Thursday, September 21, 2006

Ally-Oop! CCS Week Two and the Quest for the Early Graphic Novels...

(pictured: art by William Gropper, Ally-Oop!, 1931)

Morning, all. Just a quickie; may post more later today. Had a busy, productive two days teaching at CCS, including a heady drawing workshop with the freshman class that yielded some great work. We ran with an exercise in character/critter design I've successfully applied in the past, but this freshmen group ran with the sucker beyond any prior experience -- yielding complete character design sheets, which allowed us to then swap those around to have others work from those sheets (myself included; I do most of the drawing exercises myself, too) and we still had time to post the results and savor a half-hour critique session, with the designers reviewing the art completed from their character design. Great session, very energizing!

Now I'm back home and looking forward to staying put a few days. Still, much to do: today, I'm diving into continuing the excavation/organization of my massive shithea -- ah, collection and library. This also allows me to expand & revise my comics history class ("Survey of the Drawn Story") for the CCS freshmen, which is an ongoing undertaking. Everyone gets the best of what I've got in hand come lecture day, but each and every lecture gets a thorough going-over afterwards and is revised to improve the next presentation of the material, including adding scans, titles, artists, etc.

In doing so, I'm also pulling together all I can on the precursors to the graphic novel as we know it today. I've got quite a collection of these seminal books, but I'm always delighted when folks turn me on to works I've never heard of. This still-amorphous body of work is still essentially unnamed -- "pantomime novel," "wordless woodcut novel," etc. have been flown up the flagpole, but no one salutes -- but it's clearly a major aspect of comics history long overdue proper attention.

James Sturm turned me on some time ago to the delightful Ally-Oop by William Gropper (1930), and I'm happy to know James has already written the intro for a reprint edition being prepared by Drawn & Quarterly for 2007 -- one of a number of such D&Q projects that will go a long way toward rectifying the situation.

Could some of the best graphic novels of 2007 end up being over 75 years old? Time will tell, if it hasn't already.

Ah, I'm rambling. More later...