Here’s a thought about comics being far too many things to make any sense

Indeed, “comics” as a social artifact refers to numerous qualities, including 1) physical objects (strips and books), 2) a collection of genres, 3) an industry, 4) a culture/community, and others that are all tied to a context of the modern era. On the other hand, sequential images do create a language: a “visual language” that combines with text to be used within those social objects called “comics.”“Comics” are not this visual language. “Comics” are a social object written in a visual language that combines with text. If novels or magazines are written in English, why should “comics” be a language, instead of be written in a language?

– Neil Cohn, reviewing Thierry Groensteen’s The system of comics here.

Also on:

Here’s a thought about medieval comics

[The] unconventional aspects are deliberate pointers to a hidden poetic structure, accessible only to the initiate. This deep structure is a system of interrelated parts conveying a unity of meaning. Although the links uniting these parts exist on the visual level, they are predominantly a function of subtextual narratives and symbols operating below the surface and realized in the educated viewer’s mind. The iconographer relies on the viewer’s silent co-participation in his creative process to uncover a mystery beyond words.

I had you convinced for a second that this was about some experimental comics, didn’t I? This is actually from the abstract for a study of a 500 years old, Russian icon depicting the biblical “last judgment”.

Let this be a lesson that a) I interpret everything as pertaining to comics, and b) everything pertains to comics.

Here’s a thought about comics series vs graphic novels

[I]n order to exist the series must:
1 – Have an hero. The hero (be it Tintin or Corto Maltese or John Difool) is not a fully developed character, it’s more of a void designed to be filled by the reader with positive things.
2 – A cast of stereotyped characters: the faithful reader knows that this one does this, that one does that. The reader who likes mainstream stuff usually doesn’t want to be surprised (Obelix *always* says that he wants to drink the magic potion; Captain Haddock *always* wants to drink scotch; etc…).
3- A set of stereotyped situations. The plot obeys to a few fixed rules. In adventure comics the thing goes more or less like this: the bad guys attack, the bad guys defeat the good guys, the good guys make a come back and win. The End. In comical comics the hero (or antihero) always commits the same errors, etc…
4 – Adventure follows adventure and the hero and his friends never age. It’s as if nothing happened from story to story (the few exceptions to this rule are far from being perfect).
5 – Psychological depth, what’s that?!

The graphic novel is a strategy to fight the blunt commercialism of the series, it’s the anti-series. Calling a collection of children’s stories (about superheroes, for instance) a “graphic novel” is a co-optation by the sharks, smelling fresh money.

From a blog post by comics critic Domingos Isabelinho.

Here’s a conversation about digital comics

A conversation I had with Eric Orchard on Twitter last week, on the subject of digital publishing. Eric just self-published his direct-to-tablet comic Marrowbones which, incidentally, is a very fine all-ages book (or precisely not a book?)

Said “little books” available here, here, here, and here… We return to our scheduled program:

And it kind of petered out from there. Eric went on to write an almost shocking blog post about his rookie experience with digital self-publishing. “Shocking” in the ease with which he got the technical side sorted out, making one wonder how long there will still be a mass market for dead-tree books…

Here’s a thought about comics (and Mœbius)

Language is the oldest technology humankind has – and visual language, the ability to distill human experience and emotion and make a representation of it, one of the oldest human impulses (the cave paintings in Luscaux are testament to that). It’s a kind of alchemy perhaps, something that helps us reimagine our environment and design the world we make for ourselves. It’s the place in our minds where we translate what we see and experience, where we invent new vistas, new ways of seeing.

Nick Abadzis, remembering Mœbius

Here’s a thought about comics’ influence on Picasso

Katzenjammer Kids

[A]s [Gertrude] Stein relates in The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas, there was another visual influence on which Picasso fed voraciously when she first knew him in Paris in 1906, when he was pushing towards the most revolutionary artistic discovery since the Renaissance: a comic strip called The Katzenjammer Kids.

As Alice tells it, she and Stein were worried about Picasso and Fernande, his partner in these years, because they had broken up. So they went to see Picasso and Stein gave him a gift: a package of newspapers. “He opened them up, they were the Sunday supplement of American papers, they were the Katzenyammer [sic] kids. Oh oui, Oh oui, he said, his face full of satisfaction, merci thanks Gertrude, and we left.”

Next they went to see Fernande, who asked if Stein had any American comics left. But Picasso had got the lot of the Katzenjammer kids. “That is a brutality that I will never forgive him,” said Fernande.

From The Guardian’s preview of the 2002 Tate Modern Matisse Picasso exhibit.

And that just lends even more credence to the quote attributed to Picasso himself:

If there is one thing I regret in life, it is never having made comics.

(Which, after all, he did, so no regrets, Pablo!)

Here’s a thought about thinking about comics

Do you have to want to be a cartoonist in order to make comics?

Or can making comics be more like singing along to a song when we are alone for no reason other than it gives us something (almost undetectable) that not singing doesn’t?

Or can making comics be more like using a salt and pepper shaker to show your friend just where your car was in relation to the other car when the accident happened?

What if people thought of making comics as another good way to sort certain things out?

Lynda Barry, on her tumblr