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Your Comics Aren't Comics

There is no doubt that the most popular genre in comics right now is superheroes. It’s been that way for around 50 years. So it’s not too surprising when people not as acquainted with comics confuse the genre for the medium. I have talked to plenty of people over the years who weren’t aware there was any other kind of comic. I can’t blame them. When movies based on superhero comics get made it’s clear what the source material is. When movies based on comics of other genres get made there’s not as much publicity to the fact (ie: A History of Violence, Road to Perdition, 30 Days of Night, etc). What I have a hard time wrapping my head around are some of the comments coming from DC’s top brass. Here’s a quote from Jim Lee.

“One of the key characteristics of the comic book medium is that it is not brought to life by just one voice. These universes are developed and evolved by multiple creative voices, over multiple generations. The influx of new stories is essential to keeping the universes relevant, current, and alive.” - Jim Lee

Lee calls it a “key characteristic of the comic book medium” that multiple people work on a book. This quote absolutely describes DC’s mainstream superhero (and a few non superhero) books. But there are plenty of comics that don’t fit that mold. Using the phrase “key characteristic “ makes it sound like the qualities you’re about to hear are a unifying factor of all comics. He does say the comic book medium, not a genre, all of it. By this definition a lot of comics aren’t actually comics. Is this ignorance or arrogance on Lee’s part? And he’s not the only one at DC that seems to feel that way. Here’s a recent quote from Dan Didio.

"The strength of what comics are is building on other people's legacies and enhancing them and making them even stronger properties in their own right..." - Dan DiDio

If “the strength of what comics are is building on other people’s legacies” then it stands to reason that comics that don’t do this are weak. So think of any comic that is a finite story with only one creative team working on it. Didio apparently believes it’s weak. It could be stronger if only someone else would take a crack at it. Do you like Locke and Key? Me too but it’s weak according to Didio and according to Lee it’s not even a comic. So I thought I would make a list here of stories that Didio and Lee consider to be weak non-comics.

  • 300
  • A Contract with God
  • A History of Violence
  • Akira
  • Are You my Mother?
  • Asterios Polyp
  • Black Hole
  • Blankets
  • Bone
  • Cages
  • Cerebus the Aardvark
  • Echo
  • Ex Machina
  • Fax from Sarajevo
  • Fortune and Glory
  • From Hell
  • Fun Home
  • Ghost World
  • Goldfish
  • Habibi
  • Jimmy Corrigan The Smartest Kid on Earth
  • Kick-Ass
  • Kick-Ass 2
  • Locke & Key
  • Logicomix
  • Maus
  • Midnight Nation
  • My Friend Dahmer
  • Persepolis
  • Pride of Baghdad
  • Rachel Rising
  • Road to Perdition
  • Scott Pilgrim
  • Secret Service
  • Sin City
  • Superior
  • The Book of Genesis
  • The Fixer
  • The Originals
  • Torso
  • Understanding Comics
  • V for Vendetta
  • Watchmen (but don’t worry, DC’s making this one a strong comic now)
  • Y the Last Man

This is all a bit tongue-in-cheek but feel free to add to the list.