Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

August 15, 2019

Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Noah Van Sciver praises Michael Kupperman's All The Answers. There's a significant element of that book's discussion since publication that it was somehow under-discussed, and I've never been able to figure that out. I'm going to guess that the construction there is that it resembles books from the recent past that did get the kind of widespread approbation, a kind of rhetorical momentum that has its own energy. But to be honest, I've read enough terrible "the book of the year is every book you read" headlines to know that hasn't been the case for many books of recent vintage -- maybe zero of them if you disqualify Emil Ferris. It's a possibility that the bulk of us may shrug our shoulders through Berlin, Clyde Fans and Rusty Brown by this Christmas. Holy hell. We still do have the "good superhero comic" phenomenon, and that seems fairly intact, but that's a different thing: a smaller pool with a different function. Maybe that should be expected. There is no monolithic critical apparatus for comics these days, and it may have seemed like there was one only because of a time when a bunch of writers wrote similarly voluminous, detailed responses to major works as a way of standing out before social media made more specific, arch, content-light interaction its own thing and people began to distrust that kind of climb-Mt.-Olympus writing as stuck in its writers' own heads. That said, I heard a lot about All The Answers. I would imagine any serious fan/fan of serious comics would want to read it and has a chance to do so. I'm not spending this morning writing about Olivier Schrauwen.

* there are structural peculiarities. One thing that's still the same that may continue to shape this is that there are certain elements of comics publishing that don't want to engage with other elements. I've written a lot about Michael Kupperman -- like a lot -- but never received a copy of the book, let alone was pitched an interview or other coverage. Comics has always been bad at that, and I'm not certain why. I just assume that kind of engagement isn't valued or rewarding enough. I'm not being sarcastic, I can see 100 scenarios where resources are better spent elsewhere. And while I know I need to find things on my own, there's a lot to write about and my professional life sometimes resembles a Transformer that changes from a food truck to a dumpster fire. I'll take the book on my desk over the one on my computer screen, and both of them over one that's a rumor. The fewer books I write about I'm less likely to score that gigantic investment of a physical copy. So it goes. And yet, having never seen it, I know about All The Answers and I know about some of its awards and about once every six weeks I seem to have read about this lack of coverage and whose fault that is, so there has to have been some work done. This is complicated even further when not everyone likes a work. And a good work isn't necessarily one that appeals to everyone. We can still agree on that, right? It's a buyer's market for smart work with which to engage, and most people can be talked out of hard to score work someone warned them away that simply might not look appealing without a lot of effort. It's tough out there. I have multiple book credits and I've done two signings. Two in my life.

* I hope that all the quality works find the audience, critical and otherwise, they deserve. It's hard to measure that, though. Maybe those of us that didn't can take a second look at few books of recent vintage -- All The Answers, sure, but also One Dirty Tree or perhaps Yellow Negroes -- and maybe all of us can dig in and focus on the next round of potentially great works from this fall before lurching into our best-of-decade battles. The Santoro and Huizenga I think are very good, and Eleanor Davis is in the midst of a powerful win streak. Mutts turns 25 this year and two potentially great strips turn one (Jaimes' Nancy and Liniers' Macanudo). I don't know if there are enough readers for all of these books, or enough writers about the better ones, but certainly someone will think it's not enough on every single book's behalf.
posted 5:05 pm PST | Permalink

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