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Creative Freedom

Creative freedom. (See also Dave Intermittent’s thoughts on creative freedom.) Well, I’ve never in all my years of reading found that the creative freedom with which a piece of art is created is an accurate predictor of quality. Uh, that’s about it, I guess.

As for there being too many superhero comics on the market, and their prominence choking out everything else… See, I was in a comics shop in Bloomington this weekend, and I’d say maybe half the books in the store weren’t superhero comics. Maybe it was less than half, I didn’t do an exact count. (And yeah, there are tons of stores that stock 100% superhero comics, too bad for those fanboy loser stores.) Of course, I was also in a Borders and they had maybe half American superheroes and half manga, which is too bad. The thing is, as far as I can tell there’s lots of totally superhero-free comics out there. The thing is, moreover, if there were fewer superhero comics then there wouldn’t necessarily be fewer bad comics. The thing is, really, if you ignore Marvel and sort of squint at DC so you can’t see the superhero books they publish, I think the corporate comics publishing industry looks pretty diverse. If you look also at small-press publishers, even more diverse. That Borders I went to that stocked almost no American comics that weren’t superhero comics could easily build a strong inventory of American comics with no superheroes. Why don’t they? I don’t know, but my guess is that a lack of available published material is only one of several reasons, maybe even a smallish reason among larger reasons. Another obvious reason I can think of is that there has historically been a lack of available published material other than superhero comics, creating the perception that there’s a lack of available material. If you look at most of the comics resources on the Web, it sort of looks like superheroes dominate the industry—but that is maybe getting a little better, especially thanks to the growing community of comics bloggers. If you look at resources outside the comics community, it seems that, say, there are ever fewer newspapers and magazines at which clever headline writers feel it necessary to preface each comics-related article with “Bam! Pow! Comics aren’t for kids anymore!” So, from my perspective anyway, the notion that superheroes dominate comics is largely a matter of perception, and I see many signs that that perception, in popular culture, has been been changing and continues to change.


  1. David Fiore says:

    Dave Sim put an interesting comment on the subject of “creative freedom” (& the undue reverence this chimera has received in certain quarters ever since the Romantic revolution in the arts) into Weishaupt’s weaselly mouth, in Cerebus #55:

    “The scenario of the Wolveroach combines the best elements of the three previous incarnations. Like the the Cockroach, he’s a crazed lone wolf; everyone admires the one who makes his own rules, no matter how stupid the rules may be… Actually, the ’stupider’ they are, the greater the admiration…”

    Considering the direction that Sim’s career has taken, it’s possible he was wrong about that last part; but I think the underlying “psychology of fandom” is sound…


    — 23 March 2004 at 2:01 pm (Permalink)