shaken & stirred

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funny vs. not funny

Sequential Tart takes on Charles McGrath's recent look at graphic novels "Not Funnies." The main bone in this counterpoint seems to be McGrath's invisible dismissal of comics that don't fit into his concept of "literary." I say invisible, because it seems to be more a sin of omission than outright hand-waving. Some of the most interesting stuff though, of course, is the writer's conjecture about how McGrath's (possibly nonexistent) relationship with Art Spiegelman may have influenced the writers and artists spotlighted in the story:

"However, even if McGrath was no longer actually employed at the New Yorker at the time Spiegelman joined its staff, it seems likely that he made the acquaintance of Spiegelman and his various 'discoveries' whose careers are spotlighted in the article through his previously-established New Yorker connections, rather than through some coincidental contact established by both men's moving in the same New York literary/journalistic circles. Therefore, like Jiffy, I suspect that McGrath's rather idiosyncratic view of the world of book-length comics/graphic novels has been significantly influenced by his personal and professional exposure to Spiegelman and his associates."

The referenced Jiffy Burke piece for ST had even less love for this article and more venom. A taste:

"If I knew nothing of comics, I might have skimmed this article and moved on to some other section of the paper. But since I'm a comic and graphic novel reader, I dove in and read the whole thing from stem to stern. What I found was not what I've come to expect from a high-brow publication like The New York Times. I've always hated broad generalities, and this article was full of them. Hell, it was "full of it" in general, if you get my meaning. It is clear to me that the author saw himself as a benevolent critic bestowing some much-needed light on a dusty, shadowy corner of the literary world.

Mr. McGrath skimmed the surface of the genre, cherry-picked a few creators who appealed to him, and based his entire argument on who he could meet via his New York Times connections or how many pages thick a particular graphic novel happened to be. He obviously thought that a few moments spent at a clearly disorganized Barnes & Noble gives him the authority to speak in broad terms about the genre as a whole. Just another of the self-important, puffed-up literati, looking down on anything that isn't popularly considered literature, if you ask me."

worm "Caramel," Suzanne Vega

namecheck RD "Graphic" Hall


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