I didn’t think Comicon could get any better, but then I didn’t count on Joss Whedon. Joss is, in some sense, the reigning god of this subculture – the person whose presence validates the entire tone that comic culture sets. As I listened to him speak today about his work, brilliantly and articulately – with that same respect for the audience that all practitioners in this genre share – I found myself thinking about the nature of this comic culture.
And I realize that what is unique about it is the sense that creators in comic culture are not merely creating art – they are also explicitly creating community. When you watch all seven seasons of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (Whedon’s masterpiece) you realize that it’s not merely a work of fiction, but rather a work that explicitly aims to help a community define itself.
And what is so interesting about this community is that it is explicitly a community of outsider culture – people who redefine “cool” in terms not of being the big bad, but rather by their ability to maintain an unwaveringly clear point of view about the nature of power and its ability to corrupt. A generation that looks not toward traditional American macho heroes like Rambo (the later one) or John Wayne, but rather to somebody like Barack Obama, who holds out the promise that he – and we – can look at a problem with a cool head and an ability to reason through problems.
And it occurred to me that the rise of more thoughtful and reflective popular literature, as written by Joss Whedon and Aaron Sorkine, has prefigured the current ascendency of a consensus of reason, as opposed to a consensus of “shock and awe”.
And that’s a good thing.