Monday, April 13, 2009

Mort Walker on Graphic Novels

“I don’t know, because most of the graphic novels I’ve heard of and seen reviewed are usually about somebody’s terrible pain, homosexuality or the Holocaust or something like that. But they’re all dark. Are there any funny ones?”
- Mort Walker

I've pulled this quote from today's Journalista! site. Mort Walker has a HUGE interview in the new Comics Journal, of which the above paragraph is a mere tiny fraction.

I'm rereading Yotsuba&!, so I think that may qualify as a funny graphic novel, but Mr. Walker's general point is well taken.


swanie said...

i wonder if any of robert crumb's work would qualify?

Rod McKie said...

I've heard other cartoonists say this and I don't know why they bother. Do they read a lot of humourous novels? Are there a lot of humourous novels? Do they read only humourous novels?

Just because a lot of cartoonists create graphic novels, there is no reason to expect them to stick to "funny" stories. They are, after all, quite often, a very well read literate bunch, who have different tastes in literature that extend well beyond the funny. In fact, given the high esteem in which the great humourists, Runyon, Saki, Thurber, and Wodehouse are held, it may well be a lot more difficult to create a 2funny" graphic novel than some people seem to imagine.

As cartoonists we are in the privilaged position of being sought after as the creators of a new form of literature; graphic novels. That many of these graphic novels appear to be autobiographical is no reason to assume they are non-fiction. Some of the greatest works of literature are a combination of autobiography and fiction, To Kill a Mockingbird, is one such example.

We expect the iterary world, publishers, and the reader, to take us seriously as novelists who have an added talent, they simply won't if we just churn out "funny" comic strips in book form and try to pass them off as graphic novels.

Sorry for the rant Mike, it's a bugbear. I'm a big Mort fan, really.

Nick Fechter said...

I agree Rod, graphic novels shouldn't be limited to just funny stuff. I too consider them to be works of literature as well as works of art.

Mark Anderson said...

I don't think they should be limited to funny stuff either, but ARE there any funny ones?

Lenny Boudreau said...

I would love to see funny graphic novels. Maybe the equivalent of "Monty Python's Holy Grail" or to stay on the novel analogy thing, "Confederacy of Dunces", which was indeed dark, but funny. Atleast in the quote above, Mr. Walker does not say graphic novels should be limited to funny. He says most are dark. Which is correct.

Mike Lynch said...

Graphic novels can be anything. People like good stories.