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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Junot Diaz

Been rooting for him since my first publisher Rob Weisbach told me about him years ago. This means even more. You know the highbrow/lowbrow debate gets me more riled than just about anything. As do "literary" snobs who want to use and embrace comics, but refuse to lower themselves to go into a comic shop and buy anything current. So Diaz is officially my new hero.

(full article on Newsarama)

JD: Well, I know I’m going to get slammed for this…you know what? I’m just going to get into it.

I think the problem is that when you see literary people sort of dabbling in comic books, it’s kind of uni-directional. In other words, we literary types can go dabble in comic books, but it doesn’t change the fact that we’re still considered “high literary” writers. We can go through and rummage through this material and talk about supervillains, and we’ll still get nominated for Pulitzers and other awards.

Now…the same thing really ain’t true when you’re a comic book artist. Let’s say you’re a comic book artist, you draw superhero comics. It’s not like your average Superman artist (at least at this moment) going to gain mainstream literary acceptance doing comic books. In other words, I dream of a day when the guy who’s writing the Hulk is up for a Pulitzer, and not just the literary writer who jumps in and writes a novel about the Hulk.

It’s almost as if the literary writers have an American passport, and we can go into the third world of comic books any time we want, and we can come back fine. But comic book writers are like holding passports from North Korea, and when they try to enter the pearly gates of the high literary nation, they’re always stopped and blocked and stripped and denied access.

It’s an interesting thing. I think this kind of mashup between high and low culture is good, but I don’t want anybody to hide the privilege and the power that one has over the other. Michael Chabon writes a book about comic books and everyone’s on his jock, but Michael Chabon is never going to be competing with the poor guy who’s writing Sinestro Corps for an award of high literary merit. And I’m like, “Why not?”

There are superhero comic books – and I know people will laugh at this – there are superhero comic books that are as strong as the literature that’s given awards! There’s just this kind of bias against these people being on the same fuckin’ award table, you know?

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