C omic books in their first great flourishing were a genre of popular fiction in which characters were illustrated wearing gaudy clothes, aimed at a class of people "not given leave to dress themselves. No doubt about it; they were kids' stuff." (last bit's from Chabon's Kavalier and Klay... apologies if I've misremembered it). In their current great flourishing we need scholars to explain them, even though they have not changed much.
Salon.com presents an excerpt from Douglas Wolk's Reading Comics: How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean. to be published by Da Capo Press on July 2, 2007.
Comics fans, grow up!-June 23.
"With the rise of the graphic novel, comics have hit the big time. It's time for fans to quit whining and celebrate their favorite art... "
Where is he headed? An 'art' has 'fans'? (I'd like to buy an art please, said Dr Zoidberg when he came into some money).
"The blessing and curse of comics as a medium is that there is such a thing as "comics culture." The core audience of comics is really into them: we know that Wednesdays are the day when new issues appear in the stores, we populate endless Web sites and message boards..."
Looks like it will be a thorough history of the comic book genre, which does have 'fans', and I'm writhing in embarrassment at the thought that somebody might think i'm one of them.
"Over the last half century, comics culture has developed as an insular, self-feeding, self-loathing, self-defeating fly-trap. A lot of the people who hit their local comics store every Wednesday think of comics readers as some kind of secret, embattled fellowship..."
'Secret embattled fellowship' expresses it better than my 'loose-knit society of fellow travellers' of june 9. Wolk's phrase, with its hint of more desperation, would have suited my enquiry better, and supported my conception of it as a 'genre allegiance', a modern mindset that we recognize but would need a psychiatrist or sociologist to explain to us. Commentary on the genre has taken a sad turn of late. Paul Gravett's books have been giving me the same disquiteing feeling. In fact, hasn't wee Paul already covered all this, him and everybody else who has made a semantic mud puddle and then cheerfully stepped in it (like my commenter (hi, Steve) of June 15 who wound up arguing about the definition of the word 'definition' and who will probably be back for another serve at the end of this):
"But the "novel" part of "graphic novel" blots out the idea of short fiction and nonfiction -- it's odd to call, say, books of reportage in cartoon form by Joe Sacco ..."Graphic narrative" sounds like a euphemism twice removed from its source, and still has the unfortunate resonance of "graphic" with the way it tends to be paired with "sexuality" or "violence." And "sequential art" sounds utterly arid."
I've always thought that to describe comicbook culture beginning with its 'fan' roots would be the honest thing to do, as opposed to the other approach, in which aspects of ancient art (eg. the Bayeux tapestry) are cunningly and dishonestly 'colonized'. However I would have drawn the line at offering it to the world at large for fear of looking foolish, and not only because of our tedious arguing about the naming of things. The triumph of this geeky subculture in the big world can only presage the downfall of good taste. Oh, what am I blathering about; that got fucked a long time ago.
If you're still with me, here's another cover:
My best ever party trick was making issue 50 coincide with the new millenium; I gave Mick Evans the painted figure and the little sketch and he made a lovely design of it even though he still argues to this day that the millenium wasn't until the following year. Here's my four pager about millenium night, from After the Snooter
in other news: (the catholic boy in me couldn't less this one go by)
The Vatican issued a document listing its rules of the road, including one warning against using cars "as a means for outshining other people and arousing a feeling of envy."
"Unless having fun has become a sin, I don't believe it (to be wrong)," Amedeo Felisa told Reuters this week at an event celebrating Ferrari's 60th anniversary in its hometown southeast of Milan.