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Interview With Ryan North
Excerpt from interview:
Some people see comics as a dying medium, while I see it as just beginning. I believe there will soon be a creative model which follows resolution. For economical reasons, the standard path will be for good stories to be made into comics and good comics to be made into shows or movies. What do you think? Are comics on the way in, on the way out, or is this the golden age?
I actually ALSO have a grand theory for this, and the short version is that due to comics being generally homogenous for decades and even generations, the medium got a bad rap. In the early 80s, unless you were actively seeking them out by going into a comic store (and most casual readers of a medium don't go into a specialty shop), you'd be exposed to comics through three vectors. One is Archie comics, teen romance sold at the supermarket checkout. If you don't like teen romance, Archie isn't going to be that appealing. The other is newspaper strips, but economic forces had conspired to make those as safe and homogenous as possible, and you're not going to see much beyond jokes about how Mondays are terrible and lasagna is delicious in the newspaper comics section (with a few notable exceptions, obviously). The third is movies and television, where you'd get a general cultural knowledge of Superman, Batman, and the rest.
But these three vectors (Archie, newspaper strips, and superheroes) are all very generic: teen romance, safe jokes your grandparents will enjoy, and power fantasy, respectively. And if you're not into those three genres, you'd be forgiven for saying "I guess I just don't like comics", because that's all you'd see comics doing. And of course that's ridiculous, and if someone said "I just don't like books" your first instinct would be to say "You're crazy, try this book, it's one of my favourites." But that's where comics was: a medium that can do anything, but seen only as a collection of genres.
And then webcomics show up! And they're generally free AND easily accessible, and folks start sharing them over email, and it's a very low time commitment to read a single installment. And my theory is that webcomics is acting as an ambassador for comics, showing people that comics aren't what they think they are, and that they can do anything, just as you can write a book about anything or make a movie about anything. There's so many webcomics that on all sorts of subjects in all sorts of styles, and I really believe that as people start reading those, getting exposed to them through their friends, they'll start seeing the comics as more than a collection of genres.
I sometimes get emails from people saying "Hey, I don't like comics but I love what you do" and I'm always tempted to write back and say "Surprise! You like comics." It's all comics, and the genre of what you're doing doesn't really matter. Even if you don't change the pictures, you're still working in that medium, creating something that hasn't been seen before.
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