There are a few points on which I could question the intelligence of the American people. Spending hours watching “Reality TV?” Okay, everyone needs to turn their brain off for a while. Electing Donald Trump? Yeah, not our brightest moment. But mourning a legend who created a host of relatable characters who brush shoulders with the extraordinary? Yeah, I don’t think that equates to a lack of acumen as it pertains to “adulting.”
Bill Maher seems to think a few things. First, that there’s something wrong with cherishing human life. Secondly, that there’s something wrong with cherishing life that brought something wonderful to children. Then, he takes a meager step forward thinking, in astounding ignorance, that thing pertains only to children. When’s the last time you picked up a comic book Bill? Yeah, okay.
First off, literature isn’t diminished because there are pictures in it. Why words are more sophisticated than pictures to Bill Maher really troubles me. The Memory Book, by Harry Lorayne and Jerry Lucas, explicitly states that one of the keys to improving one’s ability to recall information of any sort is to associate with an image that you can visualize, usually in some bizarre way. Improving one’s practice with memory gives them the ability to more quickly and efficiently recall information, which grants success in several academic aspects of life.
Images have the power to invoke emotion. Sure, so can words, but an image more quickly burns into the mind of the viewer. We tend to remember images, and remembering them takes often stirs up powerful memories or thought processes. It allows us to feel in ways that we wouldn’t otherwise be able. It’s the very reason picture books are recommended for children. It stimulates the mind and creates a cerebral foundation. You think because we learn to read that pictures offer no value? How is art sophisticated, but comics – which is separated from other literature by its use of art to tell stories – not? That’s asinine.
I’m not saying that comics make you a genius, but what I am saying is there is academic value there. Value that comes in a form that novels or other forms of picture-excluding literature can’t offer. Words are powerful, but so are images. So why does something with explosive vibrancy scare the angry old men like Bill Maher? Well, the answer lends credence to why we love Stan Lee (the man who created Spider-Man and Hulk) so much.
Stan Lee kept something that the rest of us, some at even a third of his age, have already lost. Imagination. That’s part of why it was so hard to see him go. While we know he was 95, he had the heart and youthful passion of a child. With his success, there’s no doubt that he knew how to “adult.” He was a sophisticated man of art and literature. He enjoyed comedy, Broadway, and all other forms of storytelling, and yet—because there are women who fly and lift buildings and men who swing and shoot webs—Bill Maher thinks that there’s something wrong with the world admiring and appreciating Stan’s legacy and the art of comics.
Furthermore, he thinks there is no sophistication in comics because of such things. As there is no relatability to the human experience (Spider-Man) nor being different in a world that hates you (Saga), no examples of integrity (Superman) nor political imitation of life (Captain America), nor mental struggle (Mister Miracle), nor human identity (Hulk), nor the harsh realities of inequality (Bitch Planet), nor voices of inspiration and justice (Ms. Marvel), nor education on global economy and culture (Black Panther), not to mention stories that offer both warning and lesson (Tokyo Ghost).
So, because there are pictures, we can’t learn anything as adults, briefly escape the stressors of life, or access those buried parts of the imagination? Bill, you’re wrong. Simple as that. You’re too jaded by the “reality of adulting” that you have forgotten how to simply live.
I’m really sorry that people mourning the death of a great man has somehow bothered you enough to equate the state of our country to people loving comics. I hope that, somehow, you’ll understand, and if not? Well, no one wants to read your sad drab story of how “adult-like” it is to pay car insurance, so I hope you can find something more “sophisticated” to talk about.
AKA Sceritz, AKA Ophan Black Panther. A cosmic obliterator of the IVth Wall and breaker of chains of the hordes of fandoms scattered throughout the multiverse. Architect of DoYouEvenComicBook.com and Creator of IVWall.net.