“… the sentiment he’s complaining about is invariably the oldest one there is: ‘The first issue has to give me a reason to buy the second issue, and it didn’t.‘ Yeah: that’s not a ‘trend’ or a ‘meme’ or a ‘fad’— that’s the job. That’s always been the job. That ‘trend’ started at the dawn of the enterprise.”
I haven’t read Nowhere Men, the comic that Stephenson was defending, so I’m not commenting on that. In fact, neither is Khosla (not directly anyway). His point is a general one about whether audience expectations (however unrealistic) should be seen as a.) a trend to be complained about or b.) something that professional comics makers should understand and know how to take advantage of. In other words, whose fault is it that a reader didn’t enjoy the comic: the reader’s or the creators’?
It’s a fascinating question, and I’m not sure that the answer is as clear as Khosla makes it out to be. Maybe it is if we’re only concerned with how entertaining a comic is, but what if we’re talking about artistic merit outside of the plot? In the rest of his interview, Stephenson talks about Nowhere Men as a work that he and Nate Bellegarde put a lot of creative energy into, including the design as well as the story. And while I can’t speak to how successful any of that is, I think that when I’m looking at a piece of art, my thought process should be deeper than how compelling the story is. It seems like there are some other factors I should be considering as well.