Sunday, August 8, 2010

Comics Criticism, 1970-2010

A few things I read recently and liked:

Rob Clough on Kevin H. Clough gets at what's great about Ganges: the philosophical content, formal imagination and inventiveness, and visual charm.

Sam Lipsyte on Daniel Clowes's Wilson. Lipsyte's a great novelist and carefully engages Clowes's work, especially the dialogue. He avoids the kinds of critical generalizations that flatten a text (and make a reviewer look careless), and instead sees Wilson's complexities and humanity. A very well-written review.

Alan Choate on Crumb's Genesis. There's a lot of ok criticism on the web, but there's little that's this thoughtful and informed.

Tim Seidler and Jon Hazell on Herb Trimpe (a letter published in 1970 in The Incredible Hulk #131). Though they are critical of Trimpe -- an artist I like (his Hulk covers of this era are masterpieces) -- their visual trope-based criticism is eye-opening. The writers clearly don't like what they see, but they back up their opinion in an effective and entertaining way. I just bought 40 1969-1972 Marvel comics, and this letter has me reading them in a new way, paying far more attention to how artists stage aggression, violence, and fight scenes, key features of these comics. You never know where you'll find interesting criticism . . . [click to enlarge]:


Rob Clough said...

Hey, thanks Ken. What drew me to Kevin H's work initially, back when I was still buying the Supermonster minicomics, was his interest in exploring both eastern and western philosophy on the comics page. He's only become more sophisticated in that regard since then.

By the by, I have a review of Wilson coming up this week at Among other things, I saw it as a kind of collection of Sunday comic strips. Peanuts seemed to be an obvious inspiration for Wilson (at least to me), and Wilson himself felt like a grown-up Lucy Van Pelt.

DerikB said...

That Hulk letter is great! Thanks for sharing it.

Ken Parille said...

Rob, I look forward to that review. Wilson as Lucy -- I like that idea.


I agree --
and it's a excellent example of "negative criticism" that positively effected how I read, not only that comic, but others. These guys are hostile, but their comments are directly connected to the work in a way that negative commentary isn't always.