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getting ready

I'm getting ready for a bunch of talks and taking photos of books, and books are spread out everywhere in my flat and it is a real disaster zone. (Poor Stuart.) For my Laydeez Do Comics talk on Monday (Do come! Ladies and gents both welcome!), I'm going to highlight some comics by other women, show some of my own stuff, then start off a discussion on Shaun Tan's The Arrival. It's such an amazing book, it could be the source of a hundred doctoral dissertations, but I'm trying to figure out how much research I have time to do on it. I'm reading some interviews and reviews, including Shaun Tan's writing about the book on his own website. Have a peek at that if you like, he includes lots of images from the book as well.

I'm not going to try to sabotage the comics talk by showing only picture books, but I will pull some out, because I think they get overlooked by the comics crowd. Perhaps this is because people just don't realise the books are comics, Or maybe it's because so much of the comics scene is male-led, that possibly the guys find them too 'girly' or 'mumsy', write off books of that genre, never go into children's sections of the bookshops, and therefore miss out on a whole load of interesting material.

I guess I'm saying, c'mon guys, look beyond the marketing; just because something's in the children's section doesn't mean it's simplistic. There's a lot of pulp in children's books, just as in comics, but there are some remarkable gems to be found. And picture book creators would learn a lot by foraging into comics, it's a two-way thing.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 25th, 2009 11:23 am (UTC)
hey sarah, can't come to this but i desperately want to. do you know someone with a good camcorder who could like sit right in front of you and just video the whole talk? i'll be happy to edit it to youtube size! please? please? i'm away on an arvon writing retreat and am desperate to hear what you have to say. maybe the laydeez people? beg? beg? i'm kneeling. does that help?
Jul. 25th, 2009 04:31 pm (UTC)
Aw, darn, sorry you can't make it. (Although I hope the retreat's going well, that sounds great!)

I'm not sure I'd want this one recorded - it's the first time I've done this talk so I'll probably be a bit nervous and babble a bit. But I'd like to see how it goes on the evening, get people's feedback, and then refine it, since it's a subject I'm really interested in, and could talk about again. I'll be sure to let you know if/when I do another one!
Jul. 25th, 2009 11:36 am (UTC)
I've got The Arrival on my bookshelf, but I haven't read it yet.

I'm always surprised how comic drawers don't recognise children's books as comics, but a lot of them are very important to me. If it's a story told with pictures it's a comic no?

As Sam gets interested in books more and more I want to be able to share with him all my favourites from my childhood; I've still got most of them. (Richard Scarry, David McKee, Ron Brooks, Raymond Briggs, Maurice Sendak etc) But I've no idea what to look out for amongst the newer stuff.

Jul. 25th, 2009 04:34 pm (UTC)
Hey, I like your list! I definitely would have three of those in mine (Watterson, Sendak and Lia). There's some great new picture books out there, even some clever ones that are basically enhanced mini comics.
Jul. 25th, 2009 01:24 pm (UTC)
I totally agree! And not only are picture books often (always?) comics, but they're often more experimental in their picture-storytelling.... Kay Thompson's illustrations for the Eloise books are some of my favorites, the little diagrams and layouts. Good for you for standing up for them!
Jul. 25th, 2009 04:40 pm (UTC)
That's funny, I've already included slides of pages by both Kay Thompson and you! - Three of your handmade comic covers and a spread from Seven Sacks in the Lynda Barry anthology.

More experimental, I'd agree. You'd think comics would be, because so often they're self-published and people have the freedom do anything. But pretty often they stick to the traditional format of rectangular pages stapled together, or very linear storytelling (or experimental but almost impossible-to-follow storytelling). I think a lot of the picture book concepts could be altered and adapted to adult audiences and come across as completely fresh ways of making comics.
Jul. 25th, 2009 05:52 pm (UTC)
Oh, awesome!! I'm so flattered! :D

If you're interested in alternative comics-storytelling, check out Dan Zettwoch's stuff- he's amazing!
Jul. 25th, 2009 05:58 pm (UTC)
I am Eleanor, though.
Jul. 25th, 2009 06:39 pm (UTC)
Heh heh!

Oh wow, I've just had a peek at Dan's stuff, it looks amazing. I'm definitely bookmarking that one, thanks so much!!
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 25th, 2009 10:11 pm (UTC)
Well, it's one cent on Amazon... :-)
Jul. 26th, 2009 08:27 am (UTC)
Why does experimental mean good, and 'traditional' mean not-so-good? That gets inferred quite a lot. Almost every experimental comic I've read has a rubbish story - but then it's my personal bias that I like a good story over anything else and find books that are too self-indulgent on the art often (not always) unsatisfying.

I was going to come up to the talk and surprise you, but now I can't - I'm really annoyed. I was very interested to see it and hear you.
Jul. 26th, 2009 08:54 am (UTC)
No, I'm with you, traditional done very well is always good! (As you capably demonstrate!) :-)

But sometimes I think picture books could spark off ideas for formats that aren't used so much in comics. Like, I was looking at the flip-book, 'Ketchup on my Cornflakes' and thinking someone could make a hilarious, very adult version of it.

But yeah, I think the most important thing is that it's clear and readable, at least on a basic level. Then there can be all sorts of weird and wonderful things happening on other levels, but it's just boring if a comic is uttelly confusing from the start.

Sorry you can't make it, but see you next week!
Jul. 26th, 2009 09:41 am (UTC)
I've got some Dan Zettwoch comics tucked away somewhere, the awesome Ironclad and some others, I'll bring them to the studio once I've dug them out!

Jul. 26th, 2009 11:32 pm (UTC)
yeah the people who wouldn't view picture books as comics are the same people who think if it doesn't have marvel or dc in the corner it's not a comic...not a "real" one anyway...it gets very tiring trying to reason with those guys [and yes they do seem to be nearly always male] I always have a good root through the picture books in any book store, some of the art and book design in those books is utterly amazing.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )


Sarah McIntyre

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