Sam, Sally, and Juan here with Thursday’s comics news! Thoughts on originality, a moment with Yona Harvey, and some comics Instagram gems.
Sam Ombiri: I find it hard these days to quote something where there is power in the words the person says and part of the power is reaffirmed by their accomplishments and stuff like that, and then their words are elevated really high. I guess what I’m kind of scared of is the trap of mentioning some important person’s name, followed with that important person’s quote, all manipulated so that I might appear important.
Anyways, this isn’t to criticize others, it’s more a personal gripe. I was reading something where this guy (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNMPrPyUcnM) quoted Kubrick. It was cool what Kubrick said, it reminded me of something Josh Bayer said, since in both instances they were dealing with the subject of originality.
There’s a huge appeal of originality, and aspirations towards it. Maybe it’s because of bragging rights? However, Kubrick didn’t think that. Or maybe he did, but he instead looked at originality as something different. What he was saying was: you shouldn’t be so preoccupied with ideas of how to be original because original people can’t help but be original because they can’t work in the old form so they have start a new one. Josh Bayer’s trajectory in the subject of originality was that originality is “just a red herring.” When I heard that, it felt awesome to hear that thought so well articulated. I more than agree with that for many reasons, one of them being that originality doesn’t take too much effort. I also disagree with it, at the same time though if that makes any sense. Luckily Josh wasn’t using this idea as an excuse, but realigning focus to other aspects of the work. So I don’t disagree with what he said at the time he said it, and that being said, his originality just came by automatically, for reasons I can’t articulate nor do I feel I’m in the position to attempt.
Juan Fernández: Last night I raced from work to Phantom of the Attic Comics in Oakland to catch Poet Yona Harvey’s signing for her first issue of the new World of Wakanda series. For those not in the know, this series is a spinoff of the popular new Black Panther series (written by Ta-Nahisi Coates). It made me really happy to see Phantom welcome one of Marvel’s newest creators and usher in a new wave of Marvel comics. Of course, when I had arrived all copies had been sold out! Bummed for myself, overjoyed for Yona, I placed an order for a copy 😉
In 2008 Yona taught a class that I can safely say, has informed pretty much all of my art creation. Synthesis through metamorphosis of existing images and words. The class was on archiving and autobiography. We read, and wrote and discussed a wide gamut of fiction and non-fiction that blurred any conceivable lines of categorization. Above all, we explored the idea of “truth”. She required us to go see lectures, attend poetry readings in the city and so much more. It’s thanks to her pushing us out of the classroom that within my first months as a student in Pittsburgh, I had understood that I wanted to call Pittsburgh home. I have so much gratitude in my heart for all the time that she has given her art and her students. I can say, without a doubt that I’m still unpacking the things I learned from her 7 years ago.
She’s an amazing educator and to see her get the chance to swing fiercely on her work on the World of Wakanda brings me so much joy. Her collage based approached is very much the approach that I believe is the most fertile space for comics. Collaging thought through the collage of image and word. Here’s a little about her from the Pennsylvania Center for the Book:
“Harvey’s work tends to originate through methods of collage or sampling, informed by her background in archiving and information science, and she celebrates the many lives one piece of literature can possess through the various multimedia and web-related forms it can take. She welcomes innovation in the study of how poetry is constructed and presented, and she is often referred to as a, “literary artist.” Her interest in audio archives and rare poetry recordings furthers this fascination in her study of how poetry is read aloud.
The American jazz pianist, composer, and arranger, Mary Lou Williams (who happened to grow up in the East Liberty area of Pittsburgh) is often a muse to Harvey’s work. This is especially true of her recent poetry collection, Hemming the Water (2013), which publisher Four Way Books describes as, “[a book that] speaks to the futility of trying to mend or straighten a life that is constantly changing.” The description goes on to read that with references to fairy tales and ancient fables, Yona Harvey, “inhabits, challenges, and explores the many facets of the female self—as daughter, mother, sister, wife, and artist—both on a personal level and cultural level.”
Sally here: I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but increasingly Instagram is the place to keep up with the new work of your favorite cartoonists. The little square offers the chance to reveal only so much of a “wip” so you an keep fans engaged without giving away all your secrets. Folks have started to play with the format as well, when it comes to a publishing platform for actual work. A single panel comic is easy to share, as is a 4-panel strip. A few people have figured out how to share longer work as well, through the use of video.
Here is recent work by some of the cartoonist that Comics Workbook follows (and follow @comicsworkbook!):
Shannon Wright – @shannondrewthis
Skuds McKinley – @skudsink
Cameron Weston Nicholson – @prof_weston
Chris Visions – @chrisvisions
Sally started an eBay store to help out the Comics Workbook Rowhouse Residency and also her own comics-making projects. Check it out HERE!