It seems all the useful internet talk about comics is currently taking place at Comics Comics, with Jeet Heer, Dash Shaw, and other people with more than four letters in their names contributing appreciations of Tom K, Tim Hensley, comical allusions in the late poetry of John Updike, and other such matters. However, in the always-essential comments, baleful Frank Santoro throws out a shocker with:
I worked all last week at Copacetic Comics and went through the shelves, book by book. I’m sad to report that how UNREADABLE most alt comics are. My 80% figure is not an exaggeration. I made a list (which I’ll never publish). It’s embarrassing how little structure alt comix have compared to mainstream comics.
Vigilant Sean T. Collins stands at the ready with a dissent:
* Related: I’m not sure Frank should be allowed to go on the way he does about how the vast majority of contemporary alternative comics are unreadable garbage without citing a lot of examples. From where I’m standing this is a pretty contrarian POV about the state of comics in 2009 and I want to see where he’s coming from.
We’d like to add that the 80 percent figure is 100 percent less* than the Sturgeon’s Law percentage of mainstream comics that are crap, so by any measure, alt comix are still demonstrably better.
BTW, Hellen Jo (above) is in the 20%, and you will see the effects of dissent in her comic for Vice. MARVEL, please hire Hellen Jo to write and illustrate the new adventures of Daughters of the Dragon, or Runaways, or young Spider-Man, or SOMETHING.
Via the Vice Mag interview with Jo:
Jin & Jam #1 is a coming-of-age comic about a couple of teenagers who meet, become friends, and do shit together. It’s based really really REALLY loosely on a few of my own experiences and those of a few close friends, but I’ve amped everything up with violence, surrealism, and fantastic lies. Eventually the comic will take a more mysterious turn. As for any similarities between the comic and my own life, I also grew up in a Christian Korean home, surrounded by high expectations, but my own “coming of age” was more mundane, typical of a lot of suburban teens. I think Jin & Jam presents a more romanticized, tragic, thrilling version of adolescence than normal, but “coming of age” is this universally profound human experience that I’ve wanted for a while to explore in a comic book.
Hellen Jo Google theme? Holy shit.
* Look, I’ve never been able to figure out this percentage stuff, okay?