Canada Reads Revisited


Thursday, February 17, 2011


Over at the National Post, there is a panel discussion about the recent Canada Reads contest and how various comments made by the jury reflect popular attitudes about comics and the graphic novel. The panel consists of me, Chris Butcher and Darwyn Cooke. Go here to read.

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One Response to “Canada Reads Revisited”
  1. patrick ford says:

    A cartoonist should do whatever he likes, but the strength of the medium is it’s commonly perceived weakness.
    Cartooning, it’s essence is an art of exaggeration.

    Roy Crane: “To capture action at it’s simplest, by doing so eliminate non-essential details, and make the drawing seem more vibrantly Alive and Real than it actually is. Caricature is the finest art in the cartoonists ink bottle.”

    What Crane is talking about is the same “emotional realism” Kirby mentioned when he described how he accentuated action to get at the impact of the real world of powerful emotions.
    The single thing I like most about comics is it’s association with caricature, exaggeration. All those things are (as Crane said) the best thing in a cartoonists ink bottle.
    The impressive thing (I’d go so far as to say profound) thing about a guy like Kirby is how he is able to express deeply felt personal ideology in the trappings of “lowbrow” genre work.
    Jack Kirby: “Orion is a hunter. A hunter, and a killer. He’s trapped in an environment he never made.
    Can you imagine a guy with that kind of frustration? A guy who’s his own monster. He can’t go against his environment, but inside him is something basic and primitive.
    I think that is part of life. It’s instinctive in the cop, as well as the crook. In time we become our own monster. There will be things you will be ashamed of, and yet you’ve done it. And it’s on you like a scab. Orion was so ashamed he used a mother box to build a good face.
    You suffer a little, you get humiliated a little, you see people die, and I’ve seen plenty of people die. In seeing them die, you see yourself die.
    It’s a strange experience, seeing it, and participating in it is very strange.
    There were times when when I felt just great. It was almost like having sex. You feel about ten feet tall, if you can live through it.”

    Because of it’s form however comics are looked down on by many people, even people who are highly impressed by television, Super Bowl commercials, and very bad films.
    I suppose the self-superior assumption is that cartoonists haven’t a clue as to what they are doing, are unaware, lacking considered intent, and the proof is they draw funny books.

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