Thursday, September 27, 2012


Comic Book Evolution

Ware: I find it amazing that the stuff that I got made fun of and jumped in the hallway for reading, and spat upon – literally, some guy spit in the coat pocket of my jacket – is now mainstream culture.

Graphic novelists Chris Ware, Daniel Clowes, and Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez discuss all sorts of things. The accompanying photograph is also excellent.

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What do you guys think of "Most people who are teaching art are painters or sculptors, and they're not used to reading anything. They're not used to reading an image, they're used to looking at it. Which is fair." ? I would really disagree with this . . . I feel like people who teach art, know how to teach multiple kinds of art? Unless this is saying that comic books should be taught as literature as opposed to art and then you can argue about which they are more like.


@Ellie yeah, that wasn't put very well, but pretty sure artists know how to "read" an image, but it's not the same as reading a book, and it's not the same as reading a comic book. Obviously teaching comics from a literature standpoint (which happens in English departments all over the place now!) would be different than teaching it from an artist's perspective.


@Ellie I teach comics at a university (making them, not analyzing them) and what you say is partly true. Comics can be taught as a form of literature, analyzing it as you would any other piece of writing, or you can talk very specifically about writing for comics in a more literary sense. Teaching comics in an art school, though, feels very specialized. You have to deal with a sequence of images, over multiple pages, incorporating text as well as imagery, which is a different experience than reading a single image. Comics are a familiar art form to many, but understanding the underlying mechanics of that particular kind of visual storytelling well enough to teach it is less widely familiar. My fine art colleagues can tackle a wide range of topics, for sure, but they are not specifically prepared to teach comics. And I'm in the illustration department, and so I feel ill-equipped to teach their classes as well, because it's a very different kind of visual expression than what I do (which is a lot of multiple image storytelling, comics, picture books, etc).


@octagonfudge Thanks for the elaboration! This was interesting to read.


This is a great interview. I don't necessarily agree with everything they say, but still interesting.

Also, I took an undergraduate literature class at UC Berkeley taught by Erica Clowes (Daniel Clowes' wife [and she was a great professor]) and she looked so much like she could be one of his characters.

runner in the garden

@yeah-elle That's... not exactly a compliment, is it?


@yeah-elle I thought she was pretty! What I mean is that she had pixie-short hair and a heart-shaped face and a kind of up-turned nose and wore these awesome cat-eye glasses and reddish lipstick every day. Kind of as Enid grown up as a kickass professor.

I don't really understand your comment to be honest, because I think Clowes drew plenty of ladies that were totally attractive. And some that were not, yeah, but it's not like all of his female characters were horrible-looking.

runner in the garden

@yeah-elle fair enough. I've found his work pretty consistently misanthropic and unpleasant.

Passion Fruit

I LOVE Chris Ware! I remember goofily collecting all his comics from the Chicago Reader. They were so beautiful. Now I have a bunch of his books. Woo, Chris Ware. Woo!


Maaaaaaaaan Chris Ware looks like Chris Ware


So I work on Small Press Expo. I encountered the Hernandez brothers in the elevator later into Friday night & they saw my badge and asked "Do we need badges to drink?" I thought "You two probably don't!" and suddenly realized I had drink tickets I wasn't going to use. So I happily handed them over.

Once I got back to my friend's hotel room, I recounted this story with a "You know I'm usually not like this, but I just totally had a fangirl moment ..."

Good times. Small Press Expo, I miss you ...


@Eden You work with SPX? That's super cool. I had to skip SPX this year for financial reasons, it was sad. Last year I bought a ton of comics and did a jillion dollar donation to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (or whatever it's called) so I could read Habibi a few weeks early, so I figured I'd better steer clear...


@Probs: It was a really great year this year, although I didn't get to spend as much time out on the floor as I would've liked due to working. But it was good to catch up with some people I only get to see once a year, even if it was only for five minutes.


@Eden I was there!!! The one a few weeks ago in Maryland, right? I'd never gone before, but it was pretty awesome.


I was so excited when I saw this post, as a huge comics fan, and then I got to this:

Clowes: There are more than three girls at the comic conventions now.

Jaime Hernandez: Some of them even draw comics.

And I felt like I was slapped in the face. As someone (a woman, I guess is relevant to point out) who comes at geek culture from basically every angle except gaming & cons, I always forget about this.

I did keep reading though. I wanted to be interested, really. But did this whole thing strike anyone else as dickish?

I have been having so many more of these angry feminist moments lately. It's exhausting. I don't want to be angry anymore.


@kfizz I'm always torn between being offended at statements like this and wondering if maybe they are just stating their observations. I work in a traditionally female dominated field that is seeing a huge influx of men right now and I hear a lot of comments like this about the men, mostly from the older generations.


@kfizz Yup. Struck me too, and honestly, turned me off of the rest of the interview. I just kept reading their comments that could be taken as kind of pompous and dickish in the most pompous and dickish light possible.

runner in the garden

@kfizz Seriously asking: what part of that do you find offensive?


@kfizz Knowing their senses of humor, I think they were making a bit of a joke. It does sound a bit dismissive, sure, but I think it was meant in fun. (I was more put off by some of the comments about the revival of Heavy Metal-ish comics in the indie comics scene, but that's another matter.)

But you have to keep in mind, as great as these creators are, they do represent an older generation where there weren't as many women reading and making comics. Even in the short time I've been involved in the comics scene, I've seen a dramatic change in terms of the number of women reading and making comics. (And just about every teacher of sequential art I've heard from says their classes are predominantly female.)

So while these four creators are awesome and legendary, they're still just four creators. They don't represent the entirety of comics nor do I think that they believe they do. Comics are a big party and everyone's welcome.


@runner in the garden

I don't know about @kfizz, but the part I found offensive wasn't the "there are more than three girls at the conventions" bit, but the response to that of "Some of them even draw comics". That came off to me as incredibly patronizing. Like they're kind of patting those female comic illustrators on the head, while implying that the only reason that women usually go to conventions has nothing to do with comics.

Also, I got a pretty pompous vibe from a few of those fellows throughout the entire interview. Then again, I have absolutely no skin in the comics game when it comes to these dudes, since I have no idea who they are. I guess the comments about women they made rankled because the comics that I do read are overwhelmingly created by women, and I felt like they were talking about women in comics as if pigs were flying or something.

runner in the garden

@wee_ramekin Hmm. I mean, most of the people who come to conventions are there as fans, not as artists.

I feel like this is the progression they're talking about:
1) Almost entirely male fanbase, almost entirely male authors
2) More gender-balanced fanbase, still sausage party on the author side
3) More gender balance on the author side too

It seems analogous to saying "there are more women at tech conferences now... sometimes they're even the ones on stage." It's a real thing that's happening, and thank God for it.

I have pretty much all my skin in the comics game, so I could rant forever about problems in the community (including the canonization of these four! and the complete disinterest different factions have in learning about each other). But I really don't think Jaime Hernandez is a big part of the problem.


I have owed Jaime Hernandez a fan letter for more than 20 years.

Jackie Lee

is fantastic to see the evolution of comics over all these years as Tirinhas Engraçadas

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