Why Long is Wrong

So I've been trying to upload a comic to the site (yes we still do those) and it wasn't working so I got mad. Then I decided to read comics because they bring peace to my heart (and someday, the world). I went to Questionable Content which was funny and full of girls fighting, so that it made me happy. But then I read Jaques' rant on the side of the comic and now I'm mad again putting me right back where I started. Thanks for nothing Jeph!

Actually all he did was point me at an article from Wired by Tony Long. Long is a columnist and as such he tends to get a little critical of things. I understand, I'm a columnist myself (here and elsewhere) so I know how it goes. Still there should be a definite line between being opinionated and being ignorant.

In the later half of his article he talks about how Gene Leun Yang doesn't deserve to be nominated for a Nation Book Foundation Book of the Year Award simply because his book, American Born Chinese is in comic form. Long admits to not having read the book and gives as his reason for feeling so that comics aren't as hard to write as what he calls real novels. Now I would agree with him if these were your standard 24 page comic book, but this book is 240 freaking pages. That's longer than one of the other books in the category and within 35 of two others. So this book was no small task.

I haven't read the book myself either so I won't defend it individually anymore. I will however defend the genre. Comics are a lot harder to write than they appear. First off they're predominately dialogue which is harder to write than description. I'd wager (once again I haven't read the book, though I plan too) that American Born Chinese has as much dialogue if not more than its competitors. And while you don't have to describe people and places in comics, you do have to draw them so you have to plan them out just as much as a traditional novelist would.

Really I understand why Long gets confused. You see it everywhere. Because comics are so much quicker to read people assume they are easier to write. It always surprises people that I'll spend twice as much time writing a 600 word humor piece than I will on a 1,200 word article. I'm sure movies, TV and song writers face similar misconceptions. I don't think Long wrote out of malice, just misinformation.

Regardless, Yang's become a finalist is an awesome step for comics in general. He deserves it.

What do you guys think? Why do comics not get as much recognition as other artforms?

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One thought on “Why Long is Wrong

  1. I work with puppets for my day job and I get a lot of the same stuff. Because puppets are often for children they are seen as OBVIOUSLY inexpensive to produce and easy to manipulate. Actually, a good puppet is a feat of engineering, design and high craft with often a variety of media.

    Comics also get a bum rap for many of the same reasons, since commercial mainstream comics are most often for kids (kids who like huge boobs and graphic violence mind you) People assume there can’t be much too them.

    As I branch outward as an artist, I am discovering that just about anything that can be made can be made at a level of genius and there is likely someone if not a large community making genius work in anything that could be called a medium… somewhere.

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