I used to think that Rachel Cooke’s columns were authored by some sheltered journalist who never left her house and who simply wasn’t paying much attention to rudimentary trends developing in the publishing industry. Here, after all, was an idiot, who was actually collecting a regular paycheck for her foolish generalizations, castigating the litblogosphere based on one day of indolent Web surfing. Maybe she simply didn’t have the smarts to engage with the world around her. Maybe she preferred to furtively pick her nose and watch bad movies instead of doing a bit of thinking or even hard investigation of a genre.
But now, Ms. Cooke declares she’s seen the light! She’s one of us now! These things called graphic novels actually have literary merit! Never mind that Art Spiegelman won a Pulitzer in 1992 — a good fifteen years ago — and Maus‘s two volumes were nominated for the National Book Critics Circle. Ms. Cooke dutifully read Art Spiegelman and she could clearly see “how brilliant it was, of course.” But being cast of an utterly lazy and incurious mental disposition, Ms. Cooke, perhaps incapable of tracking down Will Eisner or Alan Moore or any of the countless graphic novelists working around the time, privately declared in 1986 that the landscape to be devoid of any additional talent. The “strips” that Ms. Cooke identified — as opposed to comic books or graphic novels, which every other neophyte was jumping up and down over; presumably, Ms. Cooke was confused and didn’t have a clue as to where to look — were giving her a headache.
But now no more! For comics are now mainstream! And this means that Ms. Cooke can rethink her prejudices against this retrograde medium because, well, these books are now too omnipresent to discount.
I’m very glad that Ms. Cooke has written this column. It is now entirely clear that she lives underneath a rock.
(Thanks to Andrew for the link.)