Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Visual art and text

I'm always fascinated with the juxtaposition of different media. It's probably why one of my guilty pleasures when I end up somewhere with cable TV (and a lot of down time without much to do...which isn't very common) is to watch music videos. I'm much more forgiving of music styles I wouldn't normally enjoy if it has an interesting combination of video to go along with it. A lot of them aren't terribly interesting to me, but I like to catch those few that seem to get it.

Far more interesting, though, is that way text and images can interact. I've never been much of a traditional comic book fan--not sure why, though I think it might be in part that the balance is shifted too much to the image side with the text itself not demanding much of the reader (or maybe it's that the images themselves don't usually demand much of the viewer). I have enjoyed some graphic novels and even some comics. I greatly enjoyed Michael Chabon's novel The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Klay, which is about two comic book artists, enough that I liked the comic book that came from it, The Escapist, when I got it from the library. Liked, but nothing more. No burning desire to read the second volume or to reread the first. I've enjoyed some of Gaiman's graphic novels, and a good friend in college got me to read Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, which was good. And others...a Moorcock Eternal Champions comic is one that comes to mind as well as some of Nick Bantock's works, for a very different approach.

It seems to me, thought, that I'm always a little disappointed in these, that they never quite live up to the potential that I see in this pairing of pictures and words. I recently got another one with some birthday money, very different from these others and good in many ways--I'm not quite finished with it, but I'll likely blog about it once I have. More on the order of Bantock's works than comics, though the artwork is certainly influenced by anime/manga (I'm sure there's a technical distinction there that I'm unaware of...) And again, it doesn't quite satisfy, as fun and interesting as some of the parts are.

So, if any of you visiting have strong recommendations for works that really take advantage of both media, I'd love to hear it. I think what I'd really like is something with more philosophical depth than most of what I've encountered so far, something that challenges the reader/viewer both visually and textually.

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