This past week, I read Joe Sacco's Safe Area Gorazde
, a graphic novel that's really graphic reportage/graphic journalism/something that implies it really happened and distinguishes it from, say, Captain Carrot and the Amazing Zoo Crew
. Because it's not an obvious difference. Previously, I posted on City of Glass
, and prior to that, I read Maus
volumes I and II. These are all class assignments. We are also doing Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan
, Phoebe Glockner's Diary of a Teenage Girl
, and another book to be decided.
I am pushing to read a volume of Gaiman's Sandman in that slot, preferable Endless Nights
, the 11th postscript volume of standalone stories, or volume four, Season of Mists
. (I am really abusing the italics tag in this entry.) However, I have realized that this will not happen, because neither meets the requirements of Comics As Literature. To be a member of the C.A.L. canon, a work has to fit two of three descriptions, other than being a work of sequential art:
1. boring and/or incomprehensible
2. autobiographical, semi-autobiographical, or featuring a character with the same name as the author
3. about genocide or mass murder
Comics As Literature, pioneered by professional indie blowhard Scott McCloud, is a concept that really bothers me. Not because comic books are not literature, but because I believe they are all
literature. When the majority of comics are excluded and denigrated so that a few prestigious authors can get read in college classes and be discussed by the Modern Language Association, a great disservice is done to the medium, this medium, this medium that is my blood. My heart speaks in the language of comics. I think comics and piss comics--when I cry, they are tears of ink, and when I fall on the ground, there is a great THUD outlined in bold black jagged lines.
McCloud is adamant about comics being a valid medium, and getting comics accepted into the literary canon, and yet his dismissal in Understanding Comics
both of superhero/adventure comics and the very act of collaboration undermines this effort. The prioritization of abstract/cartoonish work produced by comix-auteurs and published by independent presses over collaborative work reaching a more popular audience thoroughly pisses me off. It makes me really fucking angry.
He explicitly states, as if it were some obvious fact, that collaboration between a writer and artists (penciller, inker, letterer, colorist) gets in the way of artistic expression. Only someone isolated in an isolated, Drawn and Fantagraphics Quarterly world could ever
get away with this statement. Collaboration is the bread and butter of the low, mean, my-god-joe-the-teeth, Kryptonite, radioactive platinum, silver Spear of Longinus, Seduction of the Golden Innocent comics that I love and what the universe ultimately knows as the comic book. If collaboration is a barrier to art, then I am the Queen of Spain.
This is terrible and bitter. But when my professor describes Superman as a "guilty pleasure" compared to the illustrious Art Spiegelman, who I am dead sick of, I have to fight to keep ink from leaking down my cheeks. My words come from the heart in four colors and all this bullshit makes me sick inside.