It Does Not Follow
April 21, 2009

You know what? I haven't had a really good rant in quite some time.

I noticed way back in oh, 5th or 6th grade, that there was a pattern to the history of New York. A wave of immigrants came to town and they were considered evil, bad guys who only wanted to kill, rape and pillage and basically they were going to destroy the moral fabric of this great nation.

Until the next wave of immigrants came in. And then the previous batch said that THESE guys were evil, bad guys who only wanted to kill, rape and pillage and destroy the moral fabric of this great nation.

Until the next wave of immigrants came in. And then the previous batch said that THESE guys were evil, bad guys who only wanted to kill, rape and pillage and destroy the moral fabric of this great nation.

And so on.

Now, maybe this meant something more to me since I grew up in Texas and constantly heard about people who didn't dry their backs after a bath (which is what I *thought* they meant when I was younger) and n-words. My best friend was half-Mexican - and I just thought she had a good tan until my mother explained that her dad was shhhh, whisper it, Mexican. I didn't get it. People are people. They're not bad because they're Catholic or black or Mexican or Italian or Irish or Baptist or a Jehovah's Witness. People stand and rise on their own, not because of birthplace or ethnicity or religion.

I have seen people who claimed to be Catholic who were as evil as they come and people who were Catholic and were delightful, thoughtful, brilliant people. Same for every other group I listed up there.

My recent outrage, though, is a little less socially controversial than race or religion.

Comics have now become graphic novels and since Maus and several other seminal works, have gained a credibility and standing as actual "good reading material." Comics/Graphic novels are not necessarily the new immigrants on the chopping block any more. At one time it was science fiction and fantasy that was the pulp fiction equivalent of the new immigrants. Today a SciFi writer can win a Pulitzer (SciFi, dammit, not this SyFy bullshit). To be perfectly honest, I can remember when I looked down my nose at "series Sci Fi," that is novelizations of movies and the massive spawn of paperbacks continuing to explore that world - Star Trek, Star Wars, Forgotten Realms, and many others. And then I tried a couple of Star Wars books and discovered that whilst some of them are what I call "rent payment" books, there are long story arcs stretching out over many many books that are nothing short of stunning. (If you like SF at all, the New Jedi Order segment of Star Wars books is quite stunning and complex. The young adults' series about some of the kids at the Jedi Academy were also really nice children's books that had enough meat for adults to read as well.)

So I've pretty much learned my lesson over the years. You can't judge a book by its cover nor a person by his religion or her ethnicity or place of birth.

I'm saying that I do not buy into the idea that people who give their content away for free on the web - or via Kindle or the Apple Apps store even, are second rate. There are plenty of good bloggers out there who have wonderful things to say, important things to say, meaningful. The "established" media should fear the fact that talented people are gaining attention because it shines a spotlight on just how staid and in many cases, stupid, the "established" media have become. These talented folks gaining attention on the web are proving that there is a demand for intellectual, factual news. (And, to be honest, of course there's also apparently a LOT of demand for stupid shite as well.) But again, individual sites stand and fall on their own. Websites are not inherently bad nor are they to be inherently distrusted.

For example, Wikipedia is the first place I turn to learn something new. A co-worker's sister was diagnosed with Moya Moya disease and the first place I hit was Wikipedia because I thought the description might be more understandable to me than say, the Mayo Clinic. Did I worry that because it was a wiki the facts might be wrong? I didn't worry about that any more than I used to worry about going to a physical encyclopedia when I was a kid. Did I use that as my only source? No. It was a starting point. Now I had some idea what it was and I knew the correct spelling - I could investigate further with more specific and "authoritative" sources.

I didn't pay to use Wikipedia. Free to use does not mean zero worth.

And this brings me to the reason for today's rant.

Just WTF is wrong with the "established" newspaper comic artists who see webcomics as the new immigrants in town? It reminds me of when I first realized I was gay ... and one of my first thoughts was - Well, at least there won't be any gay racists (because being gay meant they knew all about prejudice and of course wouldn't turn that around on someone else). I couldn't have been more wrong. Here I thought that people who knew about prejudice wouldn't be prejudiced against someone else because they knew what it was like.

As Nelson says: Ha, ha.

There's been a bit of a flare-up between some "established," paid, syndicated comic strip artists and the webcomics folk. In fact, Wiley Miller of Non Sequitur posted this:

Non Sequitur comic

The bit I had to clip off because I still haven't gotten around to changing my blog layout is a large text square stating: Publishing's sin of omission.

Jules at Marsh Rocket has an excellent little rant about this as well.

My point is that there is ALWAYS another wave of immigrants whether they be from another country, religion or simply have a different idea about how to do things. The new guy is not always bad, is not always wrong, is not always stupid as Miller seems to think here. Different isn't bad ... it's just different. Time may eventually point out that the failing newspaper model wasn't the best business model for a comic artist. Time may eventually say the same thing about webcomics. Either way, that doesn't make the newspaper artist or the web artist stupid - just different.

Can we all just please quit berating those who are different from us? Have a little respect and common decency? Please?

Meanwhile, I'm going to go read one of my dumb Star Wars books.

Posted by Red Monkey at April 21, 2009 7:11 PM | Never Underestimate the Power of Human Stupidity | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |


Alan said:

Interesting comparisons. I have to admit to being enough of a snob to actually sometimes look down on graphic novels (which indeed are a recognized and fast growing genre at the library). I'm intrigued by the comparison to immigrants, but not 100% sure if I buy into that or not.

Red Monkey says: Well, I certainly wouldn't push the comparison very far, but I think it's fair to say that the new guy on the block is always looked at with suspicion and some fear whether we're talking about the new young turk in the department, a "new" genre of writing or this newfangled internet thing. There's a certain amount of "established = comfortable = known quantity = good" that just repeats itself ad nauseum throughout history.
Nice to see you, btw! :) And see if your library has Craig Thompson's Blankets - very nice graphic novel read. No blood, no gore, no superheroes, no violence ... doesn't sound like a comic book at all ;)
April 22, 2009 5:32 AM
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