best graphic novel ever?


( essay excerpt from John Carlin )

" When I first encountered Panter's comics in 1981, just before he created Cola Madnes, I was struck by the way he seemed to effortlessly juggle the high and the low, the profound and the profane. I was impressed by how natural and inevitable this process seemed in his work. Not the outgrowth of some theory, but the result of living in America at the end of the 20th century. I wasn't the only reader who felt that Panter's work resonated on a deeper level than comics were traditionally meant to serve.

Along the way he gathered peers who struck a similar, if not identical solution, notably Art Spiegelman and Sue Coe, who also balanced advanced graphic forms with complex thoughts about self and society. Yet Maus and Dead Meat are almost editorial in their use of graphic material to support a theme outside of themselves. In contrast, Panter's work often seems shapeless and driven more by the sheer virtuosity of his line than by his underlying ideas. But Cola Madnes illuminates how Panter makes of this apparent weakness strength.

The straightforward narrative and layout of Cola Madnes highlights Panter's central theme: we live in a culture that borrows significantly from the past, but we combine and inhabit these familiar signposts in a unique and ultimately disturbing way. Panter seems to be saying that we continue to live with the symbols and rituals of traditional belief systems but have lost their sense of spiritual purpose. That is the madness that is Cola. "

1 kommentar:

salari fuzz sa...

Panter, Gary. Dal Tokyo. Paris: Sketch Studio, 1992.
Panter, Gary. Invasion of the Elvis Zombies. New York: Raw, 1984. First edition (Raw One-Shot).
Panter, Gary. Cola Madnes [sic]. New York: Funny Garbage, 2000.
Panter, Gary. Burning Monster. Paris: Le Dernier Cri, 2000(?).
Many people have seen Panter's work without realizing it - he won Emmy awards for his set designs for Pee Wee's Playhouse. Panter has been illustrating using a very personal set of symbols since the early 70s. His "scratchy" style obscures his mastery of technique. The Dernier Cri's printing of Burning Monster is gorgeous - a beautiful object. The story of Cola Madnes needs to be read to be believed. Panter is another American artist who is celebrated overseas and virtually unknown at home. America doesn't know what it is missing.

and this excellent writing from Brian Nicholson's blog:
actual content

Gary Panter's comic drawn for the Japanese market, Cola Madnes, is influenced by Japanese underground comics, seemingly, in how sparse it is, and how the figures relate to each other spacially. His ratty line is what stops it from looking like clip art and brings it back to looking like the marks on paper that all of his work looks like. When I say that Tekkon Kinkreet carries with it some of Panter's power (Paper Rad call him Gary Panther for a reason), that isn't what I'm talking about. I'm talking about that basic level of sloppiness, combined with perfectly understandable drawings, that allow drawings to shift up their style and communicate feeling.

Feeling, it turns out, when reading it all together, is what this comic has in spades. It's about, on one level, male friendships, as this sort of thing that is able to stop the natural violence and craziness of the individuals. This is true about all relationships, but in this story, it's specifically about violence. When the characters get separated, it's more affecting to me here than in Goodbye, Chunky Rice due to the way that things go badly in terms of people's actual behavior as they fall apart, rather than just pine and feel lonesome. It's also more affecting to me because of the drawing. (Goodbye, Chunky Rice is still a good comic though, with its own strengths to the drawing.)

On another level, it's about gentrification. Which is what Brian Chippendale's Ninja was about, which I've already talked about in terms of its relation to Gary Panter.

On another level, it's a fight comic. One of the things I like about Japanese comics is the terminology. Things actually get called "fight comics." The word "manga" literally translates to "irresponsible pictures," which would be both a good name for a comic shop and an exploitation film production company. I don't like how Japanese comics are mostly just broken down by genre into demographics- one for boys, one for girls, one for men, one for women. (The stuff for boys and girls is what mostly is translated and popular. American women read the stuff for girls- I'm not sure what the stuff for women even is, as I'm under the impression that even the stuff featuring gay romance designed to appeal to a female readership is technically for girls. The stuff for men is really violent.) The really weird underground stuff doesn't get broken down, I don't think. It's kind of baffling to me. Anyway, one critic, responding to another critic who was asking "wait, are there Japanese comics for adults? I know there are American comics for adults, thanks New York Times!" brought up Tekkon Kinkreet. Another critic said "No, Tekkon Kinkreet is just a marginally more sophisticated version of these comics for little boys that are really popular. You should've mentioned these comics about the bombing of Hiroshima!" I jumped in to explain the whole Gary Panter not being Chris Ware thing.