Friday, September 03, 2004

Covering comics: Writing for the Poynter Institute's website, book critic Ellen Heltzel and St. Petersburg Times book editor Margo Hammond grapple with newspaper coverage of comics:
There are, of course, several problems with covering graphic novels. First, the term graphic novels, as I said, doesn't work. It just causes confusion (anyone have another term to suggest?). Second, we need to distinguish graphic novels from the more general medium of comics -- even while proclaiming in our headlines that they have come a LONG way from the cape-and-flying stuff that kids read.

But perhaps the biggest obstacle to reviewing these works is that they are neither fish (totally text) nor fowl (totally art). There are very few of us who know HOW to review this genre. Even when we do address works like Persepolis and Maus, it is the text that is usually examined most closely, with commentary on the artwork brought in as an afterthought. What should be considered, it seems to me, is the interplay between the two art forms, which lies at the heart of why these works differ from any other.
Heltzel also passes along some interesting comments by Dark Horse editor Carl Horn, who contends, ""When it comes to comics in the U.S., there's a Madonna/whore complex."