Chump Sucker of the Week: Wired copy chief Tony Long

The latest on the comics-have-cultural-cachet front: the backlash! Wired copy chief Tony Long is mad because Gene Luen Yang's American Born Chinese has been nominated for a National Book Award:

If you've ever tried writing a real novel, you'll know where I'm coming from. To do it, and especially to do it well enough to be nominated for this award, the American equivalent of France's Prix Goncourt or Britain's Booker Prize, is exceedingly difficult.... Sorry, but no comic book, regardless of how cleverly executed, belongs in that class.

Rather than respond myself (although as someone who has tried to write a "real novel" I am apparently qualified to speak on this issue, unlike most of you), I will paraphrase Zadie Smith, who has also tried writing a real novel, with more success, I would wager, than either myself or Wired copy chief Tony Long. I happened to see Smith field a question about graphic novels at a talk in New York earlier this month. She said, essentially, that the comics form is a different but not lesser form than prose, that she especially admired the work of Dan Clowes and Chris Ware, and that she is in awe of the amount of work that producing comics requires. She cited some figure about how long it takes Ware to draw a page -- I think it was something like two or three weeks.

You are now welcome to decide who to trust on the difficulties of prose novels versus comics: Zadie Smith or Wired copy chief Tony Long. More interesting questions, like "Is degree-of-difficulty really the standard we should use to assess works of art?" and "Should there perhaps be a separate awards category for comics, since they are after all formally different from prose?" will not be addressed at this juncture.

[Link via Bookslut]