The funny pages always have a handful of comics that are without comedy. Mary Worth, Gasoline Alley, Dick Tracy and Apartment 3-G are among the serious serials. These were the adult comics of the 50’s, then came the 60’s.… comics, like everything else, went underground.
Underground, cartoonists such as R. Crumb, Greg Irons, and Jay Lynch, were writing about sex, drugs, and violence. For this reason, the new comics became known as “comix” to set them apart from mainstream comics and to emphasize the “x” for x-rated.
In the early 90’s the underground scene got an upgrade when Art Spiegleman received a Pulitzer Prize for Maus, an illustrated narrative of Holocaust survival. Maus gave birth to the genre and there have been numerous graphic novels that have been documenting the dark side ever since. Whether it’s the Bosnian war or the aggressive banality of the everyday, the graphic novel has revealed itself to be an exquisitely effective medium for portraying physical, psychic and emotional devastation.
What we’ll be discussing this hour is why. Is it the immediacy? Is it the interplay of the visuals and text, which can range from sublime harmony to utter dissonance? Is the graphic novel a cerebral experience or does it bypass that cortex and go straight to the gut?
What are you favorite comix/comics? Do you think this is an effective medium for documenting all things dark?
Graphic novelist, author of Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth,
The Acme Novelty Library
Graphic novelist, author of Black Hole,
Professor of Literature and Comparative Media Studies, MIT