Nouveau Comics – What Is It?
By Hervé St-Louis
Jun 7, 2015 - 9:49
There are a few forces shaping nouveau comics. The first is manga. Manga has been in North America and Europe for 25 years now. It has allowed a new range of readers to make comics their own hobbies. More than super heroes, manga has invaded and almost overtaken every genre where it has landed. Manga, by default covers a wide range of interests and topics. Yet, it abstracts this content in a way that is easily marketable and engaging for readers. Manga is not as iconic or symbolic as super hero comics. Yet, it is easy consume – if not easier and bland enough that any reader can identify with Japanese characters.
These Japanese characters are not drawn as Asians. They may be blond, reds or have blue hair. It doesn’t matter. Anyone can identify with the wide-eye characters whose emotions and inner turmoil often drives the story. Much of nouveau comics draws from this and combines it with a newfound freedom about what comics can be created which has been supported with electronic comics – mostly Web comics.
Woolfson’s The Young Protectors is highly popular super hero material that could not have been published 15 years ago. Now, it is standard fare and widely supported by comic readers online. Access to an audience without the traditional filters of the print world has allowed new stories to be told. Nevertheless, Web comics do not have the exclusivity on nouveau comics. Larger publishers have been experimenting recently with ways to include other readers. Archie Comics has been the most vocal with destroying everything we knew about its old characters. First, it allowed Archie’s world to change. Now, it is changing the classic look that was the series’ signature for over 50 years. When I asked the late Archie publisher Michael Silberkleit in 2006 if Jughead was gay, he brushed me off and gave me a bland corporate answer. Today, Archie promotes Kevin Keller and earns awards for its so-called progressive focus on a comic featuring a gay teen. In 2006, my question annoyed Archie executives. Today, it pays their bills.
This is a feeling shared by their young millennial creators who often have no clue to the rich storytelling past of comics and just improvise on the spot instead of relying on Jack Kirby, Neal Adams, Roy Crane or Will Eisner. This of course, transforms me into one of those old foggies who keep saying – “back in my days comics were...” and that is a fun thing! I never thought I’d be one of those old foggies annoyed by the lack of comics culture and reverence to the past of today’s readers. I always thought of myself as one of the most progressive guy in comics!
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