Comics legend Kurt Busiek encourages writers to take political stand, not 'blanderize' work to be inoffensive

Comics legend Kurt Busiek encourages writers to take political stand, not 'blanderize' work to be inoffensive
Kurt Busiek, 'Avengers Assemble' Volume 1 (Image Comics/Marvel)

To say that Kurt Busiek is a comics legend would be an understatement. The 59-year-old writer has worked with almost every publisher in the business and he has been responsible for some of the most beloved books in the graphic medium including 'Marvels' and 'Astro City'.

So when Busiek gives you his opinion on having political conversations in comics, you can't help but take note. The Eisner Award-winning writer did exactly that on his Twitter feed with a long thread about the importance of taking a stand irrespective of how it might hit your bottom line.

"I pointed out earlier that comics (like virtually any storytelling medium) have never been politics-free, and an angry comicsgator responded 'Keep losing money, then'," Busiek wrote. "Which is dumb on several fronts."

"First, the comics industry isn't actually losing money," he explained. "They're figuring out how to deal with changing sales and distribution patterns, but they’re making bucks. I mean, even the much-blathered claim that lots of comics stores closed turned out to be nonsense when compared to how many comics stores had opened in the same time period."

"But it seems to be a basic tenet of the gators that entertainment should be inoffensive (as they flock to support creators who are deliberately offensive to people they don’t like). Their actions, in doing that, show more truth than their statements, as actions usually do," he wrote.

"The road to success is not about being inoffensive," Busiek tweeted. "Inoffensive things fail plenty, while 'offensive' things often thrive. The way to success is to be involving, engaging, gripping. It doesn’t matter if you offend some people, as long as you attract enough other people."

So what's Busiek's advice to writers who might be worried about their content not resonating with the majority of the audience? 

"If you have an audience that’s excited about what you do, and the entire membership of One Millions Moms is picketing it as fast as she can go, congratulations, you’re good," Busiek said. "If you make your project less offensive to avoid chasing Mrs OMM off, you’ll likely lose a lot more people who’d have liked it. As noted, DC had a hit with Superman when Superman took a stand. Captain America took a stand. Marvel took stands for various things over the years. There were people who disagreed with every single one of those stands. But rather than try to be viewpoint-free, Marvel and DC knew they were winning over readers, even if there were other people who weren’t interested. Being inoffensive is not the goal. Being engaging is."

Busiek retweeted MEA WorldWide's article and wrote: "Mainly, I said not to blanderize your work in hopes of being inoffensive. Write from the heart, write compelling stuff, and any politics that arise (intentionally or un) won’t be an obstacle. Attract readers with engaging, exciting stories."

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