Wednesday, October 24, 2007

On My Comic Book High Horse

Comics blogger Jog has an interesting write up/reaction to New Engineering, a wild looking collection of Manga by Yuichi Yokoyama. After describing the nearly plotless content of the book filled with continual battle scenes and bizarre landscapes, Jog gets into a nice little discussion on the expectations of US readers of manga.

It's Naruto's library of symbols, stripped of warmth and purpose, and turned into something... else.

So, in essence, it's the style of Manga, using sweat drops and nose bleeds aplenty. but it's Manga knocked on its butt until it's doing something else. Sounds pretty cool to me. But this speaks a lot to the US perception of comics and cartoons in general; Sandman and Fun Home aside, mainstream media still hasn't embraced the idea that comics aren't just brain candy for kids. Probably every couple of weeks someone I work with at the library will ask me, "So...I know you read books, too. What's the point with all these graphic novels?"

I just shake my head. What people continually seem to confuse is that they relate comics to their idea of genre, while it's really a medium that can tell all the same kinds of stories told entirely through text (and even some that you can't tell through text). Sci-fi, super-heroes, romance, humor, somber tales of regret, even experimental fiction like Karasik & Mazzucchelli's wonderful adaption of Paul Auster's City of Glass. It's not the tools used but what's done with them that matters.

I admit I'm biased, though. And I have been checking out a lot of fluffy ones lately, mostly because they provide a much needed break from all the academic papers I have to read for my classes. Just try not to look at me with too much scorn when I check out an issue of One Piece, a Chris Ware Lit-comic, and the latest Jonathan Lethem novel all at the same time. I enjoy it all.


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