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Blaise Larmee’s Trophy Economy

Blaise Larmee has a really compelling opinion piece up at The Comics Journal. He describes the world of book selling (and comic-art-object selling) as a “trophy economy.” He claims that the ease with which we can create and share digital media has separated content from medium, and as such the book has become “a hollow trophy, a signifier of cultural values, a rewarding/recording of its own existence, an indicator of class, taste, investment strategy, morality, etc.” While I agree, it surprises me that he would describe this trophy as “hollow.” He explains how many subcultures are subsidized by trophies, as trophies, unlike digital content, cost money. He says this encourages a further fetishization of the trophy within that subculture. This is particularly interesting, considering this article is in TCJ, which is largely read by indie comics artists and readers. At Big Other we often discuss our love of books and bookshelves and covers and things. But I’d say that the indie comics subculture takes this to another level with it’s focus on book making, respect for self-publishing, admiration for the rare and difficult (despite it being a medium of simplicity and reproduction). Larmee makes a good point.

(Coincidentally, Larmee’s own self-published, Xeric-grant funded debut, Young Lions, just showed up in my mailbox. Going to go read it now.)

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