Daryl Ayo is one of my favorite comic thinkers on the whole freaking internet. He is constantly challenging and questioning everything. I sometimes treasure my disagreements with him even more than my agreements. Anyways. He asked this question on twitter and facebook today:
Serious question: what are the independent/alternative comics that people are meant to read when folks say “don’t read Marvel/DC, they are bad, read *indies* instead”
There’s very few actual replacements for what DC/Marvel make because what they make has to do with 50+ years of pop culture nostalgia spanning generations of iconography. When you read an x-men book today, you’re not reading it because of what is in the actual book–you’re reading it because it’s the X-men and the feeling it gives you reminds you of positive memories you have of the very best of the x-men stories.
But what I would argue is that that process is inherently destructive to an audience, and culture, and it perpetuates the worst kind of escapism, which is a non-aspirational escapism. These are not comics that take you forward to some fantastic place you could only dream about. They take you back toward the womb, they regress you.
So my answer is two fold: 1. that there are no replacements for DC/Marvel comics and 2. That they are bad, and reading a lot of them in place of more aspirational or challenging works is a fools errand.
Which is not to say escapism is bad. Only that regressive escapism is a tool used by fascists to try and produce a controlled and loyal populace. See also every creator that has ever gotten a death threat for some random thing they’ve done in a Spider-man book. That is brain washing at its finest. Corporations love nostalgia because it’s the least threatening way to subdue the consumer in a braindead loyal till death do you part kind of way. Buying a batman comic is not fundamentally any different in function than buying a batman lunchbox.
So I dunno. Maybe instead of X-men books you can start buying Alf lunchboxes?