Why Bill Maher is Wrong
We can all agree Bill Maher is a troll, but he's also just plain wrong.
Attention Seeking Twit
There are three difficult arguements against Bill Maher here. The first is the easiest. As Neil Gaimen himself says:
He's Oblivious of the Medium
I have nothing against comic books—I read them now and then when I was a kid and I was all out of Hardy Boys. But the assumption everyone had back then, both the adults and the kids, was that comics were for kids, and when you grew up you moved on to big-boy books without the pictures. Bill Maher
Immediately, most reasoning adults can see the problem here. It would be like saying 'I stopped reading books once I grew up, because all the books I read as a child were about fairies, talking animals and the Famous Five'. Ergo, all books are for children.
I'm going to give Bill Maher credit that he's not saying looking at pictures makes you a child.
Like every other creative medium, comic books have gone through phases.
If you think comics are for kids, try getting them to grapple with the philosophy in a work of Alan Moore
What Bill Maher seems to be talking about is the Golden Age of Comics (1938 – c. 1950) or even Silver Age of Comics (1956 – c. 1970).
When comics began, they gave us larger than life heroes who defeated the bad guys, got the girl and were a role model for us all.
Enter the Bronze Age of Comic books and now the authors are tackling subjects like racism, addiction, poverty and pollution. What's changed? The same thing that happens and will happen in every artistic or literary medium. The kids who read comic books have now grown up and are using a medium they love to tell stories which are now more relevant to them as adults. This is how we grow.
We're now in the Modern Age of Comics, also known as the Dark Age of Comics. Comics now deal with every subject and every genre and if Bill Maher is buying these comic books for his nieces or nephews, someone needs to intervene quickly.
He knows nothing of Narratology
Let's pretend that Bill Maher doesn't know there are other comic books in the world than the superhero genre. After all, he's referring to the Hardy Boys in his blog, though on his show, he seems to only be referring to Marvel and DC superheroes. Almost like he's trying to provoke something...
But let's look at the superhero genre. Why do all superheroes seem to follow similar lines? Because they're all on the Heroes Journey. It's far, far too much to go into here. Check out the link if you want to learn more, but basically, it breaks down as:
1. Ordinary World 2. Call to Adventure 3. Refusal of the Call 4. Meeting the Mentor 5. Crossing the Threshold 6. Tests, Allies, Enemies 7. Approach to the Innermost Cave 8. Oreal 9. Reward 10. The Road Back 11. Resurrection 12. Return with the Elixir
Recognize this? You'll find it in almost every comic book you read. You'll also find it in The Iliad, Pride and Prejudice and The Hobbit. In fact, you'll find it in almost every story ever written.
But it's use in conjunction with images is what Bill Maher objects to. And is this all use of images and written text which is for children? Because there are a few million adult readers of anima and manga across the globe who may have an objection or two.
Finally, I want to leave you with this searing criticism by Anthony Holden at The Observer:
is an activity marginally less testing than watching Neighbours. These are one-dimensional children's books, Disney cartoons written in words, no more.
He was talking about the Harry Potter series. I have no idea who Anthony Holden is, but I've heard of J.K. Rowling and that will be as true today as it will be in fifty years.