People living in competition.

Here in America, we are constantly inundated with a winner/loser mentality. It could be in sports or business or any of the multi-faceted places that those two things touch. It seems that everything in this life is a competition for money, attention, or a trophy. And in most cases money and attention are the byproducts of trophies or awards.
So when it comes to art I expect something a little different. Art, to me, is about subjectivity and self-expression. These, by their very nature, are in opposition to society’s everyday rivalry. Yet somehow in everyday social circles it seems as though people are speaking of artists and creators as if they were the poor defensive linemen of the Pittsburgh Steelers. One of the problems is that there is just too much out there competing for a very small piece of public attention. Obviously I am a comic book artist talking about the arts in general. I think that the point could be made that arts are under serviced, in general, by the mainstream population. Inside the artistic community we have been engaging in an intense rivalry. We have been pushing our agendas in some vain attempt to win a subjective crown. In doing this we have alienated the population who were not privy to our fancy art school educations and years of in-studio brooding.
This is partially in response to the Eric Powel video I posted a few weeks ago. In the video Eric makes a very passionate plea for us to support creator owned comics. This is a point that I very much agree with. In making this point, he goes a long way to bash the larger comic companies. Comics in general are going the way of the dodo. Their demise is greatly exaggerated but the truth is: sales are declining, comic stores have been closing, and digital comics are going to cut into paper comics sales with a pay cut to follow for most creators. Supporting creator owned comics is not a bad agenda but on Powel’s part it is self-serving. The agenda to push is to get people to read more comics. To read better comics. To read comics that you enjoy rather than buy a comic because it has Spider-Man on the cover. If the comic you enjoy has Spider-Man on the cover then so be it. Enjoy it but don’t be limited by it.
This may all seem slightly altruistic because it is. This is my agenda, we need to grow the arts, but all the arts. So that people are not alienated by what we do. So that people can expand their horizons without feeling as though their opinions are wrong. So that any artist can find an audience that will appreciate their work. This isn’t a sports competition. There is no playoff season. Any accolades you receive are based on public favor and can disappear just as fast. As artists we need to celebrate what we love. We need to promote what we think is quality. When we do this we should only have one agenda in mind, growing the public’s attention and appreciation for the arts. You never know what effect your negative criticism of someone’s tastes will have. They may never pick up another comic again because they feel they don’t “get it”.
This post was inspired by the discussion on The Zod Complex episode 35 and Chris Smits’ blog Creator Owned Comics.

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Cartoonist and writer living in NYC.

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