• Eccentricity

    • Just over a century since its fortunate genesis, here are some reflections surrounding the comic as an art form.

    The comic as an art form / 

    Understanding the narrative logic following the succession of frames is apparently part of our kind's evolutionary process. From caverns to ancient civilisations, we have turned to sequenced images and a decipherable logic in their succession to communicate myths, illustrate rituals or narrate a historical event. These ancient pictograms have been modified by the development of our societies, and technologies that make sense of a moving image, or of their illusion.

    At some point during the nineteenth century, the development of narratives in the form of a comic book began; this was a cultural event of the utmost importance. The comic book’s structural essence has undergone a series of changes with the passing of time, from its relation to marketing and sales, to the degree of sophistication of its visual and argumentative narrative. The nature of the comic is playful, idle and possessor of an individual character, it belongs to the time we devote to nurturing and enjoyment of our personal imagery. Their consumption is almost always ritualistic, and its visual lyric’s delightfulness is usually glorious. Time is modelled from cartoon to cartoon; space is unfolded by the draughtsman’s virtuosity while each speech bubble gives the reader goose bumps.

    While the comic book was not born into the form its industry has now, its mass diffusion requires specialised editorials ---albeit the existence of a more humble form of underground distribution, which for this genre has been essential. In its visual language, that boasts its own narrative structure, the vignettes' frames seem to be extracted from the can of an old film. Its nature allows it to be easily reproduced; it involves many skills, such as drawing, tinting, colour and writing, resulting in an exciting aesthetic experience, and several generations have asserted they're a rich source of inspiration, and all its genres are completely delightful.

    The development and consumption of the comic has been exceedingly criticised, its erroneous perception as a cultural sub-product, or as a banner for colonising ideologies, at the same time as it is perceived as a second rate popular consumption product, are but a few examples of how its rhythmic beauty has been reviled. The same goes for the art of engraving which many have considered being an undesired relative of the high arts; just as book illustration has also been considered a monotonous and mechanised trade. The reality of the matter is that all creative processes and moments require a deeper sensibility and sense of commitment.

    While many titles do not help the genre rise its visual/literary aspects, many others do raise it to the category of the graphic novel, destined for a mature audience that expects intelligent and committed dialogues. In order to make an argument for, at odds with all those against: the comic book has survived threatening historical processes, unlike its other extinct relatives like the photo-novel and the radio-novel.

    The celluloid now concedes comic books the pleasure of a longer succession of frames, and while the comic book is autonomous and is not defined by its ability to break ticket sale records, it has inspired some brilliant films. Contemporary artists who have defined the course art during the second half of the twentieth century have adopted the aesthetics and visual language of the comic strip. This is a decisive act, replicating the easel that expresses in the fullness of the post-modernist spirit “I am a product”.

    The mono-mythic structure that coexists in anybody's psyche is defined by comparing itself to rational thoughts, both for its heroic structure and its imaginary/visual character. What came first, art or religions? While many might consider the answer to this conundrum obvious, it remains an issue worthy of our consideration. The remnants of ancient codes, of heroic ancient graves, of the great pictorial depictions of long-gone periods, are related to these graphic myths, as Joseph Campbell reminds us: “The myth is a collective dream, the dream is an individualised dream,” the comic book, its nature and its epic structure and heroic narrative is the precise remnant of foundational mythology.

    Despite the fact that it might be generational, many of us consider the comic strip to naturally be a truly inspiring art form.

    Tagged: comics, new arts, art, Eccentricity, inspiration