You say gray, I say grey...

If you keep abreast at all of the comic book industry (and by that I mean reading magazines and articles about comics, and not just comics themselves), you probably noticed that everyone's big thing is to bellyache about the terrible state of things. About how noone takes comics seriously as an art form. About how the industry is almost devoid of female artists and writers. And most of all, about the money.
First of all, if you want to be rich, learn to play basketball really well. Learn how to program computers. Learn how to work the stock market. Don't be an artist. Not of any sort. Odds are you wil not be loaded when you die. Anyone who enters the comic book industry with the intention of becoming a millionare needs their head checked. Sure, there's a few guys out there who made some nice coin, usually throught liscensing rather than directly through comics, but they are as rare as the dodo.
Okay, now that that's off my chest. Money no here.
However, to say that comics aren't taken seriously as an art form is absurd. Look at the amazing stuff going on out there. The comics industry is at an unprecendented level of experimentation and diversity (at least for the US). Strangers in Paradise, Kane, Eightball, Acme Novely Librairy, Hellboy, to name but a few. I haven't seen so much good stuff on the shelf in years. I think the problem is that "taken seriously" has become synonymas with "making money". Because these books don't rake in piles of cash, they are "under-appreciated".
Don't get me wrong. I'm not some deranged communist that just hates money. I love money! The more the merrier! But I'd be lying if I said that money does not have a corrupting effect, not just on individuals but institutions as well. One of the reasons contemporary American comics has so much diversity is because it is not big business. Anybody with a pencil and a local copy shop can produce a comic book of professional quality, and a pretty fair quantity of them at that. As long as you don't put much priority of super die cut UV coated lineoleum covers and and hideous computer coloring, you can make a book of comparable quality to the best in the market.
Now take a look at the music and movie industries. Look at the recipe crap they churn out year after year. Bland, safe, marketable shit. Andy Warhol's "Sleep" would gross millions if George Clooney starred in it. Movie executives watch hours of "Nick at Night" to figure out next year's movies. And what film would be complete without a cardboard cut-out soda pop soundtrack. And you're just not a record compant these days unless you have a soft-core, publiclly accessible ska-band.
Movies make lots of money.
Music makes lots of money.
In reality, money makes the movies and the music.
Studios make their products based on the Golden Carrot being dangled before them. Quality and creativity are secondary. That's the very foundation of their livelihood. And then there's comics. No Golden Carrot here, at least none I've ever seen. So what's the motivation? Why are atrist and writer's abnging their collective head against the wallWhy kill yourself to make these books for so little financial appreciation? Someone out there must actually just love the medium. There must be a genuine passion that infatuates creators and readers both. A secret love that pushes comics into new genres and experimentations. So what's wrong with the industry again? What needs healing? I don't think comics are hurting that much at all. It's probaly the most unadulterated mass-market art form this country has ever known.

"I've always given very little importance to the problem of money, but a lot of importance to the problem of money: I believe that this is the key. One needs economic independence to be able to conduct his research into expression. If you're poor, it's clear that the only thoughts you have are going to be finding something to eat or to wear, superseding your artistic needs."

Milo Manara
from an interview in
The Comics Journal
Number 198