tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE's Reviews > Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*!

Breakdowns by Art Spiegelman
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really liked it
bookshelves: art, comics

I probably started checking out Underground Comix in the early 1970s when I was a teenager. Given that I was growing out of reading the Marvel Comics (& such-like) & Mad Magazines that had been so central to my childhood, I don't think I was really much in the mood to be impressed by any comics anymore. I reckon I had hopes that underground comics wd provide more profoundly current philosophical perspectives & I reckon that they probably did - but I still don't recall being impressed enuf to acquire many. The few that I have left from that era include "Zap" & "Up from the Deep". Maybe I was just bored by 'hippie' culture: dope & sex, blah, blah - even though I was a guy w/ very long hair who eventually explored expanded (& contracted) consciousness thru drugs & who embraced sex, uh, enthusiastically. I must've found literature to provide the depth I was seeking.

ANYWAY, it seems to me that it wasn't until I discovered RAW, "The Graphix Magazine for your Bomb Shelter's Coffee Table" as issue 4's subheading read, that I finally felt like I'd found what interested me. Art Spiegelman & Françoise Mouly edited this mag & the production values were.. spectacular. This might just mean that they were lucky enuf to get access to better financing than most but it seems that they also had the ideas to make the spending worthwhile. RAW is still a magazine wch has graphic variety & quality & concepts that make it highly worth referencing almost 30 yrs later.

SO, it was a delight to find this collection of early Spiegelman work in this high production values large format bk in a New Paltz, NY, bkstore for a very reasonable price. Spiegelman's self-depiction as a sortof whining comics-nerd loser gets a bit tiresome but, then again, egomania wd be even worse. At any rate, the work is wonderful &, once again, Spiegelman doesn't let me down.

Ironically, in the long-run, underground comics / graphic novels are usually a pretty conventional art form precisely b/c they ARE an art form & Spiegelman's very conscious of trying to get his work accepted as 'high art'. As I often say, I think people's work wd be much stronger if they threw away such frameworks entirely - but few people (or, perhaps, NO-ONE?) ever seem(s) to agree w/ me.

I'm reminded of the hate that underground cartoonist Paul Mavrides had for my 1988 movie "Homeless Movies". Apparently it was too 'artsy' for him or some such. This struck me as odd given that Mavrides' own work is conventional representational narrative that is formally exactly what yer Average Joe thinks is art - & I reckon Mavrides' skills were art school honed - but I cd be wrong about that. I, on the other hand, have been rejecting being labeled an artist since 1978 & DIDN'T attend art school.

I'm further reminded of my brief correspondence w/ underground cartoonist/painter Robert Williams. I sent him a "Mike Film Form Letter" wch contained individual frames of super-8 film that I'd shot of the art works that I'd made before pronouncing myself a Mad Scientist in 1978. The letter further included stories of what people had done w/ the frames of film. Williams replied w/ a sarcastic piece of hate mail railing against "dadaism". Given that the MFFL had nothing to do w/ dadaism, his response was particularly stupid. In the end, I think he just didn't like 'art' that wasn't PICTURES - a drearily conventional notion despite how wacky his pictorial content might be otherwise. Still, Williams is a very talented painter, so what the fuck.

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
January 26, 2011 – Finished Reading
January 27, 2011 – Shelved
January 27, 2011 – Shelved as: art
January 27, 2011 – Shelved as: comics

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