Monday, February 22, 2010

42nd best comic of the decade?

We're at no. 42 on Ed Howard's "Best Comics of the Decade" list.

Ed (one of my favorite film bloggers, but who also writes really well on comics) has this to say about the anthology:

Abstract Comics is an important book because it gathers in one place a persuasive argument for thinking about comics, not in terms of narrative or even figuration, but as pure sequences of images with complicated and ambiguous relationships between one image and the next. Editor Andrei Molotiu believes firmly in abstract comics — comics with no narrative throughline or even "unified narrative space," as his introduction puts it. The anthology then presents an overview of this nascent field, ranging from freshly commissioned pieces to classic examples, and encompassing artists who have never worked in the form before, artists whose work has occasionally flirted with abstraction, and those who have, mostly in recent years, created whole bodies of work meeting Molotiu's definition of abstract comics. They are comics where the sequence is everything, where the pure flow of images is the whole content of the experience. These pieces cannot really be "read" in the conventional sense, but rather challenge viewers to come up with whole new ways of appreciating and understanding them, encouraging a reading experience somewhere between looking at a painting and reading a sequential narrative. Maybe it's the experience of looking at a series of paintings in order. In any event, the book features some truly stunning and imaginative work: the organic blobs of Anders Pearson, the Duchampesque watercolor scrawls of Casey Camp, Henrik Rehr's shifting currents of densely packed lines, Mike Getsiv's suggestive, boldly colored swirls, Warren Craghead and Richard Hahn's mastery of panel rhythms, the unexpected visual gag inserted into Geoff Grogan's multimedia collage, Alexey Sokolin's forbidding stormclouds of black scratching, Andy Bleck's sensual scribble figures, Derik Badman's renderings of only background fragments from old Tarzan comics, the multiple contributors who turned in dense, virtuoso ink pieces towards the end of the book. Not everything here is at the same high level, but it's a surprisingly consistent anthology, unified by its theme and Molotiu's commitment to including pieces that advance his definition of this particular approach to comics. What's best about the book is how open its territory ultimately is, how much room it leaves for artists to come up with their own ideas about abstraction and sequence. It is a truly groundbreaking book that points the way towards a whole new conception of comics and challenges readers and artists alike to explore this new area.


  1. I agree that the balance between looking and reading is different for abstract comics. I was also taken with his example of looking at a sequence of paintings in a museum -- I'd been wondering whether the Kandinsky show at the Guggenheim could actually be seen as one massive abstract comic...

  2. Congratulations. I agree wholeheartedly!

    And 42 is good. Douglas Adams said it was the answer to life, the universe, and everything. And now we know what the question is: Abstract Comics?



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