For a lot of last year, I was producing a weekly radio show all about the Arts Scene in Northern Ireland. It was a mixed bag, regularly featuring interviews, reviews, and exhibition notices. As part of it, I spoke to poets, authors, painters, and singer/songwriters, not to mention a range of people involved at various levels in the organizing of Belfast’s many cultural events and festivals.
One group of people I didn’t initially seek out were the city’s many talented comic writers and graphic illustrators, however. A good friend kept insisting I do a feature on comics, but I dismissed the idea. Comic books are for kids, I kept thinking, they’re not particularly cultural. Needless to say, my friend challenged this thinking, and he was right to, because I was wrong. Let me break down why, for a second:
- Comics are not just for children (Watchmen, anyone?)
- Even if they were, that wouldn’t make them inherently less valuable to society
- Who even gets to decide what culture is? Everyone and no one. My friend’s definition was as valid as mine (except for the fact that mine was wrong).