A Short Manifesto
I'm tired of Watchmen. I'm tired of seeing it around and I'm tired of hearing people talk about it like it's the end-all-be-all of comics.
But mostly I'm tired of people trying to say that Watchmen is super-heroes "for adults" -- as though all of us reading Batman and Superman are mentally children or something.
More than anything it's this idea that has grown up in the greater culture that if you want to read something with colorful costumes it's got to be something that mocks them while it's doing it.
"Look at their stupid capes!"
That's the sentiment that seems to pervade most of popular culture. It's why newspapers can't get their facts about Batwoman in Detective right. And it's why after all these years they still start every article about comics with a "Bam" and a "Pow."
I guess this post isn't really about Watchmen. But then, I don't really have a beef with that series per se. My issue is the way the world looks at super-hero comics. The world seems willing to accept something like Watchmen because it's "adult." But it views your standard super-hero comics as though they are inherently flawed and must be changed from what they are to be made worthy for consumption.
How exactly do you reconcile this contradiction? After all, the general populace seems to like super-heroes perfectly well. The Dark Knight just broke $1 billion worldwide. But while Watchmen trade paperbacks are selling to the general population, how many sales of Batman comics did The Dark Knight bring about?
Not many, I'd imagine.
Why does it work this way? Why are people impressed when you talk about Watchmen but laugh when you talk about Aquaman? Why are "graphic novels" acceptable but "comics" for children? And why do people expect me to be ashamed that I read Action Comics monthly?
I'm not ashamed. Not even a little bit. Because despite what the big world and the creators of convetnional wisdom think, there's nothing wrong with reading super-hero comics. There's nothing wrong with reading what people deride as "corporate comics" either.
There's a reason these characters and concepts have survived in this form for so many decades. Super-hero comics are an institution. They are a form of entertainment that has survived longer than a heck of a lot of others. And just like people shouldn't be ashamed of their tastes in music or movies, there's no reason to be ashamed of one's tastes in comics.
So next time you hear people talking about comics, don't feel like you need to hide the fact that your favorite comic is Green Lantern rather than Preacher or Batman rather than Sandman. Share your love of super-heroes with the world. Don't confine it to your blog. Makes sure everybody knows that you believe a man can fly.