WELCOME TO ANOTHER EDITION OF HALF-ASS
dDigging into my Yahoo! archives, I found this delightful, but yet unpublished item of mine to the Oh So? column of the Comics Buyer's Guide detailing a Art Spiegelman lecture at the Skirball Cultural Center in Bel Air, Ca. I never bother to ask Maggie Thompson or John Miller why they didn't go for it- maybe it was just too political or maybe there was a little touch of anti-semitism that they didn't go for (unintentional on my part, after all I was observing and recording everything that Art said). The lecture was sponsored in part by the Comics Journal, if I recall. What I recall most was me taking the bus up there and making the brash decision of walking back to my house in Sherman Oaks thinking that it would only take twenty minutes. Ow, my aching feet.
6358 Bellingham Ave
North Hollywood, Ca 91606
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Dear Maggie & Crew,
Imagine yourself on a oasis of on the freeway with nothing between you for miles but surrounding mountains, coyotes, Hollywood mansions and maybe Harlan Ellison's Wonderland. I found myself last Sunday ( the 15th of November ) anxious to attend a lecture given at a tranquil jewish foundation and museum that I've always passed by on the 405 but was never inclined to stop by and visit; ( and further down on the same freeway and nestled on even a higher mountain is the newly opened Getty Center that is only accessible by a tramcar ).
If you're looking for a little isolation in your comic art indulgence in a place where nobody knows or wants to know your name ( with the exception of those doing the lecturing ),then may I recommend to you the Cartoon Art Cultural Expression and Social Commentary series happening at the Skirball Cultural Center in a very remote area of Los Angeles during this month and the next few months co-sponsored by Comic Con International and the Comics Journal ? I admit I came on the series a little late in the game having missed the Jules Feiffer tribute a few weeks prior, but Art Spiegalman and his travelling lecture slide show Comics 101 made up for lost time.
A warning sign to patrons to beware of the fact that " cigarette smoke will be used as part of tonight's performance " did not deter from packing in the auditorium. But I didn't see any reason necessary for the disclaimer; after all the Republicians did lose five seats
in the house- so I don't think our so-called conservative state of California were going to turn on him like a pack of rabid dogs if he decided to spark one up after a few of us paid $ 12.00 a piece to hear him speak ( $ 6.00 if you happened to be a member ). And that's a small price to pay to breathe in second hand smoke.
What the general public was treated to was a very informative insight in the history of a taken for granted art-form, and what I mean by the term " general public " is by my own personal observation; these people in attendance weren't your regular run of the mill gathering of fanboys. None at all. Some I've noticed seem to be a higher or middle income bracket, clean cut high school and college students ( a few overheard in my row were in attendance for class credit ),and just practitioners or admirers of fine art in general. And of course, there were Art's fans with their copies of Maus and Maus II in tow for autographs.
And who better to tutor the genesis of the comic strip form than Art Speigelman ? During the coarse of the two hour lecture, he gave us a breif overview of his own exquisite career in the days of the underground, Garbage Pail Kids, to the debut of Raw and Maus; with a hint of future projects on the horizon such as a junior version of Raw and the revelation that he is writing a opera on the history of comics.
Much degree of different of historic importance were explored in Art's slideshow in addition to profound quips and commentary uttered between puffs of tar and nicotine. One such observation according to Mr. Speigelman was that people who do comics serve the purpose of producing tranformative work as real artists do and the comics themselves are internally intwined with the his-
tory of paintings themselves using such illustrations such as William Brown's Stages of Cruelty and Rudolph Topfier as examples. Mr Spiegelman also offered a easy analogy as how comics serve our political ideology through Krazy Kat. Krazy Kat represents democracy because she is always forgiving, Ignatz represents anarchy because he is always clobbering Krazy Kat over the
head with a brick, and Officer Pup would stand for facism because he captures Ignatz everytime he smacks Krazy Kat over the head with a brick and therefore is thrown into a cell constructed of brick.Simply the comparsions to be very in tune with the way our world
Mr. Speigelman shared with us the cogs of how the comic strip industry operates from what advantage point an individual would be positioned in the food chain as to if he or she would be better off trying to break in the comic strip syndicates rather than the comic book industry itself- simply because the syndicates are known to pay better. Mr. Speigelman was also kind enough to let us in on a little trade secret about the comic book industry is a major Jewish American industry, created to be more popular than the garment in
dustry and that EC Horror comics were probably the American Jewish response to the Holocaust.
And what partial wisdom did Mr.Speigelman reveal on the current state of the indusrty besides the comic book stores being nothing but a gathering of Rosicrucians on a Wednesday afternoon ?
Glad you asked.
Mr. Speigelman articulately pointed out that there is a future for a graphic novel section in bookstores, but what the general public doesn't understand that it takes a artist years to accumulate a piece of work to be collected in graphic novel format. A star is not in-
deed born overnight. Mr. Speigelman concluded his lecture by saying comic books need protection from libraries and museums in order to perserve into the next century.
Cary Coatney - November 19, 2000