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  1.  (8130.1)
    * The thing about the CD-shaped panel, I noted over the weekend, is that it fits a blog structure nicely, but two of them, one on top of the other, also fills a standard comics print page nicely (with wider-than-normal side margins, of course, but who gives a shit).

    * It's an odd shape, and forces you to think differently about what a panel can achieve -- especially if you think ahead to an eventual print object that'll juxtapose two of them on a single page.

    * Which is a good thing to think about, because it pushes you away from the generic. And genericism is what kills. If you're looking at a shelf of comics -- or a webstore index of thumbnails, even -- and you can't tell the units apart, someone somewhere is in trouble.

    Genericism is the enemy. ASTERIOS POLYP stood out not just because of the quality of its draughtmanship, but because it was that rare beast, a piece of literary fiction in comics form. Not an unploughed furrow in comics -- down the row, you'll find GEORGE SPROTT and CLYDE FANS, and towards the more well-walked end the works of Gilbert Hernandez, among many others -- but certainly a bit of a remote field, and unusual in its siting because it made use of comics to create new literary tools. That and its remarkable focus and clear novelistic intent -- and its accessibility -- make it crest. It's an easier read than a Chris Ware book, more sinewy and determined, more interested in direct and clear communication. And communication is the goal. Telling a story in a way that anyone can pick up and understand is the goal. I'm not talking about being dumbed down, or being simplistic -- I'm talking about clarity. Books are devices without operating manuals. There is sometimes pleasure in spending time with a thing and coaxing it into telling you things. But there is skill in providing a device that gives itself up to telling you its stories. The initial and much-cited meeting of Polyp and his future wife is instructive: without saying it out loud, the depiction is of two incomplete figures who only become whole (or, perhaps, the empty container of Polyp is only filled) when they come together. Volumes are told with intelligence and clarity.

    That right there is a new sound. That's what's to be striven for.

    Everybody likes literary fiction, whether they know it or not. It's also called mainstream fiction. Another term for it is conventional mimetic fiction -- fiction that attempts to mirror or explore real life. It mutates. What we used to call "slipstream" is now well entrenched inside literary fiction, not least because we live in a science fiction condition and "slipstream" best represents that.

    For many and various reasons too boring to go into here, there's not much of that in commercial comics. Things like AIR continue to struggle to find a sizeable audience, as, infamously, did PHONOGRAM, which I'm fine with describing as literary fiction that uses magic as metaphor for the love of music and the tangle of social interaction. It's a fight to get comics readers to take a chance on these things (even as a lot of them watch literary fiction on tv). But it's a fight worth having.

    (And, you know, I say that as someone who's worked almost exclusively in genre fiction for twenty years. But it has given me a platform to champion other stuff from.)

    I don't think this is the note I meant to write. Oh well.
  2.  (8130.2)
    "But there is skill in providing a device that gives itself up to telling you its stories."

    There is fear of this when it comes to making comics...or maybe it's the fear of falling into the bottomless chasm between 'genre' comics and 'literary' comics.

    How do you balance finding the 'new sound' with being recognizable to people who might be interested?

    Is the only real answer to make what you need to make and hope someone gives a shit?
  3.  (8130.3)
    There is fear of this when it comes to making comics...or maybe it's the fear of falling into the bottomless chasm between 'genre' comics and 'literary' comics.

    How do you balance finding the 'new sound' with being recognizable to people who might be interested?


    I posed a similar question - although not directly related to comics - on my blog late last year (which the Interstitial Arts Foundation picked up on). Sadly I didn't get many suggestions (so I'll be watching this thread closely).

    The one thing that makes selling any interstitial project remotely possible is the internet, which provides near-free access to huge numbers of people. The problem, of course, is how to gain the attention of the small percentage of people who might be interested. Which is where building communities like this comes in.