Tuesday, March 6, 2007

This is the sound of time breaking

-One would assume that Kevin Church understands what was going on in yesterday's They'll Do It Every Time, given the title of his post, but reading the full entry gives me pause. The strip, based on a premise submitted by reader Richard Kahane (who I'm not surprised to find is a regular at The Comics Curmudgeon), is clearly a commentary on the Kefauver hearings of the 1950s. In his testimony, Walt Kelly rejected Willaim Gaines and everything EC Comics represented. It was the sharpest expression of the gulf between the respectable-but-staid newspaper cartoonist and the sordid-but-exciting-yet-really-not-as-good-as-the-newspaper-comics-quite-yet comic book industry. Clearly this strip is a commentary on this matter; there's no need to bring Arthur Miller, possibly one of the three greatest writers of all time, into this.

-It's kind of weird to see Mike Allred's serious adaptation of the Book of Mormon alongside his kitschier work, Bill Reed. Maybe a few additional words to distinguish it from the rest of his oeuvre would have been appropriate.

-Wayne Beamer at Newsarama Blog links to this 9 years old interview with Grant Morrison. What I find interesting is how out of touch Morrison was with art/literary/underground/alternative comics:

"But what worries me is that there’s so many of those American guys - and I have this problem with the Fantagraphics books, not all of them, but most of them - is that there’s a lot of really bad ones, I think.
They live in the most privileged, the most wonderful country in the world, and they keep writing about how shitty their lives are, and I’m sorry, I come from Scotland, I come from a place where no one’s got work, no one’s got money, and I’m reading these Americans in California telling me that life is shit, and it’s like, Get Therapy, y’know, I don’t want to read your comics, ‘cos you’re boring bastards. And there’s nothing fun, there’s nothing empowering or useful in that. You know, I love Dan Clowes’ stuff, when he was doing Velvet Glove, and Ghost World, but when he writes that stuff, this is who I hate, because Dan Clowes walks in and says “I hate that kid over there because she’s got a big arse, and I hate that one... it’s like, shut up, shut the fuck up, keep it to yourself, that means nothing to me, it’s just attacking humanity for no good reason, do something. And the good thing about him is, he does, but a lot of these Fantagraphics guys do nothing but “I hate this!”, nihilistic, pointless... But like I say, these guys are living in California..."

In 1998, I was in a stage in my life when I was reading nearly everything Fantagraphics was releasing, and I have no idea what Morrison is talking about here. One would naturally assume he's speaking of Acme Novelty Library, but earlier in the interview he singles it out for praise. Maybe he means Hate, but (a) summarizing the message of that book as "life sucks" is baffling, and (b) it never took place in California, maaan. The Fantagraphics books I enjoyed the most during this era were The Nimrod and Evil Eye, which bear even less resemblance to this straw man. Maybe Morrison thought Fantagraphics was publishing Optic Nerve.

"And the guys at Fantagraphics, they’re all doing, like, posters for beer adverts, so they’re the ones who actually end up successful. The so-called alternative culture is more successful."

This is so divorced from reality that I'm not sure where to begin. From everything I've ever heard, aside from those at the very top of the heap, most of the artists associated with Fantagraphics have to take on every gig they can get in order to scrape together a living without getting a regular job. It's not like they're getting paid big bucks from comics published by Fantagraphics and illustrations for Budweiser; it's more like they have to take the latter to pay for time spent on the former.

"...in comics, I can reach this mass audience. If I was doing serious novels, I’d be lucky to be selling a few thousand copies, and that would be it, and it would take me two years to write another one. With comics, even the most avant-garde one can sell 3- or 4000 a month. That’s amazing..."

Again, this is absolutely delusional. I like Grant Morrison's work a lot, much more than that of the people I'm about to compare him to, but it's absolute lunacy for him to insinuate that his work has even approached "the most avant-garde" of comic books. I have no idea how many units are sold of any given volume of Kramer's Ergot. But I'd be willing to be that, if one of its most outre contributors attempted a monthly comic, the sales would be nowhere near 3K an issue. Especially not in 1998.

Maybe Morrison has smartened up since then, but a lot of this sounds like the words of the typical Newsarama message board poster.


Jones, one of the Jones boys said...

Yeah, but do the Kramer's Ergot crowd or Paper Rad ever talk about sigils and chaos magick or how aliens totally exist and want to contact us?

Advantage: Morrison.

Steve Ebbling said...

Kevin lives in his own universe. For good or bad, take your pick.

Steve Ebbling

Kevin Church said...

At least Dick got the irony in place. The Walt Kelly reference was clever and a well-played riposte.

Onto other matters: it's become sort of comforting, knowing that Steve Ebbling will continue to speak against me for any reason at all, even if it's clear that he's missed the plot. It's like the bad service at the local coffee shop - a constant reminder that the rest of the world's pretty OK most of the time.

Dan Coyle said...

I guess Grant Morrison got stuck on an airplane next to Joe Matt. And Evan Dorkin.

Dick Hyacinth said...

But Joe Matt was living in Canada at the time!

How'd he pull that off, anyway? He's American, yet was living in Canada indefinitely. Weren't there a lot of folks claiming they were going to move to Canada after the 2004 election, if only they were allowed to stay up there indefinitely? Joe Matt was a porn-obsessed weirdo living in a boarding house, barely producing enough work to be considered a professional cartoonist. If he could continue to live in Canada, why couldn't all my big-talking friends? I mean, I didn't want Bush to win, I certainly didn't vote for him, but I don't want to live in Canada, for god's sake. It's even colder up there, plus you'd be expected to actually know a thing or two about hockey. Can you imagine having to learn about hockey when you come from a climate where even a measliest pond doesn't freeze over? It's not natural, I tell you, and that's why Grant Morrison should stick to writing about comics rather than analyzing the industry.

Joe said...

Yeah, Morrison was way off the mark with that. I love his comics big big big, but this is also the same man that apparently thinks Mark Waid is an awesome writer. His taste is much more questionable than his talent.

True fact about Joe Matt: an ex of mine left me for him! You have no idea what a blow to the ego that is.

Spencer Carnage said...

I feel your pain! I once had an ex ditch me for the Ben Snakepit zine/comic guy!