Thursday, January 15, 2009

Jordan, meet comics. Comics, meet Jordan.

I've never been a comics nut, but maybe that's a fluke. If that's the case, I may be about to remedy it. Here are the first three steps:

Step 1: Solanin

My brother gave me a manga (Japanese graphic novel for the uninitiated), Solanin, for Christmas, and I consumed it in about an hour. It's about an apathetic twenty-something living in Tokyo who quits her job one day because, well, why the hell not. The novel deals with ambition, dreams (or lack thereof), finding (or losing) your place in the world...topics that are generally reassuring until you realize that the author was only 24 when he published. (Le sigh.) But, I loved it.

Step 2: Scott McCloud

I wish I had enough time (and a reliable enough internet connection) to watch all of the TedTalks. Luckily, it's the first week of term and got minorly caught up, starting with this talk by Scott McCloud:

He has insights and lessons that are applicable to all media, not just comics. The main thrust (I never get tired of that figure of speech) is that a medium must mutate, while still maintaining its defining characteristics, when new technologies come along. For example, comics have been around for millenia (Egyptians writing on tombs, cave paintings), and the thing that unifies them is the link that movement in space correlates to movement in time. McCloud talks about how this was updated for the printing press, and now for the internet.

I think that writers should also take something from this. Obvious, the medium of WORDS is much different than that of pictures, but writing stories and drawing comics are both ways of conveying narrative. When the technology changes, maybe the medium needs to change, too, while still maintaining its essence.

So, what is writing's essence, and how can it be preserved in a digital age? Well, I haven't gotten that far yet. (Give me at least five minutes to digest this...I just finished watching the talk.)

Here are some other great things from McCloud:
  • His dad was a blind scientist and inventor who had "blind faith" in his son's abilities as a visual artist.

  • McCloud muses "what does a scientific mind do in the arts?" I can relate to that...

  • He's not just talking about comic books, he's talking about vision, invention, and communication.

  • He has four life principals, which are almost identical to my own:
    • Learn from everyone
    • Follow no one
    • Watch for patterns (This one is my personal mantra
    • World like hell (depends on the day, of course)

  • One of his ideas is that comics are more comic-like than they ever have been before, thanks to the "infinite canvass" of the computer. Maybe the same can be said for writing?

Step 3: UMC Art Gallery opening at CU -- Graphia! Comics Artwork

There's an opening reception today. I think I'm going to go. Yeah. I will.

I'll let you know how it is.

Step 4: ???

Ok, that's an unbearably cheesy way to end this post. Sorry. My diet is about %25 cheese (higher depending on the cycles of the moon).

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