Friday, March 6, 2009

Comics Journal & Lynda Barry

I've been reading The Comics Journal for years and while I no longer seem to have the time to read everything from cover to cover like I used to, I still am happy for its existence as it is the only publication that discusses this medium with anything approaching real criticism and analysis. One criticism that people levy toward The Comics Journal is that it is too elitist, which is true, but it's also true that the medium needs a forum which presents a dialogue of this medium's finest creations that go toe to toe with the finest of any of the other "real" art forms like novels, gallery art, and or movies. My biggest problem with The Comics Journal is that they seem to pick an image for their covers that only appeals to those that know that particular artists' work and doesn't compel people who might like that artist or the contents within to actually want to pick up the magazine (it's almost like they're trying to sell as few copies as possible).

The greatest attraction of The Comics Journal is usually their massive in-depth forty plus page interviews with comic book creators. The two interviews in the newest issue, with Lynda Barry and Frank Quitely, are amongst the shortest they've done in a while (13 and 6 pages respectively). Actually the Frank Quitely interview is so short that I'm wondering why they even bothered. Even though the Lynda Barry (fantastic cartoonist of One! Hundred! Demons! and What It Is) interview is only thirteen pages long, it still is a great look into the mind of one of the most unique comic creators ever (seriously click here:, read any of her books and you'll have discovered a unique voice / style). And although Lynda Barry has some thoughts on the nature of creativity and the imagination that are similar to Alan Moore's, I'm fairly certain she hasn't read any of Moore's works, but I sure would like to see the two of them in the same room bouncing ideas off of each other.

There is one twenty plus long interview in the newest Comic Journal with Dash Shaw (cartoonist of last years 720 page graphic novel Bottomless Bellybutton) that I haven't read yet and am looking forward to doing. This issue also feature several comic creators with their picks of the best of last year and there's a few seems that I was previously unaware of. The annoying thing about this best of 2008 part of this Comics Journal is that it wasn't all contained in one part of the issue, rather it was inbetween the various interviews for some crazy reason.


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