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Another day, another puritanical outcry from a college student calling comics ‘garbage’

This happens every few months, and it always ends the same way.


Gavia Baker-Whitelaw


Posted on Jun 15, 2015   Updated on May 28, 2021, 2:19 pm CDT

A California college student provoked derision from comic-book fans this weekend by demanding that graphic novels be “eradicated” from her English course.

“It was shocking,” said 20-year-old Tara Shultz, who wasn’t prepared for the adult content of graphic novels like Sandman. “I didn’t expect to open the book and see that graphic material within. I expected Batman and Robin, not pornography.” She and her parents met with college officials to complain about “this garbage” being given a place on the reading list.

And that’s basically the entire story. But the comic-book community has an unquenchable thirst for hate-reads about people dissing the literary merit of the medium, so Shultz’s story is spreading far and wide.

Here’s a quick guide to how this scenario always plays out. Feel free to return in 3-6 months when this happens all over again with someone else. 

A handy timeline of literary comic book outrage

  1. A disgruntled literary novelist, English teacher, or puritanical busybody complains that comics are frivolous and/or obscene and should not be judged alongside “real” literature.
  2. A comic-book fan site picks up the story, which then goes viral on Twitter
  3. Comics fans express a combination of outrage and lighthearted mockery at the complaint’s embarrassingly outdated beliefs.
  4. A mainstream news outlet (perhaps the Guardian) publishes a po-faced opinion piece citing the literary importance of Maus, Persepolis, and bande dessinée.
  5. Marvel and DC Comics fans now get annoyed at this, pointing out that separating comics into superhero genre fiction (childish) and graphic novels (serious and mature) is just as snobbish as rejecting the medium as a whole.
  6. Everyone loses interest and moves onto the next micro-scandal, such as arguing over whether the new Batgirl costume is sexist or not.
  7. The original complaint has no lasting effect whatsoever, and comics continue to be a dominant force in popular culture.

As of this morning, there is no evidence that Tara Shultz’s anti-comics protest has had any effect whatsoever. Comics continue to be a dominant force in popular culture.

By Tuesday, everyone will be debating the soon-to-be-revealed Spider-Man casting news instead.

Photo via morebyless/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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*First Published: Jun 15, 2015, 11:36 am CDT