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Comics is a form of visual art consisting of images which are commonly combined with text, often in the form of speech balloons or image captions. Originally used to illustrate caricatures and to entertain through the use of amusing and trivial stories, it has by now evolved into a literary medium with many subgenres.


  • I read the ones which look to me to be of some interest. I give the rest to the children at Bellevue and let them read them and tell me what they think about them. I give them to teachers, psychiatrists. I take them home to my children. And if there is any question about one, and frequently there is for instance, about 2 years ago one of the psychiatrists wrote me in dismay saying that be, had picked up a comic his daughter brought him which a psychiatrist had been abused in his opinion and found my name on the advisory board and wondered how I could justify such a thing.
In this particular comic the storywriter had thought up a new form of what might be called shock treatment, in which a wife, who was jealous of her husband, had been exposed by the husband, at the advice of his psychiatrist, to actual situations which could be interpreted as indicating that the husband was wanting to do her harm.
But then it ended up with the husband explaining everything and the psychiatrist coming in and explaining everything and the wife and the husband reunited in, their mutual understanding and love, and the psychiatrist going home. He lived next door. The husband played chess with him, or something.
Well, this didn't look very bad to me. I said I was not even sure it was not a good idea, it has some good ideas in it. Maybe if we actually did try to portray some of the delusions of patients and showed we could explain, that might be away of exposing disillusionary ideas.
I showed them to the children in the ward, because they do have disillusonary ideas. The children in the ward thought that was a good story and they thought it was a good idea, it was like the kind of treatment we were giving them, which I had not thought of, in that fashion. They certainly thought it was a good way to cure the sick woman.
  • Mr. Beaser: You mentioned burning flames. Look at this picture here. It shows as a final scene a man being burned. You would object to that being distributed to children, would you not? I gathered that from your last remarks.
Dr. Bender: I would say this: I think I could distribute that to the children. I don't know who the man is. I don't think they know who he is, do they?
Mr. Beaer: Supposing it was a magazine which depicted him as the father of a child, a father figure?
Dr. Bender: Then I would object to it. You see, I objected to this thing about the sailors because it was our sailors.
Mr. Beaser:You would also object maybe to the sight of a child's mother and father being electrocuted?
Dr. Bender: Well, I object to seeing that under any circumstances, if you don't mind.
  • ...all our theories about how comics are put together are invariably about time. The duration of a panel's action and the duration between one panel and the next. We haven't added very much to the Eisner-Steranko concept of "sequential art."
  • An illustrator is someone who takes a story and visualizes it. In a comic, the drawing is the story; it doesn’t illustrate it.
  • I don't think that we should seek to define comics on a formal basis. I think that some of the best comics do not involve "sequential images" which is the basis of every formal definition of comics.
  • ...if the form is to say something important, rather than just involve itself in the kinetic thrill of drawn characters chasing each other, then we have to think harder.
  • ...the concept of what comics is gets narrower as we go along. Each writer on the subject who defines comics wants to exclude something. McCloud excludes the single panel so Family Circus and Far Side are out. Blackbeard says there must be word balloons so Prince Valiant is out. Harvey says there has to be a visual-verbal balance. Somebody else says there must be no redundancy of information with words and pictures repeating each other. This is crap. Pictures have illustrated words and words have explained pictures since the beginning of time. Somebody reads a dull comic and extrapolates rules from it. Who do they think they are? There are all these people trying to be the rule-makers and the end result is bad for the art of Comics.
  • The form restricts itself at every turn. For instance, the artist sits before his blank page. If his first picture is a big square one all the way across then he has severely limited his second panel to having to fit in the letterbox space along the bottom. If he divides that in two then that third panel is looking like a sad and defeated cornered animal. That's about all i see when I look at comic books now. Obviously the artist doesn't do it that way; he plans the whole page simultaneously. But it tends to read like he planned it that way, and that's all that counts.
  • [t]he standards of comics include inventiveness, originality, and consistency. The best comics really are great artworks — great by the intrinsic standards of that art form.
    • David Carrier The Aesthetics of Comics p. 95
  • The syllogism that says "Comics are sequential art, Trajan's column is sequential art, therefore Trajan's column is comics" is such a glaring fallacy that I'm surprised it's gotten this far.
  • ...the whole small press movement...[is] the first real upheaval in this country of Comics as a genuine Art - Art being to me a thing which is a lively part of life while commenting on life - as opposed to comics as journalism-cartooning or comics as a collecting-hobby or comics as boys power fantasies.
    • Eddie Campbell Arkensword 17-18, 1986
  • You can go into slow motion or fast motion in a comic book in a way you can't in a movie without drawing attention to it. You can have six panels in a row where the actions are a half second apart, or you can skip years between panels and it just doesn't have the same egregious quality, where, in a movie, Peckinpah slows down the murder and it seems that the body collapse in slow motion; it seems like an entirely different thing when you do that on film and when you do that on the comics page.
    • Samuel R. Delany The Comics Journal 48
  • The viewer is a 'co-producer" of the comics text at a level of involvement and intensity just through the nature of the medium itself.
    • Samuel R. Delany The Comics Journal 48
  • a visual medium, a comics format … the writer works for the artist, in the same that the writer in a movie works for the director.
    • Samuel R. Delany The Comics Journal 48
  • In movies, television, and comics, the operative factor is what some film semiologists have taken to calling 'the gaze.' The gaze is a combination of the gaze of the viewer at the comics page, or television tube, or film screen, modulated and directed by the looks that the characters give to each other and by various objects. I look at character X who looks at situation Y (and character X) in a way that I wouldn't have before. The point, of course, is that the movie gaze, the TV gaze, and the comics gaze are three very different processes. What makes the comic book gaze the priveleged one in my estimation is that the viewer has the greatest control over the comic book gaze, greater than any of the other two. Viewers can control how far way or close to hold the page, whether to go backwards and re-gaze -- and going back in a comic book is a very different process from going back in a novel to re-read a previous paragraph or chapter.
    • Samuel R. Delany The Comics Journal 48
  • You know, I distrust people who 'read' comics … you don't read a comic book. You look at a comic book. While you're looking at a comic, sure, you read the words; as well, you learn to look at the panels in a certain order, in a certain way … if you start out to 'read' a comic book, you're starting out with the wrong mind-set.
    • Samuel R. Delany The Comics Journal 48
  • ...'comic' simply means funny, so the word is inadequate. To tack on the word 'adult' has resulted in a style of magazine suitable for only some adults, glossy comics barely containing their airbrushed breasts, leaving little room for genuine content.
    • Paul Gravett Escape Magazine 1
  • ...the history of comics is mostly just a history of crap.
  • They’re outraged not because of any personal prejudice. They’re outraged because they hate to see any change made on a series and characters they had gotten familiar with. In Spider-Man, when they got a new actor, that bothered them, even though it was a white actor. I don’t think it had to do with racial prejudice as much as they don’t like things changed.
  • Boys young and old satisfy their wish thoughts by reading comics. If they go crazy for Wonder Woman it means they're longing for a beautiful exciting girl who's stronger than they are.
    • William Moulton Marston as quoted in Olive Richard Bryne's, "Our Women Are Our Future" Family Circle, August 14th, 1942.
  • There are one or two rules of thumb which are useful in distinguishing sadism from exciting adventure in the comics. Threat of torture is harmless, but when the torture it’s self is shown it becomes sadism. When a lovely heroine is show bound to the stake, comics followers are sure that the rescue will arrive just in the nick of time. The readers wish is to see save the girl, not to see her suffer. A bound or chained person does not suffer even embarrassment in the comics, and the reader, therefore is not being taught to enjoy suffering.
    • William Moulton Marston, as quoted in Olive Richard Bryne's, "Don't laugh at the comics" Family Circle, Oct 25, 1940.
  • Boys young and old satisfy their wish thoughts by reading comics. If they go crazy for Wonder Woman it means they're longing for a beautiful exciting girl who's stronger than they are.
    • William Moulton Marston, as quoted in Olive Richard Bryne's, "Our Women Are Our Future" Family Circle, August 14th, 1942.
  • Comics they say are not literature--adventure strips lack artistic form, mental substance, and emotional appeal to any but the most moronic of minds. Can it be that 100,000,000 Americans are morons?
    • William Moulton Marston, Why 100,000,000 Americans Read Comics p. 35-44
  • ...much cooler than the television show could ever have been.
    • George R. R. Martin describing the comic book adaptation of [w:Doorways|Doorways]], 'What if?. George R.R. Martin's Doorways #1. pp. 24–27.
  • If I write a crappy comic book, it doesn't cost the budget of an emergent Third World nation. When you've got these kinds of sums involved in creating another two hours of entertainment for Western teenagers, I feel it crosses the line from being merely distasteful to being wrong. To paint comic books as childish and illiterate is lazy. A lot of comic books are very literate — unlike most films.
  • To my mind, this embracing of what were unambiguously children's characters at their mid-20th century inception seems to indicate a retreat from the admittedly overwhelming complexities of modern existence. It looks to me very much like a significant section of the public, having given up on attempting to understand the reality they are actually living in, have instead reasoned that they might at least be able to comprehend the sprawling, meaningless, but at-least-still-finite 'universes' presented by DC or Marvel Comics. I would also observe that it is, potentially, culturally catastrophic to have the ephemera of a previous century squatting possessively on the cultural stage and refusing to allow this surely unprecedented era to develop a culture of its own, relevant and sufficient to its times.
  • Why should murder be so over-represented in our popular fiction, and crimes of a sexual nature so under-represented? Surely it cannot be because rape is worse than murder, and is thus deserving of a special unmentionable status. Surely, the last people to suggest that rape was worse than murder were the sensitively reared classes of the Victorian era … And yet, while it is perfectly acceptable (not to say almost mandatory) to depict violent and lethal incidents in lurid and gloating high-definition detail, this is somehow regarded as healthy and perfectly normal, and it is the considered depiction of sexual crimes that will inevitably attract uproars of the current variety.
  • The British novel has become so thin-blooded and out of touch with anything. And television drama's been pretty much emasculated. Comics is one place where no one's looking. And you get this work out, which would once have been some bizarre film by Lindsay Anderson, but now there'd be no possible way of getting that funded. Comics' marginalisation allows you to do a lot that you wouldn't be able to do otherwise.
    • Grant Morrison The Comics Journal 176 p. 82 (1995)
  • As for all this talk I keep hearing about how 'ordinary people' can't handle the weird layouts in comics - well, time for another micro-rant, but that's like your granddad saying he can't handle all the scary, fast-moving information on Top of the Pops and there's really only one answer. Fuck off, granddad. If you're too stupid to read a comic page, you shouldn't be trying to read comic books and probably don't.
  • The comics medium is a very specialized area of the Arts, home to many rare and talented blooms and flowering imaginations and it breaks my heart to see so many of our best and brightest bowing down to the same market pressures which drive lowest-common-denominator blockbuster movies and television cop shows. Let's see if we can call time on this trend by demanding and creating big, wild comics which stretch our imaginations. Let's make living breathing, sprawling adventures filled with mind-blowing images of things unseen on Earth. Let's make artefacts that are not faux-games or movies but something other, something so rare and strange it might as well be a window into another universe because that's what it is.
  • Barack Obama: I grew up loving comic books. Back in the day, I was pretty into Conan the Barbarian and Spiderman.
Anyone who reads comics can tell you, every main character has an origin story -- the fateful and usually unexpectations sequence of events that made them who they are.
  • A lot of the people who read comics think of comics as a culture—or as a subculture; something with its own private codes that mark its members as belonging, and everybody else as not belonging.

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