Comics: An Imaginary Pursuit

September 11th, 2013

The Comics Journal Website is composed of a number of phantasmagorical pages, some of them ordered as blog posts, others as columns or interviews or features, all of them dedicated to an art of uncertain value.

Wars have been fought over the best way to define this paper-thin phenomenon, many of them on previous incarnation of the Comics Journal site.  On quiet Sunday afternoons in the early 2000s gangs of rabid comics scholars could often be found tossing verbal molotovs back and forth: are comics sequential art, made compelling by the gaps between images, or is any attempt to define a medium based on what it *doesn’t* contain doomed to folly?  Does this alleged art form have its roots in ancient tapestry or arcane graffiti?  Are stories that strain to make childhood fantasies relevant for adult consumers really that much worse than stories that are at pains to distance themselves from the same fantasies?

Which is to say: Do you prefer Dan Clowes or the Sex-Men?

Mickey Maus or Krazy Kat?

You could catch many notions while trawling the endlessly, depthless sea of these online arguments, but no matter how long and hard you toiled you would be hard pressed to find a convincing definition of comics that didn’t fall back on the tautological – no one knows what comics are, but everyone trusts that they will know them when they see them.

On 30/08/2013 a comment was posted on The Comics Journal website that came close to explaining the joke:

First off, the word “muslim” is never implied. Second, the terrorists aren’t real. They are cartoons based loosely on the fact that there are people on this planet who will kill you because you don’t believe in their imaginary god. Again, they are CARTOONS. It’s complete fantasy. So, your last line about “justification for the depiction of terrorists” really makes no sense. Are you a censor? Depiction of what exactly? They aren’t real to begin with. The key phrase in your ridiculously reactionary statement is “having not read it”.

Indie cartoonist Jason Karns there, responding to a question about whether or not his small press comic Fukitor was as “insanely racist” as it looked.  Here we see Karns displaying a sort of thinking that transcends Keats’ “negative capability”, tending instead towards a sort of unfathomable emptiness – the ability to hold a jumble of seemingly contradictory ideas in one’s head without grasping the implications of any of them.

And what sort of work does such an ability lead to?

Work that looks a little bit like this, apparently:

If you break Karns’ argument down to its basic elements, the nature of the great comics scam starts to become clear

How good can a story be before its bad aspects are excusable?

The Talons Of Weng-Chiang
is notable for many things — it’s the last story for Philip Hinchcliffe as producer (and he let the show go so far over budget to make it a good one that the budget was slashed for future series…), it’s the last story that David Maloney ever directed for the show, it’s one of Robert Holmes’ best scripts — but there are two things that make it especially notable — the blatant racism, and the terrible special effect of a rat

“Hacking forward from the back/leave the other one attached/an ugly fleshy flap”

Caspar of Antonisea was given a choice: either watch his great love, Annarelis, sentenced to death by a thousand insects for sheltering dissidents and in turn meet his own doom, or to join the temple of Zoroaster and become a priest, bound by oath to give fielty to the Emperor until death took him.

Dirty bugger chose to watch.

More after the jump

Batman and The Black Man

July 8th, 2008

I can only apologise if the title offends; it’s not intended to, but it does seem a little risque and I’ve kind of realised I’m not so sharp as I had thought on racial politics this week. The implications for me, sexual orientalism and gender bias are pretty disconcerting therefore. (Secret origin: my username is actually derived from the country of my birth.)

The notion here has its genesis in Douglas Wolk’s initial SavCrit review of the latest installment of Batman, #678 – it’s true! Mindless Ones covers really all your Batman and Grant Morrison needs several times over. Tune in shortly for more BatMoz coverage than you can possibly handle. I then get irked in the comments and Marc ‘I am NOT the Beastmaster‘ Singer talks me back off the ledge of flipping out, saying some shit I don’t even believe and schools me, unabrasively, on how it be. I invite him here to extend the conversation and it’s a blogversation or some other hideous neology. A blogover. In the interests of making it a blogevent, here’s Jog’s review (which I’ve already invoked not once, but twice) and our own amypoodle‘s. Here’s Tucker Stone’s, just for fun.

More after the jump