Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Today I got the latest issue of Diamond, the generally excellent newspaper anthology published by Floating World Comics out of Portland. For my money it's the best one yet. Paul Pope draws a gorgeous dream comic and a cover that got me some weird looks when I read the thing on the subway. Dash Shaw contributes a surrealistic spread starring Barack Obama that continues his ever-more intriguing use of expressionistic acetate color overlays. Jonny Negron brings the house down with a massively psychedelic porn-y strip that explores territory pretty much foreign to everything but tentacle-rape manga. Jim Rugg's literalist reading of the classic cat vs. mouse cartoon scenario, complete with compund fractures, ripped off ears, and blood-filled eyeballs literally dropped my jaw a couple times. This is such a great comic, you guys.
So I was saddened to see this in the fine print at the end:
Thus, apparently, ends one of the worthiest entries in what's becoming a more and more prominent new format for comics, the newspaper anthology. Final issues always make me think about the series in question's place in comics history (or lack thereof), and I feel like Diamond's got an interesting one. Tucker Stone's recent article on anthologies makes the point that in the post-internet comics landscape they aren't really the introductory stage for new artists that they used to be -- now they're more rarefied places for the cream of the crop to test out ideas and show off their chops. The result of that might be less historical importance (they're no longer the first place anyone was published), but it means that we get more things like Diamond: venues for cartoonists who've earned the privilege to do a little stretching out in an environment with the air of "indie cool". More specifically, the newspaper anthology, which I think in the long view will end up being seen as the dominant form of this era in the format, affords some of the grandest stretching out possible: the broadsheet page hasn't been this relevant a presence in comics art since the 1940s, when Hal Foster and George Herriman banged them out for an audience of millions on a weekly basis.
Diamond and comics like it are really something quite unique: isolated incidents of visually stunning work by the medium's best artists, slapped together in cheap packages and often given away for free. That's a wonderful thing. I'll be raising a glass to editor Jason Leivian's lovely experiment tonight.