Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Dressage

It's always a special day when I receive a great comic...


Gustave-Henri Jossot, "Dressage," L'Assiete au Beurre # 144, January 1904.

PS  I forgot Harvey Pekar in my last post, but I don't consider American Splendor to be an underground publication. For me it's the first alternative comic book.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Weird Facts - Coda

This is an anti-coda, really... In a true Derridadian spirit I'll try in this post to deny everything I wrote in my last one. I will not be able to do it completely (sorry Derrida!), but I will surely try...

So, here are, according to yours truly, the great exceptions that prove the rule...

Weird Event # 1: 19th century: comics are associated with humor and caricature.

I can't say that humor and caricature produced great works of comics art during the 19th century, but there were great artists trying (or not, I guess...). I mean Gustave Doré, when he was really young unfortunately, or the Chat Noir people, for instance... In the 20th century though, there's the towering figure of Saul Steinberg and one of his great disciples (THE great disciple surpassing the master?), Chago Armada. But I'm cheating because their work is very thinly disguised poetry (the humor, if it exists at all, is a very secondary byproduct):


Chago Armada, "Salomon," 1960s (as published in Signos # 21, 1978).

Weird Event # 2: 19th, early 20th centuries: comics are children's literature.

Two words: Carl Barks. All he did is not great, of course, but when he was good he was really good.


Carl Barks, "Uncle Scrooge in The Second Richest Duck," Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge # 15, September - November 1956 (as published in Another Rainbow's The Carl Barks Library Set 3, book 1, 1984).

 Weird Event # 3: 1930s: comics are escapist manichean literature.

This is a tough one. How can one find great exceptions in idiocy? Even so, some pearls may be found among all the trash.


Milton Caniff, "Terry and the Pirates," (daily, October 17, 1941).

Weird Event # 4: 1960s: wanting to do other things with the medium underground cartoonists can't go beyond parody (or the same stupid adventures with sex added) because they grew up with the mediocre stuff and knew nothing else (in the end they behaved like spoiled brats):

Two words again: Juastin Green. Or... Binky Brown meets The Holy Virgin Mary, to be precise.


Justin Green, Binky Brown meets The Holy Virgin Mary, March 1972. I'm not sure if the Undergrounds produced more noteworthy comics (?).

 Weird Event # 5: 1960s and on, until today: also growing up in the midst of all this trash the so-called comics critics can only write hagiographies that incense the producers who churn it out:

To be clear, I have a lot of respect for comics scholars in Academia; I have nothing against Comics Studies. The above was meant for journalists only. Even so the three words that prove the rule are: Ng Suat Tong, but I may also mention Bruno Lecigne, I guess... For the life of me I can't think of anyone else. Almost everybody incensed mediocrity at some point...

Carl Barks:

At the end of the 1920s there were two kinds of American newspaper comics: the comical comics which used caricature, and the "realist" adventurous comics. The genius of Carl Barks, and a few less talented others, like Floyd Gottfredson or Georges Remi (aka Hergé), was to join the two genres. The consequences for Barks' best stories was a parodic manicheism in which the bad guys, The Beagle Boys are a good example, were cartoonish baddies, not to be taken seriously...
On the comical side there's no slapstick. Barks' Donald Duck, for instance, is very different from the hot-tempered, always squawking, character of the animated movies. His characters are thinly disguised "real" people with all the human foibles imaginable (sex excluded, for obvious reasons). 
More later, perhaps...

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Weird Facts

As time passes I feel less and less inclined to write about comics, and I don't mean on this blog only...

The reasons are varied and have mainly to do with aging and the loss of energy... Most importantly though, I see no point in continuing a lost fight: comics will never be a real art form, I can see that clearly now... Don't get me wrong, wonderful comics have been made, and I don't mean in the expanded field only. Oesterheld's and Tsuge's and Buzzelli's oeuvres are out there to prove what I'm saying, but if we look past the huge promise that the 1990s brought us, the only conclusion must be that the mountain gave birth to a mouse.

Anyway, this doesn't mean that I will stop writing on this blog completely, I'm doing it right now, after two months... So, I will come here once in a blue moon, whenever I feel like venting or something...

Today I just want to clarify the phrase that I posted on TCJ's site: "By the way, the comics comics criticism is just one of the last, in a long list of weird events, that helped to indefinitely postpone this art form."

What are those events exactly? OK, here we go:

Weird Event # 1: 19th century: comics are associated with humor and caricature:

Loÿs, "Vilain toujours a tort," 1884.

Weird Event # 2: 19th, early 20th centuries: comics are children's literature:


Wilhelm Busch, Max und Moritz, 1865 (I'm proud to say that this scan was taken from a book that once belonged to the great Carl Barks).

Weird Event # 3: 1930s: comics are escapist manichean literature:


Chester Gould et al, "Dick Tracy" Sunday Page, Februray 14, 1954.

Weird Event # 4: 1960s: wanting to do other things with the medium underground cartoonists can't go beyond parody (or the same stupid adventures with sex added) because they grew up with the mediocre stuff and knew nothing else (in the end they behaved like spoiled brats):


Richard Corben, Fantagor # 3, 1972.

Weird Event # 5: 1960s and on, until today: also growing up in the midst of all this trash the so-called comics critics can only write hagiographies that incense the producers who churn it out:

 
Les cahiers de la bande dessinée # 72, November - December 1986.

The comics comics critics were formalists, but that doesn't excuse anything. All of the above is how comics are viewed by the laymen and laywomen. Who can blame them if they see comics as part of trash culture? I, for one, don't!