Colin Upton has been on the comics battleground from the mini-comics movement on, a 20 year run that has seen a lot of stuff come and go. Now he delivers his own history in an essay on “Comics and the Lowbrow” which compares and contrasts comics with the Lowbrow art movement.
The influence of comixs on Lowbrow is obvious but does that mean comixs are by definition Lowbrow? By no means. While Lowbrow is an art scene that has emerged in a particular time and place – that is the West Coast of North America in the post war years and becoming a self aware movement in the 1980s – comixs are a centuries old medium that is virtually worldwide and encompasses the Highbrow, the Lowbrow and everything in between. While comix book artists are predominately white, straight males, there are many talented women, visible and sexual minorities already working in comics (unlike the last two in Lowbrow). Comixs are also international. There are comixs to suit every taste, from the memoirs of an unruly Iranian girl growing up under the thumb of the mullahs to a French-Canadian’s travelogue of North Korea and stories of a Cleveland filing clerk. However, while many people are working hard to shake off Lowbrow label from comics the Lowbrow spirit in comixs is very strong, with a streak of crass, rude, satirical humour that refuses to take itself too seriously… and thank all that is holy for that!