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#191554 - 09/17/07 02:48 PM Re: Debate About State of "Art-Comics" (Particularly Clowes), But w/o Superhero Nuts
gene phillips Offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by stevv:
Gene, correct me if I'm wrong, but you (and Bertlatsky) are using 'Literary' in a fairly, umm, non-literal way. Bertlatsky says alt comics are "...becoming literary fiction" to avoid being associated with super-heroes. For him, I think, literary is supposed to refer to narrative fiction that is "Serious Art": autobios, memoirs and whatever else he imagines is too intellectual and concerned with respectability. But: "...the current obssessions [sic] of art comics basically, memoir and literary fiction (to the extent that the two are separable.)" As Hodler says - Huh??


From Wikipedia on Vice:
"The magazine's readership comprises young postcollegiate bohemians, often labelled "hipsters." Known for its controversial content, it often strikes a sardonic and ironic pose..."
Eww. Apparently they publish an edition here, so I might track down a copy to see if it's as bad as it sounds.
See previous post.

I believe "psuedo-literary fiction" would also be preferable and clearer than just "literary fiction." I would think everyone agrees that there are inferior practitioners of literary fiction, and that there are people who ape "respectable" style and content because they hope to get ahead in their field of endeavor, even if they've nothing much to say.

The question here is whether or not B. proves his case with respect to the authors he goes after.

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#191555 - 09/24/07 12:00 PM Re: Debate About State of "Art-Comics" (Particularly Clowes), But w/o Superhero Nuts
Dumas Offline
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I didn't have a problem with the term "literary fiction" because I usually find even the good stuff pretty boring.

When I think of "literary" fiction, I think of people such as Doris Lessing, Raymond Carver, Anton Chekhov and Eudora Welty who obviously had an incredible level of talent and writerly craft... but tended to focus on incredibly mundane real-world stuff that isn't interesting to me.

The term brings back bad memories of college literary survey courses where we spent most of our time reading stuff such as "Hills Like White Elephants" or "Everything that Rises Must Converge." After you read enough (seemingly pointless) stories about a college student freaking out his mother by coming home with a long beard, or the bad kid from the local high school killing himself, or some fairly ordinary woman going off to Italy and hooking up with some local guy... the idea of seeking out more realistic literary fiction is kind of a turn-off.

Andi Watson might be a better example than Chris Ware. Watson's stuff reminds me way too much of boring "Intro to Lit" reading assignments for me to be able to understand what's so great about something like Breakfast After Noon.

The problem with literary fiction (and "chick lit" and comics and indie films that tackle similar subject matter) is that most people who attempt it aren't even as good at it as somebody like Nick Hornby or Tom Robbins. Whatever great insights about the human condition were buried in that comic about doing weird stuff to earn money for a new couch don't make up for the fact that you just read an apparently pointless story about buying a piece of furniture.

We don't even need to throw in "psuedo" as a qualifier. We just need to say bad literary fiction.

If a story seems to have even less subtext and depth than something like "About a Boy," then nobody should be surprised to see someone complaining about it.
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#191556 - 09/24/07 12:31 PM Re: Debate About State of "Art-Comics" (Particularly Clowes), But w/o Superhero Nuts
Dumas Offline
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Anyway, now that I belatedly realized that Gene made the same points in fewer words...

I don't see anything "anti-intellectual" about not liking literary fiction. Despite the best efforts of various college professors and literary purists, I have never understood why it's supposed to be better to write about stuff that could happen in real life instead of things that require more willing suspension of disbelief.

There's this idea that ultra-realistic stuff is somehow more "mature" and intellectually stimulating than all other types of fiction that, to me, is the real problem.

Says who? It's not like everything else can be automatically dumped in the same pile as John Norman's Gor series and Rob Liefield comics.

If somebody can't fully appreciate The Satanic Verses because of all that dang magical realism and shape changing stuff "screwing up" the story... I tend to see that person as the one with the unreasonable bias.

But if you don't enjoy John Updike's work for some reason... there is plenty of other stuff out there to read. It's not a big deal.

Literary fiction is basically just a genre. It's a little harder to pin down what qualifies, but it's not like "literary" automatically equals "work of staggering genius." A lot of "literary" fiction is stuff like The World According to Garp or When Harry Met Sally.
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#191557 - 09/25/07 02:00 AM Re: Debate About State of "Art-Comics" (Particularly Clowes), But w/o Superhero Nuts
Charles Reece Offline
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If literary fiction is realism, then it's really stupid to call what Clowes is doing simply that.
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#191558 - 09/25/07 09:40 AM Re: Debate About State of "Art-Comics" (Particularly Clowes), But w/o Superhero Nuts
gene phillips Offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Charles Reece:
If literary fiction is realism, then it's really stupid to call what Clowes is doing simply that.
Could you just argue without the insults?

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#191559 - 09/25/07 11:56 AM Re: Debate About State of "Art-Comics" (Particularly Clowes), But w/o Superhero Nuts
Dumas Offline
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Having tried to wade through everything in all the links, it seems to me that A.) one would have to be the worst kind of indie comix snob to find the first article offensive and B.) the real controversy seems to be over this Noah guy picking on Dan Clowes.

If he would have singled out somebody like Andi Watson or Craig Thompson instead, this wouldn't have been as big of a deal.

Instead, we've got Clowes fanboys getting really uptight about how the OP described his work and totally missing the parts that sound perfectly valid to me.

Sometimes you have to go after the sacred cows to get your point across most effectively.
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#191560 - 09/25/07 01:15 PM Re: Debate About State of "Art-Comics" (Particularly Clowes), But w/o Superhero Nuts
Charles Reece Offline
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Whom was I insulting, Gene? No one was arguing that Clowes is a realist, as best I could tell. Which, siince you can't figure out, was my point: people don't seem to have in mind just realism when using 'literary fiction' as an epithet, since non-realist works get slammed that way, too (e.g., Clowes and Ware).
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#191561 - 09/25/07 02:19 PM Re: Debate About State of "Art-Comics" (Particularly Clowes), But w/o Superhero Nuts
X-height Offline
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Registered: 11/27/02
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Quote:
Originally posted by Charles Reece:
If literary fiction is realism, then it's really stupid to call what Clowes is doing simply that.
As an almost genre, "literary fiction" certainly holds to that semblance to reality as what its readers come to it for; foremost. In the way that we talk about genre it isn't so much the components of a genre but the ordination of those elements as must haves. In that sense Dumas is on the mark by pointing to the 'mundane' as a element that is the point of access for the readership regardless of where it goes from there. It is what The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem is up to or even The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay despite the said subject. Literary could just as well stand in for 'what is real and interesting to I the educated humanist concerned with characters and history'
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#191562 - 09/25/07 03:00 PM Re: Debate About State of "Art-Comics" (Particularly Clowes), But w/o Superhero Nuts
Charles Reece Offline
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That's fine, but none of that makes for using the term as an insult. As best I can tell, the term used against a comic means something like "falsely attempts to make itself an art equivalent in value to 'serious' literature." It's not about realism per se. Berlatsky wants to be some sort of Manny Farber like critic, which is a laudable enough goal (even if Farber isn't one of my favorites). My problem is that what he celebrates as comics' version of termite art is more often garbage than not. Craig Thompson, as Dumas points out (and I'd add any of the stuff like FUN HOME), is more accurately what his criticisms target. It's precisely people like Clowes who create comics as comics, regardless of some underdog need to justify them via the criteria of other artforms, and have begun to legimatize the artform within critical circles. I'd put WATCHMEN in the same category. It's a "fuck you, superhero stories are serious art, too."
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#191563 - 09/25/07 03:32 PM Re: Debate About State of "Art-Comics" (Particularly Clowes), But w/o Superhero Nuts
X-height Offline
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I see what you are saying about trying for a Farber-esque attack on the elephant but I would say that is a plus if it rejects the very specialized set of reading strategies that embody the experience, values, and knowledge of a group which is made to seem natural and universal.

Ware is a case where the subject might bring the reader in but as a trapdoor to form which itself challenges reading strategies. Its a mistake to lump Ware in there and even the NYT gets things right every so often.

I still hold to Samuel R. Delany's statement
Quote:
"Literature" means all writing that is produced in the acknowledged literary genres, all writing that aspires to be literature, all writing that can conceivably be used to endorse the dominant ideology, either directly or indirectly - that is, until the idea of "literature" comes under any sort of attack. At that point, it completely revises its meaning, pulls in its borders, and becomes "only the best, the very highest quality work that has been produced in these various genres" - which is, of course, a very different thing.
literary being the later phase of here.
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