Archive for the ‘Bibliography’ Category

This blog post was started months ago but was abandoned due to other commitments. It is, however, a relevant account of one article that was particularly important to the dissertation. 

Welcome back to those loyal regular readers who have missed me for almost a month. My apologies for the prolonged silence, but with the end of the academic term in France I’ve been somewhat occupied submitting design projects and relocating back to the UK. I’m now settled for the summer in sunny London, looking forward to the convenience of the the capital’s various libraries and galleries. It’s been several weeks since I started reading Nathalie op de Beeck’s 2006 essay Found Objects, published in volume 52, number 4 (winter 2006) of MFS Modern Fiction Studies. The article is available online for most academic institutions via the Muse portal.

With just a few weeks left of my semester here in Strasbourg, there was time for one last weekend trip before the final push towards the end of term. So on a warm Thursday evening I was at Strasbourg station to board train 64 to Paris: a ‘proper’ train of sparkling white and red German Railways carriages en route from Munich to Paris. This elegant old train arrived with a full service restaurant car and a rake of first and second class carriages, each offering big open saloons or more private six seat compartments. Why the importance of this train? Because this would be one of the last days that train 64 would operate. Just three days later, Strasbourg was to be catapulted into the twenty-first century with the arrival of the TGV Est Européen. Every one of the old fashioned trains will be replaced by modern high speed trains. The restaurant cars are going, the old passenger compartments are disappearing, and fares are being cranked up – on average by about 30-35%. Even the once-mythical Orient Express – which once connected London with Istanbul – is getting another leg chopped off its once grand route: from this weekend it will only operate between Strasbourg and Vienna, barely an overnight shuttle.

With a lingering nostalgia for a soon-to-be-antiquated form of transport, I found my reserved seat in a compartment. As we left Strasbourg, I considered that this was the ideal situation for me to catch up on some reading – on a leisurely four hour train ride through rolling countryside. And as we passed through Lorraine, I splashed out on dinner in the restaurant car, and drank to the death of ‘real’ train travel. An atmosphere of lingering nostalgia was suitably established.

op de Beeck introduces her essay by explaining how she sees Jem Cohen’s film Lost Book Found and Ben Katchor’s comic strip Julius Knipl Real Estate Photographer through the “contemporary interpretations [ … that … ] relfexively intersect with Walter Benjamin’s critical theory.” (p. 808). Cohen and Katchor “critique contemporary existence by remaining closely observant to overlooked details, outmoded artifacts, memory and forgetting … they attend to the passage of time, the gradual obsalence of machines and functions, and entropic repitition in the urban space” (p. 808). op de Beeck classifies Katchor’s comic strips and Cohen’s films as aphoristic formats: “we read it fast, but the melancholic sensation lingers” (p.808). Similar, perhaps, to the effect of a train journey. Reminiscent also of Larkin’s Whitsun Weddings, and the cricket player seen from a moving train, running up to the stumps but out of sight by the time he bowls.

The essay has introduced me to a filmaker (Cohen) and a film that I did not previously know of (Lost Book Found). In Lost Book Found a wandering narrative is told by a pushcart vendor in New York City, who encounters a lone man fishing for detritus through street sewer grilles. The pushcart vendor is an invisible observer in the bustling city – an anonymous figure who becomes so recognisable that he is quickly overlooked and made part of the cityscape. Similarly, the real estate photographer Julius Knipl explores Ben Katchor’s re-imagined New York City as a near-invisible observer.

Their texts overlap in mutual appreciation of transience, futile gestures, and the human condition … both Katchor and Cohen contribute to a dialogue on the remembered past, with a critical eye on how antique artifacts and productive labor are understood…

Nathalie op de Beeck, Found Objects, MFS vol. 52 no. 4, Winter 2006

As an architect, I am interested in the narrative techniques of urban observers such as the pushcart vendor and Julius Knipl: participants in a complex urban geography who, because of their profession or social situation, become extremely well placed observers and even chroniclers of the passage of time in a city. The idea of adopting the role of such a person in order to re-map urban spaces is nothing new in more progressive schools of of architecture, but it also presents many exciting opportunities to consider the understanding and broader presentation of architectural environments as they are occupied and changed over time.

Katchor promts readers to recognize the significance of each tiny detail, and in that brief wakefulness, to sense the overwhelming intricacy of modern life.

Nathalie op de Beeck, Found Objects, MFS vol. 52 no. 4, Winter 2006

Cohen asserts his camera’s eye through the use of documentary-style cinematic techniques. Katchor, meanwhile, draws a complete fiction of a city with such attention to detail, and such a furtive and fast moving line that we are drawn into imagined but utterly convincing urban environments.

This false work of so-called memorializing – creating imaginary places, fake memorials to sympathetic people, and auratic objects analogous to actual artifacts – becomes crucial to storytelling, and to the cultivation of contemporary empathy despite mass distraction.

Nathalie op de Beeck, Found Objects, MFS vol. 52 no. 4, Winter 2006

Just like Garrison Keillor’s Tales from Lake Wobegon or Stuart McLean’s stories from the Vinyl Café, fictional environments and settings are vital to convincing storytelling. I extremely interested in Katchor’s tales of the city precisely becaue they invoke such powerful sensations of nostalgia and loneliness, even though they are set in places that never existed.

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What follows is an email posted by myself to the discussion list of the University of Florida Comics Studies programme earlier today:

I’ve been lurking for a few weeks on this list, and this is my first post – I’ll try to keep the introduction brief. I’m studying towards a Masters in Architecture at the University of Sheffield in the UK (http://www.shef.ac.uk/architecture). If all goes to plan, this will hopefully conclude in the summer of 2008. I’m also studying for one semester (via the Socrates-Erasmus programme) at the école nationale superieur d’architecture de Strasbourg in France.

My dissertation is provisionally titled ‘The Comic Architect’. It begins with the relatively established assertion that architecture is very poorly represented in the books, journals, magazines etc that are primarily used to promote and discuss it (see ‘This Is Not Architecture’, ed. by Kester Rattenbury for a good primer on this discussion). ‘Official’ photographs and images of buildings are usually made before the building is occupied by its intended users, and are usually sterile, timeless and people-less images that elevate the building from functional space to high art. There are even arguments for saying that some buildings (such as the Case Study Houses by Schulman and others in fifties California) were designed for their representation, since they were competing to be included in a popular magazine.

So, if architectural photography lacks time, narrative and a sense of character, can comic illustration techniques better represent architecture?

The dissertation will be submitted in November 2007, although I am extremely interested in taking it further, perhaps to a phd starting in 2008 or 2009. It will be an interdisciplinary study, but it will fundamentally attempt to examine the possibilities of one form of narrative representation in another context.

The project is being logged online at:

https://nowordsnoaction.wordpress.com/

and I invite you to browse the blog and post comments wherever you feel the urge.

“Martha Kuhlman” <mkuhlman@______.edu> wrote:

2) I like the articles in MFS winter issue, and I’d be eager to hear some reactions to them. In particular, what do people think of the article on Chris Ware? (Comics Architecture, Multidimensionality, and Time by Thomas Bredehoft). If you don’t have this issue or article, I would be interested in your opinion of Daniel Raeburn’s book on Ware published by Yale. Anything at all on Ware would be interesting, in fact.

Firstly, to Martha Kuhlman, thanks for flagging up an article and journal that had escaped my attention. My university has access via MUSE, so I’ll read the article over the weekend, but I can cerftainly comment on Raeburn’s book. More extensive thoughts on the book and my own subsequent thinking re: my project are blogged here:

https://nowordsnoaction.wordpress.com/2007/03/12/reading-daniel-raeburn-on-chris-ware-part-one/

https://nowordsnoaction.wordpress.com/2007/03/25/reading-daniel-raeburn-on-chris-ware-part-two/

Raeburn writes with the impression of some authority, and to me one of the most interesting points is the parallel between music and comics.

What you do with comics, essentially, is take pieces of experience and freeze them in time,” Ware says. “The moments are inert, lying there on the page in the same way that sheet music lies on the printed page. In music you breathe life into the composition by playing it. In comics you make the strip come alive by reading it, by experiencing it beat by beat as you would playing music…”

Daniel Raeburn, Chris Ware (Monographics)

New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004, p. 25

Note also how Ware carefully controls the pace at which we experience the passage of time by the use of ‘silent’ panels, or repeating images that slow the pace right down. There’s a review of Ware’s ‘Acme Novelty Library #17’ in the recent April 2007 issue of the Comics Journal by Adam Stephanides which makes a similar observation.

This combination of irregularity with regularity, producing an almost Mondrian-like effect, creates a sense of rhythm, much more so than in Jimmy Corrigan or [Acme Novelty Library] # 165. In contrast, a page showing Alice looking for the bathroom is divided into 12 equal-sized panels, giving a feeling of stasis, as do two pages divided into six equal-sized panels, depicting Alice’s homesick memories of her old home and best friend. In a way, issue # 17 is a return to Ware’s early short comics, which were often about rhythm as much as anything else, but Ware’s approach to rhythm is much more sophisticated than in those comics.

Adam Stephanides, The Comics Journal no. 282, April 2007.

For me, it’s this control of the underlying ‘rhythm’ of a comic than interests me… could architects better explain or describe their buildings using these techniques than in traditional plans and sections, or photographs and renderings?

I categorise posts on this blog as ‘off-topic’ with caution, since nothing is can be so off-topic not to influence what I’m thinking about or do. Professor Ruth Morrow at the University of Ulster in Belfast has recently uploaded the entirity of the pamphlet Building Clouds Drifting Walls, which describes the experimental design studio that she and others implemented in the first year of the Bachelors in Architecture programme at the University of Sheffield between 2000 and 2003. I followed this programme as my first year studying architecture between 2001 and 2002, and I can honestly credit it with forming my interest in the way that architecture is taught, discussed and represented.

Follow the link and click on the individual pages to open a full page scan. Double points if you can spot the very first architectural model I  built during my first week at Sheffield, which is feature in one of the illustrations.

http://buildingclouds.blogspot.com/

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This is the second installment of my thoughts on Julius Knipl: Real Estate Photographer and Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer: The Beauty Supply District. You can find the first part here… I’ve uploaded it very much as a finished piece of work in progress; that is to say I could go on re-reading, editing and changing it for weeks, but I want to record this point in my thinking now before it gets overwritten with subsequent thinking.

My intention on this sunny Sunday afternoon was to walk from my apartment, in the centre of Strasbourg, to a grand old bistro on the other side of town where students, families and married couples all find a place on shiny stainless steel pavement furniture; where extra toxic French cigarettes send trails of smoke into the air; and where the imminent descent of Monday morning is not remembered. It’s the perfect place to read and work, especially when you’ve got two comic books to flip through. But with the weather being so nice, I kept on walking, and kept on going until I reached Germany (don’t worry, it’s not far). The late afternoon sunlight is now falling through the dense leaves of the old trees in Kehl’s town square. The gold painted numbers and arms of the church clock are sparkling, and across the sandy square from water is spraying out into a liquid sphere from the dozen of pipes that make up a recently installed public fountain. I have also managed to order a coffee and piece of apfelküchen. In developing my French to level which is just acceptable for studying in France, I have seemingly erased almost every word or phrase I once knew in German.

Comics Journal Messageboard user billym put me onto Ben Katchor, and also recalled a lecture that Katchor gave at McGill University’s Architecture Department in Montréal in 2002.

The name of the talk is “The Great Museum Cafeterias of the Western World.” The profession of the speaker is A) an architect B) a food critic C) a comic book artist.

The answer is C, but Ben Katchor is no ordinary graphic novelest. The creator of “The Jew of New York” and “Julius Kniple, Real Estate Photographer” is lauded internationally for his wry examinations of daily life.

With a regular strip in the design-focused Metropolis Magazine and a book titled Cheap Novelties: The Pleasures of Urban Decay, Katchor’s preoccupations are somewhat different than purveyors of spandex-clad “zock! pow!” narratives.

“There’s a growing interest in the architecture field for his work,” said Greg Hildebrande, an architecture master’s student who, along with fellow student Jan Schotte, invited Katchor to speak at McGill as the William Hobart Molson lecturer.

“Architecture texts tend to be very dry – what’s refreshing about his stories is that he deals with things that architects think about all of the time.”

Hildebrande isn’t entirely sure what approach Katchor will bring to the topic of museum cafeterias – Katchor seems to be rather spontaneous in his lecture style.

“It’s an examination of art theory and the effects of cafeteria design and the consumption of food on the appreciation of art,” said Hildebrande. “I’m really looking forward to what he has to say. He seems unpredictable.”

As to why a comic book artist was chosen for an architecture lecture? Hildebrande admits that he’s a fan, but also felt that Katchor could bring a new perspective.

“That’s something we want to do more of – get more cross-pollination between disciplines,” he said.

McGill Reporter: On Campus
http://www.mcgill.ca/reporter/35/05/campus/ retreived 4.6.2007

In my earlier musings I’ve already touched on Katchor’s subtle toying with nostalgia, and the powerful and effective way in which this can reach a reader. His interest in museum cafeterias, however, takes this one step further. In much the same way that Julius Knipl: Real Estate Photographer ends with The Evening Combinator, the second compilation of single or multiple page Julius Knipl stories (The Beauty Supply District) concludes with an extended story of the same name. In it we meet some inhabitants of Katchor’s fictional city who enjoy descending the stairs to the basement cafeteria of the Tenfoyle Museum of Art. For one character in particular, it’s a very special place that nurtures his vital skills of aesthetic appreciation.

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It was this particular subterranean environment, with its clacking of dishes, laughter of guards, small of steam-table food and slightly dank, coffee-soaked floors, that instead of distracting him, permitted him to enter into unique relationship with the object of his choice.

Ben Katchor, The Beauty Supply District
New York City: Pantheon Books 2003, page 94

Later in the same story, two unrelated characters jump in a cab, telling the driver “To the Tenfoyle Museum – and step on it! They close at nine”, where they seek out pound cake, cherry pie and tapioca pudding.

“It was,” he proclaimed,”the perfect point from which to mediate the longstanding hostility between subject and object – a point situated directly between the appetive urge to consume a work of art and the disinterested gaze of the cafeteria patron choosing his lunch.”

Ben Katchor, The Beauty Supply District
New York City: Pantheon Books 2003, page 94

I can only imagine a museum cafeteria such as this one existing in the nostalgic tales of Julius Knipl. It is, in fact, a complete opposite of the art gallery eateries one normally finds, where financial pressures (imagined or not) have turned art gallery canteens into trendy cafés, and dusty museum bookshops into boutiques. Even remembering the sublime Art Institute of Chicago, or the vast Tate Modern in London, I can’t help but think that the art gallery of today is now largely patronised by a public that gazes with disinterest at the art, and which consumes in the museum’s gift shop with an ‘appetitive urge’.

The Beauty Supply District charts the rise and fall of that neighbourhood in Katchor’s imagined city. Time passes, luck runs out, and businesses close for good. The urban landscape changes subtly, each erosion contributing to an imperceptible yet unmissable evolution. Yet more reasons to hunt down those out-of-print copies of Katchor’s earlier book Cheap Novelties: The Pleasure of Urban Decay.

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Returning to The Evening Combinator in Julius Knipl: Real Estate Photographer, we meet the architect Selladore. Whereas in The Beauty Supply District we witness the gradual evolution of the urban fabric, here we get to see a brief glimpse of a ‘visionary’ architect. After almost three decades of buidling almost nothing, he’s starting work on his greatest project: a massive mixed use development that will tower over the city, where residents will travel to and from their apartments by means of elevated railways that pass directly through each and every residence. The troubled architect finds his building plans scuppered when The Evening Combinator (a nightly journal of the city’s dreams) publishes perverted tales from Mr. Selladore’s strangest dreams.

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The depiction of the architect as a mad and disconnected visionary with unworkable designs on his city is nothing new in popular culture (see the Fountainhead for one), but his situation in Katchor’s parallel universe makes him somehow more believeable and more receptive to our pity. I want to come back to Selladore the architect in due course, but I’d appreciate some alternative interpretations of his character – is he a figure of mockery or sympathy? He – or rather his imagination of the what the city could be – seems somehow at odds with the loving feel of the tired and jumbled city that Julius Knipl usually explores.

Part three will follow in the next couple of weeks, but feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.

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The French comic book publisher Glénat has just released this new book, Capitales Européens en BD. Celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Treaty of Rome that created the European Union, it collates a large number of excerpts from recent comic books that are set in European capitals.

Citizens of some of the E.U.’s newer member states might be disappointed not to see their cities represented; the collection omits a few states without explanation. I’m pretty sure that if the editors had looked hard enough, for instance, they could have found small scale local artists depicting Sofia or Ljubljana. Ultimately the collection offers snapshots of Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Bucarest, Budapest, Copenhagen, Dublin, Lisbon, London, Luxembourg, Madrid, Nicosia, Paris, Prague, Rome, Stockholm, Talinn, Warsaw and Vienna. The emphasis remains largely on the known centres of European comic book publishing, with the largest entries for Brussels, Paris and London. The majority of artists included seem to be of western European origin, a shame considering the potential this book had for showcasing central and eastern European talent that might be unknown to a wider audience more used to the artists and authors included.

Fans of these Franco-Belgian albums will enjoy the collection, but it does unwittingly offer perhaps the strongest argument yet for non-European commentators to fall into the trap of describing a single ‘European’ style of comics illustration. The complex classical architecture of western Europe is beautiful rendered by the precise line drawing of authors such as Tito or Borile, Rivière and Carin. All four seasons of Paris, past, present and future are rendered full of atmosphere and some dark flashes of mystery. Occasional sparks of artisitic independence and brilliance emerge, such as the views of Madrid drawn in striking monochrome by Cava and Bel Barrio.

You can order the book direct from Glénat (€14.99, with prefaces in French, English and German, ISBN: 9782723457842). The caveat I suggest is that you should at least flip through a copy before buying, so as to not be disappointed by what is largely an ‘old-Europe’-centric album. I had naïvely hoped to have seen Slovenian artists included, even if they were young and outside the mainstream of European comics publishing. Is there really not one Hungarian comic book illustrator who could have shown be Budapest?

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Ordering Toneelschuur from an online bookseller in the USA, I had expected this book to be no exception the rule that architectural monographs are almost universally big and glossy. But when the long awaited package came, I was in for a surprise. The book is compact (about 15 x 20 cm), textured and superbly designed (by Lex Reitsma for NAi Publishers, Rotterdam). The book charts an fulfilling story about the gestation, birth and first steps of a unique building: the new Toneelschuur Theatre in Haarlem, designed by the Dutch cartoonist Joost Swarte and realised in partnership with Mecanoo Architects.

The book is the combined work of five principal contributors. Firstly, Joost Swaarte’s drawings and images of the theatre illustrate the entire book. Secondly, Henze Boekhout revisited the completed building to photograph it with a eye not disimilar to Swaarte’s, focusing on the eccentric details and fleeting moments. And then in between their bright pages, come three colour coded texts. Printed on yellow paper is a chapter by Jan Tromp, the chair of the Toneelschuur board; on green is Henk Döll, the project architect who worked with Swarte for Mecanoo Architects at the time; and finally on violet is a chapter from the art and architecture critic and historian Paul Hefting. Almost perfectly, the book is tied together with the personal accounts of the participants and observers of the building’s creation. If there is only one regret, it’s that Swaarte’s input has not been expanded to include a similar piece of narrative recounting the process (it would not necessarily have to be text – a continuing cartoon story would have kept me happy). For while his images are beautiful, the book seems to lack what I would consider the most interesting story of all from this project: that of the cartoonist who was thrust into the role of architect by the Toneelschuur board.

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Above, the Toneelschuur as imagined by Joost Swarte.

Those reservations aside, though, this book has found a near perfect balance between written and visual content. Press cuttings and other published images are included in the book not by scanned images, but by photographs, which have no shame in including spines, staples of overlapped pages. Combined with the rough texture of the paper on which the book is printed, it’s a convincingly coherent and appealing sketchbook style of design, and suits the book perfectly.

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Above, the Toneelschuur as designed by Joost Swarte and Mecanoo Architects.

I have more or less now realised that the Toneelschuur will become a vital case study in this project, and I’m trying to make arrangements to go to Haarlem some time late this year to see the building and to meet some of the people involved in its conception. It’s particularly interesting to find the theatre’s development recorded in such a well designed and unconventional book. A traditionally glossy large format architectural monograph printed on heavy weight smooth paper between hardback covers simply wouldn’t have suited either the building or the process of its creation. The narrative is strong, and the combination of Boekhout’s photographs with Swarte’s cartoons is utterly beguiling. This is a book that makes me want to go and see the building for myself. The key is, again, that narrative content, which is Boekhout’s photographs means a roving eye for populated views of the theatre in use, and considered snapshots of the humdrum working parts of the building: door handles, corridors and toilets for instance. These same details are the same ones that Swarte imbued with life from the outset: his visual wit comes across not only in the images of the finished building, but also the drawings he created during its conception.

What Swarte had always visualised in two dimensions, the comic, dramatic side of everyday life, could now be materialised in three dimensions – in every respect, since his architecture would become the tangible décor for the play of life that is played inside, with film and theatre…

Paul Hefting, Toneelschuur
Rotterdam: NAi, 2003, p. 201

 

 

 

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Two more books joined the bookshelf this week, both by the New York based artist and author Ben Katchor. Julius Knipl: Real Estate Photographer and Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer: The Beauty Supply District. I’ll blog more when I’ve had a chance to read them.

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Hello from rural Norfolk, in the green and pleasant countryside of East Anglia. My delayed Easter vacation has allowed me to return to my family home, and to a landscape of multi-coloured heaths, punctuated by gnarled trees and thick forests. Villages here are built of brick and flint, and the occasional round towered medieval church pokes up above the generally flat landscape.

My apologies to regular readers to the prolonged silence on this blog: I’ve been occupied with other less stimulating things (releasing the inner white van man in me, fixing beligerant digital telephones and filing my Canadian income taxes, for example). Until I’m able to blog some more, I’ll leave you with this image – Theatre cross-section from 1996 by Joost Swarte. It’s included in the excellent study of the Toneelschuur Theatre by Jan Tromp, Henk Doll and Charles Reichblum, which was delivered to me just before I left Strasbourg. I’ll write some more about this book soon, because the Toneelschuur is looking to be an increasingly important building for my project; perhaps the only example of a building designed by a cartoonist. Other cartoonists have drawn buildings in sections, but I can’t remember one who has drawn one with the same appreciation of the hierachy and relationship of spaces in a building of such specific purpose. It’s also drawn with a humour that make similar architects’ sections so dull by comparison.

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While responding to one of my earlier queries about Nihei Tsumoto, Chris Lanier (on the Comics Journal message board) put me onto another Japanese artist: Yuichi Yokohama, whose work is now being translated into French. Lanier suggested:

You might want to check out Yuichi Yokoyama (who has some books in french translation — the dialogue isn’t dense so if you don’t speak French it’s not a problem) — particularly his book “Public Works” (Travaux Publics). His work is “art” manga, not genre work; “Travaux Publics” shows the construction of various absurd and impossible public works projects. I wrote about it here:

http://www.thehighhat.com/Marginalia/006/Yokoyama_Lanier.html

I don’t get to talking about “Travaux Publics” until the last four paragraphs or so.

Source: http://tcj.com/messboard/viewtopic.php?t=1705
Retrieved: 11 April 2007

Lanier’s excellent article is well worth checking out for his analysis of some of Yokohama’s other books, which I hope to get hold of soon. I read Travaux Publics over the weekend, on board a pair of big comfy German trains en route between Strasbourg and Stuttgart. The Easter weekend finally heralded the arrival of some consistently warm and sunny weather, and I must confess to being usually at my happiest sitting with a good book on a comfy train, looking out at the landscape roll past under blue skies.

Before leaving Strasbourg I’d been to see a rare big screen showing of Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1979 film Stalker. It’s a visual, aural and alegorical feast of a movie – certainly one of my favourite films of all time. It reminded me of the strange impression that it made on me the first time that I watched it as a British teenager, several decades after it was made. The context in which I watched it, and the expectations that I had of film in general were very different from those in which it was originally made. Many western audiences continue to find the film very difficult. To film fans raised on Holywood or even European cinema, many scenes seem ‘too long’ or ‘too slow’; the entire pace of the film is different, and Tarkovsky wasn’t under any obligation to subscribe to any western cinematic standards or norms.

Reading a Japanese cartoon for the first time can be similarly disarming for a western reader. You might be bored of hearing it said, but it’s quite a shift in habits to learn to read a book from ‘back to front’, although the French editors have been kind enough to include a little explanation panel about how to read manga at the beginning of the book (that would be the back of the book for those of you not used to Japanese).

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Note how that the French translation maintains the Japanese script: Yokohama acknowledges in the author’s note at the beginning of the book how important sound effects are to his strips, and even for a non-Japanese reader, the bold shapes become almost heirogliphical.

Put simply Travaux Publics is, without doubt, one of the strangest books that I have ever read. I tried to summarise the book, for this article, but subsequently found that Lanier explained it in his article much better than I could:

Its four stories show the construction of strange monuments and spaces. They describe huge mobilizations of resources for apparently useless ends. One “public work” is a fluorescent-lit room, set into a boulder, positioned in front of an absolutely straight (and also artificially constructed) canal. Another is a glass room, outfitted with chairs and a floor of Astroturf, set under the surface of a man-made lake. These constructions are not only absurd in themselves, the methods of construction are entirely impractical. The third “public work” is an artificial mountain, assembled from boulders that are dropped from airplanes, then coated with glue flowing from a single hose.

Chris Lanier, Fight! Fight! Fight! The High Hat
http://www.thehighhat.com/Marginalia/006/Yokoyama_Lanier.html

Retrieved: 11 April 2007

The book is, quite simply, bizarre. Picking up Nihei Tsutomu’s Abrama at the same time as Travaux Publics made me appreciate just how different Yokohama’s style is to mainstream Japanese manga. In absolutely contextless landscapes, massive machines, cranes and rolling elements charge through scenes to create rivers, lakes and mountains.

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There is absolutely no suggestion where these machines have come from, where they are going or who controls them. It is (to me) almost terrifying.

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The landscape is almost a stage, serviced by unseen machinery that drops down from the skies to cut, dig, excavate, pour, yank or tear into the surface of the earth. As soon as a mechanical arm, aeroplane or enormous rolling rock has left the frame of the panel, it is forgotten. The ‘public works’ of the title are the only consistent element in the story, gradually nearing completion. Yokohama explains in the author’s notes of the French edition:

Des manga sans l’histoire – Ce qui m’importe c’est de représenter le passage d’une scène à une autre. Il n’y a pas lieu de raconter une histoire. Le monde dans lequel nous vivons offre une multitude de choses intéressants: n’importe quelle situation peut être saisie et restituée en bande desinée. Si j’élaborais moi-même une histoire, elle serait entachée de la conscience et des intentions de l’auteur que je suis, et c’est que je veux éviter. Même si des personnages évoluent dans mes œuvres ce n’est pas le monde des hommes que je veux dépeindre. Je veux décrire des événements naturels qui progressent, comme un typhon ou un déluge, sans rapport avec la volonté humaine.

Yuichi Yokohama, Travaux Publics
Montreuil, Éditions Matière, 2004, p. 7

Which I would translate as:

Manga without stories – What is important to me is to represent the passage of one scene to another. It is unnecessary to tell a story. The world in which we live offers a multitude of interesting things: any situation can be seized and retold in a comic book. If I worked out a story by myself, it would be sullied with my own conscience and my own intentions, and I want to avoid that. Even if characters do evolve in my work, it is not the world of the men that I want to depict. I want to describe natural events which progress, like a typhoon or a flood, without relationship to the human will.

 

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The stories are not without human characters. In one instance, the finishing touches upon a particularly strange underwater viewing gallery are made by a team of exciteable humanoids who appear to celebrate the completion of their project as if it had been part of a race. In the same author’s notes, Yokohama states:

Des personnages sans psychologie – Je ne m’intéresse ni aux sentiments des gens ni à leurs emotions. Je ne traite que ce qui est visible à l’œil. Mes personnages n’agissent pas pour la satisfaction d’intérêts collectifs ou individuels, mais pour atteindre un grand but, pour accomplir une grande mission.

Yuichi Yokohama, Travaux Publics
Montreuil, Éditions Matière, 2004, p. 8

Which I would translate as:

Characters without psychology – I am interested neither in the feelings of people nor in their emotions. I examine only what is to the eye. My characters do not work towards the satisfaction of a collective or individual interest, but to achieve a great goal, to achieve a great mission.

So emotion exists, but in a very limited and impersonal manner. The great mission exists only partially within the frame of the cartoon panels. The reason that the great missions have been started or the reasons that they are such great goals remain hidden, denying us an understanding of the motivation of the few characters that exist in these stories.

In the closing panel of the story about the construction of a new mountain (above) two passengers in a light aircraft seem to take delight in discovering the new geographical feature. This panel remains one of the most interesting to me in the whole book, especially since Yokohama claims not to be interested in the development of human characters. I can’t help reading this panel and wanting to know where these futuristic plane travellers came from. Why is the sight of a mountain so exciting? Do they not have any mountains where they come from? And is that why so much energy and effort is put into constructing these massive ‘public works’?

The idea of a comic strip without a story is interesting, but this just shows that even Yokohama has had difficulty not implying some kind of continuation: some kind of before and after. It is impossible for the reader to follow the construction of this mountain without asking ‘why’, ‘how’ or ‘where’.

I initiated this project because I was frustrated with the sterility of images of buildings that told nothing about ‘why’, ‘how’ or ‘where’ they were built. In Travaux Publics it seems I’ve found an artist who perhaps aspires to the disconnection of mainstream architectural photography: the isolation and purity of the subject that lies within the frame of the picture, and the simple progression from one image to another rather than the obligation what comes before and after, or outside the frame of the panel.

I naturally reserve the right to change or adapt my opinions as I continue to think about this one. Thanks again to Chris Lanier for recommending the book and for publishing his interesting profile on Yokohama’s work.

ware19.jpg

Greetings from a quiet little village just outside Stuttgart, where I’m spending Easter with long lost friends. After a fine meal, everyone has settled down to tonight’s feature film on TV, the second installment of the Lord of the Rings saga. I would join them but a) it seems all foreign programming on German TV is dubbed rather than subtitled; b) I don’t speak German; and c) I really got bored of the Lord of the Rings about half way through the first film. So I’ve peeled off to ruminate on some of the reading I’ve been doing over the weekend at home in Strasbourg and on the train ride here.

In addition to the chunky monthly print edition of the magazine, subscribers to The Comics Journal also get exclusive online access to a small but growing archive of previously published material. While entire issues are now being loaded onto the website soon after publication, a handful of earlier articles have also been put onto the Subscribers’ Area of the website, including Gary Groth’s December 1997 interview with Chris Ware. This was originally published in issue number 200 of the Comics Journal, a fantastically popular issue of which all back issues have now been sold. Examples of TCJ # 200 now trade for several times their original cover value on eBay, so it’s been good news to find this article online. There is (unsurprisingly for a Comics Journal interview) a lot of interesting material in this massive and largely unedited article, which came out on more than fifty A4 pages when I printed it off on Saturday for more leisurely reading. With this in mind, I’m probably going to come back to this one over the next week or two as thoughts bubble to the surface.

(Note: because I’ve retrieved the text of this interview from a web page, I don’t have any page number references from the printed magazine. Short of advising you to print out your own copy in 10pt Arial Narrow on A4 paper, there’s not much I can do to help about this…)

Something that has struck me from the first reading of this interview is, however, an interesting explanation from Ware about the difference he finds between “real drawing” and “cartooning”.

I think drawing is “about” – or at least good drawing is about – trying to see. It’s more about detail and looking. Whereas cartooning is making a story happen with symbols … cartoon drawings are -just by nature of how they’re used as symbols – in a lot of ways not really drawings because the information that they have is so rudimentary, or conceptual.

Chris Ware, interviewed by Gary Groth
The Comics Journal # 200, December 1997

Ware seems to make this distinction quite clear: a comic strip is not a series of drawings of people or places, but a series of drawings of symbols that represent people, places, emotions. Ware has already made his thoughts clear on the use of words in comics (see this earlier post), so we interpret these symbols to mean words, pictures and any other visual device that he employs in his strips.

But Ware’s comics are not just about symbols. Far from it, their notably measured rhythm is generated in no small part by the use of both “real drawings”and “cartoons”.

…I try to use “real” drawing occasionally, or sort of a looser drawing, as a waz of anchoring a sense of place or feeling. By either floating it below or above the story it seems to take on this sort of tonal quality, like a long note held…

Chris Ware, interviewed by Gary Groth
The Comics Journal # 200, December 1997

Ah yes, the musical references once more. Ware dismisses his own musical capability during the interview…

At one point I played piano in front of around 600 people at the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha and it was such a traumatic experience I don’t even remember if it went well or not. But I have a feeling it went quite badly. Nevertheless I decided at that point, “maybe this isn’t what I should do.”

Chris Ware, interviewed by Gary Groth
The Comics Journal # 200, December 1997

It is quite apparent that Warehas a masterful appreciation of the quality of muscial rhythm. This certainly is not the first time that he has made a reference from comics to music (again, see my earlier post on Daniel Raeburn’s introduction to Chris Ware) and the inclusion of these panels of “real drawing” is a noticeable feature of his longer stories. Open up Jimmy Corrigan pretty much wherever you please, and you’ll find the occasional ‘wide’ shot of a place where the events in the rest of the page are taking place. The effect of a larger single panel without dialogue is indeed notably effective at creating “a long note held”.

ware20.jpg

The use of gently falling snow in this example (from Jimmy Corrigan) heightens the delicateness of this pause at the end of a comparatively ‘busy’ page. If a single “real” drawing anchors the story to a place or inserts a moment of rest in the larger scheme of the story, it can so with an almost audible silence. These page compositions had lead me to believe that Ware was a phenomenal ‘architect’ of the page, laying out individual pages with a careful eye for the rhythm of the story, often inserting a moment of silence at the end of complex sequences. But it seems I might have been mistaken.

GROTH: Let me ask you about the mechanics of designing a page. You do approximately one page a week:

WARE: Uh… yeah. Two pages of the story a week … One on top of each other.

GROTH: So when you start to compose a page, do you rough out the whole page and then just move toward the lower right-hand corner?

WARE: Work down. Yes … Sometimes I might rough out a few panels with just shapes of where the characters are going to be. But a lot of times I go back and change that. For the most part it’s panel by panel, and I’ve met a lot of people who are surprised when I saz that, but I don’t think there’s any other approach I could use that would allow for the sort of detail that accrues. I might measure out a few panels, or I have an idea of how I might try to fit things in, but I might also end up completely changing that.

GROTH: Do you run into situations, for example, where you only have so much space left in the last panel, and it’s the wrong amount of space?

WARE: I do a lot of subdividing.

Chris Ware, interviewed by Gary Groth
The Comics Journal # 200, December 1997

Much more to come on this interview, which I hope to blog in the next week or so.

 

tcj281.jpg toneelschuurtheatrehaarlem.jpg

Last weekend’s messy gastric-virus-in-Paris hoopla pretty much knocked me and all my study plans for six this week, so I’ve been busy trying to catch up with my design class obligations here in Strasbourg before letting myself get distracted by any juicy reading. However, the good old credit card helped me lift my spirits with two new additions to the bookshelf which will be arriving shortly. First up, I’ve finally got round to subscribing to that bastion of comics culture, The Comics Journal. I’ve picked up the odd issue from time to time in the past, and always been impressed (if not by it’s sometimes arrogant editorial tone) by the sheer weight and intelligence of its contents. Big, chunky and incisive interviews and articles with dozens of new book reviews. Buying a year’s worth in dollars reminded me just how little I take advantage of the weak dollar; it will be a very worthwhile investment.

Secondly, Jan Tromp, Henk Doll and Charles Reichblum have put together a monograph on Joost Swarte‘s colloborative project with Mecanoo Architects, the Toneelschuur Theatre Haarlem, which I’m very much looking forward to getting my hands on. A trip to Haarlem looks unlikely in the next few months, but then after my miserable experiences being ill in a Paris hostel, I think I’m going to be relatively happy staying still for a while.

The sun continues to shine convincingly on Strasbourg, and my days remain conveniently free of scheduled classes. During my last visit to Sheffield, Renata Tyszczuk recommended that I read Diana Periton’s essay The ‘Coupe Anatomique’: sections through the nineteenth century Parisian apartment block (in The Journal of Architecture, Autumn 2004 pp. 289 – 304). Finally with some time to focus on it, I topped and tailed today with two particularly bohemian reading sessions: with a coffee this morning, sitting outside my favourite Strasbourg café, watching the theatre of the city’s busy streets; and then again this afternoon, in the warm early evening sunshine pouring into the bar beneath my apartment. With the sun perfectly framed between the tall buildings on the other side of the street, I made some really interesting notes that are beginning to gel some of my earlier ideas. Periton introduces the essay:

In French popular literature of the later nineteenth century, such as illustrated newspapers, or the ubiquitous guides to and didactic histories of Paris, the section through the Parisian apartment block becomes a familiar image. These sections reveal the anatomy of Paris at a glance. They use our understanding of the domestic interior, particularly the way it regulates activities and flows, to present a summary of the city through the ordering of its constituent elements.

A hybrid of the technical drawing, that shows construction and infrastructure, and of an assemly of pictorial tableaux, they are seductively banal. Seductive, because they give us an overview of the normally hidden world of the interior, made miniature and caught between the pages of a book or magazine. Banal, because in doing so, its mysteries are laid bare. The systems that structure the city, from its social divisions to its networks of electricity conduits, are explicitly set out.

Diana Periton, The ‘Coupe Anatomique’
Journal of Architecture, vol. 9, p. 289

The journal is illustrated with copies of the sectional drawings that Periton explores, however you’ll have to find a copy of the journal yourself to see them, since I’m not able to reproduce them here (the article cites the shelfmarks of the original publications in the British Library in London). At the very first glance, however, these prints are to my eyes instantly interpretable as comic strips; sectional cuts and perspectives that present each room as an individual panel with – as Periton explains – varying degrees of animated occupancy. There must be something in the Parisian water that encourages the French to look in on their urban environment so closely: I was instantly reminded of the wonderful novel by Georges Perec, Life, A Users Manual, in which the dozens of separate yet intermingled stories and histories of the occupants of a Parisian apartment block are told.

Periton charts a short history of three published Parisian ‘coupes’, or illustrated sections. The first to be examined is of a single five story Parisian town house by the French writer, photographer, illustrator and caricaturist Bertall, first published in 1845. The second is from 1769, and is a slightly earlier but wider section through an (idealised) Parisian street by the architect Pierre Patte. Periton introduces the third as a ‘hybrid’ of the first two: it’s by the writer and history Baron Alfred-Auguste Ernouf and comes from his 1885 publication l’Art des Jardins.

Today’s ‘lightbulb’ moment of sudden realisation came this afternoon, as the sun slipped out of sight and the rapidly shifting shadows on the white tiled floor of the café moved over my green-topped table. Bertall is approaching his section of the Parisian town house as a characturist, presenting a series of stacked vignettes. Patte, however, is an architect, showing the houses, street and even the drains below the surface of the paved street as a complete urban system. His rooms are noticeably vacant of human occupation. In these two sections, we already have what would appear to be the first seeds of the seismic gap between the way that architects and cartoonists present buildings. Bertall embraces the variety of human activity in the building. Periton describes the building’s activities and quotes from the caption that appeared with the picture in its first publication, a weekly newspaper.

On the ground floor, we read, the caretaker, a little over-excited, is dancing a mazurka with his wife, while mademoiselle their daughter plays something more like a sonata or a nocturne on the piano, with the kind of talent that will allow her to marry an elderly genetleman who has fallen on hard times. ‘On the first floor, we are yawning over the velvets and silks. This is the old morale of marble halls. On the [next] …, we are less rich, and more awake’; but we are warned, teh viture and happiness of this floor, the ‘entente cordiale’, show but one not entirely dependable aspect of the race that occipies it, the ‘bon bourgeoisie’. In the mansard, a man has just beaten his wife, and ‘a philosopher, a poet, perhaps, shelters his genius under a [home-made] … dome in the ceiling…’

Diana Periton, The ‘Coupe Anatomique’
Journal of Architecture, vol. 9, pp. 289-291

These images are a French parallel to the earlier sequential prints of William Hogarth that I saw earlier this month in London. Like Hogarth in the previous century, Bertall is styling himself as a moralist, and using the readily accessible and affordable mass media to present a series of vignettes, acted out by recognisable characters. These actors are partly recognisable in the wider and fractured French society by the levels of the building that they occupy; from the grand first floor rooms to the low and angled ceilings of the cheaper and unornamented garrets. Periton explains how Bertall was using the ‘coupe’ to explore contemporary changes in French society.

In another of Walter Benjamin’s examples of ‘panoramic literature’, Les français peints par eux-mêmes, Jules Janin writes that ‘the Charter [of 1830, which brough in Louis-Philippe as a constitutional ‘bourgeois king’, and removed the aristocracy from government] has, as it were by enchantment, created among us an entirely new set of characters, of strange and incredible manners’. French society, he declares, has become ‘an infinity of small republics’, each with its own customs, faults, ambitions, etc., and ‘the more [it] … has divided, the more difficult has its analysis become’. It is the job of the ‘moralist’, whether illustrator or write, to attempt that analysis, to observe and describe, but also to deduce some kind of scheme of specification through which it might be ordered. For Bertall, that scheme is the framework of the Parisian apartment block.

Diana Periton, The ‘Coupe Anatomique’
Journal of Architecture, vol. 9, pp. 291-2

In the first half of the nineteenth century, Bertall used a Parisian apartment block to provide a framework to his anthropological and sociological observations. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, Chris Ware has begun to the use a Chicago apartment building as a framework for a series of interdependent and interconnected stories. There is, it seems, an acknowledged value in architecture as a structural and social framework to sequential art.

The second ‘coupe’ (that of Pierre Patte) is, however, very different. It is, in effect, an architectural treatise, but one that considers the compilation of the entire city rather than just one building at a time.

Patte uses his drawing to decompose the street, a section of the city, into a series of elements that can then be arranged to generate a new and ideal territory. If we allow our eye to move around the drawing by following the labelling system .. it is in order to understand how each element of that territory functions with the next. Patte’s ideal city is a system of instruments, designed to regulate the fire, water, filth and people that come into contact with it.

Patte frequently assures his readers that the aim of conceiving the city in this way is to ensure ‘the happiness of the inhabitants’, to bring about a ‘genuine sense of well-being’. But as he shows it, the city is unpeopled.

Diana Periton, The ‘Coupe Anatomique’
Journal of Architecture, vol. 9, p. 293

Patte is, like many other architects before and after him, well meaning in his desire tocleanse, simplify and re-organise the city into a more ordered image. But in doing his, drawings reveal the city without character or human marks.

Patte asks:

which of us would not imagine that it must be an evil genie, an enemy of the human race, who has foced men to live together [in such a way]…?

His drawing sucks this devil in the underworld, to leave the way for his haunting vacuum of well being.

Diana Periton, The ‘Coupe Anatomique’
Journal of Architecture, vol. 9, p. 295

Periton draws the inevitable connection from Pierre Patte’s section to the subsequent renovation and re-organisation of Paris by Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann. Taking almost three decades, Haussmann’s plan for Paris sought to modernise, sanitise and redesign the entire structure of the medieval city centre. What is amusing to discover is that the massive building works undertaken to achieve this actually made real the previously imagined building sections of Patte and Bertall.

For witnesses such as Gautier, the incessant attempt to move from chaos to order meant glimpses of a ‘curious spectacle, these open houses, their floorboards suspended over the abyss, their colourful .. flowered wallpaper still marking the shape of the rooms’, houses whose ‘high walls, striped with the swarthy streaks of chimney flues, reveal, like an architectural section, the mystery of intimate distributions’.

Diana Periton, The ‘Coupe Anatomique’
Journal of Architecture, vol. 9, pp. 295-6

The third and final ‘coupe’ that Periton examines is that of Ernouf. The drawing shows the boulevard Saint Germain, in a part of Paris after Hausmann’s reconstruction. As such it is the only section that is in a specific place, but which remains essentially generic. It combines the characteristics of the first two ‘coupes’ to produce a new kind of image. Attempting to present both the narrative detail of Bertall’s house section and the technical sophistication of Patte’s street section, the image is a dazzling perspective view that cuts across a broad Haussmannian boulevard, into the soil, drains and cellars below, and up into a seven storey building.

The city that for Bertall was implicitly there, generating the fluid social hierarchies accommodated in its interiors, has become after Huassmann’s upheavals a metropolis consciously constructed through a complex interplay of networks, distributing ‘the people’, now anonymous, their provisions and their waste. In these image, it seems that the relationship of interior to street must be visibly articulated, to demonstrate that they are strongly differentiated, separately codified components of a continuous system of regulation. The city here is synthesised not by a notion of society, centred on the bourgeoisie, but by its elaborate infrastructure, which links and operates on all those who come within its remit.

Diana Periton, The ‘Coupe Anatomique’
Journal of Architecture, vol. 9, pp. 296-298

09crop.jpg

Image: detail from Building Stories by Chris Ware

After a cold week with rain and snow here in Strasbourg, it was a joy to finally have a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon. Especially as I was slightly hungover and deprived of sleep. Nothing lifts the soul like a blue sky, cherry blossom trees and a gentle walk. Making a long promenade around the edge of the island on which the city-centre sits, I ended up at Café Brant near Marc-Bloch University to revisit my earlier post on the introductory chapter of Daniel Raeburn’s book on Chris Ware. That post ended with the rather open ended question…

…if comic artists can structure their pages to present both a space and a time, how can architects look to comics to more actively present their buildings?

The parallels drawn between comics and architecture by Chris Ware made me re-read a couple of notes I’d made earlier. It seems apparent to me that Ware and certain other comic artists have looked to architecture for inspirartion or direction when organising their stories. Musing over this in the smokey wood-panelled café, I came up with two interchangeable questions…

How can comic artists look to architecture to better present their stories?

How can architects look to comics to better present their buildings?

This simplistic approach of looking at the same question from a completely different angle sent me back to Raeburn’s book, and to this quote.

Because comics, like music, are composed by dividing time, each panel is like a window into time, and together these windows form a map whose chain lets us see the story’s beginning, middle and end simultaneously, at least when the story fits on a single page. In a longer story, Ware compensates for the page breaks by deliberately placing recurring images and visual motifs in an identical location on their page spread … Ware does this to nudge the memory and help the reader see more the book at once.

Daniel Raeburn, Chris Ware (Monographics)
New Haven, Yale Universiy Press, 2004, p. 25

Having read that, I realised that I could substitute the following words…

comics with pictures of buildings

story / book with building

Ware with the architect

…to produce this:

Because pictures of buildings, like music, are composed by dividing time, each panel is like a window into time, and together these windows form a map whose chain lets us see the building’s beginning, middle and end simultaneously, at least when the building fits on a single page. In a [larger] building, the architect compensates for the page breaks by deliberately placing recurring images and visual motifs in an identical location on their page spread … the architect does this to nudge the memory and help the reader see more the building at once.

And suddenly we have what could be described a comic artist’s description of how to present a building through pictures. Not only does it make sense, it brings into sharp contrast the manner in which an architect would normally present a building.

Would any architects care to comment on this new definition of drawing buildings?

jimmyspread3.jpg

(a single page from Jimmy Corrigan by Chris Ware; click on the image to expand it)

Catching up on some articles on Chris Ware’s work that were referenced in other texts that I’m reading, I was particularly interested to read these analogies from Ware about the structure of the complex and non-liner nature of his graphic novel Jimmy Corrigan.

The book’s remarkable jacket, which unfolds to a 24″ x 16″ blueprint of the multiple Jimmy Corrigan storylines, was proofed five times. “It’s complex,” admitted Ware, who did the proofing himself. “It’s kind of like a Web page, smashed down.”

Nissen, Beth, A Not-So-Comic Book
cnn.com, 3 October 2000, retrieved 24 March 2007

“…I first drew Jimmy Corrigan in 1990 in Austin,” [where Ware produced weekly cartoon strips for a college paper] “but I started developing his story in 1993. It was like a tree, growing outwards.”

Nissen, Beth, Transcript: An interview with Chris Ware
cnn.com, 3 October 2000, retrieved 24 March 2007

Jimmy Corrigan is undoubtedly one of the most complex non-linear stories every published. This non-linear narrative is evidently not a construct; it is also how the graphic novel was drawn, like a tree that grows in three dimensions and many different directions at once.

Ware likens the fold-out book jacket to a web site. Complex web pages of different overlapping pages, sections and levels are frequently summarised in ‘site maps’. These attempt to ‘flatten’ an effectively three dimensional virtual space into a single flat atlas of interconnecting linked pages. It’s an old age solution to modern age technological problem: facilitating navigation in virtual spaces by applying a flat surface to explain and map it.

Many of Ware’s drawings are smaller than that: The characters and neat lettering in his panels are often eye-strainingly tiny. (This reader neaded a strong light and a magnifying flass to see all the details and read every last word.)

“I don’t actually draw them that small — the original drawings are about double the size you see in the book,” said Ware. “But I have them reduced a very small image. Smaller makes for a more compact world, a little magical world.”

Nissen, Beth, A Not-So-Comic Book
cnn.com, 3 October 2000, retrieved 24 March 2007

An architect is normally employed to produce drawings that will determine the construction of buildings, usually on paper or on a computer screen. The plan of a building drawn by an architect will be many times smaller than the finished building. But the original comic strips produced by a comic strip artist will frequently be reduced before appearing in their finished published form. It’s not just a difference of scale, it’s a different approach to the connection between the drawing and the finished product.

 

 

 

 




  • ABOUT THE PROJECT

    "no words no action" was an experiment in academic blogging. The blog recorded the progress of reading, research and investigations that lead to a Masters in Architecture dissertation at the University of Sheffield in autumn 2007. You can find out more about the author's interest in blogging here.

    To find out more about the thesis, download the original dissertation proposal (pdf format) from February 2007 or the semi-formal first chapter (pdf format) from April 2007.

    Further research projects are in the works, and their dependence on human interaction and networking suggests more blogging will be inevitable when the time comes.


  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    At the time that this blog was created, James Benedict Brown was a fifth year Masters of Architecture student at the University of Sheffield. James' personal blog is here.

    James graduated in 2008 and now lives and works in Glasgow.


  • ABOUT THE TUTOR

    This project was supervised by Renata Tyszczuk at the University of Sheffield


  • ABOUT YOU

    If you want to correct me on something, offer an opinion on a particular artist or building, or if you'd like to recommend someone or something to find out about, please feel free to leave a comment. Just click on 'Comments' under the headline of the relevant post...


  • BOOKSHELF

    Click here to browse James' bookshelf, and to purchase books being used in this project.


  • CONFERENCE DIARY

    I've managed to miss almost half a dozen compelling conferences around the world so far this year, simply because I have no (more) money to travel and no time to escape my studies in Strasbourg and Sheffield. However, if I had a magic plane ticket and plenty of time, here's my selection of essential conferences to attend. Hopefully I'll be there for more of them next year... click here for the diary (updated every time I miss another one).


  • NOTE

    All images are used for illustrative purposes only, and the copyright remains with the artist and/or creator. Please contact me if I have misappropriated an image or incorrectly credited it. Thanks... JBB


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