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Speed Savage

Today, John Hogan examines the hidden connections between conceptual art and gag cartooning through a comparison of Mark Newgarden and Richard Prince:

Whereas Newgarden’s humor manifests as functional jokes about how jokes are created, Prince’s jokes are simply defused and deconstructed, and his humor remains more withholding. The jokes he appropriates are unfunny borscht-belt groaners. Gags like a woman catching her husband in his office with his secretary on his lap become vaguely disturbing and sad without the levity of an appropriate zinger attached. According to Nancy Spektor, in her essay for his 2008 recent retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum, this is Prince “bring[ing] to the surface the hostility, fear, and shame fueling much American humor.” (Spektor, p.37)

In the conceptual art mindset, the humor must be obfuscated and neutralized before the nastiness beneath it can be revealed. I would argue as much shame, fear, and hostility are evident and made obvious in Newgarden’s work, and with a functional sense of humor intact.

The comedic motivation behind pairing tired jokes with tired imagery on a large canvas is blatantly nihilistic. The failure of the jokes and gags are built in to the composition of the work, relegating humor into a subject rather than a tool for communication. These neutered sex cartoons are incapable of triggering any honest laughter, and thereby reinforce the objecthood of the painting and its status as painting as painting –art as art– thereby keeping it firmly entrenched in a tradition of the avant-garde and safe from being confused with entertainment.

—Reviews & Commentary. Jeet Heer reviews George A. Walker’s wordless graphic bio of Conrad Black. Bob Heer reviews Matt Kindt’s MIND MGMT. Steven Heller puts together a slideshow of design and comics books for the Times. Corey Blake looks back at Miracleman. Julian Darius at Sequart does a more expansive look at Miracleman coloring & reprinting than Robot 6 did last week. Rob Clough reviews Faction.

—Interviews. Jim Woodring was a guest on the Gweek podcast. The other Boing Boing podcast has had two interesting recent guests, Ed Piskor and printmaker Joe Lupo.

—News. Brian Hibbs of Comix Experience is expanding to a second store. I can’t believe we neglected to link to this New York Daily News story about accusations against Archie’s Nancy Silberkleit last week.

—Hmm. Hmm.

—Video. James Sturm at ESAD Art+Design:

Ed Piskor at the Chicato Humanities Festival:

And Lynda Barry at the National Book Festival:


2 Responses to Speed Savage

  1. BK Munn says:

    wasn’t that Crumb/Speed Savage image the topic of an swipe file in tcj?

    • patrick ford says:

      I recall that it was. The comic book may not even be Crumb’s source. The comic book may have swiped it from an old advertisement or other piece of commercial art. There are also many old books on lettering with all kinds of different lettering styles to consult. Sign painting used to be a really big deal and I’ll bet most sign painters had a book, set of books, or swipe file.

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