There was a time when I was reading comics very actively. I was working with Sequart Organization as their Webmaster and Managing editor, attempting to build the fame of Sequart and establish it as a reputable place for comics journalism and scholarship. Little did I know, it already was, but it was nice to think I had something to do with it's fame at the time. There were many initiatives and projects I undertook. Why I did them escapes me. My only lasting legacy from Sequart is my anxiety disorder and my moments of complete mental collapse that still plague me to this day. Somewhere at Desmond's cabin (a friend of mine, one that you should read and follow!) there is a pile of Sequart merch from SDCC 2014. Julian still has a press list I built of academics, a 6 month project where I cataloged every non-profit academic institution, picked over their English department websites, and had my manager run a web-based info blast. (We got a few responses, certainly not a worthy amount.) I learned a lot from the experience, notably that it's hard to sell comics scholarship.
I think that here is where I made the connection in my mind about the nature of anything that is creative. In the sea of genres, art-forms, and media types there is a subjective line in the sand between so-so manifestations and quality ones. There are some really shitty comics out there. Many of them don't challenge creativity or convictions. It's just a bunch of shit. But in the quagmire of shit there are vindicating articles of art that are really good. When I was at Sequart I would write articles about the noteworthiness of a series, elevate its form to death-defying heights, when in reality it wasn't worth the paper it was printed on. Like my fascination with beer transitioning to wine, I have moved from comics to novels. Though there are some good stories worth revisiting.
I think if I could go back and tell myself to avoid Sequart I wouldn't. I wouldn't tell myself about the incoming panic attacks, or the compromising, though valuable, conversations I would have with Julian (who I still love and appreciate to this day), or the slow rift it would create between one of my good friends in part due to the liberal education I would receive from my contributors and colleagues. Comics have indeed taught me more about art, spirituality, film studies, and myself and what I want to be. I've learned about those that I idolize, their flaws and dreams. I've realized the difference between myself and Neil Gaiman is very little. We are just two creators in different life stages and places. I no longer envy him, but admire him.
Alan Moore would say, cynically I imagine, that his tenure in comics did nothing for him, that it was all wasted effort. (He lacks the critical distance from his work that is both moving and personal.) But I know that comics have affected me in many ways, mostly good. At the end of the day, are they worthy to pass on to my children? Of course. But are they worthy to be embodied? To draw identity from? I don't believe so....
I wrote quite a bit today while I was drinking tea.