Archive for November, 2005

lengthy pondering about ambition, sophistication, and formalism in comics

Of course, I’m also constantly trying to apply these ideas [i.e. art/lit theory/criticism] to making comics. Anybody who’s tried to talk to me in the last year knows that I’ve had comics on the brain, but the development of the last month or so is that I’m thinking about making them. There’s a strong argument to be made that comics is the ultimate artistic medium (except perhaps film), really. Any criticism or theory that applies to literature or visual art should theoretically apply to comics just as well. It’s a very young medium still, and the collective intelligence of its creators has never been terribly high*, so there’s only a bit of work that shows a care for really high-level concerns. But we’re getting there.

*as in pop music, it’s probably less appropriate to speak of a dearth of intelligence as it is a dearth of education: Jack Kirby was a brilliant guy, but he never went to college. There’s also been a lack of ambition until recently: I can’t get that image out of my head from Scott McCloud’s Reinventing Comics of Rube Goldberg telling Will Eisner that they were nothing more than vaudevillians.

Reference list for structurally/theoretically intelligent comics:
Ernie Bushmiller (need more of him in the MLLL)
Eddie Campbell
Howard Chaykin (him too)
Will Eisner (him too)
Warren Ellis?
Los Bros Hernandez?
George Herriman??
Paul Hornschemeier (him too)
David Mack
Winsor McCay (him too)
Scott McCloud?
Dave McKean?
Frank Miller
Peter Milligan?
Alan Moore
Grant Morrison
P. Craig Russell (him too)
Bill Sienkiewicz
Dave Sim
Art Spiegelman (him too)
Osamu Tezuka
Chris Ware

And presumably a whole heap of stuff I’m not yet aware of, probably including:
-Small-press “pretentious art-school fucks” that The Comics Journal loves
-Forgotten pre-WWII innovators that The Comics Journal loves
-European and Japanese innovators that even The Comics Journal tends to ignore

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Leigh Walton talks comics and maybe other arts. (RSS)
He also works for the very excellent publisher Top Shelf Productions (which does not necessarily endorse the views and opinions, etc, herein).

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Header by me. Contains an interpolation of the final panel from All-Star Superman #1 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. Speaking of which.