Cartoonist leaves mark at UH
Graphic novelist Scott McCloud presented a fast-paced, frenetic visual presentation on the evolution of comic books from superhero pulp to respected art form Tuesday at the Dudley Recital Hall.
“If you have ADD, it tends to work very well. If you’re easily bored by PowerPoint presentations, you might like this. I tend to throw several hundred different ideas up and let them fly,” McCloud said. “It’s kind of a brainstorming session that I hope people will enjoy.
“I don’t use PowerPoint like most people do. There are very few words, no bulleted lists. Just a blizzard of pictures with words besides them about every aspect of comics that I find interesting.”
The UH Creative Writing Program sponsored the visit from McCloud, who said that his presentation explores the effect of technology on the medium and its creators.
“I touch on comics culture, the different tribes, inside of comics and the different reasons we create,” McCloud said. “I talk about visual iconography, the effect of new technology on comics and a little bit about the art form and the business when I was a lot younger.”
McCloud said that his presentation touched on graphic novelists’ growing independence and the effect of technology on comic books.
“Thanks to bookstores, thanks to the variety of different kinds of comics that became movies and thanks to the fact that we have better comics now, generally and certainly manga and anime, have something to do with this too, comics are appealing to more people,” McCloud said.
McCloud had mixed thoughts about the future of newspaper comics.
“Newspaper comics have a proud history, but it’s a history that doesn’t have to end if newspapers end,” he said. “I think the relationship between newspaper and comic strips was what we might call a marriage of convenience. I think they wound up thrown together, but the relationship between newspaper business and comic strips was always a bit uneasy.
“If comic strips are thriving on the Web, I think they might find an easier home there. I don’t think newspapers have been hospitable to comics.”
He added that the Web could be a more convenient place for artists and connoisseurs to connect.
“You don’t have to worry about getting it published or getting it shelved or getting it sold. If there’s only 12 people that want to read something on the Web, then fine; you’ll find that 12,” he said.
McCloud said that one comic on his recent reading list are Scott Pilgrim, a comedy series by Bryan Lee O’Malley about a scrappy 20-something in Toronto who must defeat his commitment-phobic girlfriend’s seven past lovers in order to win her heart.
“It’s very home-grown, and it’s very much about his home life in Canada, in places like Toronto. It’s that mixture of America and Japanese stuff that’s exciting to me,” he said. “It’s also the funniest stuff on the planet.”
McCloud also mentioned David Mazzucchelli’s Asterios Polyp, a 400-page satire about an architect going through a mid-life crisis about his work.
McCloud said that comics captivated him in high school and piqued his imagination about what the art form could accomplish.
“Even when I was a young reader, I was more interested in what comics could do than what comics had done, and I still am,” he said.