Comics Are Important
Comics are important.
Setting aside the fact that comics can be influential and meaningful in the lives and development of individuals (which is far from insignificant, but is merely tangential to the subject at hand), comics play a role in modern society that can not to be understated: Unfettered imagination.
From a young age, the value of the imagination is touted, praised, encouraged, then relegated, quashed, and ultimately very nearly shunned. What was once a key tool in the development of the mind and the furthering of understanding of the world somehow becomes but a whimsical byproduct to only be indulged in the solitude of our own feeble entertainment. Where it was once clever and creative to fabricate your own reality and act out stories entirely of your own making, society steps in and says that there are rules to which we must conform, a right way and a wrong way to do everything, and that such fanciful notions are at best that single loathsome quality they call "childish."
Why must conformity to the norm be preferable to ingenuity? Why is such a crucial tool in the development of a child relegated to near detestation?
The answers are many, and varied, but they all share one common trait: They are wrong. Every attempt to justify or explain this away is simply wrong, because the very notion itself is wrong. Imagination is not childish; it's crucial.
Selfishness is childish. Demanding control over another is childish. But imagination? Imagination is the thing that worlds are made from. Imagination is the thing our world is made from. Imagination is ingenuity, creativity, development, progress. Imagination forms the world, and imagination changes the world. The importance of imagination is immeasurable.
Comics are imagination unfettered. Greater than any Hollywood movie with technical limitations, budgets, profitability concerns, and creative oversights, comics allow complete creative freedom limited only by the imagination and ability of the creators. In comics, you can create literally anything. That's powerful, and it's dangerous, and it's exciting.
Comics can tell any story a movie or a novel can, in completely unique ways. They are not relegated to superheroes and action stories (have you read Essex County by Jeff Lemire?). They can challenge cultural and societal understandings of complex issues (try reading Persepolis). They can offer deep, philosophical analyses of the way we view the world (see Asterios Polyp). They can be critically acclaimed and recognized in the literary world (both Watchmen and Maus are excellent examples). They can be emotionally charged and incredibly moving (Underwater Welder). They can be anything. As assuredly as any great book can, comics can change people, and in turn change the world.
Because people are important.
Imagination is important.
Comics are important.
- Joel Lux
Joel Lux is a member of the Mystery School Comic Group. He has contributed two pieces, Traces and A Descendant Godling, to their forthcoming anthology, See Sharp Knives. He has multiple other projects in the works, if life will be so kind as to allow him the necessary time to get the work done. If you couldn't tell, he's passionate about the comic medium, and creative pursuits in general.