Any Club That Would Have Me As A Member

April 29th, 2008 | comics talk

Apparently the new president of the Science Fiction Writers of America suggested that membership of the organisation should be opened to the writers of comics & graphic novels. The reported reaction is… unsurprising:

The objections ran the whole gamut (paraphrased here because I’m a notoriously awful note-taker. But the gist of the matter remains): “There’s too many of them–this will be like a mouse swallowing an elephant”; “Their contracts and issues are different than ours”; “If you take away the pictures, the words don’t tell the whole story”; “We have nothing to offer them”; “We need to grow and add more members first, then we can think about opening the organization to comics”; “Manga recycles the same plot over and over again–that’s not writing, and shouldn’t qualify…”

My Sidewise Award for best alternate-history sf is actually really pretty.


10 Responses to “Any Club That Would Have Me As A Member”

  1. At this point I find it a little baffling that anyone would want to be part of the SFWA…

  2. I would point out that for the period of time that Transmetropolitan was being published, it was among the BEST science fiction published on either side of the Atlantic AND Pacific oceans.

  3. In fairness, “We have nothing to offer them” would appear to be a pretty accurate assessment.

  4. “recycles the same plot over and over again” describes a LOT of the sf I’ve read…

  5. I just find it funny seeing as how sf and fantasy themselves are often left out of literary circles to be seen as lesser genres. With a few exceptions, I know few lists of great modern writers for curiculums or other academic lists include writers specifically in either genre. It’s sad, not only that levels of literature are being defined by genre rather than true worth, but also that even those being left out seem to be leaving each other out.

  6. It strikes me as sort of the buggy whip mentality to argue that “if you take away the pictures, the words don’t tell the whole story.” Film and television are increasingly relevant means of expressing Science Fiction, and are also more effective at communicating sci-fi ideas than simple prose. Turning your back on a creator simply because they have embraced more visual media for their stories is more than a little ridiculous, especially from a group of writers that are historically marginalized by “serious” writers.

    Of course, the last good science fiction book I read was Caitlín R. Kiernan’s novella “The Dry Salvages,” though I’ve seen a lot of excellent science fiction in film and of course, Battlestar Galactica on television. Paradigms are shifting, and these people are going to find themselves left behind, if they don’t adapt. Kind of funny, considering they’re supposed to be the ones looking to the future.

  7. [...] few days ago, which will be giving us a new President in Russell Davis.  Eric Nylund pointed me at Warren Ellis’s blog (he of Transmetropolitan fame) where there was a brief accounting of some efforts by Davis who [...]

  8. I hope you don’t mind if I repost my response to Jayme, here.

    While the conversation did get heated, I think you are misrepresenting the outcome a little. The motion that passed was, “that we clarify in our membership materials that graphic novelists are eligible for the affiliate category and that we plan to revisit their status as active members within one year.” It passed 25 to 2.

    The motion that was tabled was a discussion about what the wording on a member survey should say which passed 14 to 7.

    While the more vocal members were opposed at the outset, I think positions softened by the end.

    Personally, I think that SFWA does have something to offer SF & F comic book writers and graphic novelists that they can’t get elsewhere. We know the tools that are specific to science-fiction and fantasy storytelling. Can we offer advice about working with an artist or any of the other things specific to graphic novels? No. But someone who joins SFWA would be doing so because of what we can offer, which is all about science-fiction and fantasy writing.

  9. as to recycling the same plot over and over again… “90% of everything is crap.”

    who said that again?

  10. Let me just add:

    a) Warren qualifies for SFWA membership on the basis of “Crooked Little Vein”. So while this question is of interest, it’s not an issue that would keep Warren out of the tree house.

    b) Whether SFWA has *anything* to offer *anyone* at present is an interesting question. At least the organization’s pulled back from the brink it was teetering on, but frankly, if I wanted to join a serious trade body I wouldn’t start with this one. (I speak as a somewhat cynical life member.)