store – btw), the distributers will have to evolve as well. Today they have a strangle hold on the creators who want to publish. Diamond can demand a 61% discount off the cover price (I know that doesn’t apply to the big two and some others), but there’s no way they’ll be able to do that if sales become digitally oriented. There are too many ways around it.

            This is getting long winded (sorry). One last thing. A month ago I stumbled onto the Xeric Foundation. The Peter A. Laird set up the foundation to give out grants to those who would like to self-publish (some grants awarded were up to $10,000, and since 1992 has given out more than $2,500,000). I was incredibly excited with this find until I noticed the big red banner at the bottom of the page that boasted to contain an important message. It’s worth a look, and I think it gives you a good idea of where things are going. Let’s just say that February 2012 is the last time that Xeric will receive submissions for publishing grants. The reason given was that the grants were to help indi creators show their work, and the internet serves the exact same function for free. The money left over is now all going to charitable grants.

  3. Eli Ivory says:

    I still think that we need to have some organization that employs comic artists,writers,colorists etc to teach the art is schools. Maybe as an elective of sorts. I’ve taught some classes on my own and I can see that it does inspire kids and adults to explore the comics industry past the big two,and lets them try storytelling for themselves. I really don’t go to my LCS anymore for personal reasons, but I also have heard from younger people that the place doesn’t look cool to them. I think taking it to the people increases creativity as well as establishes a newer fanbase for comics.

    • I can get behind you there, Eli. But then you run into problems:

      Electives? How young do you want to start? And with a LOT of kids failing to meet standard levels, do they then not qualify for the elective? Doesn’t a simple art class not teach them the fundamentals of what they’d need to know? You still have to know how to draw, and storytelling is something that can be taught when the student has a better grasp of what a story actually is.

      Next is a qualified teacher. Sequential art has a LOT of moving part, and a lot of it is interpretation: writing the script, interpreting that script into pencils, interpreting the pencils into finished/inked art, interpreting what colors go where, and interpreting the best placement of word balloons and captions. Again, how young do you want to start?

      Finally, there’s funding. Even if the teacher isn’t paid for their time, supplies still need to be paid for. Lots of schools can barely afford what they have now, and we ALL know that children are our future. So where does the money come from?

      Lots of questions to ask and answer in order to teach sequential storytelling in schools.

      • Jules Rivera says:

        Sequential classes will never happen in traditional public schools, but they do exist in dedicated art schools. While it’s nice to talk about communities setting up classes for kids on how to create visual stories, the resources don’t really exist in most places to get said artists/writers/editors together to teach the class.

        That’s why those guys lecture at dedicated art schools instead. The school is already set up for recruiting and matriculating students, and all the lecturers have to do is deliver and get paid.

  4. Geoff W says:

    The word ‘graphic’ is fine. ‘Novel’ is more limited to the format of the book. I would prefer it to be a single word like movies, animation, literature.. How about we appropriate the word ‘manga’ and remove the cultural association. If you want to talk about japanese comics you can just say ‘japanese manga’

    • I can’t see that. Word appropriation is a very American point of view. I don’t think it would fly with the rest of the community. You’d also be pissing off those that read manga.

      Besides, I don’t look at the word manga and pronounce it correctly. I see it as MANga, not at MONga. I think that most people outside of sequentials would see it the same way. Here’s a test: write the word on a piece of paper, and show it to people outside of the community (readers and creators) and have them pronounce it. Do a tally. I’m willing to bet the overwhelming majority will pronounce it the way it looks, with stress on the ‘man’ part of it.

      And to irritate my children, I call it ‘monkey.’ My two youngest love manga. My oldest will read it, but prefers American sequentials, instead.

      • Geoff W says:

        Word appropriation is very American. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_English_words_of_international_origin

        As for your pronunciation test, Americans have never been shy about popularizing our own pronunciations for words: Karate/kara-tay, gyro/”yearrr-oh”

        • Doesn’t mean it’s correct, Geoff. Nor does it mean that those of us “in the know” would go for it. Especially readers of manga. I think everyone would get behind calling it sequentials before getting behind calling it manga.

          And as for pronunciation, I’m in the south. I listen to people murder the language every day. Door becomes do’, floor becomes flo’. Imagine pronunciation like that going on in another language. Regional dialect is fine, but I’d rather say something the correct way whenever possible. I mean, mosquito is skeeter here. (Yes, I die inside a little whenever someone here speaks.)

  5. Dan Hill says:

    I CAN see where you’re coming from with the points made here but. . .

    To me the form doesn’t need a name change. It’s a medium with established conventions and a rich history. Film hasn’t changed its name and it’s had countless delivery methods (some taken up, some fallen by the wayside) in it’s history. Whether it’s streaming, on a disc, on Super 8 or a Mini SD card, a film is still a film.

    If comics is going to be held up and compared against its more ‘respectable’ counterparts then I think one of the first things the creators in comics need to do is stop being so damn embarrassed about it. We write, draw, ink, colour and letter comics. We are part of a grand tradition with its own set of conventions and rules. We can do things on a page that films, books and plays can only hint at. We can tell tales from the far flung future to mans first steps and all across a wide diversity of genres (more on that later). This is a fantastic and diverse medium. Embrace it and be proud. Comics, whether on an iOs device, a PDF, a printed page or on a screen are still comics.

    As an aside I recommend Douglas Wolk’s ‘Reading Comics’, especially his opinions on the term ‘Graphic Novel’.

    I would say comics, in terms of diversity of genre, is as well represented as it has in any other time in its recent history. Are all these other genres as well promoted and read as ‘capes and tights’ fare? No. But this isn’t anything to do with the talent and quality of the story’s being put out. I truly believe that talent wins out every time. It may take a while for something to find its intended audience but eventually it will.

    Quality and talent are self regulating. If something is good, truly good then it will find an audience. A good webcomic will build an audience through word of mouth and get the hits and clicks it deserves. A poorly drawn and executed webcomic will just slowly sink into the background, lost amongst a sea of imitations and shoddy pretenders. I guess this correlates somewhat with what you’re saying about the revival of the CCA but I don’t have near enough knowledge about the subject to fully agree or disagree with you on the points made there.

    I’m not sure I entirely agree with your last point either (I’m not normally this argumentative, honest). I would say this year is going to see more creators skip the middle man entirely. A lot of comic creators have seen the recent success of the Louis CK video and wondered whether something similar could work for comics.

    Why did the Louis CK campaign work? Because it was a low price point for quality content (regardless of your opinion on his act, the video was well produced, etc), the money was going nowhere but back into the pocket of those who made it and it was DRM free. Once you paid your money for the video you could download it onto whatever device you own. You weren’t tied into a storefront or a device specific format. It was giving the audience choice, freedom and a little bit of respect.

    I think we’re going to see more creators bypass the traditional delivery methods and go straight to digital (be it through Comixology or a ‘roll your own’ method) or get support via crowd funded campaigns.

    You could argue that this may not work for less established creators but I still maintain that quality and talent win out every time. Sam Humphries is a perfect example. There’s a great article about how he managed the promotion, distribution etc for his one shot “Our Love Is Real’ of his own accord, here: http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=34493

    He went outside the traditional system and came up with something combining the best of the new (digital) and the established (bricks and mortar stores). I guess it could be argued he’s embraced the middleman to an extent but he did it in a fresh way that bears thinking about.

    It’s certainly an exciting time to be IN comics at the very least.

    I enjoyed reading the post and you certainly raise some valid points. Looking forward to reading some more of your thoughts in the future.

    • Thanks, Dan! All great points, and should lead to great discussions.

      And this column will be biweekly. Not only that, but also an open platform! If you or anyone else wants to step up to the Sopabox, let me know!

  6. Eli Ivory says:

    I’ve tought a few classes in libraries and some public schools. You guys are right about the system though. I would aim for as young as eleven and up. Teens seem to eat it up the most though.

    Sequential art is definitely complex, but it more rewarding that other art classes I’ve seen where you just glue macaroni to a paper plate or place your hand in paint.

    As far as funding there are art grants out there, or art councils or non profits that may can pitch in.

    You figure like this, the schools should have computers with wordpad on it. So just teach the kid creative writing, see who likes that then move them onto scripting.If they like that then you have someone that may get the hang of collaborating with someone.
    Same for comic art. You may have to make the panels for them but just let them draw a story out and them have them explain it. Then as they get the hang of it move on to the advance stuff slowly.

    The materials could be basically and not really cost a bunch. Now if it was a self publish your own comic book class, well we know how expensive that can be.

    But if you sold the fact that comics are so time consuming to make that it would keep a kid in the house more than getting in trouble than that maybe good reason to consider doing it long term. The best part is that it introduces kids to doing comics as well just letting them have fun expressing themselves. But as an elective class a $3000 dollar budget shouldn’t be too difficult.

  7. Tyler James says:

    Personally, I don’t think comics needs a name change. (Nor do I think it’s possible to change the name even if it was needed.)

    Comics and graphic novels are just fine.

    What needs to change is the perception of what’s found in the medium. Joe Mulvey’s “What Do You Really Know” columns are a great example of just how wrong the average non-comic reader’s perception of comics is.

    Only way to do that is to get great books in people’s hands.

    Likewise, I don’t think a “seal of approval” is a feasible idea either. What other medium needs that?

    We are living in an age where quality really can’t hide anymore, and one by one, the “gatekeepers” power are broken down. I don’t see any reason to create new artificial gate keepers.

    • Dan Hill says:

      I agree with this. You put it much more succinctly than I did too.

    • It isn’t a seal of approval, it’s a seal of quality. It says that this comic has certain thresholds of quality that garner attention.

      It’s like saying the creators are Eisner winners, or that the book is. That seal could mean a lot of things in terms of quality. It isn’t a gatekeeper, it’s just letting people know that this comic meets certain criteria in terms of quality. That can be very strong. As can a name change. If you change the name, you can change the perception. Automobile has a different perception than car. Both mean the same thing.

      That seal could help change the perception of the medium. And I read some of Joe’s columns. I’ve also talked to a decent amount of people myself (the ever-changing job thing). I know their thoughts.

      And sure quality can hide. The noise to signal ratio has also greatly increased. Even though it’s cheaper, creating comics is still expensive, and you can only toil for so long without notice before giving up.

      Besides, “comic” is fun. You laugh. You have a good time. While Scalped is a good book, can you really call it a barrel of laughs? Can you really call it a good time?

      Newspaper strips are “comics”. They’re comical. The bulk of the books being produced today are misnomers. The name change can help.

      Scalped isn’t a comic book. Scalped is a sequential.

      • Tyler James says:

        I guess I just don’t see the possibility of changing the name of a thing so well established. Not without something fundamentally changing about the comic itself. “Webcomic” became a term, but even some of the more popular “webcomic” artists are lamenting that label as inaccurate and limiting.

        Graphic Novel is a much better term than sequential. I agree with points raised above. Sequential what? How is a novel not a sequential? Or a movie? There’s nothing about that term that elucidates what unique to comics. Graphic Novel though, I think that’s how most people who discover Scalped (in their Barnes and Nobles, or library), will refer to it. And it’s appropriate. Because comic book probably doesn’t do that piece of work justice.

        And regarding a seal of authority…feasibly, it just doesn’t work. There’s TOO MUCH! No board would ever be able to review everything.

        You’re right, right now Diamond and Comixology are two of the big gatekeepers in comics. Retailers are a third. None of those companies are going to defer to an external approval board to determine what they carry. What fundamentally matters to those gate keepers is: WILL IT SELL?

        There are enough review sites, and bloggers, and industry gossips out there, along with Twitter and Facebook, etc. for people to get an accurate idea of what’s worth reading.

        I disagree that a seal could change the perception of the medium. To whom? Do you think non-comic readers care what won an Eisner? Why would they care about some new seal of approval?

        I don’t know…just not seeing it.

        • Again, if you say “comic” to someone not in the know, they’ll think of a comedian. They won’t think comic book. Not unless they know you. “Comic” is our insider shorthand for “comic book.” No one thinks twice about the connotations of it because those have been well established. All it takes is the establishment of the connotation in order to understand what’s being talked about. It isn’t impossible. It just takes a re-thinking as well as a long time.

          A name change isn’t about being ashamed. It’s about righting what’s wrong. The Family Circus is a comic. Marmaduke is a comic. The Simpsons is a comic. Sandman is not a comic. Spawn is not a comic. Instead of using the misnomer, we realign what we call it, causing a pause in an outsider’s mind as to what this is, and that pause can then be used to get them to open their minds a little. It takes time.

          And the seal isn’t saying who can carry what. That’s not what it’s about at all. The seal is saying “this sequential has something worthwhile to say” or “this sequential meets levels of writing, art, colors, and lettering that are higher than average.” Where do you see retailers or distributors in that? It isn’t the retailer’s or distributor’s responsibility. It’s the responsibility of the publisher to submit for the seal, just like they did before the CCA went away; and even if they don’t get the seal, the sequential is still kept for archival purposes. The seal, or the governing body of the seal, then serves two purposes: to say what is and is not a quality sequential of those submitted to it, and to keep an archive of sequential books submitted.

          And the Code used to be a very big deal. You couldn’t buy a book off the rack without it. Parents would look for it, to make sure the contents were wholesome, just like some parents now look for the Explicit Content sticker on cd’s, or the ERSB rating on video games, or the ratings for films. My vision of the seal isn’t about what kids and adults can and cannot read.I haven’t said anything even resembling anything like that. It’s about the quality of the story between the covers.

  8. John Lees says:

    As a brief resposne to Steven’s opening point there, yes, “comic” is often linked to comedians rather than comic books. I know this first hand because, when being questioned by US customs upon arriving in San Diego, when I told them I was in town for Comic-Con they asked me if I was a stand-up comedian in the UK.

    • Conner MacDonald says:

      Try being a COMIC, who is now trying to work in COMICS.

      “Well I was a comic, now I want to get into comics.” Though to be fare, in Canada I find that we say comedian more then comic. Or in Toronto we called one another “Coms”, with everyone else being “Noncoms.”
      The exception to this is if you’re saying Sketch Comic or, stand-up comic(Which is really just a sketch comic, with no friends.)
      But their is always a follow up to the word ‘comic’, just like there is the ‘book’, after ‘comic book’. Maybe we should just rethink the definition of COMIC. Maybe make it synonymous of Entertainment.

      Sketch Entertainer, Stand-up Entertainer, Entertaining book… you know, since normal books are boring.

  9. I’ve struggled most of my life with trying to adopt or find a good term for the medium I love so much. “Comic” can mean comedian, funny, light, jokey, newspaper strips, and so much more that isn’t this.

    But Eisner’s Sequential Art never did it for me either. Scott McLeod’s brilliant Understanding Comics has pages of trying to figure this out. He gets nowhere really.

    Graphic Novel is a format to me. A long, non-serialized story. I would say something with Serial in the name, but that cuts out done-in-one stories.

    Graphic Novel has caught on as a catch-all for collections, tpbs, stand-alone bound stories, etc. The biggest chain of Canadian book stores even calls the section of the store that on signage (a big improvement from the days when they were shelved in sci-fi).

    How about singles being Graphic Novellas?

    • Hm.

      Here’s the thing: what’s going to be the short name?

      That’s the big thing here. We’re human, and so, we’re lazy. We want things easy. Graphic novellas is a mouthful. Five syllables. And it causes more than just a pause. It may cause more need for explanation than necessary.

      This is why I like sequentials. The ONLY thing it leaves out are the single illustrations like Family Circus and stuff you find in newspapers. But like the term comic incorporates the strip and the single illustration, I think “sequential” would be big enough to let in the strip and single illustration.

      That’s just me.

      • Keith C says:

        I have to agree with Tyler (above) that sequentials doesn’t get to anything unique in the medium. Anything in sequence is a sequential. Movies, tv, text.

        Any term will have limits. Is Stardust a comic? it isn’t sequential art, but it does have art and words.

  10. 1. Call it Narrative Art (words and pictures–simple, it’s been around for centuries, just like comics) I wrote an article here: http://www.discipledeep.com/graphic-novels-graphic/

    2. The customer should decide quality

    3. Eliminate the middleman. Go right to the customer. If they like your quality, they will buy.

    You are definitely thinking the right thoughts. To grow the media, you have to change the way people perceive the media, I wrote an article here:http://www.discipledeep.com/pains-comic-book-industry/

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