If you were to ask someone if comic books could be considered a legitimate art form about fifty years ago, not only would you be scolded but you would also be asked to relinquish your comics for the safety of the public. Especially if you were a kid.
Yes indeed, comic books have come a long way since the early days when they were generally used to promote war propaganda and patriotism throughout the United States. With EC comics being one of the first game changers in the industry, people began to take notice and saw these colorful panels as nothing but a nuisance to their children. As a matter of fact, psychologist Fredric Wertham rallied against both television and comics. He even went so far as to write a book called “The Seduction of the Innocent” to convince people that comics were destroying their youth and that television was nothing but a school for violence.
After his trial against EC comics, a large majority of comic book stores were closed, some of those in the comic industry lost their jobs and homes and there was even word of some of them committing suicide because of how hopeless the medium seemed at the time. Comics were nearly wiped off the face of the earth but it miraculously survived and now it’s an integral part of society.
Anywhere you look, someone’s got a Captain America shield pin on their backpack, a Batman cowl or even the popular Superman shirt. Nowadays, comics and geekdom have become more accepted than ever, having people relate to their heroes, or villains, with certain issues of today. A great example of this is how Marvel intertwines the real world into the X-Men scene with the first same-sex marriage of two mutants in New York City and Barack Obama being featured in an issue of Spider-Man.
The more time progresses, the more it’s becoming obvious that comics are an undeniably strong part of the artistic community. Jim Lee, a famous artist of Superman, X-Men and many other comics, has some of his most notable work framed and sold at a maximum of five to six figures. A comic book artist being lauded with such powerful imagery would have never even been thought of decades prior. Instead, people would have seen him as an impeccable artist that wastes his time with childish sketches.
But comics are far from childish and being waste of time. Hollywood doesn’t deem comics a waste of time since most of their revenue now is coming from titles like Avengers, X-Men and Batman. The public doesn’t deem it a waste since they pour hundreds of millions of dollars into costumes and conventions to celebrate this timeless art form. So then can we finally, as an art community, say that comic books are just as respectable a creative endeavor as Van Gogh’s Post-Impressionism? Or Kandinsky’s abstract paintings? Perhaps, but for now, pop open a comic and enjoy the handheld gallery.