I was thinking I would continue to excerpt it, but I was getting worried that this place was getting a little bit too dry.
‘a scholar is someone who does not necessarily enjoy the stuff he or she is studying’— whose definition is this? Is this really in a textbook?
Abhay, responding to my earlier post. No, you’re right on, man; thanks for pointing it out. This definition is really brought on by the cavalcade of influences that made me consider the deference. Saying it is “textbook” is a lazy, hyperbolic statement, and you’re right to call me out on it. All I was trying to do was shoot down the academic thought that claims that there are certain people more intellectually equipped to do critical work in comics, when in reality—in relation to comics—there is barely such a thing. Sure there is the average internet commenter and I suppose when you take that into consideration there is a difference.
But really, I was just taking on academic elitism that really should hold no place in comics. A better word for “textbook” could be “presumed belief.” But thanks for calling that out.
We have made you a creature neither of heaven nor of Earth, neither mortal nor immortal in order that you may, as the proud shaper of your own being, fashion yourself in the form you may prefer. It will be in your power to descend to the lower brutish forms of life; you will be able, through your own decision, to rise again to the superior orders whose life is divine.
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.
Superhero stories are sweated out at the imagined lowest levels of our culture, but like that shard off a hologram, they contain at their hearts all the dreams and fears of generations in vivid miniature. Created by a workforce that has in its time been marginalized, mocked, scapegoated, and exploited, they never failed to offer a direct line to the cultural subconscious and its convulsions. They tell us where we’ve been, what we feared and what we desired, and today they are more popular, more all pervasive than ever because they still speak to us about what we really want to be.
from the final pages of Supergods by Grant Morrison. What I’m thankful for is, well, this book. It gives me a sense that all of us—creative or not—are important and what most of us do is really to help shape a better world. This book has been amazing to read, and I think this is why I took so long to read it because I wanted to savor it.
Finishing it, I realized what my thesis is about: it’s to show that Morrison is at the forefront of this movement to legitimize comics to a sphere beyond those of us who are already in the choir. With this work someone like me feels freshly empowered to bring it to people who would not normally take a look at these ideas and change the way they think about them. That’s super-selfish and pig-headed of me to type but I do it with no malicious intent, and I don’t think that ONLY I CAN DO THIS. The best I can do is share how important this stuff is to me and to put it forward and say I promise this will wow you. I’m thankful to comics, to this book, because without them I’m not sure where I would be, but I’m awfully glad to be where I am. So, thanks, rock on.
What Moore, with Gibbons and his photo-realistic style and cinematic panel construction, portrayed is the idea of how these people should not exist on a psychological level as they would more than likely doom us all. Not to be too obvious, but our reality is far better off without these kinds of folks running around trying to save the world. Nite Owl retiring and becoming overweight and impotent is the only one of the cast who is thinking rationally.
Green Lantern’s sudden awareness of people suffering below the poverty line may seem almost farcical, but we can also choose to view the Lantern as a representation of the typical white middle-class young reader and to see in the politically engaged Green Arrow a “fiction suit” or mouthpiece for [writer Dennis] O’Neil, using art to open a few young eyes to some important facts of life.
from Grant Morrison’s awesome analysis of Green Lantern/Green Arrow by Dennis O’Neil and Neil Adams in Supergods.
Two weeks ago, I was talking with Francis about what superhero comic books can teach us about our cultural structure. We were talking about something completely different—probably politics—over our Six Point “Crisp” Ales at Hell’s Gate, and really getting into it. I was making the case that Superman and Batman represent the Cold War divide, before the war was actually initiated. Capitalism takes the form of Batman—a billionaire playboy whose parents were taken from him by a desperate criminal and in response he decides to beat down those low-lives creating a classic have vs have-not battle, and a dissection of capitalism made four-color flesh in the form of Bruce Wayne.
Superman, our beacon of social justice for rich and poor alike, stands for equal rights under the law or as Morrison writes—socialism:
“Superman made his position plain: He was the hero of the people. The original Superman was a bold humanist response to Depression-era fears of runaway scientific advance and soulless industrialism. We would see this early incarnation wrestling giant trains to a standsill, overturning tanks, or bench-pressing construction cranes…Superman offered another possibility: an image of a firecly human tomorrow that delivered the spectacle of triumphant individualism exercising its sovereignty over the implacable forces of industrial oppression.”
This is displayed in the first issue of the rebooted Action Comics when Superman holds Mr. Glenmorgan and threatens to drop him, but just before he does our new Man of Steel promises to release Glenmorgan “Just as soon as he makes a full confession. To someone who still believes the law works the same for rich and poor alike.”
I explained to Francis that Superman and Batman teamed together are called the “World’s Finest.” So, in typical brilliant thought while drinking I proposed the idea that if Batman and Superman are the World’s Finest (Capitalism and Socialism) when they are working together perhaps the finest form of government is both of these things together. Clearly, I shouldn’t drink and talk about comic books anymore.