Tom King, DC Comics’ top writer, took to Twitter Sunday to do a little comic book gatekeeping. Here’s the tweet:
This tweet bothered me. First of all, he began by saying comics aren’t for everyone. What a depressing thing to read. It wasn’t said by someone who doesn’t understand or know anything about comics. No, it was said by the best writer in the medium.
Comics are everyone
I hate the old negative stereotype that comic consumers are pathetic man-babies who live in their mother’s basement. That’s not at all how I see the consumers of comics. I won’t even watch The Big Bang Theory because it bases its comedy on the hackneyed belief comics are for nerds. I reject that.
The last comic book convention I attended was the inaugural Awesome Con held in nearby Washington DC. Tom King was there selling his novel, A Once Crowded Sky. I went back to buy a copy after walking the sales floor, but he had already sold out. 🙁
Tom had to see what I saw: a large, diverse crowd of people. There looked to be as many women there as men. People were there with their children. I didn’t see a bunch of basement dwelling nerds struggling mightily to be heard. I saw normal people.
Comic creators don’t exist to recognize and amplify the voices of nerds. On the contrary, they exist to create entertaining stories.
If someone is struggling to be heard, they need to see a therapist or a member of the clergy. They need to go to church or join a cult.
Comics is not the medium for outcasts, nerds, and outsiders
Comics are no more the medium of outcasts, nerds, and outsiders than movies and TV are. Much like a well-made movie or TV show, a well made comic is for anyone.
Could you imagine David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the showrunners for HBO’s Game of Thrones, saying their television show isn’t for everyone, that it’s for nerds who don’t fit in? No, I can’t either.
It would be like John Harbaugh, the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens saying watching the NFL isn’t for everyone. To watch football, you need to be a jock, preferably one who played football at least at the high school level. At the bare minimum, you should be able to bench 225 pounds at least 15 times. He wouldn’t say that because it would be stupid. That’s because the NFL markets itself for everyone. They don’t gatekeep to stop non-jocks from watching football.
The comic book industry is dying
This type of thinking in comics has to stop. There are many reasons the comic book industry is dying. Making books specifically for nerds is not a way to keep it afloat. I’m not even sure Tom King really thinks this. I don’t detect that type of thinking from his books. He seems focused on creating interesting and compelling stories. As a consumer, his books are the type I like to spend money on.