I promised that when I got a chance I would post more of the threads I saved from the old Comics Journal Message Board. Here is the earliest one I saved. (For some reason, I didn't like keeping the hyperlinks, so I systematically deleted the dates and times of the posts. However, one survived, helping me date this to January, 2003.) The topic is "drawing," in general, and what one might qualify as the (potential) excess, in comics, of the drawing in relation to the story it is supposed to illustrate. For that reason, even though it does not address abstract comics directly, I think it could be of great interest to the readers of this blog.
I've set up a new Facebook page for my upcoming printed book of Eyeballs dailies. (So far, I've just added a few samples to start it off but there will be much more to come...)
Eyeballs is a comic strip I made every day for one year. I've been showing many of them in various places online and in art shows, in addition to selling them individually at conventions but this will be the first time they're all collected together as one book (366 pages!)
Although these comics might only be considered abstract by the most open definition of the word, I think there are some similarities with how they can be read: projecting a personal narrative into the sequence; simply enjoying the shapes and movements; etc...
The Comics Journal message board, the principal forum for alternative comics discussion and fandom in the late '90s and for much of the 00's, is no more. It has ceased to be. It has expired and gone to meet its maker. (Well, maybe not that, since Tom Spurgeon was its maker; and encountering its ghost is probably the stuff of Tom's nightmares...) (I'm joshing you, Tom, don't get your gan... uh, dander up!)
This is, actually, news of some relevance to those interested in abstract comics. The TCJ board was, effectively, the birthplace of the Abstract Comics anthology, or at least the birthplace of the idea for it. Please allow me to give a brief history of its conception, as seen from my point of view.
Found this on eBay. Look at the play of shapes and the directionality of the hatching from panel to panel. A perfect example of what I've been calling "sequential dynamism"--and a demonstration of how close action comics can come to abstraction.
On Abstract Comics: The Anthology (Currently SOLD OUT):
The artists assembled by Andrei Molotiu for his anthology ABSTRACT COMICS (Fantagraphics, $39.99) push “cartooning” to its limits... It’s a fascinating book to stare at, and as with other kinds of abstract art, half the fun is observing your own reactions: anyone who’s used to reading more conventional sorts of comics is likely to reflexively impose narrative on these abstractions, to figure out just what each panel has to do with the next.
--Douglas Wolk, New York Times Book Review, Holiday Books edition, December 6, 2009 The collection has a wealth of rewarding material... it is a significant historical document that may jump-start an actual new genre.
--Doug Harvey, LA Weekly It becomes a treat to take a page of art - or a simple panel - and consider how the shapes, texture, depth, and color interact with one another; to reflect on how, when one takes the time, the enjoyment one ordinarily finds in reading a purely textually-oriented, narrative-driven written story can - with the graphic form - be translated into something completely different.
--Adam Waterreus, Politics and Prose, "Favorite Graphic Literature of the Year."
...this arresting book is like a scoop of primordial narrative, representational mud. Which is to say, it has vitaminic powers.
For years, comics (at least American ones) have doggedly refused for one reason or another, to consider other schools of art and beyond mere representation. It's only now we see artists attempting to branch out and try to push at the edge's of the medium's definition. As such I found Abstract Comics to be a revealing, thought-provoking and genuinely lovely book that I'll be sure to be rereading in the months to come.