Friday, March 11, 2005

Are We Over Rating Non-Comic Readers In Our Estimation of Comics?

More than once, a few of the writers of this blog (myself included) have used as at least a partial explanation for why a comic book is good that "even our non-comic reading significant others liked it."

Now I never had a problem with that, it made sense to me...after all, if someone who did not like comic books normally liked it, then that has to be a significant plus in favor of the book, right?

However, a pal of mine teased me for putting too much credence upon the opinions of my girlfriend, and, like any person should, I figured I would examine said claim to see if there is any merit there.

My concern with the idea of placing emphasis upon the opinions of non-comic readers is that it really does not say much critically about the book. For instance, if Joe or Alex or myself say something about a comic book, you have all our other posts to compare it to, so if you read my posts and think that I am full of crap, then if I say "____ is good," then you are less likely to believe the statement. Meanwhile, if you read everything Alex writes, and find yourself agreeing with it, then you are more likely to take a statement from him like "____ is good" as correct.

Well, that is the thing, besides knowing that they have the good/bad taste to become romantically involved with us, you really do not know anything about our significant others, so it really does not hold as much critical weight to say that they liked a comic book, as there is nothing to judge their opinion by....leaving their opinions only really to exist as the opinion of a non-comic fan, or the more popular, "normal person."

And really, do any of us really believe that non-comic fans somehow know more about what is good or not than comic fans? Even if we admit that they are biased against comics coming in, there could be all sorts of other reasons why they liked the book that had nothing to do with whether the book was well-written, well-drawn, etc. After all, most goth comic readers do not enjoy most comics, but they DO enjoy goth comics, for reasons that generally do not coincide with the books being well-written, well-drawn, etc. (as Alex so eloquently noted awhile back).

On the other hand, while there could be all sorts of other reasons for enjoying a comic, one would think the most likely reason that someone who is normally biased against comics would enjoy a book is that the book appeared to be good. So I think there definitely is merit in referencing the views of a non-comic reader....I just think that perhaps we are (or at least I am) over-rating their importance when I talk about the effect of a comic book.

What do y'all think?


Blogger Chad said...

Every time one of you starts in about your girlfriends loving a comic I can almost hear "See? There are comics that cool people who aren't nerds like me really dig! Comics can be cool! it isn't just all super heroes! Really! Look! There's some cool stuff! For grown-ups!"

Non-comic readers scoop up Danielle Steel books in numbers that dwarf the best-selling comic book exponentially. Non-comic readers make John Grisham an insane amount of money for writing the same book over and over again. Non-comic readers think Nicholas Sparks is an Important Author. Non-comic readers bought The Corrections by the caseload and never read it.

And yet, somehow, there's some inner nerd need to prove to people whom think Bridget Jones' Diary is classic literature that comics aren't about men in tights.

Every time one of you mentions it I don't see you overestimating your significant others. I see you underestimating yourselves.

3/12/2005 12:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A lot of times, I hear a comic nerd's desperation to be vindicated when they stress that "other people" like a certain comic. Can you imagine a film buff doing that? "My girlfriend doesn't understand why I watch those foreign films or old black and white movies, but she loved Johnson Family Vacation. It's a movie that even non-film buffs can enjoy1"

Given the right context, and an explanation for why the non-comics-reader liked the book, it can be a useful thing to point out. I consider _Blankets_' universal appeal to be a symptom of its quality, but only because I could talk for hours about all the other things that make it good. But I suspect that The Filth is not a good book to give to someone who isn't used to the comics medium, and that doesn't mean that it's bad.


3/13/2005 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger Joe Rice said...

When I use non comic fans as examples, I usually do it so as to say "Here's one to loan your friend who thinks cape comics are retarded." Or "Here's a story appreciable by someone who doesn't give a shit about what color Captain Marvel Junior's cape is."

Sure, the general non comic fan keeps Grisham in business. It's not like "comic fans" have better taste overall. Our shitty bretheren will buy almost anything with tights or tits.

3/13/2005 06:59:00 PM  
Blogger Michael May said...

Yup, there's a definite hole in the logic somewhere.

I once turned a Non-Comics Reader on to FROM HELL. Which led to his reading LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN. Which led to TOP TEN.

So, now that he's a Comics Reader, is his opinion less valid than it was before he read FROM HELL?

3/14/2005 03:16:00 PM  

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