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#47025 - 05/13/00 01:35 AM Ghost World movie--the turning point?

quote from austin english on indymagazine message boards--<>
I think there's quite a bit to this perhaps. If there's any kind of sweeping, underlying revolution among us, it's to turn the common notion of comics around from "juvenile escapist entertainment trash" to a worthy medium capable of artful and intelligent content. This is stating the obvious, but let's look at what the current situation has for us: Marvel is gasping for air business-wise it seems, Dan Clowes was in Time, Scott McCloud's Reinventing Comics is about to come out, publishers like Top Shelf and Highwater books are producing quality comic works which as packages could easily compete in the current bookstore market, alternatives to comics' internal distribution system are a frequent topic of discussion and action, and probably most importantly, strangely enough, is the impending release of the Ghost World movie which will shine a light on "alternative" comics the likes of which I doubt any of us have ever seen. Does the begining of our muddily prophesised paradigm shift of comics' place among other mediums finally about to happen? Does it "feel" like that to anyone else? Like the gears are in motion, like all the ingredients are finally in place?

"It's just a ride."--Bill Hicks

[This message has been edited by JAR (edited 05-13-2000).]

#47026 - 05/14/00 03:28 PM Re: Ghost World movie--the turning point?
Kim Thompson Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/29/05
Posts: 0
I think we may be at some sort of a turning point, and the GHOST WORLD movie may be part of it. The next 12 months will see the releases of several indisputably major comics projects all in a row (Clowes's DAVID BORING, Ware's JIMMY CORRIGAN, Sacco's SAFE AREA GORAZDE, McCloud's REINVENTING COMICS, the Art Spiegelman-edited LITTLE LIT), the kind that will be (or are being) reviewed in the mainstream press and will penetrate into "real-world" bookstores, and if the GHOST WORLD movie is successful enough to encourage people to check out the graphic novel...well, it could start something.

On the other hand, any wholesale revision of the General Populace's view of comics has to combat the 100 Years Of Shit syndrome. Not to mention the fact that these major new books are all to one degree or another "difficult" works, either in subject matter or style.

Color me guardedly optimistic.

#47027 - 05/15/00 12:01 AM Re: Ghost World movie--the turning point?
Jesse Fuchs Offline

Registered: 05/08/99
Posts: 70
Loc: New York, NY
Geez, if Little Lit's going to be "difficult", then what the hell does Spiegelman have planned next for us adults? And I'd be surprised if Reinventing Comics was inaccessible - McCloud's been very very good, and he's been...ahem, not so very very good, but difficult is one word I've never seen applied to him. Plus, no matter what beefs each of us might have with chunks of his theory, UC certainly demonstrated McCloud's didactic mode to be his strongest suit - if anything, it's too cogent for its own good.

As for the rest, Sacco's style is a little offputting, but people who've got no idea about comics may get pulled in by his scenery chops. His subject matter has certainly proven to have mainstream journalism legs - this is probably the first comic book I can recall that I'm absolutely positive will appear in Slate's "Summary Judgment" column. David Boring's, to my mind, is going to be the commercial dud of the batch - like The Jew Of New York, the mainstream reviews it gets will be mostly positive, and it'll get decent placement and Barnes and Noble and such and such, but it won't extend his outreach that much. But even this isn't inaccessible in the same way that Love and Rockets can be - the cast of characters is relatively small, it's self-contained, and he doesn't skip around from century to century in the panels. And if Fantagraphics does a nice re-packaging job (the current cover is better than the hardcover's, but is still not undeniable), the Ghost World book might end up being his real breakthrough.

Then we get to Jimmy Corrigan. I've never found Ware to be that "difficult", in the sense that the first time I read his stuff I found myself eagerly turning pages just like with Usagi Yojimbo. Which is not to say I got 90% of what the hell was going in there, but I still got enough out of it to find it enjoyable. But here's the main thing: it's fucking beautiful, and that's what's going to count. Even the people who absolutely _despise_ everything the man does - Ted Rall is the example that springs to mind - readily admit the sheer surface gorgeousness of his work.

Packaging counts for a lot when it comes to a mainstream breakthrough, and between the combination of Ware's talents with Chip Kidd's and the fact that it's 380 pages, in full color, hardcover, magnified 150% from the original versions, and under 20 bucks on Amazon, I'm utterly convinced that Jimmy Corrigan, The Smartest Kid on Earth is poised to be the next Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Hell, even Dave Eggers thinks Chris Ware deserves to be the next Dave Eggers more than Dave Eggers does.

Needless to say, I'm more than guardedly optimistic - maybe that's just because I'm not yet as trench-weary and grizzled as my personal imago Kimberly Thompson, but I do think that this time, the fact that comics ain't for kids (and paradoxically, the fact that they can be too) just might stick. And you know why? It's not because they're better than they ever were, although they are. It's for the same reason that I think there's been a genuine (if sometimes overstated) paradigm shift in leftist activism recently. This time, we're the slick ones.

Ethan Persoff, who's nothing if not one slick motherfucker, has a smart theory about why the comics "tipping point" will finally occur that I'll try to get him to share with you all; it basically boils down to an analogy between the current comics publishing scene and jazz in the late 40s and early 50s. The parallels, at least according to Ethan (who knows a hell of a lot more about jazz, not to mention comics, than I do), are pretty convincing. Maybe that's because I have no idea about most of them and am thus credulous prey for that silver-tongued Persoff, but I know it's true that jazz's mainstream breakthrough was largely due to the fact that Blue Note finally figured out how to package the stuff so that it looked cool, slick, and exciting.

Comics might have been as good as they are now in the 80s (though I don't think so), but they certainly weren't as superficially appealing. Last time, there was RAW, and...what? Love and Rockets? It's great, but really, on the surface it looked like an oversized black-and-white Archie Comic, and it's as confusing as (if infinitely more rewarding than) any DC infinite earth monstrosity. Watchman, on the surface, looked like a typical 80s DC comic. Harvey Pekar might reach out and grab you by the lapels and shake you, but only in real life. Dark Knight was Batman, who everybody likes, but is still, you know, Batman. Weirdo...Christ, Weirdo. Weirdo looked like the most awesome public restroom stall ever. And let's not even get into Cerebus.

Now, however, we've got Highwater, Top Shelf, Red Ink (geez, I can't believe I didn't talk about the 300+ page upcoming issue of Non), Slab-O-Concrete, Drawn and Quarterly, Fantagraphics, and I guess Pantheon, all of whom (except actually Fantagraphics, which due to its venerability tends to range the slickness gamut) consistently put out stuff that would impress any mainstream book designer. Even the minis are getting into it; Aaron Augenblick's and Dave Choe's stuff, thanks to the Xeric Foundation, looks as stunning as any comic book I could name, and even dinky guys like Robot Press and Kurt Wolfgang put out some pretty neat-looking stuff. And if Eddie Campbell will get his head out of his self-publishing arse and actually give his and Alan's magnum opus the Cages-like treatment it deserves without making it a 90 dollar sealed limited edition that sits on the fucking tippie top shelf behind the counter at Jim Hanley's, there'd be that too.

The TIME articles and the other Gorazde mentions have been surprisingly lacking in the monkey-who-plays-the-sousaphone novelty aspect of doing serious work in comics format, and I bet that the recent and increasingly frequent Entertainment Weekly reviews will turn into a full capitulation - this may, in fact, be the exact tipping point - by giving at least some of the Clowes, Ware, Spiegelman, Sacco, and McCloud contigent full, non-capsule reviews, just like a big new album or whatnot. I may very well be wrong - I could see all this happening, and it just not clicking - but I must say that I do genuinely believe that things are different now than they ever have been before. Let the abuse and the disabuse begin.

P.S. Hey, and speaking of slick, when's that Bone movie supposed to come out? People always seem to forget about Jeff Smith out when it comes to mainstream breakthroughs, but if that movie turns out as good as I can see it being and his books started getting on the big featured display rack at Waldenbooks come Christmas, there could be a feeding frenzy; it's just as much fun (if maybe not as adolescently wish-fulfilling) as Harry Potter, and there's already 6 1/2 books of it.

(edited for typos)

[This message has been edited by Jesse Fuchs (edited 05-16-2000).]

#47028 - 05/15/00 01:53 AM Re: Ghost World movie--the turning point?
Timothy J Miller Offline

Registered: 07/06/99
Posts: 427
Loc: Portland, OR
I'll believe it when I see it... maybe.

#47029 - 05/15/00 01:23 PM Re: Ghost World movie--the turning point?
Kim Thompson Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/29/05
Posts: 0
I agree with just about everything Jesse said. I added LITTLE LIT to my list of hot new books late in the editorial process, as they say -- I didn't mean to suggest that would be inaccessible. The jury is out on McCloud's new book which, I'm told, is quite different from the first. If it's Comix 102 as opposed to Comix 101, though, it is by definition going to be more "difficult"...

ACME is a like the elephant being defined by the blind men. I know lots of people who think it's impenetrable both formally and narratively, and lots of other people who, like Jesse, think it's a walk in the park. (Then again, I ate up THE JEW OF NEW YORK like candy, which almost everybody else said was a brute to plow through.) And of course a lot of people say ACME is cold and humorless, while others (like me) are convinced it's highly emotional and very funny in spots. (I think it's a classic confusion of form and content.)

My guess is that it'll sell well and few will actually read it, like INFINITE JEST.

LOVE AND ROCKETS was actually pretty lucid and accessible for just about all of its first 20 issues. It started getting puzzling in the 20s (with "Human Diastrophism") and went entirely haywire in the 30s with "Poison River" and "Wigwam Bam" and "Love and Rockets X" all being serialized at the same time. Not coincidentally, sales started declining at this point.

#47030 - 05/15/00 08:52 PM Re: Ghost World movie--the turning point?
Tom Spurgeon Offline

Registered: 12/24/98
Posts: 1095
Loc: WCW Special Forces
Given that Jeff Smith was going to direct the movie OR start the final book of Bone, I'm guessing they decided not to go into production with the movie yet.

I think Ware's book is gonna knock people out with its surface charms, and I cannot figure out how they're selling it at that price.

#47031 - 05/16/00 12:33 AM Re: Ghost World movie--the turning point?
DanSouder Offline

Registered: 02/17/99
Posts: 163
Loc: USA
Do we have a firm release date yet for the Acme collection?

(Edited to fix the sig.)

Visit my site at focusing on my comics and books.

Also, more of my work is online at

[This message has been edited by DanSouder (edited 05-16-2000).]

#47032 - 05/16/00 11:24 AM Re: Ghost World movie--the turning point?
Greg McElhatton Offline

Registered: 12/19/98
Posts: 674
Loc: Vienna, VA
According to the listing, it's scheduled for an August 29th release. (It's also in the upcoming PREVIEWS for items shipping in August, from Fantagraphics.)

Greg McElhatton:
The EXPO/SPX 2000 * iComics Daily Reviews
website * marathon * Read About Comics


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