The Slovene Comic delay
time somebody in
But the comics
isn't the only thing that is changing, the way we read comics has
For a full comics-reading experience, one needs an extensive prior
not just common knowledge, but knowledge about comics themselves. A
with basic, classic comics is expected when reading certain comics
this point we can discard the obvious references or, more
appropriately, homage comics, like the ones
Peanuts for example. The Peanuts characters and motifs appear in short
by Art Spiegelman (Abstract Thought is a
Warm Puppy), Seth (Good Grief!) and
Chris Ware (Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Lucy, ...). In same
can skip over the fleeting references about comics' scene in diary
comics by Julie Doucet (My
As far as comics' language goes, 2009 was the year it took new courses. This development was maybe most obvious in Driven by Lemons (J.W. Cotter, Adhouse Books) and Asterios Polyp (David Mazzuchelli, Pantheon) The former was recognized as a madman's diary by critics and was praised as one of the best comics of the year and best innovation since Chris Ware. The comic book is indeed designed as a Moleskine diary, to which a patient could scribble his thoughts. So the comic has a bit of everything - from heavy, condensed read that doesn't tell much, similar to thoughts that can be quite empty sometimes, to light, quick sequences that can be processed in few seconds. Along with the reading dynamic, the graphic style changes too. It jumps from meticulous pencil sketches to stacks of black sequences, obviously drawn very quickly. The storytelling side of the comic leaves us somehow unsatisfied in our expectations, as there's no classical drama triangle, just a series of seemingly unconnected events. But Cotter does not just serve the story on a silver platter; it has to be woven by readers themselves. Driven by Lemons transforms into a story of a man on the verge of suicide (or did he already attempt one?) who in the end somehow manages to achieve his life goal. But at the same time, author suggests we're still talking about a lunatic whose ray of hope can easily become his most morbid thought. The feeling of anxiousness experienced by reader in the beginning of the story does not disappear when the reading is done, but perhaps is even more accentuated. Can this comic book be described as one of the best comics of last year?
my opinion, the author
offers us an excellent starting point for comics' language that could
completion in many areas. It can be said that we are dealing with a
of some sort, a work that shows us an idea of endless possibilities
have. To be quite honest, a number of similar attempts have been
of my personal favorites among comics experimentalists is Dutch Stefan van Dinther, who in his comic
The other comic
book of the
past year worth mentioning is Asterios
Polyp. The book was a bestseller even before it was published,
because of its author David Mazzucchelli, (Asterios
Polyp is his first
album since City of
The cases of Asterios Polyp and Driven by Lemons open the question, what is the ideal ratio between the story and graphical image. The answer is simple, in fact. If the tendency for equality of comics and literature exists (and is necessary), as I've stated in the beginning, then this equality should be consistent. It should be realized that as much as there is diversity between different literary expressions, the expression in comics is just as diverse. Stories that were once strictly classical now allow deviations from expected patterns. And this is just what the Abstract Comics collection (Drawn and Quarterly, 2009) is all about. These lyrical, experimental comics, mostly one pagers, correspond more to painting than they do to literature. On the other hand, Alan's War (La Guerre d'Alan by Emmanuel Guibert, L'Association, 2000-2008) somewhat puts the (otherwise excellent) drawings on the side. The story of a veteran of WW2 is executed as masterfully as any serious novel. As the author put it in the preface, the abridged drawing (the only drawn things are human figures and objects of importance, made in very interesting water drawing technique; sometimes the backgrounds remain simply white and empty) was intended for readers to fill the missing parts with their own mental images. The artist also states that the story was drawn long after the war was over, so certain memories remain hazy; only the most important ones remain. These two radical cases do not only show that some works cannot be compared directly, but also that comics aren't being created strictly by comic artists, but also by painters and writers. Comics are becoming an object of communication in which writers back up an indescribable emotion with a picture, and graphical designer add words to similarly back up their pictures. The latter thought leads us to the manner of thinking advocated by Wostok. In his Mala antologija turbo folk stripov (Turbo pekmez, marmelada: pontonski mostovi, Forum, 2006) he states that everybody should be a comic creator; that comics should not become domain of elites of theorists and artists, but it should remain open for new creative approaches. Nothing wrong with that thought; however, in my opinion, only comic creators can exploit the medium in its entirety. Creators who can get the most out of literature and graphic design. Such masters of the medium remain Art Spiegelman, David B., Daniel Clowes, etc. Perhaps not people who are pioneers of the new comics' language, but people who are simply masters of this language.
There it is. The
that is ending is supposed to be encouraging readers to read more
that the selection has grown immensely. At the same time, I'd like to
out that writers of articles related to comics should be aware of the
production. They should not allow the delay in following the comics'
which exists for decades now, to go on. There are comics for dreamers,
workers, lumberjacks, students of Faculty of Social sciences, moms,
politicians, celebrities and students. There are comics for everybody.
bookstores and libraries are quite well stocked and online shopping is
than ever. There really is no reason to reminisce on times when comics
cheap and available on every corner. The times are changing. Why
* Speech bubbles are not a product of comics. They appeared in much earlier cartoons.
* Maus contains several scenes where Art talks to his father Vladek. Sequences from these conversations can also be found in Emmaüs.