Warren Ellis: comics can help you perform sabotage, cure Alzheimerâ€™s
Submitted by El Santo on July 15, 2009 - 14:53
Warren Ellis (who created the webcomic FreakAngels, among other things), gave a speech at Dundee University. He claims its was written in chickenscratch â€¦ but, as Abraham Lincoln could attest, sometimes the most timeless and memorable speeches come from concise yet powerful ideas that just mentally congeal into perfect nuggets of wisdom. For Ellis, comics are a superior medium. Hereâ€™s an excerpt:
Iâ€™ve worked in television, and there are a hundred people between you and the audience. Iâ€™ve worked in film, and there are a thousand people between you and the audience. In comics, thereâ€™s me and an artist, presenting our stories to you without filters or significant hurdles, in a cheap, simple, portable form. Comics are a mature technology. Their control of time â€” provided youâ€™re not intent on reversing universes (or even if you are) â€” makes them the best educational tool in the world. Hell, intelligence agencies have used comics to teach people how to dissent and perform sabotage.
When done right, comics are a cognitive whetstone, providing two or three or more different but entangled streams of information in a single panel. Processing what youâ€™re being shown, along with whatâ€™s being said, along with what youâ€™re being told, in conjunction with the shifting multiple velocities of imaginary time, and the action of the space between panels that Scott McCloud defines as closureâ€¦ Comics require a little more of your brain than other visual media. They should just hand them out to being to stave off Alzheimerâ€™s.
Although I think a headline of â€œGrant Morrison staves off dementiaâ€ might be a little premature.
The line I always quote in talks like these, the one I want you to take away with you, is something the comics writer Harvey Pekar said: â€œComics are just words and pictures. You can do anything with words and pictures.â€
He also talks about doing brown acid with Grant Morrison, which would be a major no-no if he was giving an address at an American universityâ€¦ unless it was Evergreen State College.
(h/t Robot 6.)