Saturday, April 21, 2007

bangin' 'toons

I'm mildly suspicious of grown men (and women, though, let's be honest, it is almost exclusively men) who read comic books, however adult-themed these books might claim to be, and however hysterically they might clamour to be categorised as "graphic novels" instead. So it's no use getting all Alan Moore or Neil Gaiman on my ass, it's not going to change my mind. I have similar sentiments regarding adults reading Harry Potter books as well, but I'll skip over that topic for a moment, mainly as I'm trying to keep this post relatively short and rambling-free as it's a sunny day outside and I want to get out in it.

My point, such as it is, is that while I disdain the cartoon form as a medium for great literary works, it is perfect for making short sharp satirical points. That's why most newspapers carry single-frame political cartoons on their leader pages, plus the odd multi-frame series like Steve Bell's If... (which I've never really "got") and Garry Trudeau's Doonesbury.

It's reassuring that these still have the power to cause shock and outrage, as Dave Brown of the Independent did a couple of years ago with his cartoon of Ariel Sharon eating Palestinian babies. Not to mention the storm in the Islamic community over the Danish cartoons of the prophet Muhammad (which I choose not to reproduce here partly out of a craven desire not to be fatwah-ed, but mainly because they're just not particularly funny - the greatest cartoon crime of all).

If any of these people ever saw Tim Kreider's work, specifically the series The Pain, When Will It End?, they might very well have some sort of seizure. And they should see it, because if there were any justice in the world, this guy would be the most famous cartoonist out there. He's a firm believer that no subject should be off-limits to humour and satire, a sentiment with which I profoundly agree. This means plenty of cartoons on such diverse subjects as sex, religion, Nazism, science, religion, the Holocaust, body piercing, and the cartoonist's own secret fantasies. Oh, and the ex-planet Pluto. It really is all tremendous stuff, and illustrates an important truth - stupid people are just depressing, while highly articulate and intelligent people (please do read the comments after the cartoons) pretending to be dumb are funny. It's not fair, but there it is. I also like the way Kreider caricatures himself (possibly unintentionally) as Sideshow Bob from The Simpsons after a radical haircut.


The Black Rabbit said...

so. whats your stance on "Viz" then?
Isn't it an 'adult' comic book that you (and me!) like?

My view is its bloody funny. whereas "judge dredd" (or what have you) is just dull. That's the only difference, no?

Anyway, I agree with your sentiments, no matter how sweeping they are, I'm just being pedantic I guess, when I say you and me ( and a whole lot of others I assume) do like comics, but ONLY the comic(s) that we like. In my case, (and yours?) Viz.
Judge Dredd fans would possibly say the same thing, about Judge Dredd, no?

hem hem.

electrichalibut said...

Interesting point, not that I expect anything less. I reckon a full and proper appreciation of Viz is only possible if you've been brought up reading the Beano, Dandy, Whizzer & Chips etc. as a kid, as Viz is just a scatological version of those, complete with "yoinks - a tenner!", "now for a feast", and big piles of mashed potato with sausages sticking out. But I digress. Just to digress slightly further, a similar argument could be made for Asterix as well.

I suppose the distinction is between a proper life with proper books and the occasional comic and the knowledge of the difference between them, and the sort of life where you attend comic book conventions and start internet campaigns when the film adaptation with your favourite superhero doesn't quite match your expectations: "Cadmium Nitrate Man would, like, so not wear green tights", etc. etc.

To put it another way, yes, I agree. To put it yet another way, if you can't tell the difference between proper healthy comic appreciation (i.e. like ours) and scary nerdy comic book obsession, then you are a scary nerdy comic book obsessive.

Andy said...

Let's not forget the fantastic [and legendary] Bumrape Island!

The Black Rabbit said...

mmmm. haven't heard of cadmium nitrate man! I take it thats your rapist, sorry rapier wit speaking there bate, but yes, forgot about Bumrape island... heheh. Class.

electrichalibut said...

Well, yes, I made that bit up. Maybe I should have gone for Bicycle Repair Man instead...