Posts Tagged ‘comics’


Art: Wei Man Kow

While many of us feel crushed under the weight of stories about Covid-19, cartoonists have been addressing the coronavirus in their own way, mostly trying to be helpful.

Jason Li writes at Hyperallergic, “No corner of the globe experiences the epidemic in quite the same way. … Cartoonists and illustrators have taken to the public squares of social media to express statements of solidarity, share experiences (and grievances), and laugh a little. [We’ve] collected our favorite works from around the world — taking care to include as many perspectives and geographies as we could, while still centering those in China, who remain most impacted by the virus. …

“[One] viral illustration by momo shows that Wuhan, ground zero of the epidemic, carries the support of everyone else in China. Wuhan is represented by a caricature of its famous food, hot dry noodle, while those cheering them on are drawn as foods from other regions of China.

“On a gentler note, the 3×3 comic [by] Wang XX is a fantastic encapsulation of the tenderness and care that people in China are feeling for one another during this calamitous period. In it, a seal, octopus, walrus and mouse help each other don their face masks and then hug it out. …

“[Another] comic about the shortages in Hong Kong by Ah To shows a person keeping toilet paper them in their safe along with their gold bars and surgical masks. …

“Many in and outside of China criticize its authorities for handling the crisis poorly and for muffling early warnings from medical experts. [A] mini-comic by A ee mi in Taiwan weaves a fantastical yet blunt critique of China’s healthcare system. In it, a coronavirus carrier is sent home without proper treatment, spreading the virus to their friends and community.

“While many airlines have suspended flights to China, the authorities in Hong Kong, which shares both land and sea borders with Mainland China, have staunchly refused to close off its borders. This has left its citizens incredibly anxious and angry. [Toballkidrawing] aptly depicts how the issue is viewed in Hong Kong — that the government is handing out a free pass for the virus to move in. …

“One genre of responses that’s been common across the globe is illustrated health advice. Some are comedic, some pithy, but the most popular are detailed and instructional. The above example by Wei Man Kow in Singapore was an unexpected hit and was subsequently translated into seven different languages by various strangers on the internet. (The artist has also made the instructional available for free download, including coloring book versions in Chinese and English.) Meanwhile, veteran cartoonist Sonny Liew (also in Singapore) teamed up with local doctors to put out [a] calming, animal-themed strip combating paranoia and disinformation.

“The breadth of these illustrated responses mirrors the myriad lived realities of the coronavirus. While none will argue that the virus is not a global epidemic or phenomenon, few agree on how serious the problem is, and people around the world are experiencing and interpreting its impact in vastly different ways. ”

Check out all these comics and more at Hyperallergic, here. If you have seen other good cartoons on this topic, please link to them in comments.

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Illustration: J.V. Aranda
The website
Vulture has a list of 100 important pages that shaped comics as an art form.

Are you into graphic novels — serious books designed like comics? I haven’t read many, but I thought Stitches: A Memoir, by David Small, was wonderful. It was a dark but insightful retelling of the artist’s childhood. A doctor friend bought copies for patients after I told her about it.

At Vulture, 12 authors came together to choose 100 memorable comic-book pages that shaped the art form. In each case, they explain their reasoning. It’s a pretty fascinating post.

“The origin story of comic books isn’t flashy. No radioactive spider bite, atomic explosion, or shadowy experiment granted the medium the sort of ability that would have allowed it to arrive on early-20th-century drugstore racks as glossy, fully formed vehicles for sophisticated entertainment. Rather, it took a steady progression over the course of more than 75 years for the form to fully understand, and then harness, its powers. When the first comics arrived on newsstands in the early 1930s, they were a cynical attempt to put old wine in new bottles by reprinting popular newspaper comic strips. Cheaply printed and barely edited, those pamphlets were not what a critic at the time would have called high art.

“Yet today, the medium is flourishing in ways its ancestors could never have imagined: … a dizzying array of what the great cartoonist Will Eisner famously termed ‘sequential art.’ And, as evidenced by the sheer number of adaptations in film, television, and even on the Broadway stage, the rest of the entertainment industry has grown wise to what fans have long known: There’s a special alchemy that comes when you tell a story with pictures. …

“We have set out to trace the evolution of American comics by looking at 100 pages that altered the course of the field’s history. We chose to focus on individual pages rather than complete works, single panels, or specific narrative moments because the page is the fundamental unit of a comic book. … When comics have moved in new directions, the pivot points come in a page.

“To assemble our list of 100, we assembled a brain trust of comics professionals, critics, historians, and journalists. Our criteria were as follows: A page had to have either changed the way creators approach making comics, or it had to expertly distill a change that had just begun. In some cases, there were multiple pages that could be used to represent a particular innovation; we’ve noted those instances. We didn’t necessarily pick the 100 best pages. …

“Some pages are notable for their written content — game-changing first appearances, brilliant narrative innovations, and so on. Some are significant because the artwork told a story in ways no one had thought to do before, and ended up being emulated — or, in some cases, outright aped. … You can click on the title of each page to open a window with a full-sized version.”

I liked the first example, the 1929 Lynd Ward spooky guy. I think Asakiyume and I saw it the Fitchburg Art Museum when we met up for the graphics exhibition some years ago.

Vulture explains, “It’s inarguable that one of the leading pioneers of modern longform graphic storytelling was Flemish illustrator Frans Masereel. Right after World War I, he created a series of ‘pictorial narratives’ without words — you may have spotted his most famous, Passionate Journey (1919), in the gift shop at your local art museum.

“Chicago-born art student Lynd Ward discovered Masereel’s work while studying printmaking in Leipzig, Germany, and was inspired to use the oldest print medium — woodblocks pressed into ink — to create something very modern: the first stand-alone graphic narrative by an American, or as he called it, a ‘novel in woodcuts.’

“Gods’ Man (1929) tells the story of a struggling artist who makes a supernatural bargain with a mysterious stranger (pictured here) for a magic brush that comes at a terrible cost. The book, composed of one woodcut illustration on each of the volume’s 139 pages, was a surprise success,”


Art: Lynd Ward
Gods’ Man (1929). Always read the fine print when dealing with spooky strangers.

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I’m adding Julian Peters to the blog roll on your right. He’s a genius. A graphic artist from Canada who has chosen to illustrate some of the greatest poems ever. At least, some of my favorites.

Matthew Gilbert did a spread about Peters and his work on T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock” for the Boston Globe. Illustrations that could break your heart. I am in Matthew Gilbert’s debt for this gift of happy-sad. Read his essay, here.

Below are a few frames from Peters’s “La Belle Dame Sans Merci,” by Keats, a poem I can’t read without hearing my father’s voice choke up on my cassette tape.

Go to Peters’s website, here, and luxuriate.  

Art: Julian Peters

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