The combination of words and pictures can be extremely powerful. Often by the time you’ve decided not to read a comic, you’ve read half of it. The medium creeps in under the radar, in an invisible, effortless way. It is a perfect way to tell stories and to get complex ideas across.
The magic of comics is in the ‘sequential’ part of sequential art. Two images in sequence create a moment of time, but a moment made up of two frozen images can create particular illusions other mediums can’t.
Comics are being “pirated” left and right, and most releases are widely available, for free, the day of release. I say “pirated,” in quotes, because unlike traditional bootleggers the scanners aren’t selling books — they are giving them away.
I feel like comic books are our Greek mythology, like a modern Greek mythology. I kind of equate the themes, and I think a lot of people would agree, the themes that Stan Lee was writing about in his comics are the same themes you’d find in Shakespeare … or in these [Greek] tragedies.
I felt really bogged down by knee-jerk obligatory negativity in alternative comics […] even if I’m complaining about something when I’m in it, I always remember it in a good way. When I was putting the book together [Make Me A Woman], that was a big theme — I wanted to make a place for a cheery outlook in alternative comics.
American comics are more creative than ever, and the ideas developed there find many types of homes: some are perfect just as comics and some move to other media.
When you read a comic the cartoon hero is not a representation of its elusive, flesh-and-bone creator. It’s a circle face with expressive lines for eyes and a mouth, bursting with universal emotion. Simplicity makes the cartoon hero the easiest thing in the world to project oneself on to. It’s you.
A lot of people have complained to me that if I don’t like comics I should give them up. Which is defensive and idiotic. You can love something and still be critical of it. And I’m just as critical of myself and my own relationship to pop culture as I am with others. When fans attack my fan-centric work they almost always end up proving my point for me by the way they act.
“Comics are big right now” — that’s what we keep hearing. But let’s be honest, they’re big right now because Hollywood is making them so.
The comics were invented for commercial purposes. They were, and are, a graphic feature designed to help sell newspapers. Cartoonists work within severe space constraints on an inflexible deadline for a mass audience. That’s not the most conducive atmosphere for the production of great art, and of course many comic strips have been eminently dispensable. But more than occasionally, wonderful work has been produced.
The graphic-novel genre is no longer young, but it retains, like Drew Barrymore and certain indie bands, a quirky and semi-adorable glow. Its fragile vibe is Etsy, not Best Buy. Attacking a pile of graphic novels is not unlike chucking a sackful of baby pandas into a river.
You have to tell more compelling stories or tell stories in a more compelling manner, either get out of your small existence and find experiences to write about or celebrate “mundane” life in a new way. Otherwise you’re the seven-thousandth person to write about your crazy roommate or dating or staying up all night drawing comics.
Comics are words and pictures which go together sequentially to tell a story. No one ever said the pictures had to be drawn.
Comics are a sub-set of pictorial narrative; therefore, all comics are pictorial narratives, but not all pictorial narratives are comics. Horses are quadrupeds, and dogs are quadrupeds, but horses are not dogs, and dogs are not horses. There are different kinds of quadrupeds, and there are different kinds of pictorial narratives.
Although most superpowers are not impairments, many superpowered individuals (particularly mutants in the Marvel universe) face discrimination despite the fact that they are not actually impaired. In addition, there are some superpowers that do impair their possessors. As a result, the ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] would protect many superpowered individuals from discrimination in several important areas of life.
I’m ambitious. I have a lot of ambition… and I’ve found when I focus too much on my ambition I usually make poor work or my ego gets unhealthy and my work suffers. For the past few years, I’ve been working towards reducing my ambition. I wish to live without ambition.
I said ‘Stan [Lee], I’m a writer, and I’m currently writing for DC Comics. I want a change.’
He said ‘We don’t like the writing for DC Comics.’
I said ‘I don’t either. I got the job at DC because I learned from your stuff. They call me their ‘Marvel writer’ and mean it as an insult.’
He says ‘I’ll give you fifteen minutes.’
I’m baffled that people continue to work in that area [superheroes] because they don’t have to anymore. The area has been so strip-mined, so why move there, when anything at all is now possible?
I don’t really consider what I do to be cartooning. I make sequential art and I think there’s a difference.
Neal Adams kind — and that includes Will Eisner, Jack Kirby, and my own father, God rest his soul, none of these men had a nanosecond’s patience with self-pity. May we learn from them. Self-pity is for losers.
If Shakespeare and Michelangelo were alive today, and if they decided to collaborate on a comic, Shakespeare would write the script and Michelangelo would draw it. How could anybody say that this wouldn’t be as worthwhile an artform as anything on earth?
Artists had the same spark in their eyes, like back home, and maybe their pencils were better quality, but nobody drank at work. That was a big difference.
Comics are such an incredibly unique form of art and literature, when comics are done right, there really is nothing like them.
If everyone had to ask permission of the author before, say, making a crappy photocopy of a comic to send to a friend, I’d never have seen some of the comics that had the most powerful effect on me as a teenager.
Comics are so often seen as the province of white geeky nerds. But, more broadly, comics are the literature of outcasts, of pariahs, of Jews, of gays, of blacks. It’s really no mistake that we saw ourselves in Doom, Magneto or Rogue.
I wasn’t a mainstream journalist — I didn’t have access to the people in power. Whenever I went to some place, I thought, these people aren’t going to talk to a cartoonist. I mean, what politician or general is going to say, “Oh, a cartoonist? Yes, let him in and I’ll give him my time.”
If you want to make comics for a living or comics that look like comics, study illustration, get some business sense, learn your comics history and tow the line. If you want to make good comics ignore that and just do it your way.
However useful we cartoonists are as licensed idiots, we’re not quite safe either, not least because as satirists it’s our job – and our vocation – to mock the rich and powerful, a group which rather noticeably and inconveniently includes the kind of people who own and edit newspapers and other media.
The question of whether the number of people who download comics online would actually pay for what they’re downloading is a tricky one. Not everyone who reads your work is willing to pay for it. In some cases, I believe people are simply hoarding. They’re grabbing everything they can to leave it on ever-larger hard drives.
Hollywood’s fractured and there are probably more filmmakers than ever crowding out each other for a screen in NYC or LA. That sort of feels a little like comics these days. Lots of new work and a limited direct connect to the fans.
Comics are such a direct form of communication — even superhero comics — why waste them saying absolutely nothing? And I’m not talking about saying something profound… I’m saying, “Entertain my ass! Show me something I’ve never seen before!”
As my career with Dilbert took off, reporters asked me if I ever imagined I would reach this level of success. The question embarrasses me because the truth is that I imagined a far greater level of success. That’s my process. I imagine big.