Comics, Ephemeral And Arts

Comics is an old art form that is always new. In its current form, it is just over a century old, yet it is just as fresh as today’s strips. It has adapted to nearly every communications medium introduced in the last century, yet it is still produced with tools that are as old as the written word.

It is considered lowbrow trash by some (see, for example, Jack Chick tracts or Tijuana Bibles), pop culture by many (see the current spate of comic book based films and the books from which they are derived), and high art by a few (see Gary Groth and Art Speigelman). Some creators have even managed to start at one end of the scale and work their way to the other (see Will Eisner and Robert Crumb).

Comic art is used for educational and instructional purposes as well as it is for entertainment value. It has provided icons for our modern culture, even as it tore down that same culture or provided an escape from it. Comics are to art what water is to a Taoist: infinitely adaptable, ever changing.

Comics is an ephemeral medium, flashed briefly on the screen or held briefly in the hand, then discarded or stashed away while the reader moves on to the next task of their day.

In thinking about it that way, it makes you wonder why anyone would bother putting in so much effort to make good comics, and its probably that ephemeral nature that contributes to the perception of comics as an immature or irrelevant medium.

Yet, if the comic creator has done their work diligently and well, they will have produced something, an impression or insight, that will last well beyond the short span that is spent actually experiencing the art. It is when that lasting impression is achieved that comics (in any format) has succeeded, and truly lives, as art.

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