Hardcore comics fans are very reverent to their heroes and woe betide the artist or writer who doesn’t share in their worship. If a creator appears insufficiently devoted to the characters or fails to imbue their work with prerequisite religious awe, they will suffer at the hands of the fans, who, like, like ancient pagans, take special delight in killing their kings.
They both love chinese food, he hates to dress
He loves to play pinball, she wants to play next
She likes her novels long, he’s into comic books
They’re gilt-edged polymorphous urban but somehow it works
One of the beautiful things about comics, though, is how modular and malleable the “reading” experience can be. Unlike prose books, most of which have a linear flow from word to word regardless of visual presentation, comics are made up of discrete visual units, and units within units.
Comics are a practice which invokes the object repeatedly, rhythmically, through the incantations of its evershifting name – the image.
When I started writing comics in 1985/86, I sort of had this vision of a golden age and it was absolutely Utopian. It had huge golden spires, and in it, comics were right up there with every other medium. You could do anything in comics that you could do in any other medium. And people understood that you could have biography, you could have some history, you could have reportage, you could have whimsy. All of this stuff was valid. And that Utopia did actually come ’round. The fact that a lot of the comics creators are women felt wonderful. It used to be a boys’ club.
As comic strips are printed smaller and smaller, the drawings and dialogue have to get simpler and simpler to stay legible. Cartoons are just words and pictures, and you can only eliminate so much of either before a cartoon is deprived of its ability to entertain.
We’ve got too many comic strip corpses being propped up and passed for living by new cartoonists who ought to be doing something of their own. If a cartoonist isn’t good enough to make it on his own work, he has no business being in the newspaper.
What is a kid comic? Did we grow up on “kid” comics? Who knows? I think we grew up with comics that could be read by anyone.
A comic might come together in my mind over a span of years — just ideas randomly colliding/combining until some magic synthesis happens and a story develops.
There’s not much future in being a strip artist now. That’s quite a turnaround in fortunes, because presiding over an established syndicated comic strip used to be the closest thing to tenure that popular culture offered. If I were starting out now, I’d probably continue on the graphic design trajectory I was on before I got sidetracked with comics. Colbert-like TV would be OK, too, except you have to be brilliant. I advise young cartoonists now to get into graphic novels — or head for Pixar.
Wil Eisner, Jack Kirby, and the comics godfathers who broke their cherries in Brooklyn would be proud to see the industry thriving and expanding where water towers and fire escapes still exist and the streets are encoded with the blood and secrets of human trial and error, challenging our pencils, inks, and digital tools to cull and mull the universal truths.
Bury my face in comic books, cause I don’t want to look
At nothin’, this world’s too much
I’ve swallowed all I could
If I could swallow a bottle of tylenol I would, and end it for good
Just say goodbye to Hollywood
It’s a little bit like writing a novel, it’s a little like doing a storyboard and it’s a little bit like a movie, but it’s its own thing.
I find that I am one of those people who says, ‘I am a lesbian and a cartoonist, but not a lesbian cartoonist’.
Reading a graphic novel is at once a complex and instinctive act. The reader is forced not only to parse several narrative streams – speech bubbles, the silent communication of figurative attitudes and scenic arrangement, repeated visual symbols, often a narrative commentary – but also construe them as a continuous sequence that represents the passage of time. It’s an act we perform without thinking about it, but is nevertheless a complicated piece of translation between the concrete and the abstract.
Comics are, at their essence, a series of composed iconic pictograms organized in such a way as to allow a third party to mentally construct a narrative.
I don’t sit around worrying about whether or not I’ve got the correct thickness on my brush. I whack it down and make sure, and go back and fix it if it doesn’t look right.
I think with cartoonists, and myself in particular, there’s a kind of compulsive repetition of the same kind of shapes in doodles over and over again. It’s tough to break the habit and draw stuff that you haven’t drawn before.
Comics seem determined to make every single mistake the music industry did enroute to finding a model for internet distribution that works, but really, I didn’t think they’d actually do it so literally – right now we’re apparently at the “every company wants its own service to beat all the other companies’ services” stage, which worked for music about as well as you’d expect given that nobody cared who Beyonce and Coldplay happened to be signed with; they just wanted to download the mp3s. Comics have a slight advantage over music in this regard in that some portion of the audience does care about which comic company produces what, but given that I’m pretty sure the majority of the population doesn’t know or care that Spider-Man and Batman are made by different companies, it doesn’t seem like a growth strategy.
Comic-book fans are a small, but highly dedicated and influential group. They usually develop an intense, intimate relationship with the comics medium at an early age, often as a result of childhood trauma. Many have a general disposition toward shyness or social awkwardness that tends to cement their dedication to the form, turning them into, in Stan Lee’s words, “true believers” indistinguishable from your average theology student or seminarian.
Comics are essentially: imagery (non-specific), and words (but not necessarily, and not forgetting that words are also images), arranged in a linear sequence to tell a story (non-specific, and in the digital realm, “linear” is up for grabs as well). That’s all. No mention of ink and line, word balloons, etc. These things don’t define comics, they are ticks and mannerisms you can use or lose, like “the fade out,” “the voice over,” “the jump cut” in film.
Comics and superheroes have this common history but may not have a common future, necessarily. Superheroes might well belong onscreen and not on the page, now that the technology has caught up with the storytelling.
I can barely read comics anymore. There are so many boxes and word balloons and all it just tires my eyes so quickly. I feel like there is so much investment on the creator’s behalf in building a visual template — boxes, word balloons, characters, settings, etc. — that the creator has no energy left for concrete or conceptual concerns.
Comics are often viewed as the “anti-book” book. The simple rebellious nature of the medium alone motivates young boys to read them.