Thursday, August 20, 2015

Ana Hatherly - Coda

Neste tema com duas variações Ana Hatherly, a poeta-pintora, como alguém a cognomizou, demonstrou mais uma vez que o espaço da página como lugar expressivo e construtivo, no seguimento dos exemplos modernistas pioneiros de Mallarmé e Apollinaire, nunca deixou o seu espírito. É este aspecto da poesia visual, movimento em que foi um dos principais expoentes, que aproxima o trabalho de Ana Hatherly da banda desenhada, arte da palavra escrita e da expressão visual por excelência (sem essencialismos bacocos, evidentemente, antes com laivos barrocos, ou não fosse Ana Hatherly a maior especialista das visualidades escritas barrocas em Portugal). De notar que o "mote", por assim dizer, tem apenas uma tímida nota espacial no final e que as "variações" se abalançam decididamente no caminho experimental (a referência a "Il pleut", de Apollinaire, é clara). É como se Ana Hatherly descrevesse, em microcosmos, um dos caminhos mais ricos da poesia europeia (e não só, quando tudo se tornou global) desde os simbolistas aos poetas visuais e concretos.

O tom elegíaco do poema pretende, evidentemente, ser uma homenagem à memória de Ana Hatherly.



Ana Hatherly, Rilkeana, Assírio e Alvim, 1999.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Ana Hatherly



Ana Alves aka Ana Hatherly. Photo undated and uncredited.

Another artist in The Crib's pantheon died yesterday: Ana Hatherly. I wrote about her work (which I included in the expanded field of comics) here and here.

Today I just want to post part of Ana Hatherly's introduction to her TV show Obrigatório Não Ver [forbidden to watch] aired October 22, 1978, in Portugal's public TV, RTP [Portuguese Radio and Television]. What Ana Hatherly calls "vanguard art" we call today "contemporary art" (my translation):
Good evening dear viewers: this show is titled Obrigatório Não Ver. Said title, given by Jorge Listopad, who is at the head of the RTP's Department of Cultural Programming, was dubbed by the press as one of the most unfortunate in the current programming.
I would agree with this opinion if this wasn't, as it is, a show about vanguard art. What happens is that this title, deliberately or not, illustrates a more or less generalized attitude of the public towards vanguard art. An attitude that is founded in the ignorance of what is refused and self-indulgently based on the law of the lesser effort, because any knowledge, any new knowledge, demands a will to learn and, above all, persistence and effort.
This effort, in the field of the arts, is particularly real in vanguard art's case because of its excessive nowness. I mean, because the vanguard implies an immediate experience of our time's reality it doesn't allow the less trained the retreat that, for instance, the art of other times permits.
This is just one aspect - because there are others - but it allows us to mention what, in part unintentionally, the title of this show suggests: I mean, that what's nearer is what's more difficult to see, or, in other words, that nothing is more difficult to see than what's constantly in front of us.
Add to that a huge bias and apply the above words to the situation of the art form of comics.  (And I mean "the art form", not "the entertainment industry.")

 


Luís Alves de Matos, Ana Hatherly - The Intelligent Hand (trailer), 2002.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Captivant de Chaland Cornillon Por Paulo Pereira - Coda

Elogiei Paulo Pereira no meu último post, mas em texto do mesmo sobre Hergé no Expresso, Revista de 2 de julho de 1988 este demonstra ter o sentido crítico atraiçoado pelo seu tintinofilismo; nada mais mortal para o crítico do que o embotamento provocado pelo fanatismo. Referi que nada tinha a ver com o gosto convencional franco-belga de Paulo Pereira, mas noutros textos sobre Bilal e Moebius / Charlier esse seu gosto não o impediu de referir as fraquezas das obras que analisou. Por isso o admiro. Aqui, não. O sortilégio da obra de Hergé demonstra ser demasiado poderoso. Não encontramos neste texto uma palavra sobre o racismo chocante de Tintin no Congo, álbum apelidado de "clássico". Onde estão agora as referências ao colonialismo da banda desenhada infantil tradicional, tão ligeiramente aplicadas a O Cavaleiro Andante e a O Papagaio? (Neste último caso seria o colonialismo de "Tintin em Angola"?) Não encontramos uma palavra sobre as razões (colaboracionismo) que levaram Hergé a "desaparecer" no lago Leman (como é referido).

Mas este meu novo post tem outro intuito. A verdade é que depois de lamentar a ausência de crítica de banda desenhada no jornal Expresso, por ironia resulta que o Expresso desta semana (revista E de 1 de Agosto de 2015) tem precisamente um texto crítico sobre O Árabe do Futuro de Riad Sattouf (Teorema, 2015). Não tenho grande coisa a comentar sobre o texto de José Mário Silva ("Entre ouro e lama") até porque não li o livro. Mais do que um texto crítico é de uma resenha que se trata. Atente-se, no entanto, no final do texto, citado abaixo, e observe-se a imagem (66).
Se [Riad Sattouf] mantiver a qualidade gráfica (linha clara, pranchas densas), a escrita precisa e o humor cáustico, merecerá sem dúvida a atenção de um círculo de leitores mais vasto do que o habitual público consumidor de banda desenhada.

Desde Töpffer, pelo menos, que há uma grande tradição do uso da caricatura na banda desenhada. Tanto é assim que para muitos banda desenhada e caricatura é quase o mesmo. No já longinquo ano de 2009 escrevi sobre tudo isto e não vou agora repetir-me. Direi apenas que essa ligação é circunstancial e que não importa o estilo em que se desenhe (ou pinte, ou fotografe, porque não?) desde que esse estilo seja adequado ao que se pretende transmitir. Ora, não é o que se passa acima. Repito que não li o livro e não sei o papel que o humor cáustico ou não tem na história, mas basta-me a seguinte descrição de José Mário Silva: "[Riad Sattouf é] capaz de saltar de um episódio cómico [...] para outro de inaudita brutalidade (os pés dos enforcados em plena rua, escorrendo água durante uma bátega)" para dizer que algo está profundamente errado aqui. Chris Ware disse que, e faço uma paráfrase, autores como ele estavam a tentar contar histórias potentes com instrumentos próprios para contar anedotas. Observe-se acima o estilo big foot de Sattouf (não, não é linha clara) e pergunte-se: como os leitores de banda desenhada estão completamente imersos, quase desde o berço, em caricaturas é natural que já nem reparem, mas, e os outros?, aqueles que, nas palavras de José Mário Silva, não são "o habitual público consumidor de banda desenhada", aceitarão eles de bom grado este achincalhamento do sofrimento humano?

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Captivant de Chaland Cornillon Por Paulo Pereira

Comparto três grandes interesses com Paulo Pereira: a história da arte, o xadrez, a banda desenhada. No século passado (há uma vida) Paulo Pereira era crítico de banda desenhada no jornal Expresso (por estranho que possa parecer já houve crítica da citada no dito cujo). Não comparto grande coisa com os seus gostos convencionais franco-belgas, mas o pouco que dele reli parece-me arguto e verdadeiramente crítico. Só a título de exemplo, e de homenagem, reproduzo (com muitas desculpas pelo formato algo, ou muito, estranho) um dos seus melhores textos. 

Uma das características mais irritantes da crítica tradicional de banda desenhada (praticada por bedófilos) é a completa falta de sentido crítico. Tintin é racista? Nunca! Astérix é xenófobo? Nem pensar! "O Caminho do Oriente" é propaganda fascista e revela orientalismo? Que ideia! Etc... Ora acontece que se bem que en passant Paulo Pereira  diz que a banda desenhada infantil que os bedófilos tanto presam era colonialista (e extremamente racista, acrescento eu). Para além disso Paulo Pereira é certeiro ao apelidar o "modo" que descreve como desconstrução pós-moderna. Bravo! 

Eis, portanto, um verdadeiro crítico de banda deesenhada português há quase três décadas. Não tinham havido muitos antes, não houve muitos depois...


Paulo Pereira, Expresso, A Revista, 19 de Dezembro de 1987.

PS Marcos Farrajota lembra-me que Sara Figueiredo Costa escreve no Expresso. É bem lembrado e penitencio-me por não fazer a ressalva, mas a crítica de banda desenhada é tão esporádica no dito jornal que, espero, a Sara me perdoará o esquecimento. Aliás, o meu comentário não quis dizer "há quem escreva, mas sem qualidade". O meu comentário quis mesmo dizer "ninguém escreve porque a política editorial não está p'rái virada".

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Du9's Interview With FRMK's Yvan Alagbé and Thierry van Hasselt


Yvan Alagbé, Nègres jaunes et autres créatures imaginaires [yellow blacks and other imaginary creatures], FRMK, February 2012.

You can read here (in French) a very important interview by Du9's Xavier Guilbert with two of the FRMK publishing house most important pillars: Amok's Yvan Alagbé and Fréon's Thierry van Hasselt. The FRMK or the Frémok is the result of the merging of two previous artists co-ops (no publisher would ever dare to publish what they publish because comics publishers are mercenaries), the aforementioned Fréon and Amok.

The main reason why I find this interview very important is because it touches in a couple of points that are crucial to explain why comics are not an art form among all the others. Namely the reason why comics lack intelligent readers and what are the limits of what we may call comics or not.

One of the obvious reasons why this art form is what it is in the public's view is because comics lack a critical voice in the media. In spite of what you may hear from more optimistic folks this continues to be true. Either those optimists are just that, optimists, or they lack critical standards. I said it before on this blog: let's take the city where the FRMK is based: Brussels. I know that even a city like London, for instance, is Disneyfied to cater to tourists (dumbing down, anyone?). Brussels is no exception except that Disneyland is not the inspiration. They use the Belgian history of children's commercial comics underlining the idea that comics are just meant for an idiotic consumption and not, like literature or painting, capable of serious work exploring adult themes. Whenever comics critics celebrate the new Astérix book (this one is French, I know...) a new nail is sealing this art form's coffin. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

What's Wrong With American Newspaper Comics? Coda


David Wright, Illustrators # 2, 2012.

My last post ended thus:
So, what's wrong with newspaper comics, you may ask? It's a commercial medium that must both entertain and sell paper(s). In spite of their straitjackets some great comic strip artists did remarkable work once in a blue moon, I'm not denying that, but from the moment that 99 % of what they did isn't that good they're overrated in The Crib's book.
"Matt Marriott" by James Edgar and Tony Weare excepted, of course, but "Matt Marriott" and "Carol Day" are Brit realistic newspaper series. And those are a different animal altogether. It's a shame that no one ever noticed the difference.
That's not exactly true. Roger Clark, at least, knew the difference.

Here's what he has to say about "Carol Day" (Illustrators # 2, "My Affair With Carol Day," 39, 40):
What I found [in the "Carol Day," comic strip] was: 
● Tightly plotted stories set in the real, recognizable world 
● 3-dimensional, often psychologically troubled, characters with dysfunctional family relationships 
● An absence of easy answers and happy, tidy endings 
● Minor touches that add a great deal to the texture of the strip, for example the surprisingly blunt observations of characters about each other, particularly Carol. Another example is Wright's habit of casting people from his family and daily life or the movies as characters for example his son Nicky as Ian Carr in 'Ebb-Tide', and Burl Ives in 'Caribbean Captives'. 
● The universe of 'Carol Day' is not a benign one. Most situations don't resolve happily for everyone or even most people. Carol doesn't smile and laugh a lot-in fact it's so rare that when you encounter an episode in which Carol expresses joy it immediately stands out. Most characters have serious psychological problems and dysfunctional families. Difficult relationships between siblings are the norm. Treachery abounds. Jealousy, greed and self-interest drive many situations. In short Carol Day doesn't live in a neat and tidy soap opera bubble where problems get worked out, relationships get back on track, the evil get punished and the good rewarded.
Roger adds:
The somewhat dark universe of 'Carol Day' stands in stark contrast to the major American strips of the time, such as Leonard Starr's 'On Stage', Stan Drake's 'Heart of Juliet Jones', or John Prentice's 'Rip Kirby'.
Yup!

It's official: I will only fully believe that comics publishers deserve my respect when a complete Carol Day collection sees the light of day (no pun intended).

The sad reality is that in any other art form "Carol Day" would be considered and admired as the master piece that it is. Not among comics readers, though, because they're still attached to children's comics such as The Fantastic Four or "Dan Dare" (to stay in the UK). If they present their laughable children's canon to "normal" readers instead of the truly great comics like "Carol Day" how can they support their mantra "comics are not just for kids anymore"? It's a small wonder that they can't, obviously.

Visit Roger's Carol Day site and buy the ebooks.

A stunning bit of storytelling by David Wright, below:


David Wright, "Carol Day: Where There's a Will," December 1959. Notice how Michael flows in the reading sense in the first panel in contrast to a worried Carol in the third panel and how that changes completely afterwards until disaster occurs. Michael is already off-balance at the beginning (the composition is tilted), but the left to right direction helps the slippery slope in the second panel. David Wright, like his friend Tony Weare, was a master of chiaroscuro (conveyed by hatching, cross-hatching, thick blacks, negative space and white paint). Here the ghastly weather at night is perfectly conveyed. Peter Richardson also calls our attention to: "Wright's sublime use of silent panels to add to the already oppressive atmosphere." (Illustrators # 2, "A Brush With Fitzrovia," 31.) 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

What's Wrong With American Newspaper Comics?


Hal Foster, "Prince Valiant" Sunday page (panel), April 22, 1951. Hal Foster was a great landscape artist, but that's all... Notice also the great coloring job.

A couple of posts at The Crib have been, lately, about how American newspaper comics have been and should be reprinted. The coloring was the main focus of my attention, so, no Fantagraphics' Peanuts (because the Sundays are reproduced in black & white) or IDW's Dick Tracy reprints (ditto).

It all began with Fanta's Prince Valiant, to continue with a couple of Gasoline Alley editions.

Yes, but, what's my critical opinion of these series, you may ask? Where does The Crib critically stand re. both series in particular and American newspaper comics in general?

OK, The Crib´s header is part of a Krazy Kat panel by George Herriman and that must mean something, I guess...

I can't deny that I like Krazy Kat as much or almost as much as the next guy... I can understand why some people may consider it the best comic strip of all time (cf. also Fanta's list a while back). To the heirs of the French auteur theory Krazy Kat is the perfect comic. As comics qua comics it certainly has inventive language and page layout. Also, Herriman's highly artificial painted backdrop desert is visually gorgeous.

And yet... I can't stop feeling that something is missing. Sure, I like the naive main character and some poetic moments a lot, but is this enough? Not for yours truly. Something visceral is missing; something utterly realistic about the human condition. Something brutally adult.

Same with Gasoline Alley (some Sunday pages where Walt and Skeezix just walk around are wonderful, but nothing really harsh happens to the cardboard characters) and Prince Valiant (with its great landscapes, but also with it's adventurous vacuous melodrama and kitschy family life).

So, what's wrong with newspaper comics, you may ask? It's a commercial medium that must both entertain and sell paper(s). In spite of their straitjackets some great comic strip artists did remarkable work once in a blue moon, I'm not denying that, but from the moment that 99 % of what they did isn't that good they're overrated in The Crib's book.

"Matt Marriott" by James Edgar and Tony Weare excepted, of course, but "Matt Marriott" and "Carol Day" are Brit realistic newspaper series. And those are a different animal altogether. It's a shame that no one ever noticed the difference.


Frank King, "Gasoline Alley" daily strip, January 18, 1929. Racist imagery is a real problem in old newspaper comics.