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...


J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

Interesting. I think social issues and sex in Barks have been widely examined by certain critics, especially (but not necessarily), from a Marxist point of view. Grobian Gans, for instance, but i'm mostly referring to the very convincing (to me at least) "Introduzione a Paperino: fenomenologia sociale nei fumetti di Carl Barks", by Paolini, Marovelli and Saccomano, Sansoni, 1974.

Isabelinho said...

I'll take a look, thanks!

J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

My pleasure. Yours is an amazing site.

Isabelinho said...

Oh wow! Thanks again!