“Why Art?” by Eleanor Davis

“Why Art?” by Eleanor Davis. Fantagraphics Books. February 2018. 200 pp. Paper, $14.99. Adult.

Thanks to Better World Books, 215 S. Main St. in Goshen, for providing me with books to review. You can find or order all of the books I review at the store.

You could read this book in a flash. It’s short. It’s small. You could fold the almost life-sized hands on the cover into your own hands, then carry the book around with you, slipping it in and out of your bag as you enter and exit lines at the grocery store or the bank. I recommend that you read the book this way. Then I also recommend that you sit down with it and give it a second or third read, the time it deserves.

Illustrator and cartoonist Eleanor Davis is finally making a living on her art. Once you learn her style, you’ll see her all over the place. Check out her personal website, and you’ll see work that appeared in “The New York Times,” as well as “The New Yorker.” She’s designed Google doodles, and illustrations and posters for nonprofits like the Bronx Freedom Fund and musicians like Sylvan Esso and the Decemberists. She’s also well known for her work for kids and young adults: her 2008 TOON Book “Stinky” won her the first of many awards to come as her career progressed.

Perhaps to resist being pigeonholed, some of Davis’s recent work has been decidedly adult. “This is an 18 & over twitter! Rude jokes. Sex drawings,” she warns @squinkyelo. Yet some of her recent work for adults has also become gut-wrenchingly sweet. After she wrote “Love Story,” as she admitted to the “Women and Comics” blog, her husband and fellow artist Drew Weing had a hard time believing its sincerity: “He thought there was a catch, some secret bitterness or joke I’d hidden inside there. There wasn’t, though. It’s just a happy story about folks.” Continue reading ““Why Art?” by Eleanor Davis”

Comic or Graphic Novel? A Brief Primer on Terms

“It’s a marketing term. . . . The problem is that ‘graphic novel’ just came to mean ‘expensive comic book.’ Because ‘graphic novels’ were getting some attention, [publishers would] stick six issues of whatever worthless piece of crap they happened to be publishing lately under a glossy cover and call it The She-Hulk Graphic Novel, you know?”

–Alan Moore, creator of Watchmen and other acclaimed long-form comics, in a 2000 interview on blather.net

A lot of people ask me what the difference is between a comic and a graphic novel. In simple terms, a graphic novel is a comic with more “literary” goals than most serial comics. In the same interview cited above, Moore also lists “density, structure, size, scale, [and] seriousness of theme” as some of the qualities that might lead someone to classify a comic as a graphic novel instead. Continue reading “Comic or Graphic Novel? A Brief Primer on Terms”

Biff! Bam! Pow! Color Dukes It Out with Black and White

Originally published on GoshenCommons.org November 11, 2013

Last post’s review of “Marble Season” by Gilbert Hernandez was my first write-up of a black and white comic—which made me realize how little I’ve been representing this seminal and diverse world.

Black and white comics are the foundation on which the genre has been built. What most of us define as comics were first published in newspapers before the age of color printing—as well as later, when color printing was expensive and rationed to pages more important than the Sunday “funnies.”

Printing in color has become much more affordable for small presses, a shift in production crucial to the current comics zeitgeist. Many recent comics bestsellers push color to the limits of its possibilities, creating rich, bright and complicated scenes. Here are images from three works I reviewed in earlier posts, Marguerite Abouet’s “Aya” series, illustrated by Clement Oubrerie; Chris Ware’s “Building Stories”; and Lucy Knisley’s “Relish”:

aya-abuse

ware-bee

relish-japan

Continue reading “Biff! Bam! Pow! Color Dukes It Out with Black and White”