I’ve written about controversy before, and how it has its uses. But I haven’t really yet discussed what makes a comic controversial.
There are the usual hype-controversies like gender bending and race swapping in characters, but in my opinion these types of controversial issues are just what I call ‘pop controversies’: things that are made specifically to tap into and gain from a heavily charged issue/argument rather than add to it. To me these comics don’t have a personality- they are what they are as a means to profit more than anything else, especially in an industry that is on the brink more often than not.
And then there are other comics that become controversial because they (at least try to) illustrate the positions, opinions, worries and beliefs of their creators. Their content is saturated with political stances, religion issues, gender friction, sexuality, crime-related, race, gender, faiths/religions and other issues people grapple with, the daily life in assorted countries and the problems therein, and art is used to work through them or make a point to a wider audience.
So what makes a controversial comic worth its controversy?
1. It is about an issue, problem or situation that troubles a niche or percentage of people. That percentage can range from a tiny minority to a staggering majority, but it has to be a problem people realistically experience.
2. The issue at hand is woven into the story with at least enough of an opposite side argument to give the audience the reason why the problem/issue is controversial in the first place.
3. Not all the ‘good guys’ or the ‘villains’ are on one side. Good people and toxic people will stand on both sides of a struggle, clash or friction. If all good people are on the side the creator is rooting for and all the villains in the opposing side, the audience will disengage from the gist of the controversy and will likely feel the creator is hamfisted.
4. The creator must have done his/her homework on the issue from both (or every) side there is. Especially when it comes to politics, geopolitical struggles and religious/faith-related clashes, the narrative must be set in a well-researched world, even if the entire story is an allegory taking place in a fantasy setting: the matching to the real life situation must be possible for the audience to make.
5. Upon finishing the story, the audience has to feel that while they may root for one side or the other in a controversy, neither side is comprised of monstrous individuals or Nazis. (Unless the story is literally about Nazis… of course) If such an impression is achieved, then the creator has truly achieved presenting a controversy and the opinion he/she roots for (if that is the creator’s intent) while at the same time granting the audience the freedom to form their own opinion.
That, in my opinion, is true art.
Have you included controversial issues in your comic? If so, how did you approach breaching the subject?
Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, Nov. 4, 2017
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