I have two brief stories to tell you, and they intersect in a way that’s been turning over in my head of late; time to get the ideas out where they can play in the sunshine.
I saw something at a comics show (no names, but it was a big one) that’s bugged me ever since — a pretty famous comic book illustrator (pencilling, covers, you name it) for the Big Two was showing/selling pages and originals from this comics work, and had a steady stream of fans wanting to talk about how great his work was and how much they loved it. He also had some art there from a side project — a webcomic, all his, not playing with characters that have been around for fifty or sixty years. Beautiful, personal, wonderful stuff … and the capes fans were having none of it.
He’d point it out, talk about how much he loved doing it, and the attention immediately went back to the splash panel of famous characters beating the crap out of each other. They were fans, absolutely, but it seemed they were fans of the book or the character, or the artist’s particular interpretation of the character. The disconnect between their interests and his was practically tangible.
POV shift: some years ago, I was flipping through a Free Comic Book Day issue of something or other, and on the inside back cover, there was a list of TV shows and movies, paired with comics. The idea being, if you knew somebody that didn’t read comics but liked a particular story, here is something they’d probably dig. It was an attempt to bridge the disconnect between non-comics-readers and the world of comics; IF YOU LIKE X, it said, TRY READING Y (and Y: The Last Man was one of the recommendations, for fans of Lost).
That bridging has happened a few times … Stephen King and Buffy fans have (respectively) buoyed sales of the Dark Tower adaptation and the Joss-approved “Season Eight” comics. But I keep coming back to that one artist who couldn’t bridge what should have been a much smaller gap — after all, the difference between comics and webcomics can’t be that great, can it?
I prefer to think at this time, it’s a matter of education. If a fan of JLA or The Avengers doesn’t know that there are webcomics they might enjoy, we can’t expect them to check them out. So I’ve been throwing around a mental list of IF YOU LIKE X and TRY READING Y, which I submit for your consideration and suggestions; it’s down below the cut.
Before you check out the list (and help me out, because there’s a whole lot of suggestions that I’d never come up with on my own), there’s a a quote I’d like to point you at, from the 3rd part of Shaenon Garrity‘s Ghibli trip report:
Now I’m back in the States, and my friends all want to know what Hayao Miyazaki was like. My friends are cartoonists, writers, artists, editors. They are amazing people. Not a single one has not been touched by Miyazaki’s films and comics. He is loved by top animators at Pixar. He is loved by struggling webcartoonists. There is such love in his work. It makes you see the joy of living, and the joy of making art, and that these two things are not so different. It makes you want to live and build.
Someday, yes, Miyazaki will die. And when that happens we will pick up our pencils and brushes and Wacom styluses and carry on his work. There is only one Miyazaki, just as there’s only one Totoro with the umbrella. But the sky is full of Totoros. All different.
Have a good weekend, and those of you in Freedomland, enjoy the holiday on Monday.
I’m not bothering with a table; the first item is a print comic, the second is a webcomic that I think has a similar sensibility and appeal. Here’s twenty to get you started.
Ambush Bug :: The Non-Adventures of Wonderella
Any crossovers involving Aliens or Predators :: Alien Loves Predator
Batman/Superman: World’s Funnest :: Dr McNinja
Blankets :: Anders Loves Maria
Blue Monday :: Questionable Content, Something*Positive
Box Office Poison :: Octopus Pie
Fables :: Family Man
Girl Genius :: Girl Genius
Iron Man (old school, with the rollerskates in the armor) :: Diesel Sweeties (trust me)
JLA (the Giffen-DeMatties run from the ’80s) :: Overcompensating
Owly (but you’re a bit older) :: The Abominable Charles Christoper
Sin City :: Sin Titulo
Star Wars: Tag & Bink :: Goats
Steven Colbert’s Tek Janson :: Starslip
Strangers In Paradise :: Achewood (yeah, I know, “weird” … but I think it works)
The Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius :: Wigu
The Cartoon History of the Universe :: Hark! A Vagrant
Transmetroplitan :: Templar, AZ
True Story, Swear to God :: Girls With Slingshots
Usagi Yojimbo :: Digger (again, trust me)