Posts from 16th June 2008

16
Jun 08

Comics: A Beginner’s Guide: Raw & the Avant Garde

The Brown Wedge9 comments • 1,556 views
a Raw cover

Well, the old avant-garde anyway – I’m out of touch these days, so apologies for talking about yesterday’s pioneers. Raw was a comic magazine, published in a variety of formats, which specialised in the strange and experimental, striving towards comics with values more often applied to modern painting and literature. It wasn’t all successful by any means, but given the experimental nature, it hit the mark far more often than one could have ever expected. The mags (Penguin published some in book format) are well worth reading if you can find them, but I’ll just highlight a few people from that school.

Its biggest name was its editor, Art Spiegelman, who made a huge impact with his narrative of his father’s days in a Nazi concentration camp, interleaved with their current relationship, with all the characters depicted as animals. Maus was an international hit, garnering possibly the greatest praise a comic book ever had in the US, and its status was largely warranted. It’s an unflinchingly honest account, told with rigour and great skill. I have my doubts about the animal aspect, but it had its pluses as well as difficulties. It’s a very impressive achievement, and holds up pretty well stacked against something like Primo Levi’s autobiographical tale of similar experiences.

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