We’ve all become eggheads.
Yes, that’s right â€“ if you are reading this, then you too are very much an academic. A geek. A nerd. A professional student. Whatever.
This is the Information Age, a time where practically EVERYTHING can be taught or learned at the touch of a mouse button. You may think you’re just surfing the web for updates on your favorite console game, or were spontaneously curious about the different ways that food is preserved, or maybe you just wanted to know the latest developments on rubber chickens and their impact on technology. Heck, you’ve probably got Google News set as your browser homepage.
Face it â€“ you’ve got a thing for wanting to understand stuff, for being in the know. And that, boys and girls, means you’ve got a thing for learning.
It doesn’t matter what it is that you happen to be learning â€“ walkthroughs for Ninja Gaiden, where the best place to get your Radeon or nVidia card would be, who produced the latest Jump, Little Children album â€“ all of it is an academic exercise of knowledge acquisition being practised on a global scale with a common goal: to be better edjumacated. You want to be better informed so you donâ€™t get ripped off by scammers or shoddy product; you don’t want to look foolish when having a conversation with your friends…
You just want to be sure you’re right.
Believe it or not, that’s something fairly new in terms of peoplekind. Where once humanity was an intuitive race, feeling things out in both the physical and metaphorical dark, we have now become highly empirical in our nature. Rather than just take things as they are, we go that next step: we want to know WHY and HOW they are, and that means we want to dissect everything (figuratively and literally) to learn as much about it as possible. How else can we be sure what this “thing” does, otherwise?
We’ve taken this to the extreme, too: once upon a time, only a nigh-invisible minority of hoo-mans would choose to devote their time to scholarly endeavors. Now everyone is doing it, studying everything under the sun. It’s not just Pure Sciences or Philosophy or History, either â€“ it’s all forms of literature, music, television, cinema, gardening, cooking, sports, comic books… you name it, it can be studied. Webcomics?
Yep. Webcomics, too.
We’ve only been around for about a dozen or so years (I could give you the exact dates, but that would make me look geekier than I want â€“ columnists are supposed to be all cool and aloof, dontcha know), and already we’re making a SCIENCE of it. We’re tracking its history, we’re discussing the linguistics of it, we’re testing the medium to see just how far we can push it. I mean, we’ve even got a freaking dedicated newspublication! Wait â€“ with the arrival of The Webcomics Examiner, it looks like weâ€™ve got TWO!
Sure, there are still lots of people who don’t give a rattus rattus’ gluteous maximus about the theory and thought behind webcomicking â€“ they are more than happy to just either draw or read these digital sequential artworks, and will yawn or ignore you if you try to open a discussion about the role/representation of women in geek comics or about the journal comic and its meaning or place in comics evolution.
But the academics ARE there, and they are growing in number. While it would have been difficult just a few years ago for me to suggest even a handful of names, nowadays I can list a dozen or so dedicated webcomics eggheads right off the top of my head without any research required: Neil Cohn, Scott McCloud, Alexander Danner, Iain Hamp, Bill Duncan, Greg Stephens, Daniel “Merlin” Goodbury, John Barber, Garth “gwalla” Wallace, Benjamin “Doc MacDougal” Woo, Steven Withrow, Joey Manley, and the list goes on extensively.
You’re probably one, too â€“ especially if you are reading Comixpedia articles, and even MORE so if you are reading this opinion piece about Webcomic Academics. You may not be writing the essays or starting up the big theoretical debates in the various forums and message boards that once dealt or continue to deal with our medium. But you are reading them. You are thinking about them. And one day, you probably will be writing them, too.
You’re an egghead.
And you know what? That’s not such a bad thing to be.
Damonk is the Editor-in-Chief and the Executive Editor for Reviews and Columns. He will flatly deny that he used to read 400+ webcomics daily when he was still in grad school, because that would seem pretty eggheady. He will also adamantly deny that he really wishes he had the time to do so again.