The Golden Age of Comics

By JON MEYER  |  August 2, 2007

It’s interesting that you bring up manga here, because it’s worth noting that it’s not included in the book, even though it’s immensely popular these days.
The truth is, I don’t have enough manga literacy to be able to make any good, sweeping statements, which is kind of one of the reasons I didn’t talk about it much. I read a few things I liked and I read a few things that didn’t do much for me, but I didn’t want to come off as Mr. Manga Expert Guy if I just don’t have the chops for it. And in fact, I really wasn’t looking at much manga when I was writing the book because I decided early on that it wouldn’t be a part of it, as that wasn’t where I wanted to focus. But now that I’m done I’ve started to read some stuff and realized that “Huh, this is kinda cool.”

Well, there’s always room for a sequel.
One would hope [Laughs].

But going along with that, it seems a lot of people these days are getting into comics through, shall we say, alternate means with Hollywood making a comic-book adaptation every few months. As a critic, what effect would you say does this have on the medium?
This is the kind of classic “Good for the Jews/Bad for the Jews” question. But it never hurts to point more attention at comics. I think the economical example of it not being a bad thing would be The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie—one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen.

Doubt anyone would argue with you there…
Exactly. But it was based on a really good comics project and lo and behold, people started buying it. It got the word out. But at the same time, I see a certain number of comics coming out now that are just blatantly movie pitches. And those bug me because they don’t work—they’re not interesting on the comics level because they’re trying so hard to be storyboards and pitches, and it’s just not the same. That bugs me, but you know, it’s not like everyone these days is trying for that.

Good point. Anything you want to leave for anyone getting ready to read the book?
I really hope it starts some arguments. I never wanted to be the source, the reference point, the last word on all this stuff. I wanted to pick some fights. And more than anything, I’m really curious to see what kind of arguments are started.

Douglas Wolk discusses Reading Comics: How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean on August 2, 7 pm, at Brookline Booksmith, 279 Harvard St, Brookline; 617.566.6660.



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