Archive for June, 2009

Not Necessarily Deep Thoughts


by

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Read Comments (22)

I. Did Jean-Luc Godard ever consider becoming a novelist?

Yes, of course. But I wrote, “The weather is nice. The train enters the station,” and I sat there for hours wondering why I couldn’t have just as well written the opposite: “The train enters the station. The weather is nice” or “it is raining.” In the cinema, it’s simpler. At the same time, the weather is nice and the train enters the station. There is something ineluctable about it. You have to go along with it.

—Godard, from a 1959 interview in L’Express, included in Richard Brody‘s entertaining, controversial biography of the filmmaker, Everything is Cinema.

Brody goes on to call this concept central to Godard’s art, and “the basis for a grand theory”:

[Godard’s] idea is to define montage as the simultaneous recording of disparate elements in a single image, the simultaneity in one image of two things that would happen sequentially on a page—the train entering the station, the rain falling. In his view, the cinema does automatically what literature wants to do and cannot: it connects two ideas in one time.

II. Is this “montage” really a failure of literature, prose’s unachievable ambition?

How … does the work of reading a narrative differ from watching a film? In a film the illusion of reality comes from a series of pictures each slightly different. The difference represents a fixed chronological relation which the eye and the mind together render as motion.

Words in a narrative generate tones of voice, syntactic expectations, memories of other words, and pictures. But rather than a fixed chronological relation, they sit in numerous inter- and overweaving relations. The process as we move our eyes from word to word is corrective and revisionary rather than progressive. Each new word revises the complex picture we had a moment before.

Samuel R. Delany, from his 1968 article, “About 5,750 Words”, included in The Jewel-Hinged Jaw.

III. These quotes raise that age-old, brain-numbing question: Are comic books more like movies or more like literature? I’m not going to try to resolve the matter here. (Though really, of course, the answer is neither.)

With these particular quotes in mind, though, I recently started thinking about how exactly I experience reading comics. It differs depending on the comic, obviously, but I guess that my default way of reading the average, traditional comic is to first take a quick “skim” of the visual composition and art of the entire page (or two-page spread), then to proceed to a slightly longer glance at the art of the first panel. At that point, I usually read the narration and word balloons, and after that, I look more closely and patiently at the art. And then I go back and forth between the art and the words as often as is necessary to understand everything before moving on to the next panel. (And then sometimes I’ll have to go back to the first panel, sometimes I’ll skip ahead to look at the art for the last panel, etc. It wouldn’t be very entertaining to go on.)

Obviously, none of this is a conscious procedure, and I wouldn’t even swear that it’s perfectly accurate. And even if it is, it doesn’t follow that everyone else (or anyone else) reads comics the same way that I do. (Not to mention more complicated and/or idiosyncratically laid-out comics pages, like the endpapers in Ware‘s ACME 18 or nearly any page by Ron Regé, to pick just two of many possible examples.) But the main point is that, unlike cinema, and like other arts including literature, the process of “reading” comic books isn’t a simultaneous one. It’s not image and word at once, but one after the other after the other.

When people want to connect comic books to film (which used to be the main strategy comics fans employed to convince skeptical non-fans that comics were “art” before they switched to using literary fiction or poetry), Will Eisner is the name more likely to come up than any other. And there’s no question that he was obviously influenced by cinematic ideas of composition and lighting. But it just occurred to me that the one element of his work that is most consistently held up as “unique” to comics, the famous Spirit splash pages that incorporate the titles visually into the mise en scène (to steal some jargon), may in fact paradoxically be the most “cinematic” of all his effects. In a weird kind of way, they provide one of the only examples in comics that I can think of offhand that truly approaches Godard’s concept of montage, a simultaneous connection of two ideas that would normally be experienced sequentially—image and word—in a single instant.


Labels: , , , , , , ,

Dan Walks the Plank


by

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Read Comments (30)

You may be interested in reading Dan’s latest interview with internet comics gadfly Chris Mautner, over at our Eisner-nominated rival, Comic Book Resources. Here Dan is on the effect I’ve predicted to him will be the result of some of his recent Comics Comics posts:

Can you peel back the curtain a little on Art Out of Time 2?

My main goal with Art Out of Time 2 is by writing reviews of other people’s books about history … to make myself as much of a whipping boy as possible. I want Jog coming after me, I want Spurgeon. I want to feel like I want to die when it comes out. That’s my goal.

In the rest of the interview, Dan actually discusses the Art Out of Time sequel without ducking the question, and also talks about recently announced new books from C.F. and Brian Chippendale, a Wilco collaboration, and future plans for PictureBox in general.

Labels: , , , , ,

The Field to Labour Calls Us


by

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Read Comments (21)

I’ve heard some grumbling from more than a few people about the excerpt of Robert Crumb‘s upcoming version of Genesis that was published in The New Yorker last week (“staid,” “unimaginative,” “overly literal,” etc.). I think those people are wrong. And that they probably haven’t read the original Genesis recently, and don’t remember that the beginning is the most boring part. (Well, except for all the “begats.” But I assume Crumb has a good solution for that.) If the rest of the book is as “literal” as the initial excerpt, it’s going to get very strange, very soon.

I know this is a half-baked idea for a post, but Frank’s starting to get mad at me for being lazy, and fully baked post ideas may not come along for a while. In the meantime, why doesn’t everybody take a shot at telling me why I’m wrong? Am I just a soft touch, being too easy on Crumb? To my mind, he’s earned the benefit of doubt.

Labels: , ,

Gary ‘n’ Frank ‘n’ Ray at MoCCA


by

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Read Comments (19)

If you couldn’t make it to MoCCA, or missed Frank’s panel with Gary Panter and Raymond Sohn for any other reason, here’s an audio recording of the proceedings. (Thanks, Ray!)


Also, Squally Showers has put together an excellent visual companion to the talk.

Labels: , , , , ,

PictureBox at MoCCA


by

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Read Comments (9)
MoCCA Madness

PictureBox will be at the MoCCA Festival this weekend, June 6-7, 11 am- 6 pm.

69th Regiment Armory
68 Lexington Avenue, between 25th and 26th Streets
NYC

PictureBox has booths 301, 339, 338

So, without further ado:

New from PictureBox for MoCCA!

Mat Brinkman: MULTIFORCE
Yes, you read that correctly — the entire saga at full size. 22 pages of comics genius. Sneak attack.

Ed Nukey Nukes and Jocko Levent Brainiac: PEE DOG 2: THE CAPTAIN’S FINAL LOG
A 60 page opus d’filth from 1986 co-created by an artist we publish whose name rhymes with Shmary Kanter. Just 500 made.

Lane Milburn and Frank Santoro: COLD HEAT SPECIAL #9
Not a season goes by without a slice of such goodness.

Devin Flynn and Gary Panter: DEVIN AND GARY GO OUTSIDE SPECIAL EDITION
Hand-collages unique objects. Just 100 made!

Raw Dog: REAL DEAL BACK ISSUES
First printings how available!

Lauren Weinstein: TWO GHOST STORIES zine

And new work from Matthew Thurber, Anya Davidson, Taylor McKimens, and others!

And…:

Festival Signing Schedule

Special Event: Frank Santoro and Gary Panter in conversation at 3:45 on Sunday in the programming room.

Saturday:

11 am-12 pm: Frank Santoro
12 pm -2 pm: Lauren Weinstein and Frank Santoro
2-3 pm: Matthew Thurber
3:00 pm-5 pm: Lauren Weinstein
5 pm – 6 pm: Frank Santoro

Sunday:

11:30 am – 12:30 pm: Lauren Weinstein
12:30 pm -1:30 pm: Frank Santoro
1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m: Gary Panter and Devin Flynn
4 pm – 6 pm: Lauren Weinstein

See you soon!

Labels: , , , , , ,

storeyvillefan


by

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Read Comments (3)


YOKOYAMA IS HAPPY.
He wrote me: “I have your book!” and sent me this picture.
Warmed my heart.

Labels: ,