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Don’t You Understand—You’re Me!

Ken Parille is here today with another installment of his close-reading column. This time, he examines the work of Ivan Brunetti and Charles Schulz, in terms of "sentimental romance" and how time is indicated through backgrounds. Here's a sample:

The over-sized head of Brunetti's heroine recalls the art of one of his heroes: Charles Schulz, the creator of Peanuts. Both artists frequently return to images of solitude, examining the value (and danger) of self-reflection and self-absorption. The following Schulz strip belongs to a curious — to me at least — subset of Peanuts strips. While many feature a single location (a stone wall, living room, baseball diamond), others, like this one, portray a solitary character in a different setting in each of the comic's panels. cb
This creates an interpretive quandary. Typically, we determine the approximate duration of a comics sequence by comparing it to reality: roughly how long, for example, would a given cartoon monologue or conversation last if it occurred in the real world? The flow of the dialogue in the above strip suggests a short passage of time, maybe less than ten seconds. Yet the shifting locations may complicate this approach. As Charlie Brown moves to a new location, he takes — off the page in the comic's gutter — an invisible, undefined pause between each line of dialogue. Or perhaps Schulz leaves some of the character's monologue un-narrated. Though we never hear it, as Charlie Brown walks from place to place — from panel to panel — he meditates aloud on ideas about punishment, adult-child relationships, and the inevitability of his own disciplining. (In many Peanuts strips, the only actions are walking and/or talking — and the walking here is off the page, until the final panel.)


Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. The well-liked artist Herb Trimpe, probably best known for his work for Marvel drawing the Hulk and co-creating Wolverine, passed away Monday night. We will have more here on the site soon. In the meantime, you should read the moving journal-like Times piece he wrote in 2000, about his attempt to reenter the real world after being fired by Marvel at 56. Tom Spurgeon has posted several of his representative Hulk covers and Bob Heer has chosen some less well-known personal work. Sean Howe has posted a photograph of Trimpe from the Marvel bullpen in 1970, and an excerpt from an interview with Trimpe, conducted in 2001, about his experiences at Ground Zero after the WTC attack.

—Interviews & Profiles. Bart Croonenborghs talks to Bastien Vivès about his new Last Man series.

Michael Cavna interviewed Raina Telgemeier and CBLDF exec director Charles Brownstein about the ALA list of most-challenged books. Cavna also asked 15 editorial cartoonists to respond to Garry Trudeau's recent speech calling for "red lines" in satire.


2 Responses to Don’t You Understand—You’re Me!

  1. Oliver_C says:

    R.I.P. Trimpe. His NYT journal deserves to be read by everybody in comics and everyone who’s ever received the pink slip.

  2. Nice piece by Parille! The Peanuts examples recall, for me, Pekar & Crumb’s “Hypothetical Quandary,” another comic in which the continuous flow of monologue belies the rapidly-changing backgrounds.

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