Saturday, January 2, 2010

Sad Stories

I can’t move on from Ivan Brunetti’s worthy Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons and True Stories (see my Dec. 22, 2009, post here) without cautioning that a lot of these stories are really, really depressing. It seems lots of contemporary sequential-art collections are.

I don’t specifically mean Art Spiegelman’s holocaust memoir masterpiece, Maus, which is excerpted in this book, but so many of the other stories that are sad at every turn of day-to-day life — Tony Millionaire’s dead birds, Debbie Drechsler’s sexually abused girls, Charles Burns’s domestic violence, the lonely childhood of Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan …. My goodness.

I’m not saying some of these aren’t good art, either, with topics worth exploring. Jaime Hernandez’s “Flies on the Ceiling,” charting how Isabel, one his long-running characters, slowly loses her mind, is brilliant, for example. (And I realize I’m not the first to point this out.)

But, gosh, a little more joy in this collection would’ve added something closer to a balance of light and dark.

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