Saturday, June 22, 2019

(Not Quite) The End

A little bug is flying around my head saying repeatedly to me that it's time to put this blog to rest. Looking back I fondly remember my arrival on the Internet, searching immediately for The Comics Journal site (it was 1997 or 1998, I can't remember anymore). I also fondly remember the comix@ list and the comixschl list (to which I belong to this day). I'm very grateful for these more than twenty years on the Internet, half writing this blog, but also for the opportunity to write for The Comics Journal for a brief period of time (something I couldn't imagine in my wildest dreams). 

Now I must thank a lot of people:

The great José Muñoz, for giving me the honor of addressing his wonderful and unforgettable emails to me!

My gracious opponents: Kim Thompson (who left us way too soon and I miss terribly) and Tom Spurgeon on the CJ messboard and Arthur van Kruining on the comix@ list.

Noah Berlatsky, for letting me write on his blog The Hooded Utilitarian (that put me on the map, like I never was before or after). Matthias Wivel and Ng Suat Tong, for being there (love you guys!).

Håvard S. Johansen for inviting me to Comix Expo 2012 (loved it!).

Ann Miller, for her invitation to write in the European Comic Art magazine.

Frank Aveline, for inviting me to write in L'Indispensable.

Bill Kartalopoulos for  my participation on the Alternative Comics site.

John Lent, for letting me publish in the International  Journal of Comic Art.

Paul Gravett, for including me in his project 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die.

Marcos Farrajota, José Rui Fernandes and Julio Moreira for my inclusion in their Lisbon and Porto convention catalogs and Quadrado magazine. I must also thank Marcos for letting me be the curator of a Guido Buzzelli exhibition in Lisbon and José Rui for a great trip to New York!

Pedro Moura, Carlos Pessoa and Sara Figueiredo Costa for my inclusion in the Amadora convention catalog. I also thank Pedro for my inclusion in the Tinta nos Nervos exhibition catalog and several panel invitations.

Isabel Carvalho, Pedro Nora and Mário Moura for Satélite Internacional. Where have all those magazines gone?

Last, but not least, on the contrary, Miguel Falcato Alves and Manuel Caldas for publishing my first writings, insipid as they were...

Also: my supporters when the world was against me: you know who you are...
Damn you world, for giving me such a hard time! You also know who you are.

A big thank you goes to my faithful readers. I which I could say it personally to each and everyone of you! (Surely, you aren't that many...)

Will this be my last post on this blog or is my comics critic career over? I don't know, maybe... I'll write here whenever I feel like (once in a blue moon, I guess) and my days as comics critic are out of my hands. It all depends on putative invitations, but I will be forgotten, I'm sure I will... When you fight against the whole world you're sure to lose, but, as António Dias de Deus put it: the only victory possible is defeat. See you in the funny papers... Oh, and, you know... this art form deserves to die...

Monday, June 17, 2019

Breaking The Frames - Coda

Because of this post I just reread what I wrote about The Graphic Novel An Introduction by Baetens and Frey. Man! I miss myself!

The conclusion:
This book is a sad sign of the barbarian neoliberal times in which we are unfortunately living in. If you think that the political reference is uncalled for, think harder. With education systems running at double speed: with good schools for the wealthy; and crappy underbudgeted schools for the 99 %... With a capitalistic world view in which only what sells is worth doing resulting in a culture running at double speed also: with sophisticated art for the 1 % paid at its weight in gold; and the lousy lowest common denominator for everybody else... It's no surprise that a future which once looked like this (you may notice that Jan Baetens was supposed to be part of it), is now ashamed of itself (it's elitism) trying desperately to backpedal to square one.

This art form deserves to die.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Breaking The Frames

I just finished the above book. I could say that I enjoyed it, I guess, but it's more than that, a lot more than that... A book such as this one was sorely needed for two decades or more. A few years ago I would write a review (it happened three times, at least), but now I can't do it anymore. So, I'll just write a few words that pop on my head...

With the exception of Chris Ware the artists whose work is examined (with metacriticism to boot too; the best part, I must say...) don't interest me in the least (or, to be more precise, in Alan Moore's case, his work examined doesn't interest me because I just like From Hell and not much else). That said I would love to see the criticism of such a sacred cow as Jack Kirby debunked, for instance, but beggars can't be choosers and I'm perfectly happy with what I got.

OK, so, Chris Ware: Marc Singer is unfair to him because, in the end, he accuses him of being a coherent editor. Imagine that, he is an editor with a taste and aesthetic standards! The horror! Right?!... On the other hand Chris Ware's taste isn't as narrow as Marc Singer suggests. He likes the work of Frank King and George Herriman, among many other things like Suiho Tagawa's comics or The Kin-Der Kids. Are all these artists already dead? They are, for many years now, and, maybe, that's why Chris Ware didn't include their work as the best of 2007?

Does Marc Singer incur in the same mistakes he accuses others of? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. For instance: he chastises those who say that Marjane Satrapi chose to publish in black and white when economical considerations on the L'Asso's part are 100% responsible for that choice, but on page 130 he wrote "Witek acknowledges that the artwork in Pekar's comics is often crude, unsophisticated, not "conventionally 'realistic'"-with the stylistic descriptor placed in quotes, as if to signal that the comic's realism lies in areas other than visual convention." Harvey Pekar's stories are often crudely drawn because he couldn't afford the artists he really liked. Two things, here though: 1) I seem to remember Harvey Pekar saying something to that effect, but I'm not sure (it's been a while); 2) on the other hand he couldn't criticize "his" artists, could he?, but I believe he genuinely liked some of them - here he praises a few, but what's interesting to me is that he excuses Robert Crumb's cartoony style because his work is a "wealth of accurately observed detail". This proves to me that he didn't get what he wanted most of the times, not even from Crumb...