Basically, what I learned from Japan is that creativity isn’t solely the domain of individual artists or inventors. Groups can be creative too. It took me a while to realise this, but when I did it made me happy, because it resolved an apparent conflict between two of the things I hold most dear: collectivism and creativity. I think you can say that Japan is capable of producing both the cliches of the manga industry and the originality of someone like Yuichi Yokoyama, whose quirky abstract mangas depend for their impact on twisting the conventions of mainstream manga. It’s not like Yokoyama defies manga, or appears courtesy of divine lightning.
I’ve only recently begun noticing the work of Momus, mostly because of the attention to the Marie Calloway thing, but I’ve started becoming more and more intrigued with their work. This particular section from the interview caused me to think about American comics that both encourages collaboration and creativity, particularly in the form of Grant Morrison’s work among others. The recent Batman issue reminds me of the kind thing Momus is talking about here, as well as Casanova. Both of those books challenge the conventions of American comics, while working within the system.
I was in a Barnes and Noble today and noticed this book by Marc Singer titled Grant Morrison: Combing the Worlds of Contemporary Comics. The description:
In Grant Morrison: Combining the Worlds of Contemporary Comics, author Marc Singer examines how Morrison uses this fusion of styles to intervene in the major political, aesthetic, and intellectual challenges of our time. His comics blur the boundaries between fantasy and realism, mixing autobiographical representation and cultural critique with heroic adventure. They offer self-reflexive appraisals of their own genres while they experiment with the formal elements of comics. Perhaps most ambitiously, they challenge contemporary theories of language and meaning, seeking to develop new modes of expression grounded in comics’ capacity for visual narrative and the fantasy genres’ ability to make figurative meanings literal.
It’s always difficult seeing books like that when you’re working on something similar. It’s rewarding to see that you’re working along the same creative unconscious, but at the same time it is difficult to not think that you’ve been passed by—the door slammed in your face, saying “Too slow!” When I start thinking this way I return to what Vaughan said, and I settle down knowing that while Singer has come first with a book length piece of cultural commentary that I’m aiming my darts at, I realize that he’s opening the door for more work like mine to come through. The door is only closing if you think it is.