Experimenting, Comics, and Indie Work

Matt Wagner’s creation GRENDEL, in my sketchbook. I’ve been thinking a lot about this era of late 80’s and early 90’s independent comics. While the “death” of independent comics that aren’t art-fart autobio stuff is highly overrated, it is a little sad to see even independent comics give up the ghost, so to speak, on certain levels of experimentation.

I recently saw a few pages of something B. Clay Moore was working on, and just the rounded and almost graphite-like composition of the panel borders on the page seemed so foreign, so alien to me, it was strange to realize that something so insane and different WAS insane and different because no one even bothers to do that sort of thing anymore. It’s a little touch that totally grabbed me, and made me realize that the artist’s usage of panel borders like that was enough of  a change from the traditional way a page is laid out and panels are bordered to make even a few panels of action totally stand out to me.

Then of course, I felt incredibly bummed that no one else really does stuff like that anymore, or at least I never see anything like that anymore.

Well OK, not “anymore,” because there are some creative minds in cartooning art these days that boggle my puny brain with how they tackle layout and flow-of-action. It just really seems like there’s a lack of roughness in comics, something I’ve always appreciated in my art coming from an indie music background, a roughness with to me, indicates  a level of humanism. The little flaws and hitches are what add a personal touch to the art, and to me, not seeing those hitches and observing them smooth out over time (art and writing-wise) takes something away from comics.

There really isn’t too much of a point here other than I’m lamenting the lack of willingness to experiment with stuff other than what readers seem to “want” (or are used to always getting) in comics. Stuff like SCUD THE DISPOSABLE ASSASSIN, THE TICK, GRENDEL, or TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES is all work that evolved drastically over time. And it took time and experimentation for that evolution to happen.

Maybe I’m just being a little too much of a grumpy old guy, who knows.

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