I just started Reading Comics by Douglas Wolk. Itâ€™s an interesting book. In the first chapter Wolk raises several points that I think have strong parallels with RPGs, story games and things that the Forgr/indie/story games communities have been talking about a lot ove the last few months. Here are 4 separate bits from the first chapter. Iâ€™ll let you draw your own conclusions. Iâ€™ll just say this: thereâ€™s certainly value in making and learning from mistakes. But isnâ€™t it wise to look at the mistakes of our older brother and try to avoid them?
-Jake (also posted on my blog here: http://jake-richmond.livejournal.com/25325.html)
â€œAny art with a bygone golden age is doomed to try to repeat it, and to repeat its failings. The big problem with the idea of the Silver Age is that, by definition, the Golden Age is follows is lost, and the people who use that name are working from the assumption that the gold belongs in the past. The cartoonists of the 30s and 40s and early 50s were, for the most part, desperate, underpaid kids and sleazy entrepreneurs. Sometimes they managed to make crudely powerful imagination bombs anyway, and a small handful of them were ahead of their time; they knew they could fob off any old thing on the children who were their audience- and did. All of them left their mark on the next generation of cartoonists, though, because they were the Ancients. For the next couple of decades comics either imitated the Golden Ageâ€™s artistic and storytelling strategies, developed improvements on them, or (occasionally) rebelled against them.â€
â€œFrom then until the turn of the millennium, those three books (Dark Knight, Watchmen and Maus) became the standard against which comics that wanted to be important or meaningful were measured and the standard to which too many cartoonists who wanted to create something important or meaningful (but didnâ€™t know how) aspired.â€
â€œAnother common error is to assert that highbrow comics are, somehow, not really comics but something else (preferably with a fancier name) â€“different not just in breed but in species from their mass-cultural namesakes. Thereâ€™s a certain nose-in-the-air class consciousness inherent in this particular argument.â€
â€œIf you try to draw a boundary that includes everything that counts as comics and excludes everything that doesnâ€™t, two things happen: first, the medium always wriggles across that boundary, and second, whatever politics are implicit in the definition always boomerang on the definer.â€