I watched a lot of cartoons and movies. I draw incessantly and carry a sketchbook everywhere. I work in animation and self-publish my books. There are monsters in the streets, don't wear red. Mad bulls and monsters hate that color. I still watch cartoons.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Time online review of independent comix

Andrew D. Arnold of Time online reviews the independent comix scene. He's also done a piece on Chester Brown and Derek Kirk Kim in their archives as well as an interview with Will Eisner.

Like the video revolution in cinema, the wide availability of photocopy machines completely changed the direction of comics. Anyone could make and distribute "mini-comix" outside of the old-guard publishing system. Without the editorial demands — or benefits — of the top-down system, the Do It Yourself movement created its own aesthetic. The form lent itself to deeply personal, even solipsistic, stories and a punk-rock aversion to "craft" in favor of raw, expressionist artwork. Over time that outsider style has been adopted (co-opted?) by traditional, established publishers. Three recent works, available in regular comicbook shops, typify this style with their autobiographical stories rendered in immediate, rough graphics: Allison Cole's "Never Ending Summer," James Kochalka's "Sketchbook Diaries Vol. 4" and Jeff Brown's "Unlikely."

The archive of articles is formidable and I'm just about to delve into them. It offers a continuing look at an independent movement that probably serves as the conscience of comix today.

(Thanks to Jeff Pidgeon for the lead)


Blogger John Grillo said...

About 10 years ago I collected every Marvel comic with a shiny cover I could get my hands on. As time marched on, I started to get bored (not only with the shiny covers but) with the stories I was reading (or should I say re-reading). I picked up a few Japanese comics at that time and was hooked on their storytelling styles (long story archs, deep character developments, and characters with more human emotion). I found that same thing later on through independent comics and I've only strayed back to Marvel/DC a few times since. I'm constantly unimpressed with the big publishers and constantly amazed by the "little-guys" screaming at the top of their lungs :)

I see that you're using the word "comix" as opposed to the "comics", can you tell the meaning behind that?

7:48 AM

Blogger Ronnie said...

I have a similar disaffection that bounced back and forth over the years. European comix ferried by Heavy Metal brought Moebius and Enki Bilal among others and my world was never the same. Adventures took on a more sinister taint. Heroes were not emblematic roles, morality plays and ideals were almost avoided altogether. Even then, American independents were a faint voice in all this and didn't capture my attention until Drawn and Quarterly started entering my vision. A few Vertigo titles were valiantly making an attempt to make a difference (Beautiful stories for Ugly Children was one I collected--I don't know why now) but the form it was served up in tended to doom it--same size and physical quality as the Superhero books. Makes one conclude that independents cannot be garbed in mass appeal clothes. I can't offer how successful those were for the publishers (I liked Shade the Changing Man, is that a succesful title?) but it seemed that if they were done in black + one color and on better paper in a trim size that suggest itself as a book--as opposed to tights and capes comix--then maybe it can find its audience.

I just recently adopted that spelling because I didn't want an eventual, though rare, confusion of reading it to mean "comedians" or things comedic. My sentences are challenged enought as it is. And also I've come across its use more in the last few years. Another point would be that it is one letter shorter and that letter being "x" brands it to be have a more maverick, secret formula aspect to it. Fitting really, now that I think about it. Here's a definition from Dictionary.com:

com·ix pl.n.-- Comic books and comic strips, especially of the underground press: “the countercultural... comix of the sixties and early seventies, with their explicit criticism of American society” (Lloyd Rose).

1:57 PM


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