I went to Comic Arts Brooklyn this weekend and, as always, was stunned by the sheer diversity of production in indie comics. Although the style primarily tended away from the kind of realism you’d see in mainstream (i.e., Marvel or DC), there were some notable exceptions. Hollow Press from Italy—a newcomer to the US fair circuit—had some exceptionally gothy and elaborate work. It’s tough not to spend some money at these conventions but there’s always a lot to see. A singular highlight was Matthew Thurber’s lecture/performance that involved audience participants throwing up stuffed animals, one man musically sharpening a pencil, a woman jangling change, all to the sound of the artist’s rhythmically intoned monologue critiquing the contemporary art market. This was an artist’s talk mixed with avant-garde theatre and I felt privileged to be in the audience. Excited to read his Art Comic, which elaborates the critique on the illustrated page.
There’s so much on the to-read shelf at this point. When I was a kid, I collected comics avidly, perhaps with some sense of addiction and misplaced ‘investment.’ These would be worth something, I told myself. (Jon Sable Freelance #1 is worth $2 last time I checked.) Now, as an adult, I started buying comics again—less as a collector, but more as someone who just likes having illustrated fiction around. There’s a raging debate around the role that digital platforms will have on the comics medium. Yet as any comics nerd of my generation will tell you, there’s no substitute for the gloss and luster of the paper and that colorful brick of image and text laying on your shelf or coffee table. For comics fans my age who grew up before the luminous screens of digital media, the book emits its own special light. Though it may lack the animated panel to panel transitions of digital comics, it still offers a bigger punch as it stores up its energy and socks you at the page turn.
And on this turn, RIP Stan Lee—a world-builder and visionary inspiring so many artists and writers well beyond the comics field.