In Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud mentions some of the stereotypes that wrongfully mask the art form. Many individuals see comics as juvenile and unsophisticated. In particular, adults tend to associate comic books with children (3, 2nd and 3rd row, 4-8 panels). As a result, these critical beliefs have separated comics from other art forms (18, 2nd and 3rd row, 3-4 panels; 151, 1st and 3rd row, 1-2 and 5-6 panels). After reading McCloud’s book, I began to see comics from an artistic point of view. Throughout his analysis, he shows how different readers can connect with the comic’s narrative (204, 1st row, 1st panel; 205, 2nd row, 1st panel).
As one can see McCloud makes some strong points. These ideas also resonate in a film called She Makes Comics. The film focuses on women artists and it shows how the industry can affect and include readers of all backgrounds. Looking at these two sources, I began to wonder how artists appropriate comics for certain audiences. The industry offers comics from various genres. Depending on the reader’s culture or age, he or she may gravitate towards certain storylines.
As mentioned in She Makes Comics, artists create comics that appeal to all audiences. Using “Tintin in America” as an example, Hergé created a comic series for younger boys. An adventure based comic, Tintin saves Chicago by solving various crimes. Some boys may look up to Tintin and imagine themselves in his shoes. These comics have thrilling plotlines; however, several scenes have inappropriate imagery. After reading two stories, I started to question the artist’s intended audience. In one scene, a group of Native Americans try to hang Tintin and Snowy (38, 1st row, 1-2 panels). Through these graphic illustrations, Hergé comments on colonialism and slavery. He also creates a scene where Tintin and Snowy get thrown into a meat grinder (55, 4th row, 2-3 panels). These scenes cover capitalism and its impact in a growing city. Without a doubt, these comics have a violent and racist edge. Children can learn about American history (i.e. slavery, colonialism, and capitalism), but does Hergé execute this successfully? Or are these comics more appropriate for an older audience? A lot of adults would understand the political commentary, which may have a greater appeal to them. This further demonstrates that comics can reach older audiences and not just children.
Regardless of the reader’s background, one can find a comic that suits his or her interests. Comics cover a range of topics and some have inappropriate commentary as demonstrated in Tintin. Tintin has an adolescent and a grown up side to him, which may complicate who will like or dislike the comic series. As emphasized in many sources, comics influence audiences of all backgrounds, which makes it an even greater art form.