Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Coming to No End Demanded by Symmetry or Proportion

Perhaps not surprisingly, the Wall Street Journal has very good things to say about Carl Barks and Scrooge McDuck in a review on Saturday of the latest installment in the Fantagraphics Barks set. Also, as a throwaway reference to a "midcentury student of America's vernacular arts" (whom I really should look up), the critic -- Tim Marchman -- provides a precise statement about the elements of a great deal of what we all love.....

The stories in this collection range from perfect one-page gag strips to 30-page features so packed with incident that they would have to be trimmed to be adapted as films. They're about love, greed, the settlement of the West, what happens when modern ducks meet pre-modern cultures, and more. They're also about the American way of storytelling, in which rigid discipline can make abrupt transitions seem natural and inevitable: from money hidden in¬spinach cans to Beagle Boys in robot suits to an entire society of invisible native spirits hidden along the beaches of Hawaii.

John A. Kouwenhoven, the great midcentury student of America's vernacular arts, had a theory about what makes the country's native art forms unique: The key to such achievements as jazz and the skyscraper, he suggested, was a tension between order—as seen in the gridiron pattern superimposed on a continental scale from cities to farms—and a spontaneous, discontinuous rhythm felt in everything from the way Mark Twain spins a yarn to Walt Whitman's prosody. He identified comics, "which come to no end demanded by symmetry or proportion," as a special example. Carl Barks's creations show you exactly what he meant.


David Chute said...


David Chute said...

Relevamt quote from the New Yorker Cloud Atlas" piece:

“ ‘Cloud Atlas’ is a twenty-first-century novel,” Lana said. “It represents a midpoint between the future idea that everything is fragmented and the past idea that there is a beginning, a middle, and an end.”