repeating forever: “it’s a medium not a genre” “it’s a medium not a genre” “it’s a medium not a genre” “it’s a medium not a genre” “it’s a..

—Drawn & Quarterly (@DandQ), at 13 May 17:34

If you’re in the least interested in the formal side of comics, I’m sure you’ve winced at the unblinking mention of “the comics genre” — I know I have, more often than I can count. Genre denotes stylistic sets of convention (see Wikipedia for a more thorough explanation), like comedy, drama, or tragedy. Any genre can be applied to comics, but comics are not a genre.
At some point it became popular shorthand among comics connoisseurs to call comics a medium, as apparently Drawn & Quarterly’s twitter person only recently caught wind of, but impressively academic as it sounds, that’s kind of rubbish, too.
A medium can be many things (spirit channeling, anyone?), but in all versions it’s a messenger, or middleman — “medium” being Latin for “middle”. Wikipedia, again and always, defines media in a communication context as “the collective communication outlets or tools that are used to store and deliver information or data”, and goes on to list print media, cinema, radio and television as examples. Odd for a web encyclopedia to leave out the Internet from that list.
Comics don’t fit in that category, but is rather the “information or data” mediated in book form or online as web comics. That’s what I tweeted back at D&Q, a little exasperated having to explain it to one of the finer publishers in North America:

@DandQ Print is the medium, comics are an art form…

…which I’m open for debating the semantics of: is comics a form of art, of expression, or communication? All or any of the above I suppose, perhaps depending on the work in question, but I’m quite convinced of the term “form”.
Yes, this is the kind of thing I lie awake nights and ponder. I think it’s important, if you’re interested in discussing the finer points of comics, or even if you just want to feign cleverness at parties, to have at least a working terminology of the subject. A hopelessly old-fashioned attitude, I know.

Tell me about your mother: why people hate autobiography comics. In reply to @smoo_comics @hellophia

I’m *still* trying to work out how I feel about autobio comics in relation to @hellophia’s chat about it last month: https://storify.com/hellophia/you-hate-autobio-comics

—Simon Moreton (@smoo_comics) at 28 Apr 12:38

The short(est) answer, I’d guess, is that there are x{total # comics autobiographies} different types of autobio comics, and it would take a lifetime of dedication to know them all. You’d be a fool to waste time hating something you don’t understand — just not bothering is a more wholesome concept.

More to the point, and let me say upfront that I have read a few autobiographic novels; I see a few reasons why some readers may decide to loudly not care for the genre:

1. Contrary to some autobiographers’ beliefs, not all human experience is relevant to everybody else.
2. The fact that {intimate event} happened to {person x} doesn’t necessarily mean that person is best fit to tell the story.
3. Some readers still live in a bubble of comics={individual favourite genre}, to an extent that they will believe that Spider-Gwen is […] a comic with everything for everyone — you’re a good person for trying to expand their horizon with some autobiographic comics, but understand that these people are pathologically unable to appreciate any art form without costumed characters hitting each other. Once again, and with emphasis this time: don’t bother.

Perhaps I’m harsh, but I do believe that 95% of anything is likely to be crap, and that’s even a low estimate for the criticism against autobiography that @hellophia summarises at the above link…

Let’s play a game: read this and guess what it’s about, then click on.


“Graphic novelists need to go back to the sketchpad and become artists again”


Scanning those bookshelves, which held everything from Persepolis to Black Hole, what I saw were variations on a reductive graphic style designed to communicate information and signify simple emotions, but never to take the risk of showing a genuinely new, genuinely personal and daring perception of reality.

— in the Guardian, Jonathan Jones relates a disappointing visit to the bookstore’s four-coloured subtly spot-coloured section.

*ahem* May I remind everybody of my (out of print) sketchbook comics?