Sometimes it is subversive in and of itself to work within the system. But sometimes, you’d just rather be fucking free of it.
One of my primary reasons for making comics is because it is still a marginalized medium. Out in the margins, where no one is paying you any mind because you aren’t siphoning off enough energy and resources from the mainstream, you lack privilege, protection and safety, but you’re also free of the strings that come attached. Free of surveillance, free of certain standards of expression, free of moral policing, free of the constraints of normalcy. I think of the comics that I’ve enjoyed from the unforgiving work of Phoebe Gloekner to the decidedly politically incorrect Scalped, and I know that without a doubt, these works would probably not be able to exist in any other medium without compromise. To begin with, who would take the financial risk?
With greater freedom comes greater expressions of subversion and resistance. It is no accident that in comics, honest and sometimes blisteringly frank female voices such as Julie Doucet and Alison Bechdel are practically canonical, even when the N. American comics industry remains male oriented.
Out in the margins you are relatively free of friction; in the mainstream space, the moment you display abnormality of any kind, you are subject to the friction of power structures. e.g., To my knowledge, no other medium is as free of censoring bodies and legislation as comics. [edit: Actually, I’ve since learned that there has been a great deal of censorship in the comics world, leading to this fascinating bifurcation between superhero comics and everything else that got kicked out into the margins.]
I enjoy how a great share of the comics industry is devoted to grotesquery, an aesthetic I associate with the likes of R. Crumb, Suehiro Maruo, and independent artists of this ilk. Visuals that threaten to ooze off the page. The uneasy sexuality, the bristling perversions, the ugly neuroticism, the sheer unfettered violence. Out in the margins, the moral police can go fuck themselves and maybe pick up a few pointers while they’re at it..
It is for this reason, the freedom of existing in the margins, that I decided to concentrate on the comics medium. There is simply no way the things I would like to express could exist in the mainstream without being compromised. Plus, I enjoy keeping my mind in the gutter.
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