The Comic Queen

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Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Queenly Declarations: Let Them Have Patience

I’ve noticed a trend in comic book reading that concerns me. There are a growing number of complaints that comics take too short a time to read. Readers almost to the point of giving up because their monetary investment isn’t resulting in the amount of time of entertainment they’d like.

One example I’ve heard cited bothers me especially. This is that while a two-hour movie may cost $8 to see in the theater, 5 comics costing $15 can be read in as little as 25 minutes. There are some big differences here that make this comparison moot. Here’s the biggest difference: YOU have control over how fast you read. You do not have control over the pace of the film. Another difference: the comic you can read over and over if you’d like, but one viewing of the movie is all you get at the theater.

So, let’s even the comparison up a bit, then. Alright, you buy “Napoleon Dynamite” for $20, and you can watch that about an unlimited number of times (well, I could anyway – jeez!). You buy $20 worth of comics, and you can also, in theory, read those about an unlimited number of times as well. What’s the difference then? YOU are the biggest difference. Sure, you can watch a movie in a shorter time if you fast forward through the whole thing, and you’ll probably get the gist of it. But if you truly want to have the chance to enjoy the movie, you will watch the film in the amount of time the director intended.

Now one joy of reading, or viewing art for that matter, is that you have more control over the time involved. How much time did the creator intend for the reader to take? You’ll probably never know. Therefore, the reader has to take a certain amount of responsibility for the length of time in which a comic is read. And I contend this is more responsibility than most people give it.

At the blog “Ringwood,” Ken Lowery recently posed the question: “What does the artist owe to the audience, and what does the audience owe to the artist?” I think we’re too focused on what the artist or creator owes the audience, and we don’t think enough about what the audience owes the artist. I contend that the audience owes the creator much more patience and attention than is typically given.

Therefore, my Queenly Declaration is that readers will take the time to really READ and ENJOY their comics. You’ve spent your hard-earned cash, now enjoy the fruits of your labor. If you are reading through your comics like you take Pepto-Bismol – as fast as possible so you don’t really taste it – then maybe you need to be trying a few different comics.

One of the wonderful parts of the comics medium is that the reader has more control than many other storytelling mediums. So take control – think about what you are reading, take in the details, really take the time to look at the work the artist took so much time creating, and really think about the words that are put on the page.

Now go, read, and really take it in for a change! I promise this will result in a completely different reading experience, and perhaps in a different mindset as well.

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