Giles Coren And The Graphic Novel

Giles Coren And The Graphic Novel

So anyway, Giles Coren went and wrote this in the Spectator, in an article titled "The problem with graphic novels"

They are their own thing. They do not need your imprimatur, O pompous reader of literary fiction. They are basically for -children, and for men (yes, men, really, men) who are a bit too thick to read proper books, as I was for many years, and still sometimes am, like if I'm tired or hungover or on a plane.

They are a genre of their own. And genre fiction — which is not a description of quality but of nature — usually doesn't wash with prizes.

Resulting in a few comics celebrity comments. Like Chew artist Rob Guillory;

I draw comics professionally. For adults. And this is an astoundingly arrogant and ignorant article.

I'll walk you through this, since you clearly don't get it.

See, every creative medium (film, literature, fine art and even lowly comics) begins with an idea. Now, some folks can express said idea with words alone. These are called Authors. Others can express these ideas with pictures. These are Illustrators, Painters, Sculptors, etc. Other folks choose to combine both worlds, and these are your Filmmakers and yes, us Lowly Comicbook Artists.

Now, for you to look down your nose at an entire medium just because you can't wrap your brain around the fact that valid stories can be told using (GASP!) pictures is a little small-minded. Just a little.

Your logic basically boils down to:

"Story – Pictures = VALID" and "Story + Pictures = IGNORANT MAN-CHILD DRIVEL."

Tom Fowler writes;

I'm not one hundred percent certain what the point you're trying to make is (in this I'm as guilty as you are, as I have read articles for much of my life and thus feel I am an expert voice in matters pertaining to whether or not they should be understood), but in future if you wish to continue writing on the subject, it may help you to read this excellently written essay by Dylan Meconis entitled: "How To Write Comics Criticism".…

Al Ewing;

I hear films are for children, and for men who are a bit too thick to go to the theatre.

Go away, Giles Coren. You can call comic readers 'thick' all you want, in your snide and sexist way, but at least they don't think that being so painfully thick as to not know the difference between a genre and a medium is the cleverest thing to be, which you clearly do.

Grow up, for God's sake, you're forty-three.

Jim Zubkavich;

Either you have absolutely no idea what you're talking about when it comes to comics/graphic novels and you have no place writing an article about them until you get up to speed or you're being "witty" and sarcastic for reasons I can't really imagine.

Unfortunately, both routes fall miserably flat. All you've managed to do is confuse readers who don't know anything about comics and piss off those who do.

Paula Knight;

'Medium' not 'genre'. Well, Giles, it's easy for you to suggest that comics don't need Costa – from your ivory tower. I don't suppose you've ever tried to write a graphic novel (gasp – I said it) while also holding down a job/paying the mortgage/rent/ feeding hungry mouths etc? Publishing advances for GNs are notoriously spartan. Perhaps the further recognition from Costa will lead to more readers, more sales, and eventually adequate remuneration for those who put long long hours into their labour-intensive creation. I think you'd be hard-pushed to find any comics creator complaining about being shortlisted for such an award after years of hard work. I'm quite alarmed by this article.

And so it continues. Even when Spectator writer Jack van Burholdbind added his own take;

Indeed, a moronic inferno, claiming to represent the interests of comic book lovers everywhere, has torn across this site. Evidence of its rank stupidity can be seen in the comments section below Coren's article. Its self-regard is laughable; its inability to detect irony is hysterical; and the ease with which it finds offence when none has been given is surreal.

Tony Lee was there to respond to that article, saying;

The problem isn't the literary prize, it's the arrogant assumption that Coren believes, no, states seemingly as fact that comics are

a) for kids

b) for men (yes, men, really, men) who are a bit too thick to read proper books.

That's it. No women are allowed to read these, for that is against the Gospel of Coren. And no man can read these books if they're not that dim, for the Coren will smite them.

Really? You really see no issue with that?

About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.

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