Canons and Blog Blargh
by Dan Nadel
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Well, Tim brought up an interesting point in his Monday post. He is quite right that I may have overshot with my comments and is also correct that Barry could stand with Spiegelman and Ware (as could, I would argue on a better day, Aline Kominsky Crumb and easily Julie Doucet). Any converstion about women-in-comics has to basically start with 1968 and move forward. There wasn’t much before then that rises above good, solid cartooning. And nothing on par with the likes of Herriman. But there is a ton after that. Of course, that’s the problem with exhibitions that arbitrarily settle on a number like 15. I understand the desire to want to create a canon (though I disagree with it–canons are so last century.) in order to provide a focus, but I think being a little loosey goosey with the numbers and adding Barry and the Hernandez Bros would have vastly improved the curators’ credibility.
History is a funny thing, yes. Melville and all that. Or Frank King and Tatsumi, for that matter. What’s fascinating about today’s history-making is that so many choces are guided by knowledgable cartoonists, not historians. Ware for King and Tomine for Tatsumi, for example. This has often been the case in other media, but what’s so interesting in this case is that there simply aren’t any historians or critics who command the same respect as Ware, Tomine, et al. I think that is changing, but slowly. And for now, I’m thrilled to have such pro-active (and wise) cartoonists leading the way into the past. And yes, who is to say who will pop up later? I think, for example, that in future years Rory Hayes will emerge as a definitive influence on the 90s and 00s and Gary Panter’s influence on visual culture in general will equal (if not surpass) Crumb’s. And along the way, some long lost female cartoonist from the 50s might emerge. I doubt it, but maybe.
Anyhow, the most interesting thing about the Masters show reaction was found in Sarah Boxer’s Artforum essay, in which she astutely pointed out that it wasn’t only the absence of women in the show but the way women were presented in all of the work in the show. That is, if I remember correctly, women were either absent or villains or cypher, which is an astute observation about comics in general. I wish I could remember a bit more of the argument…Anyhow, it’s an interesting point, and once that should be pondered a bit more.
Ok, over to you, Tim.
Labels: Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Art Spiegelman, Chris Ware, Frank King, Gary Panter, George Herriman, Gilbert Hernandez, Jaime Hernandez, Julie Doucet, Lynda Barry, Masters show, R. Crumb, Rory Hayes, women in comics, Yoshihiro Tatsumi