In the wake of the comics medium’s forty-year hike to serious acceptance, the chances are that now a person won’t get laughed out the room for putting them on a par with Literature. The flipside of the medium having gained this kind of recognition is that it has also acquired a new species of critic who demands that comics be held to the standards of LITERATURE. Since the invasion of these literaries, I have been observing a tendency to ask the question: if this weren’t a comic would it stand up? Would the story be any good if it were prose and in competition with the rest of the world’s prose? If we take away all these damn pictures, would the stuff that is left be worth a hoot?
Thus we see, for example, the recent argument about the 1950s EC comics, started by Ng Suat Tong: “Over two millennia ago, Aristophanes was brilliantly mocking the tragedies of Euripides (Women at the Thesmophoria) and risking prosecution with forthright attacks on the leaders of Athens. Contrast this with what we get in Mad…”
And this: “‘Master Race’ is, however, a children’s story… As a children’s story, it does not contain one iota of the humanity found in a thirteen year old girl’s famous diary during World War 2-enshrouded Amsterdam. It is pathetic that it should still be considered one of the finest stories ever created in comics.”
We might not get laughed out of the room, but the question is: would we want to be stuck in it with some guy who would ask: Since we already have Aristophanes, who needs Kurtzman? Since we have Erasmus of Rotterdam, why would we want Steve Martin? With Wagner still available, who cares about the Firehouse Five? Furthermore, would we let that guy organize the party music?-Eddie Campbell"
I’m pretty sure everyone already finds Ng Suat Tong completely insufferable, so that’s not a battle that really needs to be fought, but this is still a great piece and highlights a major problem in comics scholarship right now.