Stan Lee arrived at 6:30 pm to get a glimpse of all the artwork and meet many of the artists. (If you ever meet him, you’d notice that he’s really down to earth.) When making his way around the gallery he’d look at each piece with a big smile and give a big thanks to the artist, if they were there. We’d never been in that close of proximity to him before, as we were last night. He’s a really good guy and very appreciative to all his fans. He really enjoyed chatting and discussing the artwork so much that he had a hard time making it through the whole gallery before the doors were to open.
It might be a make or break year for both Marvel and DC; lately they’ve both taken to dumping their eggs into shaky baskets. Given that both, especially Marvel, have been riding a wave of steady sales increases it would seem both are now more secure than they’ve been for many years, but 2008 may be a make or break year for both of them, and for the DC universe in particular.
The fetishization of outsider art is always a little uneasy. Outsider artists are, by definition, distant from centers of cultural power, and their kooky stories (insane, marginal, loopy) are often as important to their mystique as the art itself. So you end up with a lot of cultural elites patting themselves on the back because they get the genius of this artist and understand him in a way that normal people don’t. It’s a way for bourgeois hipsters (a redundancy, of course) to pretend that they’re actually more prole than the proles. It’s icky — and it’s certainly in full effect here. The book includes a final section by editor Paul Karasik which is, rather presumptiously, in comics form. Anyway, Karasik repeatedly points out that he recognizes the genius that is Hanks even though most people (Karasik’s mother, Hanks’ own son) do not. We also get the scanty biographical details which place Hanks firmly as an outsider — he was a mean drunk, a wife-beater, and a child-abuser, who died penniless. No quite Henry Darger, but it’ll do.
§ We forgot to link to Dirk Deppey’s top 52 comics of the year — Dirk’s #1 choice is a very worthy book which has received less attention that you might have expected.
§ This is very funny. So is the above photo.