[Now that my life has calmed down, (sort of), I fully intend on excerpting the entirety of my thesis on Grant Morrison and Renaissance philosopher Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. Please let me know your thoughts.]
The first section of this transcript makes it clear that one problem with Comics Studies right now—is that it has to tackle uninformed scholars who insert themselves into this kind of discussion.
Smith, however, is someone who takes the topic to heart and gets into the good work being done by people who were once part of the industry. “Gerard Jones is a good example here, telling a solid story about how publishing distribution and industrial structure influenced the comics world.” (Smith 140). Smith is referring to Gerard Jones’s history of the birth of the modern comic book industry in Men of Tomorrow. Jones was a longtime writer on Green Lantern and various other DC properties before deciding to write about comics’ seedy history.
By the end of the conversation everyone involved in the panel comes to a consensus about what Comics Studies should be doing: the history of the medium is good for getting started with an essay, but to focus solely on it would be to tell just a small part of the industry’s story as a whole. For Smith, the field should take on its studies in a similar manner to Cinema and Media Studies: it should focus on aesthetics, culture, authorship, industry, and reception. His idea is mostly correct in all of the ways he lists except in comparing comics to cinematic aesthetics. A widely accepted notion among comics scholars is that comics are not aesthetically comparable to film, but yet university academics seem keen on the idea of comparing the medium to film. We cannot use the techniques used in motion picture studies, because comics are not motion pictures. Comics are a static medium. The difference is a reader can choose to spend as much time on a comic panel as he or she likes. Doing so means one can spend time on composition of the panel, the art style, the dialogue, and narrative. This differs greatly fromthe intention of the filmmaker, which is to show it to the viewer first on a movie screen where one cannot fast forward, rewind or pause, one can only watch and become a part, leaving one to dissect the art after viewing. A comic allows a reader to dissect a panel, a page, or a sequence at any length of time or one’s leisure.
Furthermore, while the structures of the comic book script and of screenplays are similar, the final result is completely different. Both are driven by dialogue and both have rules for how much a page can contain. A page on a comic book script can only have a certain number of dialogue pieces, roughly 210 words, so that the dialogue and narrative captions do not overtake the art. The number of panels per page limits the number of words. There are two distinct models of form: decompressed comics, which emphasizes visuals and character interaction and results in slower-moving plots, usually stretching over four to six twenty-two page issues; and compressed comics, which are usually referred to as “done-in-one”. These storylines are done in a single issue, and panels are compressed usually in six or more panel grids. For example, if you have five panels per page you can get away with at most forty-two words per panel; this is an example of decompressed storytelling, as a writer can get away with quite a bit of dialogue without compressing the art. For a screenplay, a page of script is meant to be one minute of film, and the dialogue drives character as in a comic book, while the image on the screen and the comic book page portrays the action. The biggest difference when one compares the two is that films are restricted by budgetary concerns, so that the action of the images is limited to how much money the production has, whereas the comic book can literally show anything because there are no budgetary restrictions to what an artist is capable of showing, and there is no rating system in place. Nothing displays this difference better than movie adaptations of comic books. A specific example is the end of the graphic novel Watchmen and the film version directed by Zack Snyder.
 There used to be a rating system: in the wake of Frederic Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent, comics publishers, as ordered by Congress, instituted a Comics Code, which all but limited the medium into a restrictive format. Only recently did publishers decide they could monitor themselves and the code was abandoned, which included rules like crimes should never be portrayed in a way to create sympathy for the criminal, public institutions like the judicial system should not be portrayed in a bad light, and others.