Arguing Comics: Literary Masters on a Popular Medium by Jeet Heer, Kent Worcester

By Jeet Heer, Kent Worcester

Whilst paintings Spiegelman's Maus-a two-part photo novel concerning the Holocaust-won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992, comics scholarship grew more and more well known and striking. the increase of "serious" comics has generated transforming into degrees of curiosity as students, reporters, and public intellectuals proceed to discover the historical past, aesthetics, and semiotics of the comics medium.

Yet those that write concerning the comics usually imagine research of the medium didn't start till the cultural stories move was once underway. Arguing Comics: Literary Masters on a favored Medium brings jointly approximately dozen essays through significant writers and intellectuals who analyzed, embraced, or even attacked comedian strips and comedian books within the interval among the flip of the century and the Nineteen Sixties. From e. e. cummings, who championed George Herriman's Krazy Kat, to Irving Howe, who fretted approximately Harold Gray's Little Orphan Annie, this quantity indicates that comics have supplied a key battleground within the tradition wars for over a century.

With sizeable essays via Umberto Eco, Marshall McLuhan, Leslie Fiedler, Gilbert Seldes, Dorothy Parker, Irving Howe, Delmore Schwartz, and others, this anthology exhibits how all of those writers took up comics-related issues as some degree of access into wider debates over smooth paintings, cultural criteria, everyday life, and mass communication.

Arguing Comics exhibits how favorite writers from the Jazz Age and the melancholy period to the heyday of the hot York Intellectuals within the Fifties thought of comics and, by means of extension, pop culture as an entire.

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Fredric Wertham, helped initiate Senate hearings on the purported deviance and violence in comic books and their harmful effects on children. ”34 contEmporAry comics: AutobiogrAphicAl And AvAnt-gArdE contExts The work I consider in Graphic Women, as I have already underlined, is diverse: Phoebe Gloeckner takes the radical move of showing, of unveiling, sexual abuse in detail, while Lynda Barry uses the elliptical structure of comics precisely to— just as powerfully—suggest the scene of trauma, choosing instead to leave us with a truncated panel where childhood abuse began.

This invitation and subsequent exchange resulted in Spiegelman’s three-page autobiographical piece “Maus,” the prototype and the impetus for the longer Maus book, which definitively shifted the public conversation around the possibilities for serious work in the form of comics upon its publication in two book volumes in 1986 and 1991. It is notable that the two most famous cartoonists I discuss in this book— Satrapi, whose Persepolis is an account of her youth in Tehran, and Bechdel, whose Fun Home is a memoir of growing up gay in rural Pennsylvania, both credit Maus as an influence.

The movement that, as Justin Green notes, “held to the ideal of reaching a common audience while reinventing the formal boundaries that defined the medium,” is directly responsible for the existence of today’s rich body of literary—and specifically, autobiographical—comics (Rebel Visions 4). 48 But it is crucial to realize how recent—and how politically inflected—the type of work this book examines is. Deeply embroiled with the left politics, the artistic rigor, and the utopian pitch of the sixties and seventies, the underground changed the face of what we consider “literature” and gave us the risk-taking self-representation we see in today’s graphic narrative by women.

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