Seeking to disprove stereotypes that comics are merely simplistic or juvenile entertainment for the uncultured; to enlighten the open-minded and encourage the broadening of one's horizons; to examine comics as a text; to deepen appreciation for comics, comic books, and graphic novels as a formidable form of art in all cultures.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

NY Times Introduces Graphic Books Best Seller Lists

The New York Times today introduced its first-ever listing of best seller graphic books, split into three categories: hardcover, softcover, and manga!

George Gustines, author of the article, compares/links this newfound recognition of the medium with the feature-length Watchmen movie that is soon to be released. While Watchmen certainly is an important work in comics -- one of the first superhero comics to take itself seriously and explore the strengths of the medium -- this list comes long overdue, since before Watchmen was collected into a single volume.

That being said, this is definitely a big step in the right direction. The country is finally starting to recognize the important impact that comics have had on our culture. Granted, it's not exactly time to jump and shout for joy just yet. After all, this doesn't necessarily mean that people are going to be looking at comics as being anymore valuable than commercialized sludge pandering to children, and looking at some of the bestsellers it's obvious that the majority of the comics audience maybe isn't always demanding the quality of literature we could be getting (Batman R.I.P. being a major one that stands out to me -- a storyline that delivers soap opera plot elements and cheap gimmicks as a scheme to increase controversy, and thus readership).

But a step nonetheless. And, as I've shown, it should provide a useful tool for measuring the artistic appreciation of popular audiences for the comics medium.

What are your thoughts on what this reflects and where we are to go from here?


Amanda said...

As for what this reflects, I think you already answered your own question when you said, basically, that it reflects a general acceptance of comics into the entertainment world, which is very cool, but falls short of any real recognition of the potential comics have as an art form.

As for where we are to go from here? I think the groundroots approach is probably the best, just supporting higher quality comics online and in print via word of mouth and sites like this one.

becks said...

Okay, so I'll admit to being a naysayer when it comes to comic books. I mean, I'm an English teacher. But I have shifted my thinking a little this year. I now allow my students to include manga books on their reading logs. That's a big step for me! I used to want to burn them. Maybe the next step would be to include the teaching of comics in the classroom?