Comics, not Comics?

(There are times when one finds oneself looking in the mirror and asking:” did I get here?” This is one of those times.)

“korumbu! confesses” by geoff grogan; from pood #3.

My wife often tells me that I don’t make comics. “You do something else-but it isn’t comics” She’ll point to some book or another on my shelves-more likely than not something by Jack Kirby or Gilbert Hernandez or Seth or Chester Gould or,or, or…. -and very confidently state: “This is comics. Look at what you do. You don’t do that.”
Then she’ll say-that “…if you want to make comics you should just make comics…”—implying that I should stop screwing around with this other stuff and get back to telling a story with boxes and word balloons. “A comics audience won’t be interested in this work because its not comics. Its something else–like painting.”

“secret romance” by geoff grogan; from pood #2.

I admit–in my most recent pages for pood–I’m not trying to construct a sequential narrative,  so much as undermine sequence and narrative–and still make comics. I do want these pages to hit you all at once-like a painting–but utilize something of the sequential imperative of comics via discrete “stops” (or stoppages–to borrow a term from Duchamp).
These “stops” in the composition–should move the reader around the page–but not necessarily in a defined-a to b to c -style sequence, but like painting—in more random fashion, determined by the viewer’s eye- so that there’s no real beginning-and no real end.
This isn’t to imply the piece lacks “meaning”-but rather that meaning is elicited via the methods of visual art, suggestion and association, rather than in the more direct fashion of traditional narrative structures.

“See what I mean? not comics!” she says. “and you’re not drawing either.  What’s with the collage?”

“fandancer” by geoff grogan; page 26

sigh. well, yeah.  I’m doing comics with collage. Old photos, old comics, even old word balloons, cut and pasted rather than drawn.  I’ve done the traditional method, of course–but while working on fandancer, I made a conscious decision to work with the actual material of comics-so as to make explicit my interest in the language of the media, the conventions of genre and their workings as both sign and symbol.
Collage introduces a level of conceptual distance and unpredictability–and works to undermine  traditional  narrative – opening the story up to a wide array of suggestions and ideas-many of which I never would have conceived of had I been writing in a traditional
way.  In fandancer, the “narrative” actually percolates beneath the surface incongruities and absurdities, providing subliminal continuity but allowing myriad interpretations and associations that move the piece in multiple directions at once.
Obviously, I’m not a big believer in rock-solid “do’s and don’ts”– in comics –or in art, for that matter. There are many roads to the destination–and even then, not everyone is interested in going to the same place.

“fandancer” by geoff grogan; page 27


“fandancer” by geoff grogan; page 28


Comics? Not comics?   It only matters in so far as it means someone will (or won’t) pick up the book and take it home.

*(and despite periodically playing devil’s advocate, my wife deb is actually the biggest, best supporter anyone could have–and the most likely to say”stick to your guns! you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do-otherwise, what’s the point?”  hell, she’s only stuck it out for 25 years! thanks, love!)

8 Replies to “Comics, not Comics?”

  1. I was definitely intrigued by what I saw in the issue of pood I randomly encountered at a comics shop, but I have to say I saw it more as a thought experiment for me to return to later.If narrative here slowly accretes for the observer (as opposed to reader?), rather than as something actively constructed and pushed (ie-comics), isn't fandancer hampered complete by appearing episodically rather than in one big chunk or even whole?Or is the episodic publishing of a piece with the “stoppage” that you're looking for on the individual page?(Does my question make sense? I don't know how to get at my question without sounding completely abstract)


  2. Hello Justin-I'm not quite sure I'm grasping your question correctly, so let me know if I'm wrong.-but perhaps you're thinking the pages in pood are part of fandancer? In which case I'd say you have a point-but fandancer was a different project with multiple pages, so in that case I was thinking of creating page to page forward momentum(albeit with mushrooming side-paths)–as one does in traditional comics, whereas the pood pages are stand-alone pieces, so my intention was to utilize that distinction and make a page that was simply: a page, and was organized with an eye to painting and collage. This was after fandancer, and I wanted to continue what I'd started there-but adapt it to the single page format of pood-and in the process, I began to find that my decisions were being guided not so much by narrative criteria but more by the compositional demands of the page. And I cultivated that for the pood pages-in part because I have a background in painting and think that way intuitively. But -if I do understand you, I think what you're saying is true–and the format;i.e.single page–vs. multiple page–absolutely requires consideration when one is conceiving the project and has a decided impact on the way one experiences the work. Interestingly enough(well at least, to me)-I absolutely love,love,love reading comic strip collections (Captain Easy,Dick Tracy, Buck Rogers, Krazy Kat, Prince Valiant)-where each page(or strip) is constructed as an entity within itself–and yet functions as part of a whole. Although -were Crane and Foster ever imagining reprint collections of their works? I wonder. Anyway–that experience must have some impact on the way I think, I'm sure.Sorry to be so long-winded. I'm not even sure I got to your question. hope so. But thanks so much for your thoughts!


  3. That “fandancer” page 26 is a fucking lovely page of…comics?!?Pffaf, well whatever box folks have to fit it in–it's composed BEAUTIFULLY and the different textures you have (which–even for someone as comics-centric as myself has to admit–would be FUCKING DIFFICULT to draw without it ending up as an undifferentiated mush (probably with thick containment lines around the major compositional elements!)) would be hard to obtain in any other ways, I think. I don't really care, anyway. it looks nice. I've heard of pood but I cannot for the life of me think where…. Good stuff, Mr. Grogan. I can tell you're really thinking about what making art means for you. And I reckon that's a good thing. All the best from the UK!


  4. Hi Vollsticks-thank you for your kind words. I'm glad you brought up texture-because that's definitely something I was thinking about in these pages-and throughout the book–the early pages are in pastel on a cold press paper just for the extra surface texture. it's not something people talk about very often–but it's so important and can be so expressive.


  5. Maybe I should have wrote “drawing-centric” as opposed to “comics-centric”! Yes, texture is a little-discussed thing, certainly in the “world” of comics…are those early pastel-on-cold-press-paper pages available to look at on this blog? And is there more drawing in them than collage? Whatever, I'd be intrigued to see them. Thanks for taking the time to reply to my previous comment. All the best–Ant


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