Posts Tagged ‘Jeet Heer’

A Ramble Through the History of Comics Criticism

Posted by on October 18th, 2010 at 12:01 AM

The Comics Journal passed its 30th anniversary not so long ago, and I intended to take note of it by reviewing the book I’m going to review here. Serious criticism of comics may have gone forward without the Journal, but it’s difficult to know where. The only other periodical devoted regularly to the comics was, back then — 30 years ago — the Comics Buyer’s Guide, but it was then and is now essentially a cheerleader for the industry, not a critic of any of it. And ivy-covered walls would likely not be much help in fostering a serious comics criticism for general consumption: Academia has a penchant for drowning itself in self-indulgent obscurities in prose and thought. Like much theoretical scholarly endeavor, exploration of this sort is useful in its own peculiar, trickle-down way: Some of it legitimizes the art form as it eventually filters through to popular criticism, and, hence, to the makers of comics, thereby influencing not only the cultural acceptance of comics but the ways comics are made. But academic criticism is not intended for a general readership. Or even a “fan readership.” No, it took Gary Groth and the Journal to kick-start serious critical writing about the comics. But we’d be mistaken if we believed there was no serious criticism before the Journal. There was. A good bit of it.

 

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Wheelhouse: Walt & Skeezix Book Four: 1927-1928

Posted by on September 17th, 2010 at 12:01 AM

Clough reviews the long-awaited fourth volume of Drawn & Quarterly’s reprint of Frank King’s classic Gasoline Alley, Walt & Skeezix.

Preface to Mid-Life Creative Imperatives (Part 1 of 3)

Posted by on February 24th, 2010 at 12:01 AM

A few days ago Jeet Heer posted a historical-speculative essay over at Comics Comics titled “The Mid-Life Crises of The Great Commercial Cartoonists” that caught my attention. His premise is that a move from working within the paternalistic corporate structure of commercial comics to more independent creative work formed a pattern “common to commercial comic book artists of [Wally Wood’s]’s era.” His examples of this pattern were Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Gil Kane, and Will Eisner. Heer refines his premise thusly: “All these cartoonists started off as journeymen artists, had a mid-life crisis which made them try do more artistically ambitious work, but ended up being thwarted either by the limits of their talent or the constraints of marketplace.”

After I read Heer’s piece, something was tugging at me, and I realized I’d touched on a similar theme in a piece I’d written 15 years ago.

I’d Like to Thank the Academy…

Posted by on January 20th, 2010 at 9:16 AM

According to the University Press of Mississippi’s blog, A Comics Studies Reader has “just been named the Peter C. Rollins Book Award by the Southwest Texas Popular/American Culture Association…awarded annually for the best book in popular culture studies and/or American …