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August 02, 2010

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isaac

Hey Ben,

Not to mention WALKING DEAD which is from Image's head editorial honcho and is one of the great character driven soap operas of our time.

It seems that this Indie/Mainstream barrier has totally broken down for all forms of entertainment. It reminds me, for example, of the StrongBad e-mail about independent films (you haven't seen it? Why, click here for five minutes of angry, hilarious internet bliss.) And I don't really know what makes indie music indie anymore.

I guess my question is... what are the particularities of this moment for comix as opposed to films or music?

Josh

Have you read "Girls" by The Lunar Bros? I'm so excited to start it.

Ben Owen

Isaac: I didn't mention The Walking Dead because I haven't read it, and probably won't (I'm scared of zombies, and the apocalypse), but I'm glad you did. I don't know whether it's illustrative of the "fusion" tendencies the artists discuss on Inkstuds, and that you can see in the other comics I mentioned. (Bullet-Proof Coffin is a trawl through pulp comics history, for instance, while King City mixes graffiti art and kung-fu mythology with a lot of European comics influences.) But Walking Dead certainly is an example of how Image is putting out interesting comics.

As to what the particular peculiarities of the indie/mainstream breakdown might be for comics... I don't know. I'm tempted to say that the divide is breaking down for many of the same reasons as it is in films or music. Is it glib to say the internet? Perhaps. But I'm certain that the fact that so much art is available for review, side-by-side, almost instantaneously is one factor, as is the fact that to order a desperately obscure back issue you now just go to ebay, or wherever, rather than having to scour back issue bins across nine towns and two trade shows. To be comics literate is now a more accessible and common thing, and I'm guessing that it also demands less of a diligent commitment to one or two aspects of the comics subculture. There is also a feeling that--and this comes through in the Inkstuds conversation as well--to some extent comics artists have always been this way, monitoring the craft and styles of other artists whose work differs wildly in content or tone from their own (one thinks of the visual allusions to particular compositions from Spider-Man or Archie in Jaime Hernandez's Locas stories--see Jeet Heer at Comics Comics or the Todd Hignite Jaime art book for examples). The difference now is just that that influence is more in the foreground. As to why, again, I'm not sure, though I'll keep thinking about it.

Josh: I haven't read that. It looks fucked up, but maybe in a good way. Have you read any of the Luna Brothers other stuff? I confess I didn't know their work until a brief google just now.

Ian Thal

I think that the breakdown started happening when creators who were working (or were capable of working) for the big two were in a position to have greater artistic freedom either by taking their stories to smaller independent publishers or putting out work under imprints specifically designed for creator-controlled or "mature-readers" titles.

I'm immediately thinking of early-90s work like Peter Milligan's Shade the Changing Man or Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol which injected a counter-cultural (i.e. "underground") and avant-garde sensibility into mainstream serial storytelling or Alan Moore's decision to stop working for the big-two and work on books like Big Numbers and From Hell.

Though one can also point out that Los Bros. Hernandez have the illustration and writing chops to work for the big two if they wanted to and are certainly of that same era, I think it useful to point out that the writers involved were part of the 1980s "British Invasion" and were already introducing a different storytelling sensibility that often demanded a greater variety of illustration styles.

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