Becoming A Webcomic Classic
I like to think that in the Future, my work will be a frequent topic of discussion in college courses like “Literature 212: Woefully Underappreciated Webcomic Artists of the Early 21st Century.”*
Not because my comic’s funny with an underlying story; there are many contemporary comics with those features. Rather, because it has the key ingredient necessary for attention by Serious Students of Literature: Symbolism. You probably haven’t even noticed, but I’ve seeded a number of comics with suitable literary symbols. For example, Comic #233
. As Ping and Trevor derive amusement from the superficial aspects of his dream, they are completely oblivious to how the comic’s frame is precisely split between light and dark sections, making a highly-stylized “Yin and Yang” image. This is, of course, the sort of thing that nobody in their right mind would pick up on, but is perfect fodder for undergraduates writing class papers, who are desperate for something new to say about a well-examined work. **
The great thing about symbolism is that once you’ve established that there is SOME, then ANYTHING in the work is fair game for symbolic interpretation. I imagine scholarly analyses of which of the five classic elements*** the five main characters personify, or how Ping symbolizes the growing industrialization of China and the subsequent threat to Western global domination. And who is to say he doesn’t? That’s the great thing about Symbolism; you can just make up something plausible, and nobody but the author can really say it’s wrong.**** But everyone can form an Educated Opinion and argue about who is a literary genius and who is a poser hack. As long as the symbolism is sufficiently ambiguous, academics can engage in scholarly one-upmanship for centuries.
Apparently I’ve stumbled into the secret of creating a Classic piece of Literature: It doesn’t have to be good
, it just has to have a lot that Literature Scholars can discuss about it. *And when I say “underappreciated,” I don’t mean by you, my Faithful Readers, but by Society In General. Because I know that you appreciate my work. And I appreciate that you appreciate it.
** I know it’s arrogant to go on about how great I am, but I’m usually self-deprecating, so I’ve got some credit built up.
*** Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Ether, of course.
**** And even then, he or she may be shouted down by someone with more education and a louder voice. Current Mood: thoughtful