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Is This A Comic: Intent of the Creator

In this month’s column, we’re going to explore the first, and perhaps most mercurial of the four criteria, the Intent of the Creator. What does this criteria mean? How is it defined? Why do we need it?

Intent of the Creator means, quite simply, does the creator intend for this work to be a “comic.” When Creator X made Work Y, did Creator X intend to produce a work that would conform to the rest of the four criteria? Did Creator X desire that? Was that the goal?

This criteria is hard to nail down simply because it is paradoxical in nature. How can someone intend to make something if part of said creation’s definition is the intent to create a thing which we can’t define until it exists? Ugg. See what I mean? Just because this is difficult, however, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to do it or that it isn’t important!

Before we can go any further about the hows and whys concerning the Intent of the Creator criteria, we need to come to terms with the paradox. It is, I believe, human nature when confronted with a paradox to say either “neither is correct” or “only one can be correct.” There is a time, however, when humans are willing to forgo that initial reaction. We call that “the willing suspension of disbelief.”

“The Willing Suspension of Disbelief” is (according to Internet info-maven, Wikipedia) “the alleged willingness of a reader or viewer to accept as true the premises of a work of fiction, even if they are fantastic, impossible, or otherwise contradictory to "reality".” To simplify, which we all like to do, this means you know that something isn’t true or wouldn’t work in reality, but you’re willing to go along with it for the sake of the story. Common examples would be almost any superhero’s abilities, basic science fiction premises of “faster than light” starship engines, or even things like zombies and vampires. For the moment, we allow the story to lie to us. We believe what we are presented even if it is not true. We treat the untrue as the truth. That is a paradox if I ever heard one.

What I am asking here is that we suspend our disbelief of the paradox I have presented (at least for now). I have a good reason to ask your patience and if you follow me, I’m sure you’ll see that using the Intent of the Creator as one of the four criteria is not as paradoxical as it seems.

Any contemporary creator is lucky because they don’t need to invent comics. We already have comics. We can see them, read them, experience them. We may have trouble defining (for the moment) all the nuances of what a comic is, but generally speaking, we know it when we see it.

Comics are not an invention or a discovery. There wasn't an inventor or a team of scientists working to discover comics. Comics are less like a light bulb and more like a living organism. Comics have evolved from other creatures over a matter of time. Just as homo erectus would be a step towards our modern homo sapien, the modern comic evolved from numerous past works, like hieroglyphics and Trajan’s Column. Evolution is the key to comics.

It’s probably impossible to say with any confidence when the first true “comic” appeared. Most scholars usually agree upon R.F. Outcault’s Hogan’s Alley, more specifically, The Yellow Kid, in 1895 as a modern starting point. Honestly, it’s a pretty good one because once it hit, comics began to crawl out of the primordial ooze and breathe on land for the first time. Comic strips would soon begin to pop up in magazines and newspapers. By the late 1920s, strips would encompass all sorts of genres and be read by people from all walks of life. No one person or entity had set out to invent comics, but they were here, and they were called “comics”.

The easiest way to know the intent of a creator is, of course, to ask them. If we have access to the creator, we can simply say, “Hey, is this thing you made supposed to be a comic?” Of course, we don’t have access to all creators. Darn you, death! That means it is up to us, the audience, to make an informed judgement.

The easiest way for us to ask if the intent was to make a comic is to take a work we know is a comic and compare it to the work in question. Are they similar? If the answer is “yes”, then it is probably safe to say we’re on the right track. The next question we ask is “how are these things similar?” This shouldn’t really be surprising. Humans and animals instinctively do this all the time. “Is this food? It appears similar to the other thing that was food because of x, y, and z. It probably is food.”

Of course, if it was just a matter of instinct, there really would be no point to this column. Instinct is the starting point. The next thing we can do to determine the creator’s intent is to study what was happening in the creator’s environment. What influenced the creator? Even if we don’t know exactly what the creator was doing, we usually know about where and when they lived. What was going on in the culture then? What was happening? Who else was creating in that time? All these little clues can help us gain insight we need to make a judgement.

Typically, that is what this first criteria is all about; making a judgement. You, the audience, must make the call. Can I discern the creator’s intent? You must make the call, either “yes, they wanted to make a comic” or “no.” Don’t think that just because you answered “no” that there was failure. Even if something is not a comic, it can still be related to comics and can still influence and add to the culture of comics.

Simply put, intent is a bigger piece of a puzzle. Comics were not created by invention, that is, no one person “discovered” or set out to “invent” comics. Instead, comics came to us by way of evolution. Once comics arrived on scene, we had them. We now have something in our collective consciousness that is “comic”. What a “comic” is defined on academically is certainly up for debate (hence this column), but we know they exist.

Because we know comics exist and are not something that need to be discovered or invented, it is safe to say they are no longer created by accident. People make comics on purpose. That is what the Intent of the Creator criteria is all about; that the creator intended for their work to be a comic when completed. The creator intends for the audience to experience the work as a comic (which will be discussed more when we look at the next criteria: Audience Experience). The creator intends for their work to be a comic when experienced as a whole. All of it, together, is a comic. Any separate piece of it, such as a single panel, page, or even the script, is intended to be part of a comic. Not to say the individual pieces do not have value or merit on their own. They are not what the creator intended to be a singular comic.

Intent of the Creator is also a safeguard for other creators who never wanted their work to be considered a comic. The obvious example of Roy Lichtenstein comes immediately to mind. Lichtenstein was obviously, and admittedly, influenced by comics and cartooning. However, he did not consider his works to be comics or himself a cartoonist. He described himself as a cubist painter, and later a classicist painter. He described his paintings (to which I’m referring) as parodies of cartoons. As much as we’d love to say Roy Lichtenstein was making amazing comics, the truth is that isn’t what he would say. That was not his intent.

Now, the reason there are Four Criteria that must be met is because anyone of these alone isn’t going to cut it. Just because someone intends something they’ve done to be a comic does not automatically make it a comic. Let’s face it, failure is an option. I would like to think, however, that the first step on an individual’s journey to making comics is to simply intend to make a comic. If a finished comic was a cake, the first step the baker would take, even if only instinctively or internally, would be to say “I’m going to make a cake.” Whether or not the baker succeeds is another matter, but at least we know what the baker was going for.

Granted, Intent of the Creator is probably going to be more useful in determining what is not a comic than what is. That’s okay. I think this criteria will help us identify a lot of work that helped contribute to the evolution of comics. It will also enable us to (potentially) predict what other art forms comics may give birth to (or already have in the case of animation). Just because something is not a comic does not mean it is not in comics’ extended family.

I would propose labeling as "proto-comics" anything that is similar to comics, but is not comics and was created before the appearance of The Yellow Kid in 1895. This would include things like Trajan’s Column and Hieroglyphics, but would exclude things such as the work of Roy Lichtenstein. Similarly I would propose labeling as "para-comics" any work that is similar to comics, but is not comics and appeared after The Yellow Kid in 1895. A para-comic would be work influenced by comic, but is not a comic, such as the Lichtenstein paintings, or even some animation and film. Both para-comics and proto-comics would very likely appear to be comics on the surface, but would fail at least one of the four criteria.

Intent of the Creator is a quick and easy way to help sort works in question. If the work was before 1895, chances are the creator had no intent to make a comic. Such a work could be related to or influence comics but not likely be comics. For work post-1895, if it is easy to establish the Intent of the Creator to make a comic, then move on to the other four criteria and continue. If there is no intent, then you have a para-comic.

 

The Intent of the Creator is only the first of the four criteria. It is important because it helps establish the motive, if you will. However, it can only be an educated guess at times as to what the creator intended. For that reason, it alone cannot define what a comic is or isn’t.

Next time, we’ll examine closely the next of the four criteria, Audience Experience. How does the audience experience comics? What is unique about that experience to comics that makes it important to the definition?

So, say, a baker sets out to

Max Vaehling's picture

So, say, a baker sets out to bake a loaf of bread, but what she comes up with is much too sweet and tasty for bread. Also, it is round, has sugar coating and candles on top. Not knowing the original intent, we see this thing and call it "cake". Are we wrong? Is it really just para-cake, or really bad bread? Does it matter if it's much better as a cake?

I'm not sure where I'm leading with this. The thing is, the analogy works to a certain point. But a thing that is not meant to be cake, but fits the description in every other way, might still pass as cake, after all. Comics? Don't know. Not necessarily, I guess. It could happen, though.

Good installment, tough. You were right before, your point is much clearer now. It seems to chime into the difference Neil Cohn makes between "comics as an art form" and "comics as culture". (I'm not sure if these were Neil's exact words, and I'm too lazy to look it up now, sorry for that.) If an image sequence is not meant to be read as a comic, it isn't part of the culture, though it may fit the art form. It just doesn't enter the communication between creator and reader in the same way. Maybe that's the difference: cakes don't need to communicate much.

 

 

Re: Is This A Comic: Intent of the Creator

marvelouspatric's picture
you raise an excellent question, cyberlord. i think this is very open to debate, but i would say that only those in immediate control with the creation of the work should be considered. that is to say, writer and penciller. however, perhaps a better answer would be a hierarchy with writer and penciller on top, followed buy inker, colorist, and letterer. as jerky as it may sound, i wouldn't count people in production or editors in on this. while important to creating a quality product, these people are not needed to create a comic... that is to say, one can create a comic without a production team. however, i think we'll all agree that there needs to be some sort of written element (not necessarily text) and some sort of art element in a comic, hence let's say we need the people that contribute directly to that.
any other thoughts on this would be welcomed.
patric

http://www.marvelouspatric.com

Re: Is This A Comic: Intent of the Creator

CyberLord's picture

OK, I can go with that for the time being.

One other question though. What do we do with the "photo-comics" (for lack of a better term)? These are books that are composed of still images from a movie or TV show with captions and balloons superimposed on top. I consider these to be comics.

Should we consider only the intent of the person, or persons, who chose the images that would be included? I have a hard time excluding the cinematographer and director. After all, they are the people who set up the image and lighting. The film editor is the one who selected the sequencing of the initial film images, and in whose hands, the final story telling responsibilities lie. The person(s) who "created" the comic only followed the lead of those three people.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort but where he stands at times of challenge and discovery. -- Martin Luther King, Jr.---------CyberLord

Re: Is This A Comic: Intent of the Creator

CyberLord's picture

Here is another example of weirdness.

Back in the Seventies Pyramid Publications published a series of books that combined "sequential imagery" and words in unique formats. They were published under a "Fiction Illustrated" banner and were collectively called "Visual Novels".

Just because they called them "Visual Novels" did not stop me from thinking of them as comic books.

Of the two I bought, "Chandler" and "Son Of Sherlock Holmes: The Woman In Red", the former was more like a Big-Little book while the latter was a strange composite of comic and novel.

In Jim Steranko's "Chandler" we are presented with two images/panels per page without word balloons or captions. All the verbiage is included in words below each image. Not what I would call a comic though I recognize that some others might.

In Byron Preiss' and Ralph Reese's "Son Of Sherlock Holmes" the first ten pages are exactly what most people in the United States would call a comic. Then there is an abrupt change for the next two pages of what looks like an excerpt from a novel, but it is a continuation of the very same story begun in the previous ten pages. The thirteenth page has what I would describe as a "splash page" with a paragraph of words that start at the bottom of the thirteenth page and concludes at the top of the fourteenth page. From there it continues as a strange composite of comic and novel, mixing whichever format the Byron Preiss and Ralph Reese thought could best carry the story.

Given that these were sold as "Visual Novels" I would guess that you would say that "intent" was missing in both of the above cases; therefore, neither is a comic.

I would agree with you about "Chandler". That never seemed like a comic to me.

"Son Of Sherlock Holmes" is a little more difficult for me to not think of it as a comic. Just because the words are not all enclosed in word balloons or captions is not sufficient for me to not think of it as a comic. I have read many comics with wordy writers who crowd out the imagery with their verbose descriptions. As one example Rich Corben's "NeverWhere" in which the first chapter is sans word balloons and captions. And, to be honest, "Visual Novel" seems more like a marketing gimmick than a true description. It is clear that they were trying to push the boundary of combining prose and imagery.

If I were to ask Byron Preiss and Ralph Reese if there "intent" was to make a comic and they answered that they were trying to evolve comics, would that satisfy "intent"?

Thanks for the series of articles. I haven't looked at some of this stuff, along with my Rich Corben "Bloodstar", Gil Kane's Black Mark, in a long time. It really made me miss my old copies of "Heavy Metal" and MIke Friedrich's Star*Reach. That was a GREAT time to be into comics.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort but where he stands at times of challenge and discovery. -- Martin Luther King, Jr.---------CyberLord

Re: Is This A Comic: Intent of the Creator

marvelouspatric's picture
wow... a lot of things to reply to here.... let's start with "chandler." now, i've never seen it, so it's probably unfair for me to comment. but since when have i been fair? based on your description, i would be inclined to think of chandler as a comic. mostly because i'm assuming the two panels / images were connected in some way. the fact that the words were not inside the panels really does not have anything to do with it. words are not necessary for comics.
as to "evolving" comics... YES!! but, just as with evolution of life, this generally means that something new resembling the thing it evolved from is created. i like to think of these things as "para-comic". if we think of comics as a family or genus, then we can have all sorts of things be connected.

http://www.marvelouspatric.com

Re: Is This A Comic: Intent of the Creator

CyberLord's picture

Have you ever seen a Big-Little book?

I don't know a lot about them but they seem to have been popular in the forties and fifties. They were dying out around the sixties when I had my first exposure to them. They were intended for young readers.

These were small books yet very thick. They would have an image on the left hand page and text on the right hand page. The image was related to the text.

I mention these because they were what I thought of when I first read "Chandler".

To be honest, I was disappointed in "Chandler". I had not seen Jim Steranko comic artwork since his work on Captain America. I had expected "Chandler" to be a traditional comic. I have never described it as a comic. You, and some others, seem willing to call it a comic.

The next time you are at a comic convention look around for someone selling Big-Little books, or if you are really lucky a copy of "Chandler".

For what it's worth, I don't think the people involved in the creation of Big-Little books had the "intent" to create a comic. Of course I don't KNOW! We would have to find someone involved in the production and ask.

 

NOTE:

Chandler is really unique for those with an interest in Jim Steranko's art. Unlike his work for Marvel the images in "Chandler" were not inked. They were shot directly from his pencils before coloring. The closest you are going to get to this is a book Jim Steranko published through his Supergraphics imprint back in 1978 called "Unseen Shadows". This was a collection of fifty of his roughs for the paintings he created for Pyramid Book's reprints of "The Shadow".

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort but where he stands at times of challenge and discovery. -- Martin Luther King, Jr.---------CyberLord

Re: Is This A Comic: Intent of the Creator

marvelouspatric's picture
just want to interject... don't forget, intent alone doesn't make it a comic. that is only the first of four criteria a piece of work must meet. it's only when all four are satisfied that i'm claiming it's a comic.
patric

http://www.marvelouspatric.com

Re: Is This A Comic: Intent of the Creator

CyberLord's picture

I understand that intent alone is not sufficient to define a comic. I just want to know how to clear this hurdle when multiple people are involved in the creation of a comic.

Marvel and DC use a production line, as do the other examples I listed in my previous posts.

Is intent satisfied with the opinion of ONE of the many creators or is it necessary for intent to be in the entire production and editorial staff? Is it sufficient that Jack Kirby intended to draw a comic? Is it necessary that Stan Lee also intended to write a comic? What about Joe Sinnott, Artie Simek, and the graphic artists in the office who did the coloring, paste-up and other mechanical work?

Unlike the web, most printed comics are the result of more than one person. Where do we draw* the line?

*(pun not intended, but I like it anyway.)

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort but where he stands at times of challenge and discovery. -- Martin Luther King, Jr.---------CyberLord

Re: Is This A Comic: Intent of the Creator

CyberLord's picture

I don't think I agree with you yet; however, have you considered that most contemporary comics do NOT have a single creator? Think about Marvel and DC production lines if you are not following me.

Does everyone involved in production line creation have to agree that they are creating a comic? I think most Marvel and DC slaves would agree that they are all involved in the creation of a comic, but I'm not sure if that is really true. What about the old "Classics Illustrated"? Did Mark Twain, Shakespeare, and the other authors of those works think they were writing comics?

I don't agree that we can define comics, but this is an interesting series to read.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort but where he stands at times of challenge and discovery. -- Martin Luther King, Jr.---------CyberLord

Re: Is This A Comic: Intent of the Creator

Gordon McAlpin's picture
Mark Twain and Shakespeare are not the "creators" in question when you're talking about an adaptation of their works -- any more so than, say, Cormac McCarthy wrote the Coen Brothers' No Country for Old Men screenplay. It's his story, but he didn't write the script; the Coen Brothers did.
But you're along the right lines: sometimes intent of the creator is absolutely 100% irrelevant. I could project a slide onto a screen and call it a movie, but that wouldn't make it one; that would just make me an idiot. I could write a poem and call it a novel, and guess what? I'd be WRONG. And there are people putting illustrated prose online and calling them comics, and guess what? They're simply wrong, too.
There has been a lot of "defining comics" or theorizing about comics from a lot of would-be academics, and the vast majority of it just gives me a damn headache. This shit is really not that difficult, really. Comics are pictures -- static images -- telling a narrative. And the definition of narrative is any medium relating a sequence of events (or thoughts, I suppose). Simple. People gotta stop making things more complicated than they need to be.
(I know some people are wondering: Where do words come in? They don't. Words don't make something comics. They're just a tool used in comics to tell a more specific narrative than could otherwise be told.)

Multiplex is a twice weekly humor comic about the staff of the Multiplex 10 Cinemas and the movies that play there.

Re: Is This A Comic: Intent of the Creator

CyberLord's picture

One other thing.

You wrote:

I could project a slide onto a screen and call it a movie, but that wouldn't make it one.

Have you ever seen "Le Jetee'"? It's the short film that "12 Monkeys" was based on. There is just one brief moment where the woman blinks her eyes that has "motion". The rest of the "movie" is composed of 35 mm still images.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort but where he stands at times of challenge and discovery. -- Martin Luther King, Jr.---------CyberLord

Re: Is This A Comic: Intent of the Creator

Gordon McAlpin's picture

I haven't watched La Jetée, but I know what you're talking about.

It still qualifies as a film, even if there's just the one blink. Hell, even if the blink wasn't in there, it would probably count because the lack of motion was a conscious decision, the duration that each still is present on screen is not arbitrary, it's projected from acetate, etc. I'd have to see it to get more specific than that.

But in my example, I meant one single slide.

Multiplex is a twice weekly humor comic about the staff of the Multiplex 10 Cinemas and the movies that play there.

Re: Is This A Comic: Intent of the Creator

CyberLord's picture

Yes, I agree that Mark Twain and William Shakespeare are not the creators in question because they did not write the adaptation. I just wanted it clarified.

Another aspect of defining comics has bothered me whenever I look at my old (what do I call these things?). I'm talking here about books I bought back in the seventies that collected individual frames of movies, Star Trek: the Motion Picture, Aliens, Outland, to name a few, dropped dialoge balloons and captions on top and printed them.

Are those comics? They look like comics to me, but I don't know if they would meet the "intent" criteria established here. We would have to go ask at least one person involved in the production of these books and possibly the entire production and editorial staff.

I don't know about you, but I'm not willing to do that. To me, those are all comics because I say so. :)

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort but where he stands at times of challenge and discovery. -- Martin Luther King, Jr.---------CyberLord

Re: Is This A Comic: Intent of the Creator

Gordon McAlpin's picture

People still do those, although I can't think of any examples of the top of my head. I think there was a Spirited Away one, but I might just be imagining that.

Anyway, they're comics -- but again, the creator in question (the only who whose intent is relevant) is not the original filmmaker, it's the artists who juxtapose the film stils and tack on the word balloons and such.

They're not necessarily great comics, but they're comics. One thing they can't really do is advantage of sequence within a single panel*, which is almost ubiquitous in comics, so the pacing often comes off as stilted and such.

* Say you have two people talking within a panel. If both of them have their mouths open, you're not implying they're talking at the same time; you're indicating a sequence (usually left to right) within the panel.

Multiplex is a twice weekly humor comic about the staff of the Multiplex 10 Cinemas and the movies that play there.

Re: Is This A Comic: Intent of the Creator

Neil Cohn's picture
Sorry, but the notion of "sequence" within a single image being comparable to the sequence between images is baloney. There are fundamentally different processes going on between the understanding of those two types of expression.
The only reason that "comics=narrative sequence" seems like a simple and obvious definition is because that's what everyone's used to via McCloud. But, the more you dig into it the less stable a definition it is.
In fact, if you read Understanding Comics again, you'll notice that McCloud himself never justified his definition or argued "why" it should be so. He just stated it as if it was fact — when really its just his opinion. (On this, I recommend reading Horrock's "Inventing Comics" article, available on his site)

------- Studying the Visual Language of "Comics" - www.emaki.net

------- Studying the Visual Language of "Comics" - http://www.emaki.net

Re: Is This A Comic: Intent of the Creator

Gordon McAlpin's picture

The two fundamentally different processes are sequence within an image and sequence between images. (Or, I'm sorry, should I say the former is "multiple event structures within a single attention unit" or something?) They are absolutely comparable, because both processes imply a chronological sequence -- and because I just compared them.

Would-be cartoonists are better off reading good comics and drawing their own comics than reading theoretics on comics.

Oh, and what I said -- "comics are pictures telling a narrative" -- was not an attempt to academically define "comics" as a medium; that's is exactly the sort of thing I was saying gives me a damn headache.

Multiplex is a twice weekly humor comic about the staff of the Multiplex 10 Cinemas and the movies that play there.

Re: Is This A Comic: Intent of the Creator

Neil Cohn's picture
I totally disagree about the types of sequences. In the one case you have two separate images that need to be unified into a meaningful whole, while on the other, you just have the recognition of different parts of a visual display. "Time" is a poor measure of sequence, since not all sequential images show changes in time and neither do individual images.
Also, I'm not forcing anyone to engage in an academic discourse about this stuff (nor to use academic jargon), and I wouldn't necessarily think such debates are for "would-be cartoonists" anyhow (though they are welcomed into the discussion).

Whether you like it or not, the question of defining comics is out there and disagreed upon. I tend to think its VERY important, because the results of the answer give you different ways to perceive the thing you're talking about. If you personally define "comics" as sequential images, then you're going to see and talk about a very different concept than a person who associates it specifically with superhero(-ish) genres.

------- Studying the Visual Language of "Comics" - www.emaki.net

------- Studying the Visual Language of "Comics" - http://www.emaki.net

Re: Is This A Comic: Intent of the Creator

Gordon McAlpin's picture

I'm not sure what you think you're "totally" disagreeing with, because you're putting words in my mouth, Neil. I agree with you that "not all sequential images show changes in time" (etc.).

I did not say that time is the ONLY measure of sequence, or that panels necessarily indicate chronological sequence. I said, "one thing [comics made from film stills] can't really do is [take] advantage of sequence within a single panel, which is almost ubiquitous in comics": the key word you seem to be overlooking is ALMOST.

I was merely citing an example where chronology IS implied.

Multiplex is a twice weekly humor comic about the staff of the Multiplex 10 Cinemas and the movies that play there.

Re: Is This A Comic: Intent of the Creator

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

I hope everyone can recognize that whether or not one cares about the "Definition" of comics is a matter of personal interest .. THERE is no RIGHT answer.

I think it's interesting to think about (one of the reasons why I welcomed Patric's articles to ComixTalk) although I don't feel like the process of thinking about it needs to lead to "one true answer" -- it's more the process helps me think about how comics works in practice (both on the creator and reader side of the equation). I'm sure that's quite different from Neil's more academic view of the issue...

____

Xaviar Xerexes

Oh yeah... this place is called ComixTalk now.

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

Re: Is This A Comic: Intent of the Creator

Neil Cohn's picture
I totally understand that defining "comics" as an exercise isn't for everyone, but, as you say, that doesn't mean it shouldn't be done.
Mainly I was just trying to say that definitions and their boundaries are important in a practical sense. Any gay couple who would like to get married could tell you that arguing definitions does matter to real life situations. The determining factor on whether or not they can fulfill their vows has entirely to do with how the word "marriage" is defined.

An additional question here is whether or not the act of defining comics is intended to change the actual working definition of the word, or to seek out what people actually mean currently by the word. One is "activism", the other is just trying to probe what is meant by the word as it is used (since that information isn't actually available to our conscious awareness).

------- Studying the Visual Language of "Comics" - www.emaki.net

------- Studying the Visual Language of "Comics" - http://www.emaki.net

Re: Is This A Comic: Intent of the Creator

Gordon McAlpin's picture

"THERE is no RIGHT answer."

That's why I don't care, Xaviar... (although obviously I care more than I'd like to admit, because I'm still commenting in this discussion). :)

Some people call Rent Girl a comic book, for instance. I consider it to be illustrated prose. And yet, the world is still turning.

Multiplex is a twice weekly humor comic about the staff of the Multiplex 10 Cinemas and the movies that play there.

Re: Is This A Comic: Intent of the Creator

"Just because someone intends something they’ve done to be a comic does not automatically make it a comic. Let’s face it, failure is an option."

I would argue that intending to make a comic pretty much makes whatever is created under that impetus a comic, unless you're talking about incompetence on the level of two-year-olds or a complete disconnect with what most folks think of as comics - i.e., placing a slice of ham on a table and calling it a "comic". (And even that, I suppose, could be a comic if you're a Dadaist.)

Granted, that which results may not be a good comic. Maybe it's a terrible comic. But I think qualifiers like that are far more sensible than some imaginary cut-off line that varies from person to person, and would be debated about in the same stupid pointless manner as "what is art?" itself.

Re: Is This A Comic: Intent of the Creator

Derik Badman's picture

Most scholars usually agree upon R.F. Outcault’s Hogan’s Alley, more specifically, The Yellow Kid, in 1895 as a modern starting point.

I think most scholars at this point would agree on Rudolphe Topffer as the modern starting point.

 

Derik A Badman

Things Change: http://madinkbeard.com/comics

Blog: http://madinkbeard.com/blog

Rudolphe Topffer

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

Some links on Topffer:

  • http://lambiek.net/artists/t/topffer.htm
  • http://www.tcj.com/journalista/?p=425
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodolphe_Töpffer
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comics

____

Xaviar Xerexes

Oh yeah... this place is called ComixTalk now.

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

Re: Is This A Comic: Intent of the Creator

marvelouspatric's picture
i've been thinking about your comment, and i think you're somewhat right. the more and more I think about it, maybe the thing I should stress more is my belief that comics can't happen by accident and that they aren't an invention, but the result of an evolution.
that's the nice thing about doing this column here... if i ever write a book, this gives me lots of feedback about what works and doesn't.
it gets better next month, i promise. :-)
patric

http://www.marvelouspatric.com

Re: Is This A Comic: Intent of the Creator

Patric:

I applaud your vigor in this inquiry more so than your rigor in this installment. This "intent of the creator" criterion is not paradoxical; it is a veritable font of circular reasoning. For example, you can't tell me that Hogan's Alley is the first comic because soon after its appearance, there were lots of comics - you're begging the question of whether Hogan's Alley (and the other works) were comics in the first place. You need to show me how it meets your criteria. You create similar a circle with Lichtenstein.

Your model is robust enough without this criterion, which seems to serve no pupose but to arbitrarily remove problematic artifacts (such as the Bayeux Tapestry) from the definition of comics. If we added this sort of qualification to other creative acts, would it mean that my 50,000-word prose story is not a novel because I didn't intend it as such? The author is dead.

I am looking forward to the further development of your ideas. Thanks for adding to the inquiry in such a comprehensive manner.