Monday, October 12, 2009

Why Stereotypes Suck Through All Genre

In A Comics Studies Reader, we read an article that listed four main misconceptions, a stereotypes if you will, of all comics. One of which I can agree with to a certain level but, most I must disagree with.

The first Thierry Groensteen listed of these stereotypes is that "It is a hybrid, the result of crossbreeding between text and image." This makes comics sound like a science experiment gone array. Yes, comics do have the characteristics of text and images but, so do many other genres of literature. This is one of the aspects I at times struggle with while understanding comics. However, it is the use of the text in correlation with the image that will help the reader understand. With any piece of prose, it is good writing that allows the reader to follow along.

This is why I think the second stereotype: "its storytelling ambitions seen to remain on the level of a subliterature" is absolutely wrong. Just because it isn't in the technical vein of a novel, does not mean it is a lower class genre. Breaking conventions does not necessarily mean crude language structure or intellectually inferior.

The third stereotype is that comics are a "inferior branch of visual art, that of a caricature." Though comic books aren't my first choice for visual art, it is still art. Someone who can do something better than me and do it well, I give respect too. It not only involves drawing characters and action sequences, you also have to fill in the gaps of the story that the text does not provide. The sheer design of colors and patterns will effect the mood the whole tone of a scene and convey some emotions a lot better than a limited vocabulary of words.

And the last stereotype that "even though they are now frequently intended for adults, comics propose nothing other than a return to childhood" is not exactly correct. There are comics that are directed towards younger children and adults who read these may from time to time feel nostalgic but, the reader is still able to distinguish himself from the former child he once was. Most comics, in my limited experience with them, contain a lot of violence and ideas that more than likely aren't suitable for younger children. In group discussion today, someone mentioned the use of political cartoons and the messages they convey. Those are a perfect example of why a adult mentality is needed while reading most comic books. Children would not have the knowledge to know political reference or the association of some images.

In a social atmosphere, in my opinion I don't think children today would even have the imagination to be able to fill in the gaps, to figure out what is waiting in the gutter. With kids learning to use computers at the age of 3, numerous social network and media sites and the mass consumption of cartoons, how many kids do you know who still go outside and pretend in general? It's hard to have someone use their mind while a solution can just be laid out in front of them.

In my opinion, then people put a stereotype of something, it usually means they do not understand it in some way and this usually leads to distaste for it. Like comic books in general. I have always heard they were for the dorks and nerds who all they do is sit with they couple of friends, having "nerd-versations" and conceptualizing. my friend would call it "traveling into the Dork Forest." I do not know much about comic books, even having doing the reading but, I am not going to discount it's credibility or integrity because I do not get it. Once I actually read some comics, maybe that will change. It certainly did for fantasy.

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