WHY ARE COMICS IMPORTANT

WHY COMICS ARE IMPORTANT
By JRE’ BEST
I love comic books. They are a passion of mine, one that few people in my life share. Some days it feels like more people would rather throw themselves in front of a speeding bullet, than read a comic. I get odd looks whenever I’m reading a comic in public, sometimes even questions like “Do you read real books?”, “Aren’t you a little old to be reading comics?”, “Do those really count as books?”. The assumption is that an entire medium is only meant for children and I am some man-child for reading them, being 17 years old. The implication is ridiculous, imagine if you were looking through an art portfolio and someone walks up to you and asks “aren’t you a little old for that, don’t only kids draw art?”

I sound bitter but I truly am not, I’m confident in the stuff that I like to the point where something like that wouldn’t bother me; because I know the inherent value of comic books. Comics are a medium filled with amazing and inventive stories unrestricted by budget or physical space. They’re tales where vigilantes and beings that shape our universe, can stare directly into each other’s eyes and nothing feels out of place.

To me when it comes to the big two Publishers Marvel and DC, comic books are a way to tell what society thinks a hero should be.
At the beginnings of superhero fiction in the Depression era, characters like Superman who we perceive to be a god-like figure now, fought not for the U.S. government but for the rights of the U.S. people.

At the beginnings of superhero fiction in the Depression era, characters like Superman who we perceive to be a god-like figure now, fought not for the U.S. government but for the rights of the U.S. people.

But when it comes to comics with a message, one must talk about Milestone Comics. Started by Dwayne McDuffie and, Denys Cowan in the early 90’s Milestone Comics was a comic company dedicated to bringing diverse and interesting characters. Milestone Comics touched on touchy subjects for the time such as LGBT rights, drug abuse and teenage sex. While lots of comics strive for change when it comes to things like feminism or racial tolerance. They always seem to stumble on representation. These were white writers trying to appeal to a demographic they were not a part of and weren’t especially educated on; Black, Asian and Mexican heroes were all made up of stereotypes. Milestone was different these were comics made by black people writing about black superheroes. Milestone quickly became the most popular black owned comic company of all time and has characters that people know to this day such as Static Shock. Just this year Marvel announced that Iron Man one of their most popular superheroes is going to be replaced with a 15-year old black girl. This tumblr_nk2tjccsvw1tuy8zto3_1280is just the latest in what seems to be an initiative at Marvel to diversify their heroes. Ms. Marvel traditionally a blonde Caucasian Air Force pilot changed her name to Captain Marvel and now we have a new Ms. Marvel who is the first Pakistani female to ever get her own ongoing comic book series. There are two Spider-Men at the moment Peter Parker, the one we’ve always known and Miles Morales the half black half – Mexican Spider-Man, who Peter Parker mentors. While cynics have criticized this diversification, frankly they’re being exclusionary and are complaining because something is new. Comic book history has always been laid out in terms of “Ages”. The 1930s up to the 1940’s were the Golden Age and the 50’s and 70’s where the Silver Age. I would call this current era the Expansion Age, a time when writers and artists bring in all sorts of diverse and interesting characters trying to get as many people represented as possible. It really shows that anybody can be a superhero, and that’s why I think comic books are so important.

 

Contact Jre Best: Twitter:@jrebest FaceBook: jre best Email: Jrebest91@gmail.com Tumblr: Comicritical.tumblr.com

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