Heidi MacDonald posted a piece yesterday talking about comics crit in general and (to some degree) HU in particular. As Heidi says, this is part of a longer conversation (on HU and elsewhere) about the present and future of comics criticism.
I don’t have much to say specifically to Heidi’s post (except maybe that the modernist anti-narrative devices of the Sound and the Fury have very, very little to do with Michael DeForge’s pop art inspired pomo sensibilities.) But Heidi seemed to be struggling a little with defining HU, for better or use. I’ve been thinking for a while about talking in some detail about what I’m trying to do here, and what specifically I think HU’s goals are. This seemed as good a time as any to talk about that.
Before I start, I should say that I don’t think most of HU’s goals are especially different from what a lot of other sites are doing, or are trying to do. There isn’t a claim to uniqueness here, nor even to doing anything better than any number of other people.
So, with that in mind, here are some of the things that I think about while editing HU.
1. Not all middle-aged, het, cis, white guys like me.
I talked about this at some length in regards to women comics critics here, and I’m not going to repeat that whole argument. But just to reiterate; I want HU to represent a diversity of views, not just mine. Part of that involves getting folks to write who don’t agree with me (as, for example, Jeffrey Chapman on the greatness of Maus.) Part of it involves letting folks pursue their interests, even in things I’m not personally invested in (like Robert Stanley Martin’s < a href="http://www.hoodedutilitarian.com/2013/01/jim-shooter-a-second-opinion-part-one-the-best-job-he-can/">Jim Shooter posts or PenciPanelPage’s Krazy Kat roundtable.
But a big part of it also involves actively trying to get people to write who have different life experiences, and so approach art and aesthetics from different perspectives. I’ve actively worked to try to get folks who aren’t exactly like me to post here, and I think that’s important to making HU welcoming and (hopefully) relevant.
Sort of alongside that, HU tends to take seriously the idea that gender, race, and the treatment of marginalized people in general is a legitimate lens through which to think about art. Not that that’s the only thing people write about here by a long shot, but it’s something the site is interested in and talks about.
2. Die, news hook, die.
HU doesn’t care about news. Folks will sometimes write about recent films (as here) but keeping up to date on the latest releases is something I’m actively not interested in doing. There are a bunch of reasons for that — other sites do it better; I have to pay attention to news hooks in my day job and I’d rather do other things here; etc. etc.
The main reason, though, is that, as an entirely volunteer site, I don’t need to chase page clicks. Moreover, since I’m not paying anyone, I feel like the least I can do is give folks an opportunity to explore whatever it is they’re interested in exploring. The site is driven by folks’ individual passions (or passing fancies) rather than by the news cycle. That also means that people can take as long as they want to finish something (like Emily Thomas’ long and long-gestating piece on the Nao of Brown.
3. Not Just Comics
As regular, or even casual, readers have probably noticed, HU doesn’t just cover comics — and doesn’t even necessarily make that much of an effort to cover comics primarily. We’ve had several roundtables on film, for example, and folks write on books and television and video games and real honest to goodness literature and what not.
Again, this is partially just my personal preference; it’s my blog, and I want to write about whatever I want to write about, even if that doesn’t happen to be comics. But I’m also interested in seeing comics as part of the arts more generally, and the best way to do that (for me) is to treat them as just another art. So in part I want the site to be about other things because I don’t just care about comics, and in part I want it to be about other things because the way I want to care about comics is to care about other things too.
So there’s my statement of purpose, such as it is. If it seems appealing, you should write for us! My email is myname at gmail; I’m always looking for new writers and new topics. We’ll probably have some reprint post or other up tomorrow, but in the meantime, have a good holiday, if they’re celebrating where you are. We’ll be back to our regular schedule on Friday, I think. As always, thanks for reading, and leave us a comment if you’re so moved.