Are comics developing as an art form we should take seriously?
The recent phenomenal growth of graphic novels – a veritable tsunami – would indicate that the genre is here to stay. Academics argue this attests to fundamental changes: first, an increasingly visual orientation due to the internet and second, the increasing interpenetration of popular culture and high culture. Unlike the trajectory some see film as having taken – beginning as either representations of reality (news) or fantasy (art) and then degenerating towards fast, cheap entertainment which ‘has steadily undermined the standards people once had both for cinema as art and for cinema as popular entertainment’ (Sontag) – comics began as fast, cheap entertainment and are now seen by some as an increasingly significant art form – the graphic novel. Are comics developing as an art form we should take seriously or is the elevation of comics to graphic novels part of a more general abandonment of standards in the arts?