Friday, December 01, 2006

With Great Power, Also Comes Great Snobbery

Tonight our Library is hosting a talk by comic book artist Don Kramer, current penciler on DC's Detective Comics. Don's visit set me thinking about libraries' and that venerable art form, the comic book. It's true, lately; comics have crept their way into public libraries, but only under their high minded secret identities, "The Graphic Novel." I personally don't know any libraries that subscribe to a monthly comics title. The attitude still remains that comics are for the simple minded and that they don't constitute real productive reading. Let's consider for a moment the impact comics creator Stan Lee has had on our culture. For starters, he co-created Spider-Man, The Hulk, Iron Man, The Fantastic Four, The X-Men, Daredevil and legions more. I'd like to know what other writer has had more of his characters featured in their own movies. If movies are not high minded enough, a Spider-Man quote written by Lee is on a plaque outside the Rhode Island Attorney General's office, "With great power, also comes great responsibility." I sure want my Attorney General to keep that in mind! I'll admit, I loved and still love comics. I think their impact on me was all positive. By the time I was twelve years old I knew what "doppelganger" and "verisimilitude" meant. Do you? I learned those words in "simple minded" comics. In primary school I was in the advanced reading class because of comics, though my teacher wouldn't acknowledge it. Reading and vocabulary isn't the only positive impact comics have had on me. Because, of Jack Kirby, Neal Adams, and John Byrne, I taught myself how to do this:

I'm not sure who I'd be without comics; though I am sure I don't want to know.

Steve Bertrand
Assistant Director


Anonymous Cindy said...

I Love the drawing. You are so talented! Call it by whatever name you like, but a graphic novel, "American Born Chinese," was a Finalist for the 2006 National Book Award.

December 01, 2006 8:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Cindy. You have amazing talent and I am glad that in pursuing my own so-called "art career" that I have someone to draw (ha ha) inspiration from.

December 07, 2006 10:01 AM  
Blogger Ivan Chew said...

Hey nice one, Steve -- both the blog post and the drawing. If we do meet again, we should trade pictures! My shameless plug for my art blog, at MyRightBrain : )

On a serious note -- I find that some detractors of comics and graphic novels have never even read one, or have generalised the entire genre based on their limited encounters. Maybe librarians can do more to assure such readers/ customers that (1) the library collection is not going to be replaced by comics, and (2) there are more than just those by Marvel -- not that there's anything wrong with Marvel comics, but the point being there are many styles and content to comics, just like there are many genre types for books.

December 18, 2006 8:41 AM  
Blogger Sue said...

When I was little I sat on my grandfather's knee and read "little scamp" and "marmaduke". This was how I learned to read. I later graduated to "Archie" comics. What a better testimony to comics than to be able to say, Librarians and Library Technicians all over North America learned to read via the comic book. A lot of readers have a short attention span and will read short concise items as opposed to a whole book.
Good for you on your drawing, good luck in the future!

December 20, 2006 6:34 AM  

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