This is the time of year when some of us, nagged by memories of elementary school homework assignments, make resolutions to improve ourselves in the year ahead. In general, my resolutions involve drinking more water and tossing more cat-toys (Selina likes to play “fetch”), but one change I made last year was awesome and I’d like to recommend it to you.
Every week, when I go for my weekly comics fix, I try to find at least one new book to try. I don’t manage to do it every week, but I bet I sampled 40 new titles last year. Some I didn’t like, but spending 15 or 20 minutes reading something different is not a horrible fate.
It’s easy for me to try something new because I’ve been reading the same (more or less) superhero comics for nearly six decades. Lots of titles that has been accepted by cooler people than me for decades is new to me. Still, there are books that were new in 2014 that I’ll be sticking with.
As you may recall, my budget can stand this experimentation because I’m no longer buying books that aren’t fun anymore. For me, fun books have different perspectives. Anything can happen.
It may be that this is the year that the industry is taking the same message to heart. I mean, there has been a part of the comic book business that published unconventional stories by unconventional creators since at least the counter-culture of the 1960s. And it’s not unusual for writers and artists associated with the underground to get a gig above, and vice versa.
What is unusual is for these writers and artists not to be straight white men. After years and years (and decades) of talk, there is finally a significant segment of the creative community that can get pregnant, or not, depending on circumstances and choice. Along with more women who write and draw, there seems to my (perhaps inaccurate) eye also be an increase in the number of female editors, assistant editors and associates.
It doesn’t seem to me that there has been a parallel increase in visible participation by people of color, but the subject isn’t going to meekly go away anytime soon. I think that now, more than ever, we need creators who can bring a non-white perspective to the “good guys/bad guys” dynamic of so much comic book plots.
Another excellent resolution for the new year is to commit yourself to the growth of our industry, both at a retail level (including libraries) and a personal, helping level . Our industry is not alone in the commercial arts in treating talent like so many disposable widgets, but that doesn’t mean that we have to stand for it.
Hoping your 2015 gives you better stories.