One of the things to come out of the increasingly depressing aftermath of the ‘last Alan Moore interview’ is a discussion of who exactly comics are for which is the subject of an article by Jonathon Jones in The Guardian titled Is it really OK for adults to superhero-worship Alan Moore’s comics? Now the article is a load of nonsense from someone who is an ‘expert’ in the arts but knows next to nothing about the art form he’s talking about, but is it ok for adults to read comics?
Yes, of course it is. A book like Maus can only work as a comic and is every bit an adult book. Same goes for Persepolis, Lost Girls, Black Hole, Alice in Sunderland and dozens upon dozens of examples of comics that are adult, or at least, not juvenile in nature. Jones argument also hinges upon comics being a naturally childish genre that adults have only recently been reading, but that’s not true in the UK , and it’s certainly not been true in much of Europe and Japan where comics are an accepted artform and have been for decades.
Jones argument works only if you accept that the likes of Marvel and DC’s superhero lines are the mainstream and they’re not. Well, at least they’ve not been for at least a decade, and when things like Robert Crumb’s Book of Genesis becomes a bestseller then you have to wonder just where the mainstream lies.
Comics are everywhere in the mainstream from Bitstrips to webcomics to just everywhere you turn and most people probably don’t think they’re reading comics but they are. They might not realise what they’re reading is a supposed childish artform but they are. Comics can do anything and by ‘anything’ I don’t mean big sweeping superhero battles but they can tell the sort of little stories you won’t see in film or TV, or in the media generally, and with the internet they can be distributed to a vast number of people in a way that’s never happened before.
So yes, it’s perfectly fine for adults to read comics because the chance is they’ve been doing it for years and they’re doing it today & there’s bugger all wrong with that. The question really should be is whether there’s enough good comics out there for adults, or people of all ages to be reading and that’s a different question, not to mention one that needs to touch upon some uncomfortable truths about comics but that’s a blog for another time…