Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I think the bread got wet on the way home today

-I was set to post something along the lines of "Underground Comix are kind of overrated cause they mostly sucked except for Robert Crumb." Then I started thinking of all the other qualifiers I would have to add, and I decided the whole thing would collapse under the weight of my equivocation.

So here's another potentially controversial question: How would we view Underground Comix if it weren't for Robert Crumb? From a historical perspective it's hard to fashion this counter-factual. My first instinct is to the locus of the movement would have been Austin instead of San Fransisco, but in reality I think a lot of cartoonists would have moved there regardless of Crumb, given the popularity of the concert poster guys like Moscoso and Griffin. But would either of those guys (or Robt. Williams) have ever drawn comics if not for Crumb? I would guess that Spiegelman and Wilson would have, but what about Bodé or Spain? Would Kim Deitch have gone into animation? How about the cartoonists who bloomed in the 70s like Green, Hayes, Kinney, Veitch/Irons or Griffith? It's strange to think of Harvey Pekar's comics in a world without Crumb, to say nothing of Aline Kominsky (actually, I guess you could argue that people might take Kominsky more seriously if not for Crumb).

But let's say all that stuff somehow existed without Crumb. How would we view it? Would Underground Comix enjoy the same credibility without Crumb, or would we single out a few artists as transcending a limited genre? Would we see them as some primordial ooze out of which Art Spiegelman emerged?

One final question to ponder: How many other figures are as pivotal to comics history as we know it?

-I had a dream last night that Kraven the Hunter was in the New Avengers. I mean, it wasn't a big part of the dream (which I think was another dream about playing video games), but it's the most memorable part.

-Proposition to Kevin Church: I'm willing to moderate/administer your new message board if you include a forum for MMA discussion. Only members which I approve will be allowed to participate in this section of the board (I don't want a lot of "Ghost Rider could beat Brandon Vera" talk from comics fans who don't know a gogoplata from an omoplata). As it stands, your forum runs the risk of being really fucking boring. I'm sure there are several people there who hate me or my balls-out, go-for-broke, wing-and-a-prayer, extra-hot-ginger approach, so granting me mod/admin powers will surely spice things up. My presence will also raise the average IQ there by about 10 points, I suspect. There's no universally accepted system of quantifying good looks, but my participation will also make your board handsomer--probably 20% handsomer, I'm thinking. Consider this offer; I won't keep it on the table forever.

-As I sit here staggered by the reaction to the Fertittas (owners of UFC) buying Pride, I wonder. If Marvel wereto buy DC's assets (or vice versa), how many of you would swear off all comics forever, then tearfully contemplate the tragic legacy of Dan Didio (or Joe Quesada)? More to the point, how many people on the Newsarama boards would do this?

-Tom Spurgeon sounds like a feeble old prude:

"It should be interesting to see how a generation of teens and early twenty-somethings will develop into accomplished artists coming of age in an era that has somehow managed to ascribe more significant cultural value to the act of stepping out of a car while flashing one's cooch."

So: the actions of the paparazzi/bored rich women are really the defining elements of an entire generation. And previous generations would have had no interest in the exposed privates of their sex symbols, since they were preoccupied with the importance of craft and hard work. This is flawless reasoning.

[UPDATE: Spurgeon has since softened his stance a bit, appending this to the end of the above sentence:
"or in less crude terms, how one gets past making art that offers status within a circle of friends and family and into the habit of making art that will, as much as the world allows, have wider, lasting value."
Well really, flashing for the paparazzi dovetails nicely into this point.]

-Wow, I really never expected to hear about a comic based on the old Exposing the Secrets of Stage Magicians (or whatever it was called), and yet Graeme McMillan tells me this is part of our shared concept of reality. It's just hard to believe--I've wanted this for so long, and it's finally happening. My heart's racing at the possibilities inherent in a superhero who solves crimes by revealing trade secrets. Maybe now Virgin will listen to my proposal for a comic about Cris Collinsworth solving crimes with the help of a crack team of Guinness World Record holders.


Comixace said...

Okay Dick, it's decided. I'm going to make you very happy when TUF 5 begins.

Dick Hyacinth said...


Um, Comixace, are you Heidi McDonald? If not, where should I look for this TUF 5 related content? Your blogger profile is private, you see.

In any event, I'm looking forward to the next season of TUF, Sherdoggers and UG'ers be damned.

Dick Hyacinth said...

Never mind--Google is my friend, as the children say. What do you have in mind, Ms. McDonald?

MarkAndrew said...

I dunno if there's a direct link, but I could see Gilbert Shelton elevated to Crumb status fairly easily. Or maybe the whole Underground Comics Movement would take a step towards the mainstream, with, like, Wally Wood and Gil Kane as the "Fathers" of the movement.

What's an MMA discussion? What's Pride?

Dick Hyacinth said...

MMA=mixed martial arts, colloquially (and inaccurately) known as "ultimate fighting" or "cage fighting." Also my favorite sport.

Pride=Japanese MMA promoter that just got bought out by its biggest competitor, UFC.

Good call on Wood and Kane. That's a pretty interesting counterfactual.

throughsilver said...

I'm going to be happy when TUF 5 starts anyway. It's hard to go wrong with lightweights competing in a tournament format.

Dick Hyacinth said...

Two 155 lb. tournaments this year=MMAwesome!

...I'm not sure if that was ironic or just stupid. Anyway, I'm just as interested in how the Penn-Pulver dynamic plays out. Hopefully kind of like Shamrock-Ortiz, except ending in a fight which I actually want to see.

throughsilver said...

I don't see Pulver hustling Penn at pool any time soon, though that would be very amusing.