Seeking to disprove stereotypes that comics are merely simplistic or juvenile entertainment for the uncultured; to enlighten the open-minded and encourage the broadening of one's horizons; to examine comics as a text; to deepen appreciation for comics, comic books, and graphic novels as a formidable form of art in all cultures.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Dibujante de Muñequitos

Time for a very on-topic (yet undeservingly-short) plug for a documentary being produced by a good friend from film school:

Dibujante de Muñequitos explores the life, career, artwork and relationships of Ric Estrada, former comic book penciler who spent much of his career working at DC Comics and was the first artist to draw such popular characters as Power Girl. Ric has led a very interesting life filled with connections with interesting people, such as the late Ernest Hemingway.

In viewing some of the unedited footage of the film (such as this interview with Paul Levitz, president of DC Comics), what intrigues me most about Ric is his religious convictions and how he implemented them in his every day life and work. The comics industry is rampant with atheism, and Ric stands out as a man who isn't afraid to make his convictions a part of his projects and known to his coworkers.

Seth, Ric's son and my friend, is striving to raise funds for this film to pay tribute to his father, who is currently undergoing radiation treatments for cancer. Ric is currently in good spirits, according to Seth, but the nature of cancer is such that nobody can be sure how much longer he'll be around, therefore time is of the essence in securing these funds and completing this project.

If it is within your means, support this film and show your support for artistic expression through the comics medium. See the links in this post for more detailed information on Ric's life, the film's progress & content, and benefits of donating.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Review: Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return

At the time of this post, I haven't yet read the predecessor to this graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi, but the story stands on its own well enough that there were very few occasions where I wondered if I was missing something that was perhaps in the other book.

Satrapi describes her experiences growing in 1980s Vienna, having been sent there during her adolescence to be distanced from war-torn Iran and its fundamentalist, oppressive government. She deals with the emotional pain of realizing that her family remains in danger while she is on her own, becoming a new person as she is exposed to much more liberal schools of thought than what she has hitherto been used to. Eventually she returns to Iran for a few years, to find herself defying her government, gaining greater insight to the motivation of her country's leaders, and fitting in less and less in the setting.

The story succeeds in delivering a great coming-of-age story while giving a Western audience greater access to a foreign culture. I'm not entirely sure how the telling of this story in comics form strengthens it as a whole, but I do have a few simple thoughts:
  • The simple drawing style of Satrapi, utilized in a very Western medium (yes, there are Eastern comics, but the style and form differ), really helped me get drawn into the story more. I often find it a little more difficult to relate with foreign cultures when simply reading text about them or sometimes even seeing a movie. The author's cartoons succeed in helping me relate with the Middle Eastern protagonist and neutralize any undesired alienations I may feel long enough to help me understand her own cultural discoveries in faraway places.
  • There are several times where I think it was easier for Satrapi to show rather than tell. One example is a page in the story where she describes how one begins to spot the different female body shapes under the many robes and veils they are required to wear, and illustrates how certain hairstyles result in a corresponding veil mold for others to see. It was much more effective to see this than have to read and trust that my imagination was doing the description justice.
  • Obviously there is something to be said for pacing and juxtaposition in the graphic storytelling. I personally loved one page where Satrapi is showing a figure drawing class she was taking, with a female model who had to remain completely covered due to a mandate by the powers-that-be(were). She slightly exaggerates the size and pose of the model to really accentuate the lack of shape the student artists had to work with and thus proclaim how ridiculous a scenario she'd found herself in. Pair this with her words, "We learned to draw drapes really well," and we're given a fantastic commentary on liberal arts vs. fundamentalist conservatism.
All in all a great read, and, of course, an excellent example of comics wielding greater potential than perhaps what pop culture America readily sees. If you enjoy autobiographies, Middle Eastern/European cultures, and discussions of clashing ideals (and the birth of new ones), then this book is for you.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Review: Reinventing Comics

There are bigger, better, more in-depth reviews of Scott McCloud's Reinventing Comics out there, so I will keep this relatively short.

While most people feel that this follow up to Understanding Comics is either excellent or terrible, I rather think that it STARTS as excellent, and slowly goes downhill so that, by about 2/3 through the book, you're ready for it to end.

Scott begins very strongly. His first couple chapters really captivated me, because he spoke to my heart -- bringing up issues in the study of comics as art, how this movement to take the medium more seriously is important in developing art awareness and thus bring about greater empathy in society. I really was fascinated by his description of how the current business model for the comics industry has come into place and the impact it's had on the prominence of the superhero genre and commercialism of the form. This is all in the first 1/3-or-so of the book, and I loved every bit of it -- it really made the entire book worth reading.

However, as he begins to describe the road to the Digital Age and where comics need to go from here, he begins losing his footing. He rapidly covers the development of the Internet, oversimplifying its history, and then knowingly jumps into predictions and theories that he is aware will soon be outdated due to the rapid rate at which technology moves forward (the book was written in 2000). Some of his predictions are spot-on, some are way off, and his conclusions are questionable.

McCloud challenges the notion that a physical comic book will always be more appreciated than a digital comic, stating that the desire to actually hold a comic in ones hands merely exists because that is what we're used to, and that as we embrace digital comics we will soon abandon that sentiment. This fails to address the concept of ownership that prevails in western culture. How many of us prefer to own a physical CD than just a hard drive loaded with mp3's? There's something inside us that will always want a copy of our media that we can rely on, that is unique and "mine." I don't think this notion will change in a matter of decades.

Another strength he attempts to declare is that digital comics have the potential to allow the reader to see an almost-infinite canvas all at once, not having to limit panels to what can fit on one page at a time. While I certainly see his point, I think this is flawed reasoning. First of all, the reader is limited to what he can view on his monitor. If you create a comic that is large enough to cover the roof of the Pentagon and tell your readers to have at it online, they still will only be able to read portions at a time, and an attempt to see it all at once would result in an image severely scaled-down in order to accomodate a realistic canvas size for a home computer, rendering it impossible to really distinguish images and text. Secondly, is it not an inherent part of the medium to have pages that you flip through? I believe the physical flipping of a page, feeling a slight breeze as it passes your face, sending a wiff of ink and freshly-cut (or musty-old) paper to your nose, is part of the experience, psychologically and emotionally.

I certainly am not against digital comics -- I have been getting more and more into webcomics lately -- but I am rather skeptical of any movement that would suggest that the best path for the medium of comics as a whole is a series of 1's and 0's, that we need to get over this need for a physical comic book -- which is a Marxist idea of unlimited accessibility and lack of individuality in creation and distribution.

As the book went on and on, I found myself more and more ready to put it down. McCloud's easy flow with which he seemed to write his first book was lost in the last half of this sequel, leaving me clueless as to where he was going or how we even arrived to some of the topics he started bringing up, making me have to re-read previous panels so much that by the end I had given up.

I definitely recommend this book due to the excellent illustrations McCloud made (both visually and intellectually) in the beginning, but be aware that it won't leave you as satisfied as some of his other writing may.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Review: Maus: A Survivor's Tale

After letting it sit in my reading list for about 5 years, I finally took the time to read both volumes of Art Spiegelman's Maus, critically acclaimed and widely recognized as a highly influential work in bringing about an awareness of a graphic novel's capabilities as substantial literature. If you're even remotely considering giving comics a chance to be taken seriously, you need to read this book for its artistic and historic significance.

The true-life story of Spiegelman's father surviving as a Jew in WWII Nazi prison camps (including Auschwitz) is not a new one (there are many holocaust survival tales out there), but is nonetheless important, insightful, and engaging! Yes, be prepared to experience the emotions of horror and sadness as the author recounts some of the hell wrought by Hitler and his goons, but also prepare for some thought-provoking questions that will give you something new to mentally chew on.

For me, some of these new questions/learnings were:

  • With all of these tales about holocaust survivors, we tend to put them on a pedestal and laud their bravery and tenacity, among other amazing qualities. But what of those who DIDN'T survive? Are they less deserving of praise/recognition, any less brave/strong? It seems like there is a simple answer at first, but how does society generally, really respond to this question? Maus reminds us that, while willpower and strength played a part in the ability to survive the terrors of WWII prison/labor/death camps, perhaps the largest factor that determined who lived and who died was mere luck of the draw.
  • Does holocaust survival really "end" with the end of the holocaust? What of post-holocaust life, recovery, and endurance? And how does the holocaust affect the next generation -- the survivors of the survivors? Maus certainly gives some interesting insights into this and makes this horrific part of world history more personal, while at the same time more impacting as we see the lingering effects of mass murder and torture still raging in the world over 50 years (at the time of the book's writing) after it was stopped.
  • What is the purpose of writing about the holocaust? How does it affect the author, and what does our (as a nation) reaction to it influence its message (specifically in a negative connotation)?
Perhaps one of the more refreshing visual aspects of this work is Spiegelman's simple-yet-effective art style. While more commercialized comics publications emphasize a very detailed, pure drawing style, Maus keeps it to the basics. Certainly the author has an eye for art, as displayed in his pacing and layout techniques, but he uses cartoons like you'd see in the morning newspaper to address a very serious topic. I'm positive there are several reasons for this, but here are a couple that I thought of:
  • Basic cartoons with minimal lines generally make it easier for the reader to associate with the characters therein. Don't believe me? Imagine if Garfield were told with photographic realism. Putting yourself in the shoes of Jon Arbuckle would be much more difficult, psychologically, because the detail doesn't allow for your mind to fill in the gaps and be quite as interactive. If Jim Davis used photographs instead of drawings, his readership would likely be very different. (I hesitate to say that the readership would drop, because I don't think a higher level of photorealism is bad -- it just expresses itself differently and would probably affect the thematic and narrative content of the comic).
  • Similarly, given Spiegelman's desire to use animals to represent real-world people, more simplistic line art makes such otherwise-fantastic scenes easier to take in. If he'd drawn the fur and bone structures more realistically, and thrown in various gradients of shading, the reader would constantly be aware of how ludicrous it is to have cats and mice walking upright, wearing clothes, and reenacting scenes from the Holocaust. It's just more effective this way for this particular story.
I recommend Maus to literally everyone -- its subject matter is far-reaching and accessible to many age groups, and it's an important case study in the argument for comics as art. Go give it a read!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Rob Liefeld Art Criticism

Back in the early nineties, comic book art in pop culture took a turn for a more edgier, grittier look and feel than it had previously been (and is now), reflecting, perhaps, the stereotypical generation x-er that the publishers were catering to. Writers began focusing less on the shining, boy scout do-gooder heroes and produced stories that more prominently features the anti-hero. Characters like Wolverine, Catwoman, Lobo, and Deadpool became popular for their sarcastic attitudes, no-holds-barred approaches to attaining their goals, and their lack of self-righteousness and morality that seemed to drive the more melodramatically angelic Superman and others who had been conceived in the golden and silver ages of comics.

In this period artists like Rob Liefeld stepped into the limelight, capitalizing on their ability to mass produce gritty, "cutting edge" work that teenagers were going for, stuff that wasn't as clean-looking and handsome as what they were used to being exposed to.

While it's certainly interesting to study Liefeld's work as a reflection or influence on readership and the medium, this is an interesting article that, to me, exposes some of the issues raised by lack of appreciation for comics as a potential to be more -- both by creators and publishers who are looking for the most efficient ways to squeeze pennies from consumers, and by a readership that didn't demand more than mass-produced, superficial entertainment in return for their hard-earned money. For example, ake a look at Liefeld's interpretation of Captain America. What on earth is going on with that chest? Could he not see from the initial stick figure pose that this was going to turn out looking like Cap had shoved a love sac down his shirt and drawn pecs on himself with a sharpie?

I think that Liefeld was/is a talented artist, but I also think he knew he could get away with less than 100% of his effort and still make a fortune. Additonally, as he was in high demand at the time, he probably stretched himself too thin with a heavy workload in the interest of making a few more bucks.

In any case, I think the criticism is a fun and insightful read, but be warned: there is some language in there that you wouldn't necessarily feel comfortable repeating at next Sunday's services.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I unfortunately wasn't able to make it to the Small Press Expo earlier this month as I stated I would in the last post, and therefore won't be able to post any reactions to the panels. I had other plans already made for that weekend that I thought I could get around for a day, but in the end felt better about going with my original schedule.

If you're a new reader who happened to attend SPX '09, please feel free to comment on any thoughts or insights you gained regarding comics as literature.

I do have a couple more book reviews to post soon, which may or may not be up today. It depends on how busy the rest of my day is -- I have a few projects I'm working on that need to get wrapped up.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Event: Small Print Expo 2008

This weekend is the Small Print Expo at the Marriott Bethesda North Hotel & Conference Center in Maryland.

From the website:
In its thirteenth year SPX now serves as the preeminent showcase for the exhibition of independent comic books and the discovery of new creative talent. SPX will bring together over 400 artists and publishers to meet their readers, booksellers, distributors, and each other.
I'm excited to say that I will be attending the expo for my first time, though I'll only be able to be there on Saturday. But look at the list of scheduled panels at the show! There should be some excellent opportunities to hear good discussions about what comics are and what they can become, the artistic potential they can reach. I'll be sure to report what is discussed next week.

The Ignatz Awards ceremony, recognizing outstanding experiments in comics art, will take place that evening, but due to prior commitments I am unable to attend. I do recommend the event, however, as an opportunity to see what non-commercialized comics are doing to be expressive literature.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Baltimore Comic-Con 2008: Webcomics Panel

Last Saturday I had the fortune of attending the Baltimore Comic Con and sitting in on the webcomics panel, which included moderator Scott Kurtz, Brad Guigar, Dave Kellett, and Kris Straub, who comprise the Halfpixel group that wrote How to Make Webcomics and host the podcast Webcomics Weekly. These four creators, as well as the panel's topic, were my major draw to the forum, but to add to the hodgepodge of expertise we were also treated by the participation of Scott Sava and Danielle Corsetto, whose work I had hitherto been unfamiliar with.

The panel was the highlight of the convention for me. For coverage of the general

Halfpixel members Scott Kurtz, Brad Guigar, Kris Straub and Dave Kellett.

discussion that occurred, you can read CBR's brief article. I simply enjoyed how these personalities mesh and have fun together in front of an audience, re-hearing their arguments for webcomics and why they have a place in contemporary media. When the floor was opened for questions, I found that the audience seemed to be focused on learning the technicalities and business details of the webcomics industry. Determined to get a more artistic-based question in there, I raised my hand and was lucky to be the last person to be able to pipe up!

The first thing that naturally came to mind to discuss was my most recent blogpost (that's right, the one just before the post you're reading), so I asked for their insights on the topic.

Below you will find the YouTube clip of the end of the panel, which begins with my question (the rest of the panel is viewable in five other parts under the same channel). A big "thank you" to the gentleman sitting right in front of me who recorded everything with his blackberry. It's not high quality audio and video, but it was enough for me to provide a transcription after the embed and be able to provide you and myself with the context of the discussion.

The Shark = (me)
Scott Kurtz = SK
Scott Sava = SS
Danielle Corsetto = DC
Brad Guigar = BG
Dave Kellett = DK
Kris Straub = KS

(me): This is more of a “theory” question. In your last Webcomics Weekly you were talking with Mike from Penny Arcade, and, from what I understood, he feels that webcomics are as much about drawing well, as well as writing – and I’m wondering your thoughts on that. For example, xkcd is very simplistic, very minimalist … So I’m just wondering your thoughts on that, if one is more important than the other, if you should polish your look more, or…

BG: Of course we feel that way, because we’re all cartoonists and we take this from a different angle than normal people. Doesn’t matter what we think, it matters what the readers think. xkcd may be a comic that I don’t personally follow, although my wife does religiously, if you listen to the podcast. But it doesn’t matter what I think, it doesn’t matter how I think, it matters what all his readers think, and that’s the only important thing, and if it’s working for him then it’s working, and it’s wonderful. Really, it is.

DK: And I think it’s as big, if not bigger than Penny Arcade … Anyways, for a drawing that is, uh -- “minimalist” is one way to put it – it’s amazing to me that, well, as Brad said… I remember we had a podcast where we talked specifically about xkcd … as artists, of course you’re going to say that … and I personally still feel that the writing is more important than the art overall, that there are people that are specifically drawn to the art, that will go to Frank Cho and look at his art no matter what he writes and say, “He’s just trying out a pimple today,” alright, well that’s kind of a dodge on writing anyway, but people love that. There are people who are visually oriented and people who are writing oriented, but overall I think that the net weight would fall on the writing. There’s a reason why Dilbert can do well; Cathy can do well; Callahan, who I think is paraplegic and not quadriplegic and draws with his teeth, can do well; …

SK: He still draws more than stick figures! ... I’m just sayin’, I’m just throwing that out there!

DK: But I think it’d be interesting to hear (if these guys) know anything about it.

DC: I feel that the writing is more important, but at the same time … the communication effort’s in both. I mean, you got xkcd, which is excellently written, and it’s very clever and very unique, and those little stick figures … still got the body language and are still getting across exactly what they’re trying to get across and it’s so funny!

KS: What’s funny, though, is that I was a computer science major, and that is the way that even I drew in the margins. That’s how you draw in the margins when you’re making up jokes with your friends in class. You draw just the head, you draw the stick figure. So I think, for that audience, it’s like immediately in that medium. And they don’t have to come at it 50/50. If xkcd was drawn really well, I don’t think it would be as charming.

SK: Now I’m going to be serious, ‘cause I’ve been joking around. We’ve met the guy who does xkcd and he’s a really nice guy. If that guy wrote a column, like xkcd was a column or essay, we would all be just in awe, you know? … We wouldn’t question the validity of it. It’s kind of sad, the fact that he’s decided to pack this content that he has into a comic strip form, it kind of … hurts him a little bit, because (one) immediately questions the validity of the content. You know, you can’t separate what a comic is: a cartoon is art and words. And he’s got the words, and he doesn’t have the art. It doesn’t mean his words aren’t great, it’s just that he’s packing it into a (visual) thing. … Because, you know, it’s like comparing apples and oranges, almost. I mean, I have not talked to him about it personally, about whether he knows he’s making a comic or he’s making a cartoon, as opposed to “I have this content and that’s how I visualize it,” but I actually do feel kind of bad for the guy because…

KS: When we met him at San Diego, I have a feeling that in our circle he’s like, (muttering) “I’m Randall Munroe, I do xkcd,” … (can’t understand enough of the rest of Kris’s line here – discusses how he seems to be frowned upon by other cartoonists)

SK: … It’s wrong (that we’re elitist like that) – I admit that, it’s irrational. Not that admitting makes it better, I’m just saying I’m aware of it. (There’s a) personal pride in what I do, and there’s a part of me that’s like, “Yeah I’m proud of what I do, step off, stick figure!”

SS: I’m the only guy here who’s not drawing his own comic book. I mean, everything’s done on a computer …

SK: Yeah, but I’ve seen your art, pal. Come on. …

SS: Yeah, but what I’m saying is… Regardless of what medium you use, I mean, you can do stick figures or whatever… Figure it’s 100% of the comic book, for the most part it’s a 50/50 split, I mean, if you’re doing something like… x… ?


SS: Thank you. Whatever. His writing has to be at, like, 90%, and the 10% is the art.

SK: I struggled to make the writing good (for PvP). …

SS: (a few lines that aren’t totally intelligible) The thing is, there are some webcomics out there that are 80% - really good art, but you just don’t really get into the story.

SK: Now that I look at your work, you are kind of ham and eggin’ it.

(ham and egg jokes)

DK: I think Brad (said it best) when he said that regardless of what you or I think, if he has an audience, he’s clearly doing something right. It’s kind of like movies. Someone’s going to say, “I can’t believe that Iron Man made all of this money, but The Green Mile, or some beautiful movie –" (The Green Mile is the one I picked?!) … unbearable as it seems, it’s not doing well, but Iron Man (is). … There’s a sense of elitism no matter what angle you want to look at it: from the acting, from the directing, from the writing of a cartoon to the drawing of a cartoon to the marketing of a cartoon to what company is it with; is it better with Dark Horse or if it’s with Image? Is it better to pick DC or Marvel? At the end of the day, if readers respond to it, it just doesn’t matter. Unless you’re a critic for Yale and you’re writing something for… I don’t know where I’m picking references today. So if you’re writing about The Green Mile as a professor at Yale….

SK: There’s also a very small chance, very small – micron – that we’re super jealous of xkcd. I’m not saying we are. Maybe a little. …

DK: If we were jealous – and I’m not saying we are – but (if someone can) crank out that comic strip in under five minutes and have it up to 30 million page views in a day, I could see how you might be jealous.

SK: (something funny about crapping out a pun)

(end of panel)

If I could go back and tweak my question, I'd have changed the wording to (a) not be so xkcd-intensive and include other examples of simple comic visuals and (b) drive the discussion a little further away from a business context. Anytime the panelists started expressing that it only matters what the reader thinks, I felt they were thinking too along the lines of marketing and selling a product as opposed to the art of comics creation and what that means to them. Not that they didn't touch on this -- in fact, I was largely satisfied by the discussion that my question sparked.

I think Scott Sava really summed up the heart of their side of things: no, you don't have to have perfect drawing, but your writing better make up for it in that case. I do think there needs to be a proper balance, and strips with less emphasis on the visual prettiness need to be aware of this.

However, what more can be said about the stylistic decision to purposefully keep your art from developing into something ornate and finer-detailed? I think Kris was beginning to touch on this as he mentioned that he didn't think xkcd would be nearly as charming without the stick figures. Later, at his booth, I talked to Kris about how his own strip, Chainsawsuit, utilizes simplicity in an effort to be a commentary on indie comics and the lack of real thought or effort that often goes into them. As much as xkcd lacks better drawing because its creator lacks the skills, I think there is a little more to it -- just a little. I think the charm lies in the fact that the doodles, as Kris mentioned, bring us back to high school and college courses when we'd draw silly things in the margins and be so content with ourselves for doing so. It's a language we're all familiar with.

Anyway, this is the closest I've gotten to a professional interview regarding the topics discussed on this blog, and as such I feel like it's a great followup to the last post. How do you feel this panel addressed the discussion? Do you agree or disagree with any of the panelists' thoughts?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Potential of a Medium

Penny Arcade is known for its refined styles in pencils and coloring.

Yesterday I was listening to episode #47 of Webcomics Weekly, a podcast hosted by Brad Guigar, Dave Kellet, Scott Kurtz and Kris Straub, a group of webcomics authors who give their insights on building and maintaing a webcomic business and answer fanmail. In this particular installment, Mike Krahulik of Penny Arcade, currently the most renowned online comic strip, joins the crew as a special guest, throwing in his opinions on what's worked for him and his business, how he's managed to become so popular, etc.

What really grabbed my attention was a topic that was brought up some time into the episode, where the guys are discussing the roles of writing and drawing a comic, separately from each other as well as cooperatively. Krahulik eventually mentions that some comics, such as xkcd, utilize very minimal visual art yet implement very intelligent writing.

xkcd uses mere stick figures to draw attention to its dialog.

He continues (in a way that I'm sure wasn't meant to be a slam on the example he gave) to explain his philosophy that comics are a very visual medium, and thus the creator(s) should aspire to a higher level of art that would require some sort of training or practice to develop, where a certain quality of skill shoud be apparent in the illustrator -- coupled with good writing and storytelling ability.

Chainsawsuit's use of basic line is a commentary on indie comics.

This expression got me thinking. "Should" a comic creator aspire to a polished, more detailed skill in drawings, or is it sometimes sufficient to use stick figures or other simple figures?

When I was a film student at Brigham Young University, I took a documentary production class

Edison's studio housed a locked-down
camera and rotated to control light.

where we discussed a similar question. Bearing in mind the unique capabilities of film and its basic components (sound and a moving image), which is more important to focus on in manipulation of the medium: audio or video? We discussed this quite a bit, and I remember being somewhat torn. Though I seemed to immediately side with the video argument ("What other media exist that utilize a moving picture?"), I couldn't help but remember Thomas Edison who, in spite of all his accomplishments in the invention of the movie camera and Black Maria, was most pleased with his achievements in audio, more than anything else he had invented. But we had always been told that video should be able to stand alone from the audio in storytelling -- that the viewer should be able to tell what's going on if everything is muted, that music can be

Edison's phonograph.

manipulative and dangerous!

In the end my wise professor calmly stated that BOTH were equally as important. He seemed to take the side of many theorists who believe that any given art medium should focus on and exploit what is exclusive to that specific medium (I don't have my notes from my film theory class with me -- otherwise I'd be able to sound really smart right now and rattle off a few examples). But I'm not sure I entirely agree with that mindset.

It seems to be a pretty purist mindset to tell any medium that it must consider what makes itself that particular medium and equally and fully make use of those aspects in whatever it does. Perhaps I can agree that doing so is to truly make itself representative of the art form, but some of the best films I've ever seen have been more visual than otherwise. Charlie Chaplin continued to make silent films even after the advent of talkies. Did this make him less of a filmmaker? He catered to the strengths of visual storytelling, and was magnificent at it. In fact, in some of his talkies that I've seen, I've found myself wishing that he'd just shut up ("Limelight," anyone?). And the same can be said of the opposite. I've seen films where the audio just blew me away and seemed to say more for the movie than the video did at times (one example being "Dan in Real Life," where I credit the sound mixers and foley artists for making me sense the title character's down-to-earth outlook on the world around him).

Projecting this conversation onto the Krahulik sentiment, I'm not sure I can fully agree that EVERY comic should equally focus on refined writing AND drawing skills.

Firstly, though, I will concede that a worthwhile comic cannot exist without some sort of writing ability. This

Dinosaur Comics reuses the same digital
images and layout in each strip.

doesn't mean that you need to have a Pulitzer, but a comic creator should be able to communicate his or her ideas prettly fluently, however he's going to do it -- whether that be through conventional narrative storytelling, or perhaps an even more mosaic approach where seemingly unrelated images are juxtaposed and clash/merge to convey meaning.

That being said, I question whether or not a refined visual presence is entirely necessary. The beauty of xkcd is that its simplicity draws the reader to the writing and dialog more. Others, like Dinosaur Comics, essentially utilize a template of digital images to add text to, showing how the same images can deliver individual stories on a regular basis. Scott McCloud, comics theorist extraordinaire, invented the "24-hour comic," a challenge to comics creators of every skill level to crank out a comic from conception to finish in a strict 24-hour time period. Take a look at some of the results in the collection on the website. There is some pretty rough artwork in there due to the time limit, but does that make some of them any less a comic than an issue of Green Lantern?

An excerpt from Scott McCloud's first 24-hour comic, A Day's Work.

There are visual laws that need to be learned when any comic illustrator enters the arena (i.e. telling a visual story, how much space to leave for dialog, layouts, gutter spacing, etc.), but I feel that as long as the artist is consistent in his technique within the given series of comic strips/books and the writing isn't hindered, why not show us new and different ways of visually supporting your writing, even if those ways aren't as seemingly polished as a Davinci?

Is this more a comic than
the likes of xkcd?

What do you think? Are the roles of writing and visual presentation equal in comics? Should a comics creator strive to develop a clean, detailed visual style to support his writing? Discuss!

(In his defense, I am not insinuating that Mike Krahulik would oppose the ideas I raise in this column. He didn't clarify or flesh out his argument enough for me to state that he is against what I have to say -- for all I know he and I could see eye-to-eye on some or most of these points.)

Monday, June 30, 2008

Meatier Posts to Come

I apologize for the lack of conversation-sparking posts lately. I know what I want to write about, but have been delaying because I don't have a scanner to use for bringing in examples. I may just bite the bullet and settle for snapshots from my digital camera.

I have a couple posts immediately in mind, such as an examination of pacing in comics, and the artistic qualities of text and its juxtaposition with images. Hopefully I'll have something in the next couple days.

Review: How to Make Webcomics

How to Make Webcomics is a collaborative effort by webcomic creators Scott Kurtz of PvP, Kris Straub of Starslip Crisis (and, my personal favorite, Chainsawsuit), Dave Kellet of Sheldon, and Brad Guigar of Evil Inc., and is essentially what the title implies: a "how to" book that gives in-depth insights as to how to create and manage a successful webcomic, both as a form of storytelling and as a business.

As webcomics are an increasingly important part of the comics medium, I've included this book as a link on the sidebar. Webcomics, as noted by the above authors, are a unique subcategory of comics in general. Not only are they generally more accessible than comics in other media, but they also lack the collaborative properties of comic books and graphic novels. Webcomics are generally a solo act, so the artist's persona comes out stronger than in other cases.

Also of interesting note is the fact that a webcomic's overall themes and feel -- the mise-en-scene, if you will -- extend beyond the borders of each daily strip. HTMW discusses the importance of web design and blogging in an effort to support an artist's strip and give something "extra" to the readers, while keeping the tone of the characters and plots he or she has developed.

I found the artistic portions of the book to be very insightful. The business parts were also useful, but I found them to be less convincing as I knew that, at the time of the book's writing, at least one of the authors didn't follow what he was preaching. However, given that any one of them knows countless times more about finding success in this field than I, it's certainly not useless information. Aside from this (and an insane abundance of typos), the book was a great read and I welcome it whole-heartedly into my library. And, yes, I will be citing it as a reference in future posts.

Friday, June 13, 2008

David Hajdu on "The Colbert Report"

David Hajdu is an author who recently wrote a book detailing the political controversies of post-WWII comics as commentaries about social change and stories about anti-heroes. If anyone reads his new book, The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America, let me know what you think!

The embedded clip below gives insight into the book and is a good example of how comics, like any other art form, can have profound cultural impacts.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Review: How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way

How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way by Stan Lee and John Buscema is pretty much what the title suggests: an instructional book on illustrating comics in a certain manner. When a "how to draw" book is mentioned, you might think of those simplistic books you used to pick up from the library as a kid that helped you learn to draw potatoes in five different scenarios or stoic animals. This book, I assure you, is a little more advanced.

HTDCTMW teaches the reader all the processes of illustrating a professional comic book, emphasizing the ability to draw different scenarios and breaking them down into their basic shapes/components. Stan Lee emphasizes the need to be able to depict a story that one could follow without words, if necessary. The authors even take it a step further and show you how to ink, which is an underappreciated art form in the comics industry/readership (including yours truly). Some argue that, for advanced artists, the information contained is a little dated (it is over 20 years old) if you are aspiring to get into the comics biz, but almost anyone would point you to this if you were asking for a book to help you hone your artistic talents specifically for comic book creation.

I include this book in the sidebar as recommended reading because it shows the many tools comic book artists have to work with, and also gives insight into what an artist must remember as they strive to communicate effectively through the comics medium. It distinguishes between drawing real life and drawing for a superhero genre, the sorts of melodramatic elements that must be considered when doing so. The beginnings of the book also break down a comic page into its various elements and define what exactly they are (the "gutter," a "splash page," etc.). I plan on citing this book in future posts.

If you can endure Stan Lee's zany narration, give this book a peek. I received it as a present as a teenager, and though I haven't attempted to enter the comics industry, I have kept the book as a reference for understanding -- and I've had professional artist friends borrow it from me to specifically gain a better understanding of such notions as proper proportions in human anatomy and superheroes.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Event: MoCCA Art Festival 2008

It's only a two day event, but this weekend (Saturday, 6/7 and Sunday, 6/8) will bring the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art Art Festival in New York City! An annual fundraiser held by the museum, panels discussing the art in comics will be hosted by major players in the comics industry, including Art Spiegelman of Maus fame.

From the website:
Sponsored by the New York Institute for the Humanities and MoCCA, “Post-Bang: Comics Ten Minutes After the Big Bang!” features roundtables and presentations on “key trends and debates facing comics in this new, ‘post-bang’ environment.” The day opens with a roundtable on “Comics and Canon Formation” (11:15-12:30) and moves onto “Comics and Kid’s Lit” (1:30-2:45), “Comics and the Literary Establishment” (3:00-4:15) and “Comics and the Internet” (5:30-6:45). The day closes with Art Spiegelman and Gary Panter in conversation (7:00-8:00), and Hillary Chute interviewing Lynda Barry (8:15-9:30).
Click on the above link to check out more information on the event, schedules, and the address. And, of course, if you happen to go, let me know what you think!

Review: Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross

Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross came to me about five years ago as a birthday present from my brother. It's great at what it shoots for: a showcase of Ross's work for DC over the years. It makes a great coffee table book, as it's very segmented in format. It's not meant to necessarily be read cover to cover (though I have done so) as the primary focus is the over-sized illustrations that "wow" the reader. The art itself is meant to be studied and taken in, with less emphasis on the written text.

I bring this book up, however, for a couple reasons. For one, Ross is one of the most unique comic artists you will find out there. If you're averse to the lack of realism in some drawings, you'll appreciate the photoreality that Ross utilizes in his depictions of fictional characters. In fact, the title "Mythology" is a multiple entendre for Ross's ability to take mythological beings and ground them in a real-world feeling, increasing depth of character and relatability between the reader and the material. In so doing, Ross brings perhaps otherwise-laughable concepts to a new level of respect and provocation of thought.

Also, Mythology shows Ross's journey as an artist -- how he was raised, how he developed his talents, the process he goes through in creating his art, and the psychology behind his work. Anyone who questions the degree to which comics can be considered an art form should study how Ross meticulously conceptualizes, rough sketches, photographs models, paints, sculpts, etc. The amount of creative synergy in his efforts is astounding -- you'll see his work as much more than a pop culture attempt at commercialism.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Exhibit: Comic Art Indigène

As noted in the sidebar, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe, NM has a new exhibit running from May 11, 2008 through January 4, 2009 called Comic Art Indigène.

The exhibit explores the artistic approaches made by a recent generation of Native Americans who have embraced comics as a form of expression and reflection of their culture. From the museum's website:
It is only natural that this marginal art appeals to oftmarginalized indigenous people, for both have been regarded as a primitive and malignant presence on the American landscape.
I find it extremely interesting that a minority with a history of being overlooked and mistreated is utilizing an art form that is respected as such by very few. This exhibit should prove to be fascinating.

If any readers happen to see this exhibit, please let me know your thoughts!

Lest Tyranny Triumph ca. 2004
Diego Romero (Cochiti Pueblo)
Pencil, ink on board

(used without permission)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

What is a Graphic Novel?

While a comic book is pretty easy to define based on what we've already discussed ("comics in magazine format," perhaps), the term "graphic novel" is thrown around quite a bit, and I feel it behooves us to clarify what exactly that means.

A graphic novel generally has more to it than a comic book. For one thing, graphic novels have self-contained stories (beginning, middle, end) whereas a regular comic book usually has a story that's spread over several issues. Some argue that graphic novels generally deal with more mature themes and have a higher quality of art in the pages, though this is certainly debatable. Graphic novels may also be collections of several comic books into one volume.

Excellent examples of graphic novels include (but are certainly not limited to):

  • Art Spiegelman's Maus, which reflects on the author's family involvement in the Holocaust, with the characters symbolically portrayed as animals.
  • Kingdom Come by Mark Waid and Alex Ross, a collection of a "what if"-type miniseries by DC Comics, where the tale of a future Superman battling the misled ideals of a new generation of metahumans serves as a catalyst for themes of politics, responsibility, humility, empathy, and more -- on really deep levels. Ross's artwork is amazing in this book -- photorealistic paintings that create a very down-to-earth setting for the messages to thrive in.
  • JLA: Earth 2 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, like Maus, is not a collection of comic books, but reads and feels more like a straightforward, prestige-format comic book tale than Kingdom Come might. It reintroduces the concept of a multidimensional universe to the DC Comics heroes by pitting the Justice League up against their evil counterparts from another Earth.
It's difficult to give an outright definition on the graphic novel, because the term itself is subjective and not accepted by all comics professionals. Many feel that graphic novels should simply be called "comic books," because essentially they are just comic books in a longer format, and who's to say that a comic book series can't deal with themes that may go over the head of young children?

Alan Moore, creator of the highly-acclaimed comic maxiseries The Watchmen (which is frequently referred to as a graphic novel in its collected format), had the following to say in reference to the surge of the term's usage in the '80s:
The problem is that "graphic novel" just came to mean "expensive comic book" and so what you'd get is people like DC Comics or Marvel comics - because "graphic novels" were getting some attention, they'd stick six issues of whatever worthless piece of crap they happened to be publishing lately under a glossy cover and call it "The She-Hulk Graphic Novel," you know? (full interview here)
Those who aren't avid comic book readers may have found yourself being snootily corrected by a comic fan when you accused him of reading a "comic book" when he was, in fact, reading a "graphic novel." In these cases I would counsel you to brush it off and feel justified in your feeling that the guy needs to learn to relax. Given that the term is often used for marketing purposes, isn't officially recognized by all professionals as legit, and has a pretty vague definition, there's no reason to force everyone to upgrade their vocabulary just yet.

I think the comic fan who goes out of his way to correct others in such a way is getting defensive in order to justify to himself that he's not reading kiddie cartoons, that what he's looking at is geared towards a higher age group, and therefore he has a life. While this is certainly less effective in changing the world's views of comics, what does it say about me, the guy who decided to devote an entire blog to justifying his love of the medium? Oh, dear...

To wrap this up, the purpose of this post is to simply establish an understanding in the reader of what others mean when distinguishing between the two phrases, and to understand that there certainly ARE comics out there that read like novels and have varying degrees of depth, with artwork that stands out as masterpieces.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

What are Comics?

Now that we've better established what art is or should be, the next logical step is to define what is meant when referring to "comics" on this blog. I find the following sufficient for our needs:
Juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence, intended to convey information and/or produce an aesthetic response in the reader.
-Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics
The book from which this definition was taken does a pretty thorough job of dissecting this sentence to clearly explain what is meant. I highly recommend picking up this book, because McCloud makes some interesting arguments that inspire a lot of the thought process in this blog.

McCloud's definition is actually pretty broad. In fact, in this interview he explains that one could even create a comic by organizing a series of subjects in stained glass. I like that this is broad, however, because I think it forces us to look at how comics are so similar to other media we may be readier to accept as an art form.

For example, "The Voyage of Life" series of paintings by Thomas Cole are beautiful individual works, but are very much incomplete without being viewed together, in a deliberate sequential order. Some of you may be thinking, "Wait, 'Voyage of Life' is NOT comics," but I beg you to break down the images into essentially what they are, and you will see that they actually have quite a bit in common with their descendants, the brightly-colored, commercialized magazines/funny papers.

From the National Gallery of Art:
Cole's renowned four-part series traces the journey of an archetypal hero along the "River of Life." Confidently assuming control of his destiny and oblivious to the dangers that await him, the voyager boldly strives to reach an aerial castle, emblematic of the daydreams of "Youth" and its aspirations for glory and fame. As the traveler approaches his goal, the ever-more-turbulent stream deviates from its course and relentlessly carries him toward the next picture in the series, where nature's fury, evil demons, and self-doubt will threaten his very existence. Only prayer, Cole suggests, can save the voyager from a dark and tragic fate.
Juxtaposition of the four images, in sequence, yields several interpretations, including Christian themes of sin and redemption, but also allusions to the birth and development of America and warnings of impending tragedy brought about by the notions of Manifest Destiny.

The idea of sequential images for the purpose of juxtaposition and extraction of meaning/emotion is common in other media as well, showing us that the structure of comics is replicated in other forms.

The Kuleshov Effect is a montage theory of film editing, developed in 1918 by Lev Kuleshov. The idea is that content of images is less important (as far as conveyance of meaning goes) than the order in which they are edited and juxtaposed. This was first experimented with an audience viewing a series of four shots: a man's face, a bowl of soup, a girl, and a lady in a coffin. Though each shot remained the same throughout the film's duration, the audience walked away raving about the man's acting ability, sensing different emotions in his face depending on what the preceding/following shots were (with the soup, hunger; with the coffin, mourning; etc.)!

(a short recreation of the Kuleshov effect)

So, believe it or not, you and I are subject to this psychological theory every time we sit down to watch the most recent summer blockbuster. As an editor myself, I can atest to the power of manipulating the order of images to express a specific idea or emotion. Comics follow similar principles.

Notice, then, that some things we may consider to be "comics" do NOT fit McCloud's definition. For example, "The Family Circus" is only a single panel and, though certainly it holds an important relationship to standard comics, it fits better with the description of "cartoon." My brother Jared would argue that even a single panel may contain sequenced images -- such as when Billy runs around the neighborhood, leaving a dotted line for us to follow -- and I will concede this point, but for the most part this principle isn't followed in true single-panel illustrations.

Also note that a comic doesn't necessarily require text in order to be a comic. There are plenty of textless comics that evoke meaning. (Sidenote: I'll be returning to "The Family Circus" in the future as a good example of juxtaposition of text and image and what it is capable of.)

In sum: When looking at what comics are, we see that the structure they follow really isn't
all that different from what we appreciate in other media.The ideas behind comics were even used in the Renaissance! You better believe that there will be future posts of case studies between art of different cultures/time periods and contemporary comics.

Isn't it interesting to think that the following is rooted in such works as those of Matthias Grünewald?

*Calvin and Hobbes is copyrighted by Bill Watterson. Family Circus is copyrighted by Bil Keane. Used without permission.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

What is Art?

I suppose this is the underlying question or theme of this entire blog, in a sense, for in order for one to recognize comics as a form of art, it must fit the criteria that each one of us has individually created in order to be considered so. Therefore, my goal as a writer should be, first, to help the reader define what qualifies as art for him or herself and, second, to help the reader see that comics can and should fit within the bounds the reader has decided.

The discussion on what exactly art is has been done a thousand times before by many people much smarter and more experienced than yours truly. Tens of volumes of books could be written on the matter, and this post could go endlessly trying to cover all the differing arguments and points of view, but it all boils down to one fact: art is subjective. It's going to be different for each one of us, and that's okay!

My brother Scott, for example, feels that one tenet of visual art is its ability to mimic reality. To him, abstract art, such as the painting "Guardians of the Secret" by Jackson Pollack (to the right) is of much less artistic quality than, say, "The Prayer at Valley Forge" by Arnold Friberg. His argument is that anyone could take a bucket of paint and dribble random specks of paint across a canvas, but time and practice are the qualifiers for one to be able to recreate a photo-realistic scene of George Washington and a horse in the middle of the woods. In this case, the definition of art does not take into account the emotional setting the artist finds himself in while creating, nor does it consider the countless hours spent in perfecting a method (Pollack worked very hard to lose control of his brush and achieve randomness in where the paint fell on the canvas, eventually sinking into depression when he began seeing form taking place accidentally).

Different movements of art have given us a myriad of forms and applications of media in all areas, and while I certainly am a bigger fan of some movements over others, I am hesitant to dismiss something I don't find visually appealing or immediately recognizable without understanding the context it was created in. But to Scott, this isn't as important -- and while I feel he should be a little more open-minded (hence the purpose of this blog), I can't outright say he's incorrect -- because his personality obviously requires something different for certain themes to be communicable. Scott is a student of Information Systems and is more likely to practically analyze how things work than stare at a painting for more than sixty seconds trying to interpret what the artist is doing by directing his eyes a certain way or balancing tones the way he does, but to me this means that the art he DOES choose to examine is going to be looked at entirely differently from a way I might see it.
To evoke in oneself a feeling one has once experienced, and having evoked it in oneself, then, by means of movements, lines, colors, sounds, or forms expressed in words, so to transmit that feeling that others may experience the same feeling - this is the activity of art.
-Leo Tolstoy, "What is Art?" (1896)
This quote from Tolstoy give us his definition (he qualifies it over the length of an entire essay), but I feel it is a bit too narrow, as I explain further below. I really like this quote, however, because he lists several different media in which art can take form, and it provides a very good lead-in for my personal definition of what art is. Have you ever heard a well-written speech and considered it to be a work of art? Or have you ever been enthralled by a friend's description of their weekend and wished you could be as eloquent as they were? I love that Tolstoy cites "forms expressed in words" as an artistic medium, because I, too, feel very much that simple, verbal communication is a form of art, but it's much less likely to be recognized than, say, an all-out oratorio or a play.

I find art is found in most everything, and often think of art as any form of creation that can communicate something about our inner selves, whether as individuals or a commune, and that ultimately points to God. I think a circuit board says a lot about the electrical engineer who designed it and can teach valuable lessons on order and power; a car, as a whole, illustrates the beauty and complexity of cooperation and eternal truths that work together seamlessly, and tells us about contemporary society and our values (for example, what do you think the proliferation of hybrid engines tells one about the population's environmental views?); nature is, of course, God's creation and teaches us MOUNDS of lessons on who He is and our relationship with Him. Note that a qualifier for art, in my mind, is that it ultimately must drive us to be better people. Pornography is the ferocious enemy of art -- and by "pornography" I mean not only the common definition (lewd images of nudity and sex designed for cheap titillation), but also the larger meaning, which includes anything that would distort one's perception of reality and is designed to convey banal selfishness. For example, the "Twilight" book series are somewhat emotionally pornographic to me because they cater to the feelings of sexual frustration that young women feel and provide unrealistic expectations of how healthy, romantic relationships work.

For the purpose of this blog, then, I would argue that a viable definition of art is the use of any medium to effectively communicate an idea or emotion to the reader/interpreter of the text. The better an image, idea, or emotion is able to be understood and internalized by the reader (the ideal being that the reader understands exactly what the creator was conveying in its creation and is thus able to decide what to do with said conveyance), the more artistic it is. While pure entertainment is very much a form of art under this definition, true art is that which seeks to do MORE than simply entertain -- it generates thought, necessitates interaction (whether consciously or not), and, over time, develops one's very being.

Comics can very much be art in this sense. Be patient with me as we tackle a few more definitions and preliminary topics before diving into the meat of the blog's content.

What is your definition of art? What has helped shape your definition?

Monday, May 12, 2008

An Introduction

I am a college grad with a degree in film. I lead a socially healthy life, I exercise, I enjoy art in many forms (music, literature, painting, sculpture, etc.), I'm a religious man, I regularly go on dates, I enjoy the outdoors, playing ultimate frisbee, cooking, singing, and traveling. And there's so much more!

In short: I'm a pretty normal dude. And I happen to enjoy comics.

I've never been the kind who spends $300 a month at the local comic shop -- at most I've spent one-twentieth of that on a regular basis. In fact, over the last eight years my readership in mainstream comics has significantly declined, mostly due to a disappointment in writing -- but NOT due to "growing up" or a lack of respect for the medium. I have never stopped enjoying well-made films with superhero subjects, and I've started reading webcomics more and more.

Over this past weekend I decided to visit my local comics shop, one I've never been to since recently relocating. My interest in familiarizing myself with the Marvel franchise prodded me to ask the cashier for suggestions on titles I should read to gain a greater appreciation. He excitedly got to work, and I soon found myself with a large stack of material in my arms. $80 later I was on my way to re-immersing myself in an aspect of my life that had gone mostly ignored for several years, and though I haven't finished getting through that stack at the time of this writing, I must admit that it's been refreshing.

But in returning to a part of my past, I began to think of how my peers would relate to my rediscovery of this hobby. Unlike many comic fans out there, I don't normally associate with other people who regularly read comics. My brother often borrows my new purchases once I've finished my perusings, but otherwise my friends and family, with the exception of general pop-culture knowledge of major comic book themes, are not a part of that world. I get along great with all of these people -- I've never felt like I needed or even wanted my kin to be comic fanatics.

I once had a girlfriend who told me, after being together for a few months, "If I had known you liked comic books before you'd asked me out, I never would have dated you." This statement is essentially the major issue I want to combat. There seems to be this popular notion, at least in American culture, that comics are "just for kids," "silly," or that anyone who reads them needs to "grow up" and "get a life." This, to me, is baffling. For a community who has strived to overcome prejudice and bias, we sure do a great job of making poor, negative assumptions about others based on topics we really aren't all that familiar with. My ex-girlfriend loved me for who I was, but admitted that she never would have let herself get to that point if she'd known that I liked comics -- and I think that too many people let themselves lump someone into the stereotype of "that guy who never grew up and lives in his parents' basement" without really getting to know them OR the comic form and what it is capable of.

(On a sidenote, I think a lot of the stereotypical, snooty comic nerds are born as a defensive reaction to this mindset of the general public. In an attempt to prove that there is substance in their hobby, they constantly regurgitate the mass amounts of information they've consumed in reading comics, and are quick to correct others when they mistake a minor detail of, say, a character's origin. In so doing, however, they only further alienate themselves, thus creating a vicious cycle of misunderstanding between the comic and non-comic enthusiasts.)

Thus the idea for this blog arose. Lest you think that this is purely a snooty comic enthusiast's knee-jerk reaction to hurt feelings produced by the disapproving words of his friends, let me also add that I also just ENJOY finding the deeper meanings in comics and reading them as a text, seeing what makes them work and how their unique structure affects our methods of interpreting and having a cathartic experience. I strengthened this skill as a film major and am now turning it to another medium.

Finally, let me add that I in no way consider myself an expert in interpreting and understanding ANY medium. Therefore this is a journey for me as much as it may be for the reader. This blog is in its skeletal stages -- I hope to flesh out the sidebars and posts with pertinent information as I continue exploring and sharing what I find.

Let me show you why comics and comics readers alike should be given a little more credit.