Quote(s) for the Week 8/2/11

Josh (@IamJoshKopin) and I attended a panel event held at the Whitney Museum here in New York City when he was in town a few weeks back. The panel itself was made up of Gary Panter, Art Spiegelman, and Chris Ware; moderated by John Carlin. The subject of discussion was, ostensibly, the art of comics.
"Where I used to strive for movement and restlessness I now attempt to sense and express the complete total calm of objects and the surrounding air."
~ Lyonel Feininger (1871-1956), comicsmith, painter, musician and caricaturist, translated & quoted in the 2oo4 textbook "Expressionism" from Taschen books

The panel event was held in conjunction with an exhibit at the Whitney Museum (@whitneymuseum) exploring the work of the man who wrote that, one of the Twentieth Century's first comics creators: Lyonel Feininger. He was both a comicsmith and a traditional painter who was intentionally brought into newspaper comics in order to bring some legitimacy to the medium. Feininger had the luxury of coming into comics from a fine art perspective as a result. So a search for stillness seems to be right in line with his other work: painting, a single image static art. In fact, there's no way to know exactly which discipline he was speaking of when he said the above quote but its implications for comics are just as interesting as its implications for painting. If not more so.

Here's why:

Eddie Campbell, the excellent comicsmith, comics publisher, and comics artist, said this in a 2oo6 interview with Tom Spurgeon of ComicsReporter.com:
"... all our theories about how comics are put together are invariably about time. The duration of a panel's action and the duration between one panel and the next. We haven't added very much to the Eisner-Steranko concept of 'sequential art.' And if the form is to say something important, rather than just involve itself in the kinetic thrill of drawn characters chasing each other, then we have to think harder."
Motion seems to be more exciting than stillness. More sexy. Things moving from point A to point B over time open the reader/viewer to be captivated and one might be tempted to think that motion was a requirement for narrative in comics, as it might be in film, but I'm not so sure anymore.

I myself once wrote on this blog that the medium of comics...
"exists frozen forever in snap shots, yet feels animated in sequence... moves without motion and speaks without sound"
but perhaps it would be best to embrace the stillness of the comics page. To "think harder" as Campbell implores and do as Feininger suggests: find "the complete total calm of objects".


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