Tuesday 16 January 2007

Linkin', blinkin' and nod.

I've been casting around to see what some old buddies of mine are talking about.

Neil Gaiman on Jan 6 linked to a Washington Post gallery of images of the colossal scuptures of Ron Mueck. There's something deliciously humorous about doing a fretting woman, in bed, on a colossal scale (technically 'larger than life') which in antiquity was reserved strictly for deities.

Dave Sim on jan 12 and 13 reads Gary Groth in the comics journal #279 reading the Eisner/Miller book
from Dark Horse that took an Eisner award last July. We must regard all awards as completely meaningless from here on alas (well, but then I guess it as always been so). Sim is one of the clearest thinkers I know, which should not be taken to indicate either agreement or disagreement on my part. He obtains more knowledge from a couple of quoted paragraphs than Groth , Eisner and Miller altogether.

Dirk Deppey links to a piece in the Arts section of the NY Times See You in the (Restored, Reprinted) Funny Papers
This is about the current crop of old newpaper strips collected in attractively made books, to be differentiated from
"Those earlier reprint series — ‘Terry and the Pirates,’ ‘Flash Gordon,’ ‘Prince Valiant’ — appealed largely to men in their 50s and 60s who wanted to relive their boyhood. The new crop of books aren’t being read by people who have a nostalgic memory of first reading them...
...the work is emphasized, not the kitsch merchandising that the more popular strips often generate. Seth’s “Peanuts” covers are minimal, for example, focusing on the emotions of Schulz’s strips rather than the crowd-pleasing imagery of Snoopy’s Red Baron or Lucy’s psychiatry booth."
“The world of Charles Schulz at the drawing board is an entirely different world from the Charles Schulz in stores, television, theaters or Japan,” said David Michaelis, the author of the forthcoming “Schulz: A Biography.”
“What Seth has done is take a diamond out of its old setting, polished it and reset it in a way that makes it sparkle more."

This interests me because it chimes with something I said in my Comics Journal interview of a year ago. I attempted to explain that I felt that when everybody has finished arguing about what a 'graphic novel' is, a few years down the track, the term will come to be associated with the particular zeitgeist of these last couple of decades.
That is to say, just as we refer affectionately to the early comics as 'the funnies', whether they were funny or otherwise, the comics of now will be referred to as 'the graphic novels', whether or not they are 'novels'. And if this zeitgeist had to be analyzed and described, then the hallmarks of this phase of the medium would be a respect for the authorial voice and an affection for the book as an interesting object.
Thus we should be looking to understand the 'graphic novel' as a culture, a complex of ways in which things are done, and are expected to be done, which is quite different from the ways in which they were done previously. Furthermore, when the exponents of this new phase turn their attention to repackaging the 'funnies' then we have the interesting proposition of the older works reevalued and presented anew within what I called the 'graphic novel sensibility'.
This proved too complicated for many readers of the interview who asked 'yes, but is it or is it not a graphic novel?' since comic book people's heads tend to form a world of exact and unmalleable definition.
Anyway, the article, or more correctly, the people quoted in it, recognises the finer points of difference between different eras without trying to posit an overview.

Another link via Dirk to news item about the great British cartoonist Carl Giles. I showed a little detail of his work, from one his old books that I have here, in the interview I did with Malaysian cartoonist Lat at the First Second site (where you can also find a 'trailer' for the black Diamond Detective Agency. If you listen to that, please turn the sound off) (as Honeybee might say). Anyway, everything you need to know about Giles, with examples in a tribute page by Steve Adams.



Blogger Aaron White said...

"Furthermore, when the exponents of this new phase turn their attention to repackaging the 'funnies' then we have the interesting proposition of the older works reevalued and presented anew within what I called the 'graphic novel sensibility'."

This sounds a bit like T. S. Eliot's statement that "the past (is) altered by the present as much as the present is directed by the past."

16 January 2007 at 11:26:00 GMT-5  
Blogger James Robert Smith said...

"Sim is one of the clearest thinkers I know..."

By Jove, that's a disturbing thought.

17 January 2007 at 16:57:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

true... i'll be coming vback to that one.

in spite of everything said , done and thought, it is indeed so.

18 January 2007 at 02:07:00 GMT-5  

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