An actual cultural movement that operates on an absolutely global scale, with militants and patrons ready to make many sacrifices, even and especially personal ones, a billion-dollar, worldwide industry that is about to celebrate its first century of life and a galaxy of collectors with businesses worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
It is the Ninth Art, as many refer to comic books, for decades one of the most popular and influential forms of expression in the world, now step by step (prestige and visibility wise) establishing itself more and more as an art form worthy of an important place in the history of painting and literature.
The planetary business revolves around the Walt Disney Company, owner of Marvel Comics, and Warner Bros, owner of DC Comics, but also a few successful and boundlessly talented outsiders such as Todd McFarlane’s Image Comics and Dynamite Entertainment, which republishes the updated version of characters from the ‘30s and ‘40s. Around them, armies of small and medium-sized publishing houses (among these, Dark Horse Comics, which published Italian comics series “Dylan Dog” with new, original covers drawn by Mike Mignola). And then comicons, the oceanic conventions attracting hundreds of thousands of lovers and developing tourism: from San Diego to New York, from London (London Super Comic Convention) to Lucca, passing through smaller towns and always promoting the form of expression that are drawn strips (bandes dessinées in French), a form of expression that enthusiasts consider to be among the highest.
And it is: comic books are Art. Art that inspires other art, reflection, discussion, peace. With a goal that many people have dreamt of and does not seem so unreachable anymore: a comics artist winning the Nobel Prize in Literature (or, why not?, for Peace). Among the top-rated names, the first and foremost is Alan Moore, the bard of Northampton, creator of “Watchmen“, a masterpiece enriched by David Gibbons’ drawings, but made unique by Moore’s words. And then Neil Gaiman, another Englishman, well-known for “1602”, a what if story in which the superheroes are temporally relocated four centuries back.
Right after Moore and Gaiman, Grant Morrison and Mark Millar, both Scottish. Would Stan Lee, surely less sophisticated than the European authors, deserve a Nobel Prize? The supposed father of the Marvel Universe (because it now seems a well-established fact that Jack Kirby has had a much greater role and contribution) is over 90 years old, so the people in Stockholm should hurry up and go for the major breakthrough, giving a new direction to literature and visual arts.