Comics Will Break Your Heart: Comics Will Break Your Heart

Published on September 6th, 2012

“Comics will break your heart.” – Jack Kirby

Naming a column (and before now, a podcast) after that quote probably makes it seem a little snarky and cynical, right? Let me assure you that the intention is anything but. In fact, there’s far too much snark and cynicism in the comics world.

Comic fans as pundits are a dime a dozen, and they’re not interesting. It’s easy work, and it’s the same argument at the same volume in the same voice, every time: “Continuity! Late books! We’ve seen this story a million times!” Comics have rallied against cynicism since the war years. They’ll be doing that long after they throw the dirt on all of us.

Do you remember what it was like to be afraid of telling people you liked comics? If you do, you probably weren’t even a coward. It was when comics were still the escape for the weird kid, the mama’s boy, or the man-child. Admitting that you were into comics often came with a beating, verbal or physical.

Now, we’ve broken through. It’s something that never stops being weird to me: seeing a mother of three buying her kids Batman masks at Target; hearing a couple in their fifties talk about the Avengers in Starbuck’s; teenage jocks asking about the best Loki stories — unironically.

A little earlier than that breakthrough, the smart folks decided comics are “real art.” That’s a step forward for something that almost every comic reader knows: that comics can not only offer us an escape that films will never find a budget for, but also help to teach us something about ourselves — no matter what genre they come from.

The marketplace — for the creatives and the consumers — changes every day. Comic shops used to be the only place to find a broad selection of comics and, later, graphic novels. Now, they’re everywhere. Similarly, a budding new artist would have to run to a publisher to spread their name. In the era of webcomics and Kickstarter, not so much.

Comics Will Break Your Heart is about the fact that it’s a great — and exciting — time to be reading comics. It’s about positivity, honest criticism that isn’t knee-jerk, reductive or flat-out insulting. We should be able to talk about what’s cool without turning it into a numbers game. Smart and savvy people should be able to find out about cool books from smart and savvy people, and that is the intention. This is about fun with the world’s greatest creative medium.

I hope you’ll take part.

Adam Witt