Robot 6

Summary and response: Shaenon Garrity sees the future

This is the future: Writer Molly McIsaac reads Hellboy on Women Read Comics in Public Day

Web comics creator and manga editor Shaenon Garrity has penned a ten-point manifesto on comics at comiXology that is well worth a read. I’ll summarize her ten points here for brevity, but you should really go over and read Shaenon’s explanations, as she expands on every point:

1. Newspaper comics are dead: I don’t think this comes as a surprise to anyone. Most of their creators are dead as well.
2. Monthly comic books are dead: Shaenon chalks this up to the deficiencies in the direct market.
3. Format is infinitely mutable: It’s all comics, and people will read it in the format that suits them.
4. The audience is infinitely fragmented: When you take the wider view, lots of people are reading different types of comics, and they no longer fit the standard stereotypes. ” Open the discussion to webcomics, and the audience fragments all the way down to the tip of the long tail; on the Internet, everyone is famous for fifteen people.”

5. But there is a canon: Go check this out—it’s not what you might think.
6. Superheroes are not comic-book characters: They are movie and TV characters. See this comment at The Beat for the reason why.
7. Manga has changed the game: That’s because it has changed the way the new generation of comics creators tells their stories.
8. The line between fans and creators is razor-thin: Webcomics, DeviantArt, whatever. You don’t have to go work for Marvel or DC any more; anyone with a scanner and an internet connection can make comics.
9. They are mostly girls: I’m not sure whether she is talking about fans or creators here, but I think both are correct.
10. They are very good at making comics: Actually, most of those people mentioned in number 8 are probably terrible, but the cream that floats to the top is awesome.

Reaction has been mixed. The original post drew a troll who basically told the girls to go home and stay out of the comics shop, ‘cos they don’t understand real comics, thus neatly demonstrating the validity of point #2. There’s a lively debate going on at The Beat, while at Scott McCloud’s blog, the commenters were mostly in agreement. At The Webcomic Overlook, Larry Cruz comes up with his own ten-point webcomics manifesto, which directly engages some of Shaenon’s points and adds some new thoughts.

(Photo from the Women Read Comics in Public Tumblr.)



Hey, it’s MANifesto. Garrity knew she was treading on dangerous, testosterone-soaked ground.

I really only take issue with #6 because the problem lies with the publishers. The problem is the sprawl of titles, every character and team needs to be streamlined with each having at most two titles dedicated to them. Spider-Man despite everything else has the right idea behind it. And if you are going to have a family of titles make sure every title is different in terms of characters and direction. If you want more people to buy your products you have to make it easy on them. If someone wants to read Batman the answer should be as be as easy as handing them Batman and Detective Comics. You know you have a problem when someone interested in Deadpool has to be asked which of the 4 ongoings they were talking about.

I tried posting multiple times over at The Beat, but my posts didn’t go through for some reason.

Without going too much into it again, there’s a huge gap in internet armchair blogging and actually, you know, selling comics from a living. This post makes more sense in 2004.

Newspaper comics might be dead in the sense of the Sunday Funnies, but there are more newsprint comics than there have been in a long time right now.

I love my superhero comics. Love them more than any superhero movie and any live action superhero TV show. I doubt I am alone. And I doubt that the superhero is going to leave comics any time soon.

Especially since they still outsell everything else. And also because a lot of women like superhero comics and want to write them, too.


October 27, 2010 at 5:44 pm

Like any manifesto, it’s got a couple of good points, but is mostly bunk based on the authors pre-conceptions, and wishes.

Monthly comics still bring in millions – and for a decade, retailers like Hibbs keep pointing out that they may make big bucks of collections, and graphic novels, it’s monthly sales that keep them alive.
Seriously, tell this to Robert Kirkman, whose sales didn’t dip even with day and date digital comics.
The future may be elsewhere, but print still makes money.
May not be as sexy when writing a manifesto, but anyone who rules out a format that still makes cash, is a fool.

That ‘canon’ of comics… what’s that based on? Just anecdotal evidence, or?

Superheroes are comic characters – there’s a shit ton of comics with them in it. Does exploitation of a character in another medium now negate it’s roots?
They may be in other mediums, but all those mediums are taking their lead from the comics.
Much like Manga characters who are now across other media.
(And to claim the Umbrella Academy isn’t a superhero comic… that’s really silly. It’s not superman, but it’s still got superheroes in it).

Also, I think the net can get you a much bigger audience – undeniably – but people were always making mini-comics and zines – it’s not a case of ‘now everyone could do it’, you could always do it, it’s just people can now get it to an audience easier.
I don’t think the average experience was someone just suddenly got a job at Marvel or DC – most made their own stuff before hand.
And as points out here, most of those comics aren’t good at all, and it can be had to find the good amongst the bad.
I didn’t learn about Daniel Merlin Goodbrey until his work got put into print with the brilliant Last Sane Cowboy And Other Stories, and he’s 100 times better than most webcomics.

(Also, that picture is incorrect, according to the manifesto. Hellboy is a monthly comic, therefore, collections such as that won’t exist in the future, as they rely on the singles to cover the cost).

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