As if to prove my thesis of comics supremacy, in what other than a golden age could a summit of great minds like Randall Munroe and Larry Gonick have previously escaped almost all notice? Gonick explained the history of almost everything with cartoons in his History of the Universe book seres, and Munroe is the cubicle-wall hero behind the defining webcomic XKCD.
The event took place at Princeton U, and the Daily Princetonian offers a report:
“I am a content purveyor,” [Gonick] said. “I’m a nonfiction person … I know it’s a low art, but I’m interested in big ideas.”
Later, he noted the risk of such an approach. “I live in fear of some academic looking at how our information is conveyed in comics discovering that it’s actually bad for you,” he explained.
Munroe followed, providing commentary for a number of his sketches. His presented work which covered a wide breadth of topics, from a chart of characters’ geographical positions in “The Lord of the Rings” to a graph that charted “usable orifices” against “penis size.” He said that he felt that his audience thinks he knows more than he does.
“I get to pick and choose the little bits that I know something about and do a comic about those,” he explained. “People tend to read those and assume that I know all about their field.”
From the piece it’s pretty clear that the students are more interested in Munroe by a long shot — only his picture is included — but we’d imagine both generations of comics intellectuals held their own.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.