The Social Stigma of Adult Comic Book Reading

Examine the negative association between comic book readers and adults. Is it still seen as childish? Have comic books been viewed any differently in the past decade? How can this social stigma change, and does it even need to change?

  • This is an interesting topic. I took a class on comic books, and funnily enough, there were books written about why comic books are not only unsuitable for children, but undermining society because the content is too lurid--basically claims similar to contemporary arguments against video games. It's intriguing to see how the stigma has shifted, and comics are still a misunderstood medium. A book to research for whoever takes this is Fredric Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent, which argues that comic books cause young people to cause more crimes. Such claims within range from saying female nudity is only there to obscure gay relationships (a homophobic argument) to stating Superman is a fascist (highly questionable). – Emily Deibler 8 years ago
  • I bumped into someone who said he doesn't read comic books, he reads graphic novels. And he doesn't watch cartoons, he watches Anime. I thought this was an effort to avoid being classified as being interested in childish things. – DrTestani 8 years ago
  • Agreed. Graphic novels are hugs and a good example is Maus by Art Speigelman. – Munjeera 8 years ago
  • I think more and more of mainstream society is losing the image of comic-book reading as a childish thing, no doubt due to the humongous pull of comic- book movies. I think we've made huge progress in the last ten years. – J.P. Shiel 8 years ago
  • In defense of the adult reader, I'd discuss the fact that lots of comic books are not even written for children and delve into deeper, darker content matter that might not be addressed in any other format. Someone else mentioned this book above, but The Washington Post said that Art Spiegelman's "Maus" was "impossible to achieve in any medium but comics." They are a storytelling tool like any other. Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky's "Sex Criminals" for instance, is a lighter, and yet equally adult comic not for the eyes of children. – RjWignall 8 years ago
  • I think perhaps the writer of this topic should discuss the imaginary boundary between comics and graphic novels many people try creating to distance themselves from the "childish" content of comics, as DrTestani mentions above. It might serve as a good foundation for one's arguments/explanations. The writer could even discuss the emergence of underground comix around the 1960s/70s - comics exclusively targeting and specifically created with an adult, mature audience in mind. It certainly distorts the idea that comics are made only for a younger audience. The discussion of the changing tone in superhero comics might also be useful. One can see this in The Dark Knight and Watchmen, which deliberately subvert a lot of the expected content of superheroes in comics - in order to attract an older, mature audience. – karebear7 8 years ago

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