Robot 6

Quote of the Day | Comics are for children, not literary awards

From "Dotter of Her Father's Eyes," by Mary M. Talbot and Bryan Talbot

“They are their own thing. They do not need your imprimatur, O pompous reader of literary fiction. They are basically for -children, and for men (yes, men, really, men) who are a bit too thick to read proper books, as I was for many years, and still sometimes am, like if I’m tired or hungover or on a plane.”

Giles Coren, explaining why comics should not be considered for literary awards

Pretty much everything in this column is wrong, including Coren’s assertion that “Nobody calls them ‘graphic novels’ any more”; he goes on to explain, “In America, which is the home of the genre, they are called more often ‘comic books,’ spoken as if all one word, and with an East Coast accent (since that is whence they come), so: ‘-karmicbwurks’.” Perhaps this article is intended as satire, but people in the comments and on Twitter are taking it pretty seriously; judging from his Wikipedia article, Coren is just one of those curmudgeonly guys who likes to toss out verbal bombs once in a while to get everyone talking about him. Mission accomplished!

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11 Comments

thinner than thou

November 30, 2012 at 11:21 am

“For my next trick, I’ll drown this puppy!”

You show me a guy who thinks “proper books” like Twilight or Harry Potter can be considered for literary awards and books like The Sandman or Watchmen can’t, and i’ll show you a guy who deserves to get punched in the face.

Yeah, it reads very much like a text written for publicity – very silly and over the top. But I did smile reading it. Though, it surely can be harmful if read by people who aren’t aware (which is most probably almost all of his readership).

Yeah. Sounds like flame-bait and nothing more

Though again, the last sentence clearly show it’s not serious:
“So stop waving your comics around and pretending to be hip, you judges, and give your prizes to another tedious slog through the life of some long-dead English king.”

Comics and Trix, not just for kids anymore!

Seriously folks don’t click to the article, it’s total troll bate.

I read the column and I actually got a very different impression of it. Ultimately he’s saying comics have their own dignity and do not require the approval of the moribund literary establishment. His main point is “they’re their own thing.”

Apart from the “for children” part, I agree with Coren. I myself do not like the way the term “graphic novel” is used to denote “serious comics.” I think of it mostly as a format and marketing term, and agree with what Sim said years ago, and Eddie Campbell has argued similarly, that to be called that it should at least have a novel’s scope & length.

I do comics, and I have no problem with the word “comics.” And I do not give a crap what the literary establishment thinks of them, much as I do not take seriously the artistic opinions of the NY or London art establishments.

The paragraph quoted is cringeworthy, but given in context his complaint is that comics are a different art to literature, and don’t need to be (as he see it) condescendingly given special awards by the literary crowd, as comics are their own thing.
It makes sense – films, music, paintings and performance aren’t given literary awards, not even The Wire, so why comics?
He’s arguing it’s placing comics as the novels ugly sibling, rather than the sexy rival they are.

Precisely. As mentioned, who cares what the literary establishment thinks of the medium or about pleasing them? It seems that those who make and read comics are trapped in an eternal state of wanting to prove something, even subconsciously, to their parents and teachers. Which to me implies a certain amount of remaining guilt that they’re wasting their lives on something unserious, even if they don’t realize it.

I’m with John and Ben and anyone else that actually read the article with even a modicum of reading comprehension.
They are “just comics” and there’s nothing wrong with that because comics are freakin’ awesome.

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