I like comics. A lot. I read comics. A lot of them. But I've officially come to the conclusion that there are too many of them.
The conference I attended this past week (and I'll get to a more formal review/summary of that later) was attended by many notable comics luminaries. Very talented people who have been making comics for years -- at 40, Chris Ware was the youngest participant -- and have been lauded by any number of groups over the years. All of them had names that were easily recognizable, from Robert Crumb to Art Spiegelman to Lynda Barry to Joe Sacco to Alison Bechdel. And, geez, even the audience members who were NOT on stage included the likes of Jessica Abel and Gary Groth!
While the general works that these exceptionally talented folks have done was known to me, I have to admit that the vast majority of it I have not read. Maus? Sure. Zap Comix? Yeah. Palestine? Yes. But the vast majority of their collective work? No. Jimmy Corrigan? No. Fun Home. Missed it. David Boring? Sounds good, but no. Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary? Don't think I've even seen it before this weekend. Nothing against the creators by any means; I just haven't gotten to everything I'd like to read.
While the creators were on stage talking, there were pages and panels from their various works displaying on a large screen behind them. It was immediately obvious that the works were very well done -- even the snippets of things I hadn't seen before were clearly well done and worth reading in their entirety. And, if that weren't enough, there was plenty of cross-referencing done by the various creators, talking about how each others' works inspired them to do more or challenged them to push their own limits.
And, to really hammer the point home, there were a couple tables set up with copies of many of these works on them. Just flipping through them was an amazing experience to see all of that skill on display in such a small area. I quickly racked up a good sized wish list of books that I want to really look at now.
But we're talking about the works of exactly seventeen people. They don't have the market on good comics cornered. They don't have the market on good comics published in America cornered. They don't even have the market on good independent comics published in America in the past few decades cornered.
I try not to waste my time with bad comics. I accidentally pick up some stinkers from time to time, but I like to think that most of what I read is good. But that has yet to include many almost-universally-hailed-as-great comics. In large part because I don't have the money to buy all the books I want or the time to read them all even if I could afford to. Before heading to this conference, I had over $100 of comics in my cart over at Amazon, plus another $50 worth in my "save for later" category. Plus another $100-$150 or so on my wishlist. That was before this weekend; it didn't include any works by any of the creators I saw. And I'm barely even scratching the surface on American comics!
Anyone want to provide me a fellowship where I could sit and read comics all day without having to pay for them all?