Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

August 15, 2014

Not Comics: Does The Genre To Literary Progression Exist?

A pair of people sent along a link to this essay by Tim Parks that declines to believe that old expression about there being value in a person reading anything. It's a super-bizarre article, though.

imageFirst, Parks assumes that the value of people reading anything is that they'll progress from a certain kind of material to a different kind of material, and I'm not sure everyone would agree with him that's the only value of reading. I know plenty of people that think reading itself has a value no matter what's read, and never care if there's a difference in reading material over time. I don't agree with them, but I'm certain they exist.

Second, Parks claims that he's never known anyone to move from reading genre material to reading literary material. I know about two dozen people that made this progression, and suspect I'm in contact with hundreds. I may know even more people for whom this is true in comics. While it's not a path that describes everybody that reads comics of a certain type, I'm not sure that alt-comics would exist without some folks developing a taste for material other than genre work and being able to act on it because of their experience within the medium. He also seems to think that the existence of a variety of models means the proposed model doesn't exist and that if you still like genre fiction you didn't make that progression, neither of which seems like a halfway reasonable argument. Has anyone ever argued that that particular progression was paramount or defined by rigid adherence? I do agree with Parks that people are more likely these days to reject the value of literary work as being distinct from that of genre work.

So what to make of this? I imagine in terms of comics the piece can serve as a reminder for those of us that once preferred Thor and now find Edmond Baudoin more interesting that not everyone followed that same path or joins us in either admiration. I think there's a slight schism between older and younger alt-comics readers along these broad lines. Still, what an oddball article.
posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink

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