Comics in Conversation

I wonder how many times we’ve all had this exchange:

Hello. What do you do?

Oh, I write/draw/color/edit/promote/sell comics.

Oh… I love stand-up comedy!

No. Comics like comic-books/comic-strips. Sequential art.

Oh. I didn’t know they still made those things… Do you work on Superman/Spider-Man/Batman?

No, comics as a medium has expanded steadily since the 1960s to encompass a wide-range of content like the medium of television/film/literature/painting does.

Oh.

Actually, you’d be surprised how many comics have important/shocking/moving content about anything and everything.

Oh.

Yeah. I exaggerate. But we’ve all had bits and pieces of that conversation at least once. I know I have. Multiple times. Sometimes with the same person… But that just might be because I’m constantly trying to have conversations about comics with everyone. I brought a reprint of “Amazing Spider-Man” #1 with me on my first day of a Shakespeare summer program in Milbrook Meadow, Rockport, Mass. when I was probably around twelve-years-old. I remember telling my father “I’m going to sit and read it during the lunch break, and maybe someone else who likes comics will notice me!” That practice is pretty nearly how I’ve pushed through every following stage of my life: Bring the comics, see who shows up. Make it as much fun as possible. Convince more people to show up next time. Repeat. Now I bring my comics on the subway and try to start conversations with my fellow passengers about my reading material. I want comics to be more visible, because that’s what the industry may lack most: visibility. I’ve written a great deal about that on The Long and Shortbox Of It.

Ever since I took a week-long workshop class at the Center for Cartoon Studies in the summer of 2007, I realized how tremendously important it is to spend at least some time with a community of other people who ‘get’ it. People who love comics and make comics. People like the people you’ll meet at a Pronto meeting. I discovered that it is absolutely invigorating for a comics creator such as myself. And so I try to make it happen as much as I can. Hopefully, slowly, we will together suceed in expanding our community so that the width and breadth of comics being produced is so enourmous that the width and breadth of comics readers expands with it, creating an even broader base of people with which to talk comics!

~ @JonGorga

Wednesdays

Every Wednesday new comic-books, trade reprint collections, and graphic novels arrive in comic shops around the country and every Wednesday comics readers flock to their local stores. Some people have pull-lists with their beloved weekly series marked down for the retailer so they never miss an issue. Some people are trade-waiters, taking a peek at the ‘floppies’ just to see what’s interesting to get an idea of what they want to pick-up in trade-paperback months later. Some people like to peruse the wall of new individual issues and trades just to see what feels right today.

I just read Jonathan Hickman’s “S.H.I.E.L.D.” #1 from Marvel Comics. Literally finished it late last night. I read the first page months and months ago, but I read everything from page two to page thirty-four last night. “S.H.I.E.L.D.” #1 came out over a year ago. I can’t keep up with the amount of comics that drop on any given Wednesday, let alone with the comics from a month or a given year and many comics are released daily as webcomics or released only by creators with small print runs in person at events like tomorrow’s Pete’s Mini/Zine Fest at Pete’s Candy Store in Brooklyn, NY. (Seriously, you should check that out if you can. Let me know how it is, I have to miss it.)

I write an annual ‘Best of the Year’s Comics’ post over on The Long and Shortbox Of It, but that post comes with a big caveat: ‘the best comics I read this year’. NOBODY can read them all.

The question then becomes, if you’re an adult who grew up reading comics and you’re already spending a great deal of time MAKING comics: Should you even try?

I thought I knew the answer, but I’m not sure anymore. When professional creators are asked what they’re reading right now they often can’t answer. They don’t have time to read comics because they’re too busy making their own. And that strikes me as a good thing.

Solutions anybody?

~@JonGorga