Detalhe da capa de "Daytripper" (2010), Fábio Moon e Gabriel Bá
Comic books

Comic books as an artistic manifestation

Caio Blanco
4 Jun 2020, 4:10 pm

Perceiving comics as artistic manifestations – whether in the field of literature or in the field of visual arts – seems to be an already pacified theme, not without much debate and reflection before. And this is because, in a first unnoticed analysis, several factors contribute to the opposite thinking of this categorization, such as the commercial mediation of magazines through a newsstand, the stigma that they are made for children and teenage reading only, their mass production, in short, everything seems to corroborate for the evaluation of comics only as mere youth entertainment.

The fact is that they are not. Since 2000, the Frankfurt Book Fair – the world’s largest meeting in the publishing sector – has given great prominence to comics magazines, which gained a personalized hall at the event, in addition to lectures and conversations on the topic. This movement at the Frankfurt Fair raised comics to a “literary category” status as one of many subgenres of literature. There is no doubt that comics have their own vocabulary and style, developed in the last few decades with the aim of finding the greatest possible communion between text and image. Elements such as the balloon, the kinetic line, the onomatopoeia or even the sequential language are specific to comic books and, to a certain extent, almost propel comics to another art form, perhaps separated from literature, as a completely new genre by itself.

In addition to the literary issue, it is also necessary to analyze the artistic expression that exists in comics, especially when we analyze its connection with the visual arts. Fine arts are nothing more than the ability to mold and re-signify the most diverse materials for the ultimate expression of our instincts, feelings and ideas. In this sense, several authors present works that develop a common winding path between painting and comic books, with the representation of the beautiful forms of the human body and realistic insertions to drawing through lighting techniques, unusual angles and by reframing the perspectives of the objects.

Above: Cover detail of "Daytripper" (2010), Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá

Livro "Daytripper" (2010), Fábio Moon e Gabriel Bá
Livro "Daytripper" (2010), Fábio Moon e Gabriel Bá

Book "Daytripper" (2010), Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá

Book "Daytripper" (2010), Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá

Livro "Daytripper" (2010), Fábio Moon e Gabriel Bá

Book "Daytripper" (2010), Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá

Thus, we see that the language of comics incorporates almost all known expressions of art, such as drawing, painting, architecture, scenic expression and literary narrative, an argument that deeply bases the defenders that comics are, in reality, our ninth art.

Another interesting factor to note is also the issue of the aesthetic plurality of the comic books, since the same story – or the same series of stories – can be told in different ways depending on the screenwriter and, of course, the illustrator hired for the job: the artist is able to imprint their own style to established characters, giving a new meaning to their universe without losing their essence.

It is necessary, therefore, to undo the stigma that comic books are limited only to superhero narratives from major studios, such as Marvel and DC, and that they do not present a great visual artistic variety. Quite the opposite: the evolution of illustration techniques and maturity in the form of storytelling for an increasingly demanding and less naive audience yielded true masterpieces in the field of comics. Artists like Marjane Satrapi and Art Spiegelman used comic books to tell their life stories in a poetic way and with a completely unique style. “Persepolis”, a book by Marjane Satrapi published in four volumes, for example, chronicles the childhood of the Iranian writer during the Islamic Revolution. The book “Maus”, by the American of Jewish origin, Art Spiegelman, tells the story of his parents, who were survivors of Auschwitz concentration camps during World War II. “Maus” even received, in 1992, the first Pulitzer Prize for a comic book.

Livro "Maus: a história de um sobrevivente" (1980), Art Spiegelman
sparte-editorial-hqs-maus-22

Book "Maus: A Survivor's Tale" (1980), Art Spiegelman

Livro "Maus: a história de um sobrevivente" (1980), Art Spiegelman

Book "Maus: A Survivor's Tale" (1980), Art Spiegelman

Thus, we see that the language of comics incorporates almost all known expressions of art, such as drawing, painting, architecture, scenic expression and literary narrative, an argument that deeply bases the defenders that comics are, in reality, our ninth art.

Livro "Persépolis" (2000), Marjane Satrapi
Livro "Persépolis" (2000), Marjane Satrapi

Book "Persepolis" (2000), Marjane Satrapi

Book "Persepolis" (2000), Marjane Satrapi

Animação "Persépolis" (2007), Marjane Satrapi e Vincent Paronnaud

Animation "Persepolis" (2000), Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud

Examples of the artistic excellence of comic books are also not lacking in the Brazilian scene: “Daytripper”, a miniseries in ten chapters by Brazilians Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá, was an extremely acclaimed work internationally, going to the top of the New York Times collections and winning the Eisner Prize and the Harvey Prize, important awards in the world of comics.

Another important example of the artistic versatility of comics and how well-known stories can be radically transformed through new illustrations was the series “Turma da Mônica: Laços”, by the brothers Vitor and Lu Cafaggi, which brought readers the possibility of seeing characters already so well established in the country in completely different lines and styles. Even with the sudden change in style, “Turma da Mônica: Laços” became the best-selling Brazilian graphic novel of all time, proving that a quality artistic initiative combined with solid content are the right formulas for success.

From all current perspectives, there seems to be no doubt that the comic stories are artistic manifestations with their own and unique languages, capable of, like the best books and the most brilliant paintings and sculptures, provoking reflection and various feelings in their audience, final and common goal of any work of art.

Livro "Turma da Mônica: Laços" (2015), Lu Cafaggi e Vitor Cafaggi
QuadradoTransparente

Book "Turma da Mônica: Laços" (2015), Lu Cafaggi and Vitor Cafaggi

Livro "Turma da Mônica: Laços" (2015), Lu Cafaggi e Vitor Cafaggi

Book "Turma da Mônica: Laços" (2015), Lu Cafaggi and Vitor Cafaggi

Livro "Turma da Mônica: Laços" (2015), Lu Cafaggi e Vitor Cafaggi

Book "Turma da Mônica: Laços" (2015), Lu Cafaggi and Vitor Cafaggi


WhatsApp Image 2020-03-30 at 15.16.40

Caio Blanco is the digital marketing specialist at SP-Arte. With a Bachelor of Laws from USP and a Master’s Degree in Marketing from the University of Leeds, UK, he has worked for companies such as Google and Socialbakers. He also leads the relationship strategies with SP-Arte partner galleries.

SP‑Arte Profile

Subscribe and stay in touch with the main events in the world of art