Posts Tagged ‘Sidney Fairfield’

A Ramble Through the History of Comics Criticism

Posted by on October 18th, 2010 at 12:01 AM
The Comics Journal passed its 30th anniversary not so long ago, and I intended to take note of it by reviewing the book I'm going to review here. Serious criticism of comics may have gone forward without the Journal, but it's difficult to know where. The only other periodical devoted regularly to the comics was, back then — 30 years ago — the Comics Buyer's Guide, but it was then and is now essentially a cheerleader for the industry, not a critic of any of it. And ivy-covered walls would likely not be much help in fostering a serious comics criticism for general consumption: Academia has a penchant for drowning itself in self-indulgent obscurities in prose and thought. Like much theoretical scholarly endeavor, exploration of this sort is useful in its own peculiar, trickle-down way: Some of it legitimizes the art form as it eventually filters through to popular criticism, and, hence, to the makers of comics, thereby influencing not only the cultural acceptance of comics but the ways comics are made. But academic criticism is not intended for a general readership. Or even a "fan readership." No, it took Gary Groth and the Journal to kick-start serious critical writing about the comics. But we'd be mistaken if we believed there was no serious criticism before the Journal. There was. A good bit of it.

 

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