Saturday, November 12, 2005

Serious Words about Funny Books

A couple of Los Angeles museum exhibits about comic book/strip art -- at the Hammer and the Museum of Contemporary Art -- have resulted in some positive press in the L.A. Times that goes far beyond the usual "Zap! Pow! Comics Aren't Just for Kids!" stories seen in newspapers.

Today, the Times Calendar Section featured a nicely-illustrated story about critical favorites Chris Ware, Art Spiegelman, Gary Panter, and R. Crumb. (Unfortunately, the online version omits the illustrations.)

And on Wednesday, the Kid's Page sidebar had a story about Jack Kirby, illustrated with the cover to Fantastic Four #50. Considering that most kids these days probably grow to adulthood without seeing a comic book (despite being inundated with comic-book heroes in movies, videogames, and animated cartoons), this is a nice hook to try to get the rugrats to pick one up. One problem: They probably won't find a contemporary comic with art as gorgeous as Kirby's jump-off-the-page cover to FF # 50. (From the early '60's on, Stan Lee, never one for modesty, put the masthead "The World's Greatest Comic Magazine!" on Fantastic Four covers -- and during the period that Lee and Kirby were at their peak on the title, from about 1963 to 1969, few would dispute that boast.) Nor will they find one at the 1996 price of 12 cents -- now that the cheapest comics sell for $2.95.

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