I am trying desperately to finish reading some of the half started books I have engaged in this year. It’s not going particularly well considering my frequent visits to the comic book shop, the unreal word count of the Atlantic article I am trying to get through, the fact that I have to leave me house every day for holiday stuff and general socialization which I am terrible at and the malaise of winter days in Albuquerque that are taking its toll on my body. But I am doing the best I can to feel well read and well-informed and even a little entertained (The Fix issue #7 pissed me off and I hope that dude who lost his dog just kills everyone).
I did manage to get through the latest Cometbus a few days ago. Aaron is a master at making topics and people who I could give fuck all about totally engaging and thought-provoking. In this issue he sits down with DIY comics in New York. DIY is a frustrating topic, I hate New York and comics, as he explores has a wide berth in its definition. But damn if this isn’t an insightful look at all of these subjects. I may never love New York and I will always wonder about the choices people make in their decisions to be microscopic and I will never read the New Yorker or find any of the cartoons in any magazines to be relative to my life, but I have a new perspective on the art process.
From what I gather, unlike many DIY creative cultures, the comics world of New York is very insular and private by the nature of the work. Unlike writers who are grand, ego maniacs with many things to say and express despite pouring over tomes thousands of words long, comics say big things in small spaces and spend time with the world that surrounds them, meticulously drawing on the page. In my investigations of comic books I am told it takes a day to draw an entire page, a process that would drive me quite mad, and I mean that in the emotional sense that I would be very angry and frustrated. Comics is the art of patience to which I have none.
So these interviews with creators, curators, artists and introverts gave me an even greater respect for the art form over all. My own journey into comic books over the last few years has been filled with great storytelling, but I can honestly say I haven’t stared at a piece of the art work. Certainly I will always appreciate David Lapham’s bold black and white pen and ink drawings he uses to tell his hyper-violent crime saga that is Stray Bullets. Of course Fiona Staples work has captured all our hearts with Saga. Since reading this latest issue of Cometbus though, I look deeper into the pictures to see what’s going on. The visuals of comics should and often do tell just as much of the story and speculating on the decisions the artists make has opened up deeper meaning into what I am reading.
So before I close this short review I would also be remiss if I did not mention the fantastic portraits by Nate Powell, an Eisner Award Winning comic in his own right. Cometbus’s long career see’s him rubbing up against the shoulders of people who may have more name recognition than he does, but as is unfolded in his interviews, people can have large impact from quiet places.