Re: Christophe Blain, et. al.

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All right, so I’m in Italy and haven’t posted anything for a while. Lots of stuff coming up. In the meantime, Pepo Mhas posted a link to an interview with Christophe Blain over on his excellent blog Con C de Arte (bookmark now!), where he takes the opportunity to comment again on my stated opinion on Blain’s work and that of other French cartoonists of his ilk, something we and a bunch of others had a good debate a little over six months ago.

I don’t have anything to add to what I wrote back then, but just want to correct what seems to me a misconception in Pepo’s assessment of the points I made: I am not looking for ‘literary comics’ from Blain and the other cartoonists I’ve been criticising, nor am I blind to their dazzling graphic skills. However, they still lack substance. Their art is beautiful but boring, and ultimately their work is conservative and bourgeois, which is a shame because they are so talented.

Pepo compares Blain with two of comics greatest visual poets, Winsor McCay and George Herriman, both of whom I love (though I find the former almost totally unreadable), because he detects a similar kind of visual poetry at work in Blain’s comics. I emphasise that I recognize this value in a lot of comics, and to an extent in Blain’s, which are always easy on the eye, but there’s still a world of difference between him and those two grand masters of the early 20th Century. Here’s why:

McCay’s and Herriman’s work were rooted in visual imaginations the likes of which there have been only a few in comics. Their stuff looked, and read, like nothing else. Still does. Blain’s work, skilful though it is, looks a lot like that of at least a dozen other artists of his generation, is much less visually imaginative and is rooted in a bourgeois, yearning cherchez la femme ethos that has been done to death in French art and literature.

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