Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Teaching Day

Today in my graduate biopunk seminar in the City it's Valerie Solanas, William Burroughs, Brian K Vaughan/Pia Guerra (the graphic novel Y: The Last Man) and bioartists Suzanne Anker & Steve Miller. Should be fun, but I'm feeling rather run down.


Elias Altvall said...

I know I am commenting on a teaching day post. I just want to nick pick because Io9 is killing me right now. There is no such thing as a graphic novel, it was a word created by marketing people to sell A contract with God by Will Eisner and has later just been used by literary folk to talked down to the medium of comics books. Y:the last man was a maxiseries by DC comics vertigo imprint, if that is a graphic novel than the latest issue of Batman or Iron Man is just as much a graphic novel. Again nick picking about the symbolic word used not the comic it self because I like that one.

Dale Carrico said...

I have a weakness for deluxe hardbound editions of comics I love which may make me overapply the graphic novel term, but your point makes a certain sense with Y. I'm not giving up on the term in all contexts, including some splendid works by Eisner. I'm no fan of marketing practices as you know, but I'm not sure a category useful to marketing must always be disqualified from usefulness elsewhere in consequence. I very likely am one of those literary folk you are speaking of but since I love comics I can only assume I am talking down to myself in describing some as graphic novels (say, Stuck Rubber Baby or Final Incal) which wouldn't surprise me since I am perversely self-loathing on bad days... Hope you are well!

Elias Altvall said...

Not all marketing words are bad, just that in this case I feel the term does nothing to highlight or elaborate on the medium rather it obscures and distances from it. For example A contract with God by Eisner is certainly pushing the boundries of the structure of comics but it still is not a prose novel. Which means it is a tricky case but most of time the term comic book is still highlighting the actuality of medium better than graphic novel which obscures the history and complexities of the medium. Its done mostly as a way to exclude rather than to include, to foster elitism rather than critical thought. I love so called "literary" comics but they are comics no different in medium from the horrible comics code authority books from the 50s. Like how no one in their right mind would argue that the Twilight books are not prose novels.

The term literary is also a term bothers me because it again excludes rather than includes, I mean I am not saying all books are equally good and that for example there is not a massive difference between the SF works of Octavia Butler and Isaac Asimov in terms of quality and depth but to put one of them in the literary category and the other in the lower category of just SF seems for me less critical thinking and more just elitism so one can feel proud to read a "real" book rather than thinking about the actual content of both books.

If you love comics than how can you look down on it? My point is more all the lists that puts Maus or Watchmen on them and still manages to dismiss the entire medium of comics because these are graphic novels, not comics. Daniel Clowes said it the best when he pointed out that he never saw anything wrong with the term comic book.

Dale Carrico said...

If you love comics than how can you look down on it?


Elias Altvall said...

I never said that using the term graphic novels means you look down comics more that it is a term used and advocated mainly by people trying to exclude and obscure the medium of comics.

I am not sure this comic is translated to english yet but there is a great comic about the Paris Commune drawn and written by Jacques Tardi. As lefties its fun to find books like that.