Reading Comics cover

I haven't liked much of Douglas Wolk's work in the past, a pop culture "vulture" writing about many things including comics. Generally, his work has been OK and worth the effort to read on occasion, but a little pedestrian for the average Mr. John Q. Funnybook Fan. That is, until I reviewed an excerpt from his latest book, Reading Comics: How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean via Salon.

Seems Wolk's been saving his "A" game for Reading Comics, at least from the viewpoint of this reader of funnybooks for more than 40 years. He takes no prisoners in skewering comics culture -- think never-opened "collectables" in plastic wrappers, mind-numbing, superhero continuity and an unhealthy problem with respecting their own hobbies (as well as the need to defend them) for starters.

That said, Wolk's brand of truth-telling, at least in this essay, is indeed refreshing, as it's done respectfully and lovingly, not in a derisive way (read any issue of The Comics Journal and you'll see what I mean). In fact, his riff about the graphic novel monicker mirrors arguments I've had with pros and fans...

Unfortunately, some comic book folk didn't pick up on Wolk's message, or the subtle kindness in which he delivers it, as evidenced by some of the responses from readers. If you're interested in reading the feedback at all (I happen to like reading letters columns), skip the entire list of 60 responses, and review the eight Editor's Choice responses, and you'll see what I mean.

Should you have an issue with Wolk's arguments, he's hitting the road this week to promote Reading Comics with stops in Portland, Ore. and Minneapolis and next month at Comic-Con International. And, check out Doug's blog too.