This article from the Philadelphia Inquirer is a typical summing up of the state of the Graphic Novel and its place c. late 2008, viewed through the recent past:
“There’s a lot of stuff going on with comics that’s really exciting,” says Abel, who is the Best New American Comic series editor along with her husband, Matt Madden, with whom she also wrote Drawing Words & Writing Pictures, a textbook she teaches from at Manhattan’s School of Visual Art. “There was a radical change somewhere in the neighborhood of 2001, and ever since then we’ve been riding some kind of wave.”
The watershed moment was the 2000 publication of Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth, a dazzlingly detailed story of a shlumpy Chicagoan that “helped people who weren’t looking at comics come back to them,” Abel says. And graphic literature has increasingly made its way into the movies, as with Cleveland everyman Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor in 2003. The genre boasts both established masters such as Robert Crumb and Spiegelman, or Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez – whose Love & Rockets, New Stories, No. 1, was just published – and geniuses in the making, such as 25-year-old Dash Shaw, who created the family-drama comic success of this year, Bottomless Belly Button.
From Ware to Shaw, there ya go, with many other stops along the way. The article even has a final zinger by Dean Haspiel, who vows, “I can take you anywhere with my pencil.”
Sounds great right? But not so fast! In Canada, comics are still struggling to be accepted!
It’s not easy for comic books to get respect. Sure, they’ve been turned into big budget movies, they’ve created iconic caped characters, and they’ve given immeasurable joy to geeks around the globe. But are they treated as a medium of serious artistic merit? I figure that question is why the term “graphic novel” came about. It sounds so much more mature than “comic book.”
Say it ain’t so, Joe!