Comics Above Ground: How Sequential Art Affects Mainstream Media
by Durwin S. Talon
There is a tendency in some parts of the comics fan community to wait anxiously for the day when they will be legitimized, when America will suddenly realize “the truth.” Actually they’re not completely wrong to expect or at least want that. As most knowledgeable comic book fans can tell you, other cultures around the world don’t share our snob instincts that condemn nearly an entire medium to the ghetto. But in that fannish way of loving something so much they make completely unsupportable statements about it, some fans really think that were Shakespeare alive he’d be writing Buffy comics.
The creators interviewed for Comics Above Ground, including Bruce Timm, Bernie Wrightson and Louise Simonson, can and do speak of media, medium and message with equal aplomb. But it’s better read as an anthology of interviews that stand on their own than a series of arguments designed to advance a thesis. It never quite lives up to its billing, in other words, and is therefore less than the sum of its parts.
Some of those parts, however, are quite engaging — I especially enjoyed the interview with Greg Rucka, a writer whose work was new to me and whose novel, Keeper, I am currently enjoying as a book on tape.
In regarding Comics Above Ground, I find myself torn between thinking this cultural acceptance is either never going to happen…or that it already has. And comic book fans were too wrapped up in their own community to notice.