Heidi MacDonald's post about the "Best American Comics of 2007" anthology is a good one and it (and the 100+ comments that follow) deserves far more time and care in reading than my Monday-afternoon skim between gigs allows.
But in a nutshell what's she sorta saying is that the anthology, edited by Chris "Jimmy Corrigan" Ware, features a bunch of auto-biographical "angst" pieces and doesn't really touch upon alternate types of comic book material. For example, stories that are not auto-bio angst pieces. Stuff by Jeff Smith or Stan Sakai. Stories. Story stories.
And also, she suggests,
"...you wouldn’t catch any comics snob worth his or her salt saying they thought Jeff Smith was a great American cartoonist."
We're back, in a sense, to the "high art"/"low art"debate again.
If the piece of art -- say, a comic book, popular novel, or painting -- functions primarily as a narrative, it is "low art."
If the piece of art is a subjective abstract collection of feelings and sentiments done in a roundabout way -- it is "high art."
And as the comic book medium becomes more accepted in "high-brow" circles & academia, this debate will only get more heated.
I mean, in 50 years, what will be considered English class "required reading" in terms of graphic novels?
Chris Ware or Jack Kirby?
Will Jack Kirby be considered a great master of the medium? Or kitsch?
The whole thing tangentially reminds me of how I was a little girl and scoured my Encyclopedia Britannica for mention of my favorite book series, "Nancy Drew." I couldn't find it anywhere under "literature," so I had to enlist the help of my Mom in the search.
Finally, she found what she was sure was the citation. It didn't mention "Nancy Drew" by name. But it read something like:
"And in the post-war era we had these shit throwaway mystery and adventure books for teenagers that are not even worth mentioning by name here."
And now I'm also remembering visiting a bookstore in London with a school chum -- back in my academic days -- and picking up a copy of Stephen King's "The Shining" to buy and my friend saying "Don't buy that -- it's low-class."
I bought a book on literary criticism instead. I still haven't read that f**ker.