Today's (2/4/09) column was absolutely fantastic, and spoke to an issue that has frustrated me for quite some time-- the assumption on the part of some readers that their failure to "get it" means that the author has somehow failed to do his or her job.
It's interesting to think about this issue in terms of comics, though. I'm not sure comics shouldn't be mere entertainment, mindless reading; certainly, as Tim points out, "comics were regarded as the medium of children or simpletons for decades," and sometimes with good reason. So, I think, there might be an argument to be made that comic books can be the literary equivalent of Rock of Love (a show that, I think, can still be appreciated for what it says about some aspects of our culture-- if you're drunk).
But the fact that you can make the argument that some comics should remain, well, simple doesn't mean that you can make the argument that all comics should be simple. Just as Rock of Love can exist in the same medium as The Wire, so too can Underworld Unleashed exist in the same medium as Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron.
So maybe it's best to say that comics shouldn't only be escapist entertainment? That there's room for both the easily-understood and digested and the more complex, but that the criticism that "it was too confusing" usually isn't a valid criticism?
Anyway. Like I said, fantastic column. In an odd coincidence, my wife just finished reading Speak, Memory a couple nights ago, and we've been talking about Nabokov for the past two days. If you haven't read it, it's pretty much the most challenging, most beautiful, and most... best (damn it!) memoir ever written, if you ask me. I wonder how many of Nabokov's ideas about fiction are also applicable to memoir and other forms of creative nonfiction...