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

AVX #11: Suck and Chuck

September 15th, 2012

Not: Night of the Weirwolf

Do you remember that Wolverine story where he goes all edgy and kills some superheroes, and the only ones he in fact murders are disabled or gay? It was written by staunch defender-of-women / rape profiteer Mark Millar. Is this like that? Or is this latest casual extermination of the bald, wheelchair-bound one something different, serious, and maybe even Real this time?

Whatever – it’s clearly a great time to be killing off your disabled characters Marvel.

(Are you actually going to sit there and say ‘Hey smartarse he got his legs back and working again this time? Are you actually going to do that? Are you going to deny that Charles Xavier is disabled? Did he bring a wig back from space with him this time too?)

Brian Michael Bendis: ‘I don’t always write in a very Shakespearean way’. Don’t be modest Brian Michael.

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

I had nothing much to do this afternoon so I thought I’d visit my vault where I keep Tymbus.  He’d been in there all week with only Amazing Spider-Man #583, Final Crisis #6 and The Spirit movie for company.  In the dark and damp he stewed all week over these limited stimuli.  Here’s what he had to say to me:

download vault-of-tymbus-1

More after the jump…

It’s one thing for Newsarama’s boards to host racist invective, but quite another for one of it’s journalists to spout the kind of nonsense quoted in this link. Jon, over at Funnybook Babylon, suggests that Kean should be sacked, a position I have some sympathy with, but what about the editors, what the bloody hell were they doing? Ah yes, covering the whole thing up, apparently.

Okay, I can understand their desire to get Kean’s comments removed sharpish, but wasn’t some kind of apology from the editorial staff necessary? Wasn’t attempting to excise the entire thing without publicly flagging their actions very bad practice indeed?

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