Comics And Anime Have Their Own Place Among Fine Art
Around seven or eight years ago, I went to my LCS on Wednesday. When I got there, a beautiful woman was there sitting in a chair and the owner was nowhere to be seen. She was in the Quad Cities from Michigan or Minnesota, someplace starting with M, selling coupon books door to door. She had stopped into Mellow Blue to sell whoever was inside a coupon book and because she’d developed a hole in her shoe and Tim had gone to try and fix it. I looked through my pull that week while we talked when she asked “Why do you read comic books?”
To really answer that question I have to talk about Art. Yes with a capital A, because while I believe that the best of Art comes from a combination of passion, talent and restrictions, that doesn’t mean that Art shouldn’t strive to be presented in the purist form the creator wants it to be in.
For an excellent example of what I’m talking about I suggest tracking down a copy of Jodorowsky’s Dune and yes, I had to Google how to spell that. It’s a documentary from 2013 about Alejandro Jodorowsky, Chilean-French filmmaker and comic book writer, and his attempts to create a movie about Frank Herbert’s Dune in 1974.
For my money the ultimate expression of artistic endeavors is animation. Maybe not what you what expecting? Let me elaborate. There are many ways to tell a story and animation can do them all. Personal tragedy, murder mystery, High fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, absurdist comedy, they all can be done with animation and I could name an example for each of those I just listed. The problem with animation is that it’s a giant time and money vacuum, especially when done by hand, which is why you see so much CGI animation for films and television now.
Comic books are only one rung under animation for me however, because as long as you have the passion and talent to take whatever story you have in your head and can translate it to the page through words and pictures, then you don’t have to worry about your actors aging, getting the rights to music, writing a confusing description of a person or object, spending millions on advertising or getting a headache from shaky cam.
The one thing comics have over animation is that, while still sometimes stymied as a kid’s medium, there is a plethora of stories for mature readers. Image basically specializes in this, DC created Vertigo for this very reason, IDW bought Top Shelf so they could have a prestige division and there are all the independent publishers like Fantagraphics, Drawn and Quarterly and Humanoids; who publish Jodorowsky’s comics.
This is a reason anime and manga are so big. For the anime fan, it’s about being of an age where you want to start watching more mature material, but still being young enough to still want to watch cartoons. For manga enthusiasts, it’s the same mentality, but without the knowledge that mature American comics exist or because American comics still don’t cater to the sports, cooking, romance or other niche genre that Japanese comics have in abundance.
I read comics and love comics because I love storytelling. Comics can be the simplest three panel story or the most complex 150 issue epic. The only limit is what you can put onto the page and there is no limit if you know what you’re doing.