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Witek, Joseph. "If a Way to the Better There Be: Excellence, mere competence, and the worst comics ever made." Image [&] Narrative 17. 4 2016. Accessed 29 Sep. 2016. <http://www.imageandnarr ... ative/article/view/1321>. 
Added by: joachim (9/29/16, 10:00 AM)   Last edited by: joachim (4/1/17, 9:18 AM)
Resource type: Web Article
Language: en: English
Peer reviewed
BibTeX citation key: Witek2016
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Categories: General
Keywords: Authorship, Canon, Nieto. Enrique, Sherman. Lee, Sherwood. Don, USA
Creators: Witek
Collection: Image [&] Narrative
Views: 19/834
Attachments   URLs   http://www.imagean ... /article/view/1321
The conventional interpretive protocols of current Anglophone critical discourse create a historical disjunction between a déclassé “comics” tradition and an emerging culturally legitimated form of “graphic narrative.” These protocols, which assume a unified, fully intentional author possessing a functionally unlimited degree of technical competence, serve to align the aesthetic criteria for evaluating the consecrated graphic novel with previously legitimated cultural forms, resulting in a narrowly conceived set of approved thematic concerns and a truncated and ahistorical understanding of contemporary artistic practice. I begin a project of historicizing the aesthetic evaluation of comics by considering the critical challenges posed by the anomalous work of three creators working in the lowest circles of the commercial comics industry in the United States: Lee Sherman, whose almost boundless ineptitude reveals previously unsuspected criteria for artistic competence; Don Sherwood, who explores the boundaries of professional task avoidance in commercial illustration; and Enrique Nieto, whose visually extravagant and narratively unmotivated character and page designs violate both the implicit critical requirement that “pictures must serve the story” and any reasonable cost/benefit analysis of artistic labor to financial reward. Examining such creators is, I hope, a useful step in developing a critical discourse that conceives of contemporary and future artistic practice as continuous with, rather than a transcendence of, the entirety of comics history.
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