Hi. My name is Ed, and I'm a comic book geek. (This is where you say, "Hi Ed."). Something's been bothering me lately. Every bookstore I go into has started carrying 'graphic novels'. This is quite cool. This is quite extraordinary. On the 'In Store Favorites' rack, or the 'Of Note' table, there is almost always a copy of one specific graphic novel: "Watchmen".
Let me be clear. I adore Watchmen. I re-read it once a year, and always there is something new gleaned. This superhero deconstruction book (which is an odd thing to say, since there's really only one 'super' person in the story, and he's definitely no hero) is hailed by just about everyone as the genre's greatest work. It's masterful, no doubt. And this is where my issue starts.
Sure, it's cool that comics have made serious inroads to the mainstream over the past few years. Sure, there's a Watchmen movie coming soon that is probably responsible for Time/Warner's push of the collected edition in bookstores. But why is Watchmen the only book you ever see? The other graphic novels are relegated to the back corner of most stores, and you either have to search for them, or just trust that they're tucked safely out of sight - probably somewhere behind Child Fiction or books on how to cook for your pets. They are the bookstore's dirty little secret.
Praising Watchmen is all well and good (it is certainly deserving of its accolades), but it does a disservice to the other masterful works of the genre when that praise results in the "All Watchmen, All The Time" merchandising strategy found in most direct market bookstores.
As comics presence and prevalence in mainstream pop culture continues to grow - it's imperative that the best face be shown. One way to make sure this happens is by demanding that collected editions other than Watchmen make it on to the "Noteworthy" shelf at Barnes & Noble.
Like that merry band of mutants in tights, comics are going out into a world that hates and fears them - and they've got to protect their own.
Ok - maybe the world does'nt hate comics, but they are still the dirty little secret, read in solitude, discussed mostly through the veil of cyber-secrecy, and praised often by solely their own community - that is, until the movie gets made...