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#191574 - 09/28/07 09:38 AM Re: Debate About State of "Art-Comics" (Particularly Clowes), But w/o Superhero Nuts
Charles Reece Offline
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Registered: 08/18/99
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If anything, realism has fallen out of favor academically over the past 40 years. In fact, I'd argue that the essay you linked to is an argument for realism (transparency, psychology over form, facts, economy). But that's the problem with casting this as a genre vs. literary qua realism problem. Postmodernists or the modernists aren't as widely read as King because of the former being more realistic. Just like Lem isn't as popular as Heinlein because the latter is more "scifi." There are plenty of courses from plenty of schools teaching genres like sf and fantasy, but if they teach Lem and Delany over Asimov (or even in addition to him), there would still be (and is) the same anti-genre bias leveled at academia.
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#191575 - 09/28/07 12:32 PM Re: Debate About State of "Art-Comics" (Particularly Clowes), But w/o Superhero Nuts
gene phillips Offline
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Registered: 09/30/99
Posts: 5910
Loc: Houston, TX
Quote:
Originally posted by Dumas:
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.
I agree that Clowes, irrespective of the merit of his work, has become a sacred cow because of what he represents to the numerically-dominant faction of indy fandom. I have some theories on why this might be so, but I think they'd only be verified by reading a good cross-section of fan-praise for Clowes, and frankly, I just don't have the time.

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#191576 - 09/28/07 12:36 PM Re: Debate About State of "Art-Comics" (Particularly Clowes), But w/o Superhero Nuts
gene phillips Offline
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Registered: 09/30/99
Posts: 5910
Loc: Houston, TX
Quote:
Originally posted by Charles Reece:
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).
While I do think it's borderline insulting to call someone else's argument "stupid"-- though assuredly it's of a different degree that calling the poster stupid-- I was mainly amusing myself by quoting one of your responses to Dumas from the "Yuma" thread in Movies.

More on the realism thing as I go along.

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#191577 - 09/28/07 12:54 PM Re: Debate About State of "Art-Comics" (Particularly Clowes), But w/o Superhero Nuts
gene phillips Offline
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Registered: 09/30/99
Posts: 5910
Loc: Houston, TX
Quote:
Originally posted by X-height:
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'
Exactly. I would say that even those modern-lit works that ape the outward structure of a genre-fantasy-- say, Eco's "supernatural thriller" THE FOUCAULT PENDULUM-- still have a thematic attachment to the notion of a quotidian reality that can't really be found in THE DA VINCI CODE. Thematic realism can be found in both realistic and "unrealistic" works, and offhand I would say that almost every fantasy/SF work that has been accepted into the literary mainstream (such as Dumas' example of BRAVE NEW WORLD) displays this common theme. There are probably some exceptions-- Edgar Allen Poe, perhaps-- but that's why I would say that literary critics can accept a novel like KAVALIER AND CLAY, with its occasional ghosts or golems; that they perceive (correctly or not, depending on your view of the novel) that K&C is responsive to describing quotidian reality, even if it isn't a "realistic" work.

Clowes strikes me as being much the same: his fantastic content isn't there just for its own sake, but seems to have some allegorical purpose behind it. Maybe it's an allegory only Clowes understands, though.

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#191578 - 09/28/07 01:04 PM Re: Debate About State of "Art-Comics" (Particularly Clowes), But w/o Superhero Nuts
gene phillips Offline
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Registered: 09/30/99
Posts: 5910
Loc: Houston, TX
CR: "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"

See, I would say that Clowes is just doing to comics what Godard did with film: distancing the aesthetic impact of the imagery and defusing the viewer's expectations for plot-involvement. So I see him reflecting the long shadow of Godard (whether he's specifically a fan of Godard or not) in his quest for artistic authenticity. Thus IMO he's not any more independent of 'the criteria of other artforms' than Bechtdel is for having followed in whatever prose literary tradition one wants to put FUN HOME into.

BTW, in case you've forgotten, a while back I disagreed with your claim (as I remember it) that FUN HOME didn't use its comics-storytelling chops adequately to justify telling the story in the comics-format. I might agree about PERSEPOLIS, though.

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#191579 - 09/28/07 01:12 PM Re: Debate About State of "Art-Comics" (Particularly Clowes), But w/o Superhero Nuts
Ken Offline
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Registered: 02/24/01
Posts: 431
"Sometimes you have to go after the sacred cows to get your point across most effectively."

But if Clowes's work doesn't make your point - and it clearly doesn't in this case, as Hodler showed - than the point is not made effectively.
In fact, it's not made at all -- Berlatsky's examples cause his argument to collapse . . .

"I agree that Clowes, irrespective of the merit of his work, has become a sacred cow because of what he represents to the numerically-dominant faction of indy fandom."

What does he represent? To me, the answer is thoughtful and sophisticated comics.

The sacred cow argument is not a good one, because it assumes that Clowes's work is only being praised for some other reason that its merits as the reader sees them: "we can't criticize him or allow others to, because he's the poster boy for art comics and 'New Yorker' style legitimacy."

When I "defend" Clowes, I do so - as do others - because I really like his work.

It'd be as if I said: "Gene only praises superhero comics because he has a need to identify with the kind of comics rejected by the elite - it boosts his ego to be seen taking this rebellious position." My assumption is otherwise: that you like such comics and find them interesting to talk about.

It shouldn't be that hard to imagine that many people can like his work and not be suffering from any anxiety about comics legitimacy.

And Gene, you talk about Clowes even more than I do!

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#191580 - 09/28/07 01:28 PM Re: Debate About State of "Art-Comics" (Particularly Clowes), But w/o Superhero Nuts
MBunge Offline
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Registered: 07/19/01
Posts: 3386
Loc: Waterloo, Iowa, United States
Quote:
Originally posted by Ken:
The sacred cow argument is not a good one, because it assumes that Clowes's work is only being praised for some other reason that its merits as the reader sees them: "we can't criticize him or allow others to, because he's the poster boy for art comics and 'New Yorker' style legitimacy."

When I "defend" Clowes, I do so - as do others - because I really like his work.
That's not what the phrase "sacred cow" means. It doesn't imply that a work or author is defended because of its or his status, even though the defenders may not like or approve of said work or author.

"Sacred cow" refers to something that cannot be meaningful criticized or discussed in any way, largely because any such comment or criticism is taken as an attack on the group that closely idetifies with that something. It isn't that the defenders don't like what they're defending.

Mike

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#191581 - 09/28/07 02:03 PM Re: Debate About State of "Art-Comics" (Particularly Clowes), But w/o Superhero Nuts
Ken Offline
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Registered: 02/24/01
Posts: 431
"I agree that Clowes, irrespective of the merit of his work, has become a sacred cow because of what he represents to the numerically-dominant faction of indy fandom."

I am talking about Gene's longrunning argument about what Clowes represents and why he has become, according to Gene, a sacred cow, not about the term itself.

Gene implies here and elsewhere that an anxiety is present on the part of Clowes defenders/fans/ supporters. This causes them to get worked up when the see their "sacred cow" being attacked.

Gene doesn't specify what he represents in the above post, but having read many posts by him over the years, he attributes motives of different kinds of anxiety - Clowes fans want/need to be seen as hip/elitist/accepted etc . . . It's not that they really like that kind of stuff, they just want to use it against superheroes . . .


"It isn't that the defenders don't like what they're defending."

I don't think I said that . . . Let me try to be more clear:
I think Gene beleives that people inflate their actual feelings about Clowes's work to make some larger point. He thinks that the only reason you can like Clowes or Ware etc is if you are fooling yourself in some way.

And the "sacred cow" argument doesn't hold up because plenty of people criticize Clowes. It's true that he gets more praise than criticism, but as someone who follows writing about Clowes, I have read plenty of it over the last 7 years or so.

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#191582 - 09/29/07 01:06 AM Re: Debate About State of "Art-Comics" (Particularly Clowes), But w/o Superhero Nuts
Dumas Offline
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Registered: 07/20/99
Posts: 6777
Loc: Melnibone
And yet... in their rebuttals, some people responded to Noah B.'s comments about Clowes in more or less this way:

Quote:
... something that cannot be meaningful criticized or discussed in any way, largely because any such comment or criticism is taken as an attack on the group that closely identifies with that something.
Ken, I agree that it is possible to discuss Clowes. I also agree that there are many valid reasons to appreciate what he does.

But there's a pretty heavy element of taking Bertlatsky's comments about Clowes personally that made the term sacred cow seem appropriate too.
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#191583 - 09/29/07 01:32 AM Re: Debate About State of "Art-Comics" (Particularly Clowes), But w/o Superhero Nuts
Charles Reece Offline
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Registered: 08/18/99
Posts: 10013
Loc: us of fuckin' a
Quote:
While I do think it's borderline insulting to call someone else's argument "stupid"-- though assuredly it's of a different degree that calling the poster stupid-- I was mainly amusing myself by quoting one of your responses to Dumas from the "Yuma" thread in Movies.
1. Thanks for making your feelings known here regarding Dumas's obnoxious behavior on another thread. 2. Again, no one was holding the view I called stupid, thus no one was insulted, borderline or otherwise. 3. Even if is borderline insulting to refer to a viewpoint as stupid, some viewpoints are, indeed, stupid, even when they're held by fairly intelligent people. For example, and hypothetically speaking, if you were to ignore for a third time the fact that the only person I could've possibly been insulting was entirely hypothetical, it would be fair to dismiss your view as stupid. I would, however, do so while still acknowledging, as I have plenty of times in the past, that you're a smart guy, even if you're expressing a stupid viewpoint. Some things are just too obvious to keep arguing about, you know? 4. Not sure why it's of personal amusement for you, but I agree that there's a difference between insulting someone and calling a stupid viewpoint stupid. That's some cutting edge satire that just goes over my head, I guess.
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