Tiny Lives

Do you remember autobiographical comics? What – they’re still going? I wouldn’t know. I stopped reading them, oh, four, five years ago. Weirdly enough it was around the time I started reading weblogs – now isn’t that funny.

The connection didn’t occur to me until last night, reading a post on the alternative vs mainstream thread on I Love Comics. I was never 100% behind the autobio-comics wave, they could on occasion be too creepy for comfort and there was something horribly passive-aggressive about the idea of these guys arguing with their girlfriends and then retreating to the study to draw it all. Also the emotional range was barely larger than your average Arab Strap album.

But there was definitely something about little slice-of-life stories that fitted the comics form. For one thing a ‘junk’ medium seemed suitably minor and despised for these humble tales – there was a ‘magic in the smallest places’ feeling that came from flicking through someone’s stumbling, honest small-press efforts. And where else could they go? As ILC’s Tuomas says, there were no outlets in film or music for that sort of thing. And prose? Well, there weren’t usually plots to speak of, and anyway, most of these ‘stories’ wouldn’t take more than a paragraph to tell.

And then along came the weblog and suddenly everybody was telling their stories.

Of course there’s still a point to autobiographical comics: one of the rarest things in comics is an artist who can ‘do’ facial expressions and the autobio story is a great way to play around with that particular skill. And the rhythms of a comics page are different to those of prose (though don’t get me started on the fad for silent panels to help ‘storytelling’). But even so the form has lost its lustre for me – its voyeuristic thrills and petite emotional jolts are now a global online lingua franca, after all.