Graphic Novels (1 Viewer)

I still think the all-time greatest graphic novel is and always will be Art Spiegelman's Maus. Perhaps a bit heavy, but it just has all the elements there nonetheless.

It's one of my favorite graphic novels! It's one of the best there is, I think. You have good taste. ;)

Miriam Libicki's comics looks very interesting. Thanks for the link!

(Btw, I had a look at Miriam Libicki's site in the "Comix" section. At the bottom there's a link saying, "read the full essay at". I tried and a large red sign popped up saying the site was "infected" or something like that. I'm just mentioning it as a warning.)
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Maus is one of my favorites as well. It's one of those I can reread every once in a while without getting tired of it.

Joe Kubert's Fax From Sarajevo is also really good.
Maus is indeed fantastic. I don't know how mice and cats can break my decade long indifference toward anything Holocaust related, but it worked...
You could almost call Maus for "Graphic History" instead of a Graphic Novel because everything in it took place in real life, which makes it even more fascinating.
They say it was the first "comic Book" to receive the Pulitzer Award.

i think love and rockets will always be a singular achievement, just due to the insane depth of the storylines. i'm partial to gilbert hernandez's half of the work, but you're talking about THOUSANDS of pages following a clan of hundreds of people through a half-century-long timeline. other graphic novels may be more technically perfect in terms of form and construction, but to me, there is nothing that even approaches love and rockets in terms of overall greatness.

i also want to recommend paul hornschemeir, and not just because there's a chance press project with him in the works. the three paradoxes is one of the best constructed graphic novels i have ever read.
just finished this -

Ah, a new cover! Here's the old cover (although it's the Danish edition called Kafka For Beginners) with a nice portrait of Kafka:

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wow, thanks for your plug! do you come up to san francisco ever? i'll be there soon-ish for wondercon....


thanks for checking it out! i just checked, & is coming up as a "possible attack site" for me, too.

jewcy's just an online magazine/culture site about american-jewish stuff that published an essay of mine, but they may have been hacked at one point... you can see the cover & read the first couple of pages of that essay if you click on the cover image (clicking on any cover image on the comix page brings up an excerpt of the comic).

miriam libicki
real gone girl studios
i just checked, & is coming up as a "possible attack site" for me, too.

Right! I just tried to Google the site and Google has a warning too saying it might be harmful to one's computer. Oh well, Jewsy will probably get their site fixed.
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Let me also take a moment to talk about Alan Moore's run on Swamp Thing.

I'll admit I was skeptical. But the first couple volumes (even through the third and most of the fourth) are spectacular. Incredibly inventive writing, great horror, some funky use of the DC universe... just great overall. Even when Moore gets a bit lost on a couple of self-fellating issues, a vegetable-based character is consistently more interesting than it has any right to be.

I'm now awaiting delivery of the first five issues of Brian Vaughan's 20 issue run on Swamp Thing from back before Y\Pride Of Baghdad\etc. *sigh* I always said I wasn't going to turn into a comic nerd... Ah well, what's one more level of nerd-dom, eh?
Moore's run on Swamp Thing is timeless. #21's "The Anatomy Lesson" was both creepy and fascinating. I think the most fun issue in the run, for me, is #53. Abby has been arrested in Gotham City on a sex offender warrant (the offense of having sex with Swamp Thing). Swamp Thing wants her released right now. Gotham says no. So ST brings nature to Gotham City. Really a great read. And Batman, too!
I liked when Swampy fought Solomon Grundy on that blue world. But after that, I could barely read it. It's like Moore turned his pencil inside out or something.

The triumphant return of one of comics' greatest talents, with an engrossing story of one man's search for love, meaning, sanity, and perfect architectural proportions. An epic story long awaited, and well worth the wait.

Meet Asterios Polyp: middle-aged, meagerly successful architect and teacher, aesthete and womanizer, whose life is wholly upended when his New York City apartment goes up in flames. In a tenacious daze, he leaves the city and relocates to a small town in the American heartland. But what is this "escape" really about?

As the story unfolds, moving between the present and the past, we begin to understand this confounding yet fascinating character, and how he's gotten to where he is. And isn't. And we meet Hana: a sweet, smart, first-generation Japanese American artist with whom he had made a blissful life. But now she's gone. Did Asterios do something to drive her away? What has happened to her? Is she even alive? All the questions will be answered, eventually.

In the meantime, we are enthralled by Mazzucchelli's extraordinarily imagined world of brilliantly conceived eccentrics, sharply observed social mores, and deftly depicted asides on everything from design theory to the nature of human perception.

Asterios Polyp
is David Mazzucchelli's masterpiece: a great American graphic novel.
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It may be a generational thing, but I would never, ever, even crack the cover on a graphic novel. Comic books, yes. I read Daffy Ducky, Gyro Gearloose, Donald Duck, all the superheros as a kid. But graphic novels -- there's just no appeal to me. I like my words clean, with no imagery. I don't even like illustrated books, where some famous artist makes 10 pictures showing what it all looks like. My imagination works better without the visual assist. But I know I'm way behind the times on this one.

Art Spiegelman's, "Maus", is probably the most famous graphic novel of them all. It even won the Pulitzer Prize, which never happened to a graphic novel before. It really is a great story and a true one at that. Everybody interested in comics and graphic novels ought to read it.
It's in two parts, but you can also get them both in one volume :

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there are plenty of old people who like comics (and yes, serious comics published in book form are still comics.) the way you talk about them, though, it's clear that you have made no effort whatsoever to engage with the medium... comics aren't illustrated stories, where there are pictures to help the reader along. making this claim, or approaching the medium in this way, is like saying you dislike movies, because you prefer photographs that are still - that your "imagination works better" when the pictures aren't moving so goddamn fast. the power of the medium is in the interaction of the text with the art, and the way the art takes the story to places it couldn't go if it were just text. of course, since you're an old person, you're obviously too stupid to understand something so nuanced, right? that was your claim, wasn't it?

you can either be open minded about a medium of artistic expression or write it off entirely, but it has nothing to do with your age, so don't make a contentious point and then give yourself the easy excuse that it's just because you're old. i don't know exactly how old you are, but i bet you're in the same generation as moebius, jacques tardi, joost swarte, art spiegelman, justin green, robert crumb, and kim deitch, all of whom helped create the medium of comics as it stands today.
Okay, Jordan. You're right. It has nothing to do with age. That was just an easy out for me. I just don't like the medium. It bores the living shit out of me. I wouldn't have liked it if it came along in 1965 or 1945. I write off the entire medium, for my own use only. I understand many people enjoy it, and it works for them.

It's funny that I said I don't even like illustrated books, because I bought one yesterday, at the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival, so I guess I am right on track in my apparent goal of being a jackass half the time. But I bought it in spite of the fact that it was illustrated, it was such an irresistible little book.

I think Crumb is older than I am, and while he's damned good, I'm kind of indifferent to it. Give me Daffy Duck any day.

It just dawned on me, reflecting on your response (you sound pissed off, Jordan), that it was trollish of me to jump into a discussion like that and say what I said. Sorry about that. I have a bad habit of posting wild ass things just to stir up shit. I try not to do it, but every now and then one slips by my guard. I don't mind being called on it, and even appreciate it.
First, there's nothing wrong with being a contrarian, but its more effective when you stick to your guns. Second, graphic novels are just another form of storytelling, no better or worse than books, movies or rock operas.

On second thought, pretty much anything is better than a rock opera.
I agree in principle, but I think it's not a case of me being a contrarian, so much as perverse. I need a rule that I won't post in threads where I have no interest. That would prevent these little idiot bombs I occasionally lob in.

Why I dislike graphic novels is because it's a mix of media, which I find distracting. For me, language is a code and it works better if there is only one pure signal, the stream of words, and not a blend of signals -- words with images. Music with film usually works well, although the wrong music can kill the illusion. I'm against any sort of interactive media stuff in ebooks, again, because it just serves to muddy the signal or take you away from the text itself. Today, it's all about multi-media, so I'm swimming upstream on this, and I'll stand my ground on that. I'm a purist, and like my words alone on the page. And I should learn not to take potshots at other people's interests.
Forgive me but I kind of wished you would of told Jordan to go fuck himself, Rekrab. Not in your nature, though. And I like "graphic novels" though, when I 1st heard that descriptor many years ago I thought it pretentious as hell. I thought I'd outgrown comics when I hit my late teens but a few years later I found Cerebus, Love and Rockets, and Alan Moore and Frank Miller hitting the scene renewed my interest. There was an article written many a year ago in the Comic Buyer's Guide by an artist (comic writer?) who took a trip to Japan and was taken aback by the open fondness for manga by people of all ages. He felt self-conscious claiming what he did back in the States but in Japan he felt right at home. An elderly man reading a comic book on a train was a shock to him and it went from there. I'd suggest reading something like Stray Bullets to you as something that might change your mind but respect your take on such stuff. Comics and animation being kid's stuff isn't an aberrational attitude with your generation I believe.
Stavrogin: no, it's not in my nature. I like and very much respect Jordan, and I've felt bad about that exchange and have been turning it over in my mind, wondering what's behind my negative attitude towards graphic novels and other mixed media, and I think I've figured it out well enough to explain myself a little better. This will sound odd and perhaps self-absorbed, but I get a sort of sensory overload wherein I can't "read" visual material. I can physically see it, but if too much is going on, I take away no content, no meaning. Something Jordan said rang a bell with me: "...making this claim, or approaching the medium in this way, is like saying you dislike movies, because you prefer photographs that are still - that your "imagination works better" when the pictures aren't moving so goddamn fast..." -- Yes, exactly! I first noticed this problem while watching the Star Wars films. The action scenes were too fast for me. I couldn't tell what was happening. It was worse with the Lord of the Rings films. I literally could not tell what happened, who killed who. As a result, I preferred the talking scenes. I don't know if there's a term for this in psychology, but I can't easily read visual information, especially if it's fast, as in modern films, or if it's all black and white, as in graphic novels. When I open a graphic novel, all I see is a meaningless jumble of shapes. If I focus in carefully and study it, I'll see that it's a guy holding a gun, and there's a woman in a tight dress showing a lot of leg, etc., but it's a chore to get that far. And the words are pretty much lost in that jumble of shapes. I have to hunt them out, isolate them mentally, and then transform them into a narrative stream, and try to relate that to the images. It's work. This, I recognize, is my own limitation, and not the medium's fault. I seldom think about it, but I gravitate away from mixed media and towards pure forms. There are other aspects to this: I dislike live music. I'd rather listen to a CD than go see my favorite artists perform. I loath live theater, but like films (except action scenes). I notice very little about my surroundings, even buildings I walk by every day. I tend to see only what's in the foreground, and ignore backgrounds. I think traditional comics work better for me because of the color, which helps me separate the forms. Sorry to be long winded but I felt this might be worth explaining.
Ha! Yes -- I can see it (or not see it) now. It'll be a graphic version of my soon to be much beloved zombie love series.
never! i enjoy stavrogin's principled stands, even at my expense. i think i was more testy at the "because i'm old" rider that david attached to his point than the point itself - there's no sense getting angry about a matter of taste, although the original point did come across a little trollish. but, all's well that ends well - we're here for bukowski, after all, not comic books. (i should also add that a particular wife of mine also dislikes comics and i still keep her around.)

finally, i would be remiss if i didn't recommend the work of jim woodring to mr. barker, since his stories are wordless, with no mixed signals to muddy the picture. if you see "the frank book" in a bookstore, it would be well worth your time to take a look. the cartoonist 'jason' also has some nice wordless (or mostly wordless) stories, as does tom neely.
Jordan, thanks for clarifying the source of your testiness. I get why you'd call me on that "I'm old & stupid" thing, but still, I do think there's an element of generational disconnect to my not being attracted to graphic novels. And then there's that murky perception problem I bored everyone with. And, further complicating the issue, I was being a bit trollish in pissing on the whole idea. Glad you are not too miffed, and I hope we can continue to be friends. What you and Justine do with Chance Press is exceptional and beautiful, and I want to be among your supporters if there's ever a big roll call in small press heaven. I will take a look at Jim Woodring, and promise not to be close minded.

Mulling it over, I realized I myself did some word & picture works in the 1970s -- my so called collage books: The Hot Rods of Spring, etc. I guess it was less of a problem for me back then. Maybe I should DO A NEW ONE?
Mulling it over, I realized I myself did some word & picture works in the 1970s -- my so called collage books: The Hot Rods of Spring, etc. I guess it was less of a problem for me back then. Maybe I should DO A NEW ONE?

Dear sweet Baby Jesus, you old fuck, read some Chris Ware, Jason Lutes, Peter Bagge, Kurt Busiek, all the aforementioned in this thread and so on and get hip. Goddamn, it's like being caught up in that Aspies thread. Heh.
in other news, there's this comics conference (not a convention, but a real academic conference) in chicago this weekend, and at one of the panels (with charles burns, chris ware, dan clowes, and seth), a guy in the audience raises his hand to ask a question... and it's goddman motherfucking r. crumb. mind blown.

at the same conference, chris ware revealed that his newest book (debuting this fall at the SPX show in maryland that bill will be attending in order to score me a signed copy) will actually be a large clamshell box with booklets inside for each chapter, retailing for $50. wonder how many people out there can convince random house to do that?

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