Friday, October 15, 2004

"Rubber" ring: Washington University in St. Louis' Student Life looks at "The Rubber Frame: Culture and Comics," a campus exhibit focusing on the historical development of comics:

"It's hard to believe that the stack of yellowing 'funny books' collecting dust in your parents' attic has its origins in the political world of 18th and 19th century England and France, but c'est la vérité. The tradition of caricature and cartoonish political satire has its roots in the work of English Georgian artists and also renegade French artists' like Honore Daumier and Charles Philippon, who spent every waking hour lambasting King Louis-Philippe. In one particularly scathing critique, which managed to land Daumier in jail, he depicted the king as the giant Gargantua shitting out favors for his flattering sycophants. It might not sound like much today, but it paved the way for the political cartoons we see on a daily basis, including those by our own artists Yu Araki and Brian Sotak. Unfortunately for those kinds of artists, they could never hope to achieve proper, celebrated renown in the world of 'fine art.' They were simply 'tradesmen,' as Dowd puts it, 'and could never hope to achieve admission into the Royal Academy, except maybe through watercolor painting, which was still considered a lesser form.' For a fine overview of this predecessor of the comic book, check out the Special Collections room of the Kemper Art Museum at Steinberg Hall."