Who talks about comics the same way this place talks about games?


#1

Video games have always been my main thing. I enjoy everything from movies, to books, to anime, to comics, etc, but video games are the primary focus for me. To cut to the chase, I’ve seen games writing (including audio and video) take many shapes and forms over the course of my life, and looking at it today, you can find any number of excellent people on youtube, or waypoint, or wherever, who talk about games in interesting and/or meaningful ways. Even in terms of critique, there’s a whole language built up that feels very specifically tailored to it, and we have many writers looking to elevate the way that work is being done.

Though I don’t pay as much attention to them, I see lots of great stuff for film and animation as well. But what I don’t see, and this could very well just be my own lack of attention over the years, is that same kind of care and attention to craft being applied to comics. Who are the George Weidmans, Austin Walkers, and Mark Browns of comic books? Who are the people writing critically about this medium in a way that is thoughtful and interesting to engage with?

I’ve had a few books over the years. Do the Gods Wear Capes by Ben Saunders, and of course Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud are two that come to my mind, and I believe there are a few more books at least… but is that where all of it lives? In books? I very much doubt that.

This topic isn’t being made to say “Nobody is doing this thing! Why?!” It’s being made to ask, “Who is doing this stuff? Where can I find it?” I’m hoping that people on this board, people who engage with Waypoint and are familiar with this kind of writing, will know what I’m talking about, and maybe have some insight. I love comics, and I want to get deeper in to them, but I’ve been disappointed with what I’ve found online thus far, in terms of discussions. I want to see deep dives in to themes and messages of Ex Machina and Swamp Thing, and I want to see someone digging in to the medium of comics and what makes it special in relation to everything else.

Direction and recommendation is appreciated :]


#2

comicsandcola and women write about comics spring to mind, Colin Spacetwinks also has some interesting twine essays re: business practices at the Big Two, but to be honest there is a VERY good reason why there’s no equivalent to any of that stuff in comics: because there’s no money in comics.

The “mainstream” of comics is dominated by a single niche genre, with the appeal made ever narrower by the only two mainstream publisher’s constant mishandling of their own properties, bloated, convoluted & incredibly confusing continuities, lack of any sensible marketing, bad business pratices etc. Even tho most mainstream games revolve around physical conflict of some sort (though even thats changing), there’s still a pretty wide diversity of genres in the mainstream. Imagine if every mainstream game was a military shooter, and indies were just shoved off to the side & there was no Steam or similar service where they could reach a wider audience.

There’s comics for all the people who aren’t keen on superheroes, and most of it is either small-print-run indie stuff, self-published, or manga (which is a great example of what genre diversity in comics looks like and how that can help achieve mainstream success). For those people in the west, they just won’t know that there’s comics for them unless they go way out of their way & dig for them, and they probably (rightfully so) just don’t care enough to do that.

Meanwhile, in games, tiny one-man indie projects can become overnight mainstream smash hits.

As a result, the “community” around non-superhero comics is super tiny & insular, and a good chunk of it is cartoonists themselves, so there’s really not much of an audience for comics criticism (though it’s incredibly valuable), certainly nowhere near the audience for games crit. And if there’s hardly any money in comics, there’s even less in comics crit.

Sorry to go off on one, but it’s a topic of much frustration for me, as I’m sure is evident. Hope this was at least informative in some way!


#3

I think The Comics Journal may prove worth your while. If nothing else, they publish a pretty broad array of writers/critics and that has provided me with the opportunity to discover individuals I like and then follow their work personally.


#4

One of my favorite comics critics is Hass Otsmane-Elhaou. He’s a video essayist who deconstructs the theory behind visual and narrative design in western comics. His videos are succinct, accurate, and very well-edited. Hass just started editing a digital magazine called PANEL x PANEL which also talks about the craft of comics and has articles from creators, critics, merchants, and fans. The comics criticism scene reminds me of the games criticism of perhaps a decade ago. There are people out there doing the good work, but they are almost completely obscured by enormous comics news sites and ad dollars.


#5

yeah, as someone whose main interest has often been comics (i feel like i’m drifting away a bit tbh), there isn’t really anything like waypoint for comics. there’s comics twitter, which has some great people although is kind of a nightmare, and…? comics alliance got essentially shut down, and that was maybe the closest analogue.

i have written for women write about comics, and it’s pretty excellent there. it’s the place i’d recommend the most - they publish all sorts of stuff and cover so much.

also, a kickstarter has just launched for the second volume of critical chips, which is a cool comics zine with essays in, and there’s a newsletter comics zine that i don’t subscribe to (it costs money and i am currently unemployed) called the nmt that i have heard good things about. there’s certainly good stuff around, but it’s at the margins and it’s not so easy to just point to one ~hub~.