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Biff, pow, yadda yadda.

A good first effort, Mr. McGrath; I particularly like the group shot of some of comics’ eminences grises. There’s a couple of nuggets of genuine insight. Well done. Definitely a step up from “Bang! Zowie!”

But there’s still room for improvement:

  1. Glenn    Jul 12, 03:05 PM    #
    Oh, well. I was going to write of a critique of this article. Or, at least, I was telling myself I was going to. But now I don't have to! More time to read comics for me!

    And besides, you did it better and from a better perspective than I could have.

    Not that I couldn't have still written something, but this gives me a good excuse to cross something of my pretend to-do list.

  2. Loren    Jul 12, 05:55 PM    #
    Okay, eloquent on the subject of same-sex marriage AND a comic book enthusiast. I think I have found a new favorite blog!

  3. Steve    Jul 13, 01:07 PM    #
    While we're hairjoining and hairsplitting, I'm not sure that Ghost World (the brilliant graphic novel) would even have worked as a movie. Ghost World, the graphic novel, has a similar narrative arc to the movie, but the slow fraying of Enid and Becky's relationship comes off entirely differently given that Daniel Clowes casts himself as conflicted about his profession (both within GW and elsewhere in his work), the whole comics-as-cynical-nostalgia ploy is a frequent fixture in his work, Ghost World (like a novel or a Bob Dylan album and very much unlike a movie) is entirely the work of a single individual, and Enid Coleslaw's name is suspiciously anagrammic.

    But yeah, the book was better.

  4. Steve    Jul 13, 01:14 PM    #
    I muddled my own point -- the fact of individual, rather than group, creation makes comic books of the type Clowes does seem qualitively different to me.

  5. --k.    Jul 13, 02:46 PM    #
    But isn't that the perennial dilemma of translating any singular vision to a more collaborative art, whether it's novels to movies or poetry to commedia del arte? —Heck, isn't that the perennial problem of translation, period? "First you replace the handle, then you replace the blade."

    Meanwhile, Spider-Man 2 is hailed as the best superhero flick ever. Industrial collaboration translated to industrial collaboration. (Myself, I wonder what on earth HBO will do with The Poor Bastard.)

  6. Kevin Moore    Jul 14, 04:52 AM    #
    I liked both Ghost World movie and comic book. The latter was a revelation to me; the former was a lot of fun. I admit that I like the ending to the movie better than the comic book, because Clowes seemed to just throw together a dissolution without much coherence, as if he was just getting it over with. Everything before that was beautiful, though.

    I admit it: I read Paul Auster's novel only because I read the Dave Mazzuchelli adaptation.

    BTW—Great essay!

  7. Steve    Jul 14, 09:17 AM    #
    But isn't that the perennial dilemma of translating any singular vision to a more collaborative art, whether it's novels to movies or poetry to commedia del arte? —Heck, isn't that the perennial problem of translation, period? "First you replace the handle, then you replace the blade."

    Which is why adaptions of truly personal works seldom seem to make ideal movies. I mean, great books seldom become great movies. I mean, I can imagine Raymond Chandler's The Maltese Falcon, and I think it would have been decent (though not, like Hammett's version, a great book) and led to a perfectly good movie, but L.A. Confidential wouldn't work at all without Ellroy's amphetimine madness, and the movie -- as impressive a job as the screenwriter did -- wasn't nearly as good as the book. The continuing debate about whether Lee or Ditko is the real father of Spiderman simply isn't imaginable for something like Ghost World or From Hell (sorry, Eddie Campbell). Auteur theory aside, a movie is a damn difficult medium to express one person's artistic vision.

  8. Mike    Jul 15, 09:56 PM    #
    One thing the essay got wrong is in the first sentence: the novel never replaced poetry, unless the reference is to oral composition. Homer and Beowulf went out when writing came in but printed prose narrative is as old as printed poetry. The notion that one medium replaces another is silly -- art technologies become obsolescent.
    And it's good to take people to task for unthinking comments about "dumbed-down culture" and the like. It's more difficult to read comics than to read prose and, as you point out, far more difficult to produce a graphic, as opposed to a typeset, novel.

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