The comics internet’s been afire and atwitter and presumably afacebook in response to Dan Nadel’s editorial in which he went off on some kickstarter project because they didn’t know Garo like Dan knows Garo, and also Amazon.
I think the most telling point Dan makes is this:
p.s.: Frank Santoro is having another big back issue sale this weekend in NYC!
In short, if you get an idea and try to crowdfund it, you’re a whiny little beggar man undeserving of kissing R. Crumb’s $700 napkin doodles…but if you’re the editor of the Comics Journal and you use your position at the top of the comics critical heap to shill for your friend’s basement sale — hey, that’s professionalism.
I don’t know anything about Garo. I don’t know anything about Kickstarter. I don’t know Box Brown or his comics. But nonetheless, I’m wearisomely familiar with Dan’s argument, because it’s not an argument. It’s an assertion of professional status and in-group clout, which boils down to little more than, “Hey! I’m a publisher and the editor of the Comics Journal, and you’re not. Go around the back, boy, and if you’re lucky I’ll let you drop some pennies in my awesome tin can, which is miles more authentic than your tin can, because it was pissed in by Gary Groth himself.”
I respect Dan’s accomplishments as a publisher; I have enjoyed his writing in the past; I think that he and Tim have done many great things with TCJ. But the signature weakness of Comics Comics remains. That weakness, in case anyone hasn’t noticed, is a supposedly jocular but in fact witheringly earnest cliquishness, which manifests in fulsome sycophancy towards those who are further up the pecking order, and bullying contempt towards those who are further down. To the extent that art comics is an irrelevant insular subculture, it is not because people use the word “Garo” wrong, or because they hand money over to Jeff Bezos so he can do horrible things like support marriage equality. Rather, it’s because, in the art comics world, people like Dan, with institutional power and authority, continue to treat their artform like a grimy little treehouse, from which they emerge only briefly to blink and snicker contemptuously at all those poor schmucks (Dan’s word) who don’t know the password.
Sean Collins has a thoughtful discussion of Dan’s post and related matters.
A commenter named Shannon on the tcj.com thread also had some good things to say.
And here’s the Kickstarter drive that started the ruckus.
The above is from an ad that seems to run perpetually on the Comics Journal site. It’s for celebrity photographer Eric Curtis’ Fallen Superheroes. “Using superheroes (think Batman, Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Superman) as the allegory, Curtis explores the not-so-glamorous and sometimes dark realities of those who strive to live their dreams against all odds,” says the copy if you click through. Plastering that all over your site is a lot more dignified than funding through Kickstarter, I think you’ll agree.