RIDGWAY: The Comics Code was brought in by the comic companies themselves, to circumvent the possibility of legislation being brought in to enforce standards to protect children. The American comic scene is built around characters suitable for children. By all means produce comics for a mature market — but is that what is being produced? And is that with the loss of the comics suitable for children? What is “mature”? Sex, violence and swearing only means that it should be kept out of the hands of children — but I, for one, do not class those elements as indications of maturity. There are very few American comics that have any indication of any real depth of feeling or any emotional content other than anger expressed as violence. Any finer human qualities are ignored as being not macho, and it this emphasis that is dangerous as it is teaching that finer human values are weaknesses and are to be ignored.
There are vast differences between the American comic scene and the European scene. Basically, the Americans think in terms of mass production, marketing and product. The Europeans think in terms of an art form, craft and individuality. If you are familiar with how the brain works, you will see that this is the difference between left-brain and right-brain thinking.
The American companies own their characters. Creators are just workers employed to produce stories built around those characters. If times are good, why risk reducing profits by publishing something completely new that may lose money? If times are hard, they haven’t the money to try anything new. The Americans think in terms of monthly product — largely throwaway. The collections, the trade paperbacks and graphic novels are merely a means of extending the sales of those monthly items — just as DVDs are a means of increasing profits on a cinema film.
In Europe, there are few regular comics — stories are produced as albums and the characters are largely creator-owned. This leads to an expression of individuality, and a care and love for the creator’s own creation like it is their own child. This has resulted in an immensely wide variety of carefully crafted stories published across all Europe. A French creation (like Tintin or Asterix ) will be taken up by various publishers, publishing in their own language. It will stand alongside a science-fiction album from Spain, or a Western from Italy. To a far greater extent than in America, it is the creators’ craft that determines the popularity of the creation. The arrival of a new album is an eagerly awaited event, rather than a monthly ritual. — like going to see the latest Indiana Jones film compared with watching the latest episode of Coronation Street.