Update your bookmarks!
Gerry Canavan's blog has moved.

Dear Friends,
Due to unfortunate considerations of time and cost, Backwards City is no longer a print journal. However, we will maintain our presence on the web that, however meager, we hope you might enjoy.

Who We Are
How to Subscribe
Submission Guidelines
Support BCR


Email Us * RSS/XML Feed

Lit Blogs [+/-]
Rake's Progress
Tingle Alley
The Elegant Variation
Arts & Letters Daily
Yankee Pot Roast
Poetry Daily
Verse Daily
Literary Journals [+/-]
AGNI Magazine
Alaska Quarterly Review
Bat City Review
Ballyhoo Stories
Bellevue Literary Review
Black Mountain Review
Black Warrior Review
Blue Mesa Review
Born Magazine
Can We Have Our Ball Back?
Carolina Quarterly
Cincinnati Review
Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art
Creative Nonfiction
CUE: A Journal of Prose Poetry
Denver Quarterly
Dos Passos Review
Exquisite Corpse
Forklift, Ohio
Fourteen Hills
Fourth Genre
Ghoti Magazine
Glimmer Train
Gulf Coast
Harpur Palate
Hayden's Ferry Review
Hunger Mountain
Ink & Ashes
Instant City
Land-Grant College Review
LIT Magazine
Mid-American Review
Missouri Review
New England Review
New Orleans Review
NOÖ Journal
Octopus Magazine
One Story
Orchid: A Literary Review
Oxford American
Paris Review
Pettycoat Relaxer
Plaztik Press
Poets & Writers
Post Road
Professor Barnhardt's Journal
Red Mountain Review
River City
River Teeth
Rosebud Magazine
Roux Magazine
Santa Monica Review
Sewanee Theological Review
Sonora Review
South Loop Review
Spire Press
Talking River
The Atlantic Monthly
The Baltimore Review
The Capilano Review
The Chattahoochee Review
The Florida Review
The Formalist
The Georgia Review
The Greensboro Review
The Iowa Review
The Kennesaw Review
The Literary Review
The New Yorker
The South Carolina Review
The Southeast Review
The Sycamore Review
Threepenny Review
Tin House
Comics [+/-]
Dial B for Blog
Monitor Duty
Comic Treadmill
Scott McCloud
The Comics Reporter
Paperback Reader
Exploding Dog
Toothpaste for Dinner
A Lesson Is Learned but the Damage Is Irreversible
Pop Culture [+/-]
Ain't It Cool News
Television Without Pity
The Dust Congress
Meta [+/-]
Boing Boing
Gravity Lens
The Show (with Ze Frank)
Games [+/-]
Jay Is Games
Little Fluffy Industries
Grand Text Auto
Our Writers[+/-]
Issue 6
David Axe & Matt Bors
Eric Greinke
B.J. Hollars
Cynthia Luhrs
T. Motley
Lynne Potts
Peter Schwartz
Sarah Solie
Jennie Thompson
NOÖ Journal"
Reene Wells
Issue 5">Idiot Comics

Ira Joel Haber
Jonathan Baylis & David Beyer Jr.
Kathleen Rooney
Issue 4
Kristy Bowen
Abigail Cloud
Will Dinski
Toothpaste for Dinner
The Flowfield Unity
Tom K
Dispatches from Roy Kesey
Austin Kleon
Kristi Maxwell
Marc McKee
Sheryl Monks
Renee Wells
Issue 3
Rafael �vila
Lynda Barry
Melissa Jones Fiori
Eric Joyner
Jonathan Lethem
Brian MacKinnon
Clay Matthews
Jesse Reklaw
Matthew Simmons
Amish Trivedi
Debbie Urbanski
Bart Vallecoccia
Issue 2
Jeremy Broomfield
Nick Carbo
Adam Clay
Kurtis Davidson
Lisa Jarnot
Patricia Storms
Chris Vitiello
Issue 1
Tom Chalkley
Peter S. Conrad
Cory Doctorow
Arielle Greenberg
Gabriel Gudding
Paul Guest
John Latta
K. Silem Mohammad
Jim Rugg
Marcus Slease
Tony Tost
Kurt Vonnegut
Friends & Associates [+/-]
UNCG Writing Program
Meme Therapy
Desert City Poetry Series
The Regulator Bookshop
Mac's Backs Paperbacks
Bull's Head Bookstore
Quail's Ridge Books
McIntyre's Fine Books
Chop Suey Books
McNally Robinson Bookstore
Adams Books
The Writer's Center Book Gallery
Project Pulp
Council of Literary Magazines and Presses
Association of Writers and Writing Programs
Small Beer Prees
Ed Cone
The Green Bean
New York Pizza
Triangle Bloggers
Greensboro 101
PClem's Music Blog
Our Frappr Map

May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
December 2007
March 2008
July 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008
October 2009
November 2009

Copyright © 2004-2007 Backwards City Publications of Greensboro.

All rights reserved.
Thursday, January 12, 2006

'Ware and the Frauds'
For a reader, even one devoted to comics as a form, to admit that the best book of the season is a collection of comic strips is to admit that there is something missing on the bookshop shelves.

New York Press has some interesting things to say about comics, fiction, and the boundary between them, paying particular attention to long-time Backwards City favorite Chris Ware and absolutely the book of some arbitrary length of time, The Acme Novelty Library Final Report to Shareholders and Rainy Day Saturday Afternoon Fun Book.

Click the [+/-] to reveal one particular passage I thought was very on the money.

Ware does not share this mania. Perhaps his best recurring joke is in the strip “Tales of Tomorrow,” in which an old man, recognizable from any coffee shop or bus station, is seen wearing an absurd futuristic outfit and attempting to take advantage of technology’s promise that it can replace human intimacy. In one such strip, he looks out from his window in one of the linked skyscrapers of tomorrow, linked by roads hundreds of feet over the sidewalks, sees a brick wall and slumps his shoulders. He sits beneath a giant bladder that puffs air as part of the process that allows him to call in to an audio message mailbox system; he is sad as he realizes there are no messages for him. He listens to an old record on a gramophone; he falls asleep in his chair as night falls. Later, he hurriedly races to the phone under the bladder and calls again; there is still no message. The bright colors out of a Sunday comics supplement, the rigidity of the panels and the note-perfect retro design of the strip’s title are all sleight-of-hand; the joke works because beneath the charmingly old-fashioned world of the future is an imaginary past where old men were deceived by the promises of Victrolas and rotary telephones and Louis Sullivan buildings, all of which form the visual points of reference.

Any fashionable novelist seeking to express a similar idea would doubtless have used as analogous points of reference a sleek glass skyscraper and an iPod plugged into an expensive computer. The music and the computer and the city would have been specific, so as to situate the character socially. In focusing the picture too tightly on the particulars, though, most novelists would have lost the iconographic comedy and missed both the absurdity and the despair that Ware creates.

Aside from (mostly) praise for one of my writers and artists, there's some intriguing thoughts about the relative capacities and limitations of both genres. Click this [+/-] to reveal another longish blockquote.

Ware’s ideas and techniques are attuned to the anxieties we all feel, and that’s enough to mark him as worthy of special regard, but most important, and basic, of all is that he works with the primary building blocks of fiction—characters particular enough to be universal, and logical action. Quimby Mouse calling a girl he had a crush on in third grade after having a dream about her; Rusty Brown, whom we come to know as a grotesquely imposing and seemingly insensate man, seen as a child curled up on a bed clutching a teddy bear and sobbing about how much he hates his best friend, or falling to the ground as bullies pelt him with snowballs; these work not because of the schematism of the page layout, or the color choices, or because of the references made to classic cartoon icons, but for the same reasons that any effective fiction is moving.

Fiction and graphic fiction shouldn’t be in competition, as there are things that only Ware can give us and others that he can never give us, that only the novelist could offer. The danger is that comics, with their new and hard-won prestige, will begin to force novelistic ideas into panels and word bubbles too cramped for such usage—and that novels, already anxious about their worth, will try to transport the comic’s rendering onto pages that ought to have inward, not outward depth. We’ll never see the effusive, dithering pronouncements of the mind given the depth in a comic that they can be afforded in a book, which is good—to attempt it would ruin the comic. Some ideas and emotions can only be told in stories through indirectness and aside, ruminations and the illusion of time unique to the printed page. The novel is still the only way to assay everything too vast and equivocal to be reduced to pure symbol and formulation. It ought to be groping with those mysteries that can’t be handled elsewhere.

Check out the whole darn thing. (via Boing Boing)

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?