The New York Times Declares Graphic Novels to be ‘Summer Reveries.’ Huh?

Panel excerpt from Fatale Deluxe Edition: Volume I, one of the titles on Dana Jennings' summer comics reading list.

Panel excerpt from Fatale Deluxe Edition: Volume I, one of the titles on Dana Jennings’ summer comics reading list in The New York Times.

I love to read The New York Times. I like the idea of The New York Times and I actually enjoy reading it. No problem. It can be quite pretentious but I’ve had delightfully pretentious friends over the years. I may still have a few. So, what’s my problem? Okay, here’s the thing, The New York Times offers up the backpage to its Friday arts section (read it here) to the subject of comics and graphic novels. We are told that there’s nothing quite like a graphic novel on a long summer’s day. And then we get a hodgepodge random list of ten books. They’re all labeled as “graphic novels” while three are actually collections of comic strips. Have at it, folks, enjoy your funny books.

This piece was written by Dana Jennings. He is bravely representing the comics geek at the office (at the dentist’s, wherever, you decide) that we’re not supposed to quite understand. And we’re not supposed to understand him (or possibly her but the stereotype would be “he”) because, as The New York Times implies by this ever so brief offering, graphic novels remain something of a curiosity. Sure, The New York Times includes a category for graphic novel bestsellers but that was inevitable.

So, if The New York Times is really serious about graphic novels, and the comics medium in general, then they need to treat the subject with the respect it deserves.

Again, I love The New York Times. I’m sure they have it in them to provide far more accurate and in depth coverage of the leading art form of the day. Seriously, I’d be happy to work with them in this noble endeavor.

Quite seriously, I believe it’s outdated to need to introduce the world of comics as if it’s an oddball relative. Would you relegate the world of contemporary painting to an arts backpage and then highlight ten works from various times and places and offer it up as a quick look at some “summer reveries”? No, you wouldn’t.

It’s not the comics medium that is this curious little creature. It’s articles like this one that are quite curious indeed.


Filed under Art, comic books, Comics, graphic novels, The New York Times

10 responses to “The New York Times Declares Graphic Novels to be ‘Summer Reveries.’ Huh?

    • Glad you liked it.

      • I’m still concerned about the title of your blog appearing completely blank. Have you looked into that yet, in the setting? Look closely at my reblog. It says “Originally posted on: “

      • I could fix this particular problem by simply adding the name of the blog in settings. It will show up at the top. I already have the name of the blog in the banner. So, it would look awkward having the name twice.

      • A good reason! Though, I believe that’s not necessarily the case. It might either be A. the setting you’re referring to may not be the one to put the name (it’s a different setting, though at the moment, I forget where) or B. adding the name of the blog in settings, as you mentioned, won’t actually make it appear in duplicate when viewers see it. Have you tested it, and demonstrated that it shows up in duplicate? (perhaps you did test it, and that’s how you reached this conclusion) Still, it should be an easy thing to fix, without sacrificing how the blog title appears. If this were the case, most of us would have duplicate titles in our blogs! (I remember encountering the same thing, when I made a custom headline banner) So I’m fairly certain WordPress has a solution.

      • Yes, I did give it a test and came to that conclusion. I will look into it. Thanks!

  1. You sound a bit peeved but I do get it. It’s magazines as these, and critics of such, that try to determine what’s of relevance to their audience. The audience is ever changing and evolving, which they should know.

    • Well, Totsy, I just felt a need to say something about the current scene in comics. Things will change, for sure. We’re still many steps away from comics being universally understood the way they are in, say, Europe. What better thing than have The New York Times truly lead the way in fully embracing comics as an art and literary form.

    • I also need to emphasize that this article is entitled, “Summer Reveries, Frame by Frame.” At best, it would be entitled, “Summer Reveries, Panel by Panel.” While the terms are almost interchangeable, they really aren’t. Panels are specific to comics. A lot of people know this. It’s more than okay to use that term in a piece about comics.

      • Jennifer Daydreamer

        I was surprised too, that the NY Times called cartoonist panels – “frames”. Frames are for the movies.

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