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Pictures and Words reviewed

Pete Ashton reviews Pictures and Words by Roanne Bell and Mark Sinclair.


[...Pictures and Words] is an interesting book because it attempts to tackle the thorny issue of narrative head on yet still come at things from at Art perspective. To this end the focus is on emerging and cutting edge cartoonists with a smattering of non-comics artists whose work could be considered to be if not comics then narrative. The authors also give a good third of the book over to single-panel illustration, in other words gallery-friendly comics, which rather that be a cop out is actually quite revolutionary for this kind of criticism as they look at narrative flow within the illustration or across physically disconnected pieces.

and

It's always been the view of this aficionado that comics are everywhere, that almost everything can be viewed as a comic in some form of other. The landscape that surrounds us, man made or natural, is a tapestry of comic art and can be read sequentially as a narrative, from a countryside panorama to a collage of photographs on a teenager's wall. Everything is interconnected, discrete objects that when considered in connection to their neighbours taken on a deeper, richer meaning, a narrative told by the mind of the viewer as the gaps are filled by the imagination and we experience the world as poetry.

And yes, I accept I'm an extremist in this respect, but I think it's a valid point of view, that an understanding of how comics work can give a fresh and useful perspective on other forms of art. With Pictures and Words, Bell and Sinclair appear to be doing just this. It would be easy to show how comics work using "normal" comics (as Scott McCloud did over a decade ago in Understanding Comics) but to apply this understanding not just to emerging cartoonists but to the work of art school graduates is actually quite daring....

Read the rest.

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