The Return of the Comics Manifesto

By | Friday, November 13, 2020 Leave a Comment
Last night, I came across a "Comics Manifesto" that I wrote back in 2009. I think it still holds up, especially considering that I (apparently) dashed it off pretty quickly. The only awkward bit is that the Xerics are no longer around; however, I think the sentiment still holds -- find any comic that won a Xeric in the past and you've got something worth reading! Anyway, here it is again. Pretty much as viable as it was a decade ago...

Sean Kleefeld's Comic Manifesto
How To Read & Appreciate Comics the Same Way I Do

  1. Comics, as a medium, are inherently interesting and every variation of comics (graphic novels, comic strips, illustrated instruction manuals, cave paintings, etc.) is worth studying.
  2. The culture that surrounds comics and comics creation is inherently interesting and worth studying.
    • A subset of Rules 1-2 is that comics and comic fandom do not need to be defended or justified.
  3. Every comic should be approached as free from preconceptions as possible; any given work should stand or fall on its own merits, or lack thereof.
  4. Comics created by Jack Kirby, Will Eisner or Windsor McCay are sheer genius.
  5. Except when they aren't.
  6. There is no Rule 6.
  7. Don't read comics out of habit; an ongoing comic that fails to live up to its promise (whether to entertain, educate, inform, whatever...) should be ignored.
  8. Every individual reader has their own preferences and, while a critical eye can be used to critique any given work, there are good odds that there will always be somebody who appreciates it.
  9. Critical analysis of a comic should not include personal attacks or judgments against their creator(s).
  10. Be honest and own up to any statement you make as if you made it on a legally-binding, public document.
  11. As a reader, you have no stakeholder claim whatsoever in any comic created by another individual; they are free to do whatever they wish with their creations.
  12. Lend whatever support you can to those creators whose work you do appreciate and enjoy, even if it's only to tell other people about the quality of work they're doing.
  13. Don't argue with idiots.
  14. The future of comics is online.
  15. But there's still absolutely nothing wrong with creating your own comics using a #2 pencil and some spare typing paper.
  16. The "next big thing" in comics will come from someone you've never heard of before.
  17. Xeric-winning comics are worth reading.
  18. A gorilla or a monkey on the cover of any given comic makes it better. (Pirates are pretty cool, too.)
  19. The key to really understanding and appreciating comics is to understand as much of comics as a whole as possible -- that means studying the history of the medium and its creators; influential works and cultural references both within and outside comicdom; the creation, production and distribution processes; contemporaneous as well as current reactions to works; etc.
  20. Comics are the Alpha and the Omega; all things can relate back to a discussion of comics.
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