Friday, June 19, 2009

Comic Apocalypse

One very real early symptom of the coming apocalypse is the slow death of the independent comic. For years, these little gems have shone in the darkness of the sucky syndicated comics such Family Circus (Don't get me started on Family Circus), but they are often the first thing to disappear from independent newspapers when the economy flops.

Ask your local free indy paper to pick up one of these great comics. Here is my favorite. (I have no financial connection)

1 comment:

  1. Comic artists aren't the only creators that are hurting these days, of course.

    Consider the instructive example of John Sayles. Many know him both as the director of such prestigious independent films as “Return of the Secaucus Seven,” “Matewan,” and “Lone Star,” as well as--somewhat schizophrenically--the screenwriter of a slew of terrific Roger Corman exploitation movies, including “The Howling” and “Alligator.”

    But Sayles also happens to be a first-rate fiction author, as anyone who has read his short story collection “The Anarchists’ Convention” can attest. It is to this talented man’s credit that he continues to turn out any books at all, considering how much more lucrative Hollywood is.

    Now, the times being what they are, even John Sayles has run into trouble finding a publisher for his latest work.

    This bad economy can no doubt take a lot of the blame for the hell that writers and artists are going through, but I also suspect that the internet is the true culprit. Keep in mind that even during the Great Depression fiction writers had hundreds of markets, from penny-a-word pulps to slick magazines that paid thousands of dollars for a single short story. Chances were pretty good that if you had a degree of talent you could eke out some sort of a living with your typewriter.

    But now? Well, I am reminded of Stanislaw Lem’s prophetic “Memoirs Found in a Bathtub,” in which an alien substance eats all the paper on Earth. Except that instead of astronauts who accidentally carry back a cellulose-hungry fungus from outer space being the cause of our downfall, we’re blithely carrying out the destruction ourselves.

    Think of all the old post-apocalyptic novels in whih descendents of the survivors often unearth ancient books that help to get civilization going again. Thanks to the demise of print culture our great-great-grandchildren won’t even have that going for them.