Debate and Discussion

Is this a Comic?
MicMit at 5:23AM, Aug. 8, 2010
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I picked this up from another site, and thought the discussion might be interesting to have here. The question at hand is pretty simple: Is this art? And is it a comic?

I think it's an important debate to have, because it helps us better understand the terms in which we define art/comics. Where is it that we draw the line between what is and isn't? Many of us take a lot of pride in our comics, so the question brings to light our values.
I'm sure many of you have seen pieces in some form of another similar to this, and it usually sparks a bit of controversy.So what's your opinion?
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:01PM
ozoneocean at 6:12AM, Aug. 8, 2010
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Even so, it's probably better in the art or comic discussion forums? Since we do indeed discuss those sorts of things right there. Quite a lot on the past actually :)
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:36PM
demontales at 3:42PM, Aug. 8, 2010
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I've debated a lot already on those kinds of questions, and I think the safest answer is, it is whatever you want it to be.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:10PM
mlai at 6:19PM, Aug. 8, 2010
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I suppose it is “art,” the snobbish type which is more about salesmanship and the gullibility of the nouveau riche, than about art that is actually worthwhile.

But it certainly is not a comic or a story. Same way a blank diary is not a novel.

FIGHT current chapter: Filling In The Gaps
FIGHT_2 current chapter: Light Years of Gold
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:06PM
HippieVan at 6:25PM, Aug. 8, 2010
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Sure it's a comic. It's not a very good one, though.
Duchess of Friday Newsposts and the holy Top Ten
Have a comic milestone, a community project or some comic-related news you’d like to see in
a newspost? Send it to me via PQ or at hippievannews(at)gmail.com!
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:49PM
lefarce at 6:40PM, Aug. 8, 2010
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You could argue its art, sure. Some sort of anti-art surreal sort of “I'm up my own ass, gheh” thing.

Is it a comic? Not at all. Comics traditionally are a form of narrative. This is a series of out of context black boxes loosely connected by what is not even a traditional gutter. Its a template, not a comic. I don't even know why there is a debate or a discussion about this, because it (much like the image you provided) is empty of all value and point.

 
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:34PM
Chernobog at 7:42PM, Aug. 8, 2010
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Hm, black squares. Art? Not in my book. Webcomic? Mm, nope. Nothing happening. No background, no context, nothing.

Anyone want stone soup, while we're at it? I'm making up a batch! It's really good, but if only we had some carrots…
 
 
“You tell yourself to just
enjoy the process,” he added. “That whether you succeed or fail, win or
lose, it will be fine. You pretend to be Zen. You adopt detachment, and
ironic humor, while secretly praying for a miracle.”
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:41AM
MicMit at 7:47PM, Aug. 8, 2010
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lefarce
You could argue its art, sure. Some sort of anti-art surreal sort of “I'm up my own ass, gheh” thing.

Is it a comic? Not at all. Comics traditionally are a form of narrative. This is a series of out of context black boxes loosely connected by what is not even a traditional gutter. Its a template, not a comic. I don't even know why there is a debate or a discussion about this, because it (much like the image you provided) is empty of all value and point.

See that's just it, the reason for this discussion. First off, why does something like this have to be a super-pretentious piece. Personally I'm a huge fan of minimalism, and it was movement that actually intended to create the least pretentious works. In a time of growing elitism and alienation of common viewers, minimalists came out of the shadows to create works that would be accessible to any viewers. For instance, Don Judd created his famous empty boxes not with the intent of expressing his own views and opinions, but to grant people the freedom to interpret the material as they will.

or as demontales said:
demontales
it is whatever you want it to be.

As for it being a comic, you suggest that traditionally comics hold a narrative, which I don't entirely agree with. I believe it'd be safer to say a comic traditionally contains a sequence. That being said, who's to say it does not contain one. One could certainly make the argument that each panel does not necessarily take place in the same moment, that they are in fact 4 distinctive moments within the sequence.
In that sense, this could easily function as a comic.

edit: I do want to mention something else about minimalism. Despite being designed to free the viewer from elitist art criticism, it has never been well received by the general public. They have considered much in the same philosophy they were working against in that they considered in pretentious and snooty. Personally I think it's because of the way we've come to accept criticizing art, and it's hard to provide the environment that encourages open interpretation.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:01PM
Hawk at 8:23PM, Aug. 8, 2010
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We had a really good go at animation here in the debate forum, so I don't mind this tread sticking around a bit.

I kind of agree with lefarce, I think it must have some form of narrative to really be a “comic”. It might say something interesting, but I don't know that I'd call it a comic.

Context is important though. Like, say that right above that strip was another strip of a guy going to bed, and in the last panel he turns off the lights. Then we get those four black panels. Then there's another set of panels where the guy gets up in the morning. Under that context, those same four panels ARE a comic…. four panels of a guy sleeping with the lights out.

But of course, we're not given any of that context.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:47PM
DAJB at 3:55AM, Aug. 9, 2010
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Personally, I don't see this as a comic in its own right. As others have said, however, it could just about qualify if it was a sequence from a comic.

I have used a sequence of black panels a couple of times in my comic but, to use Hawk's argument, there is a context given by the panels that come before and after. Also, although there isn't any artwork in the relevant panels, I do have dialogue so that some kind of narrative is still present. Strangely enough, after one such sequence had hit the web, one reader did challenge me to do a comic without either artwork or dialogue (perhaps he had your example in mind?)

I came up with this:
I mean, sound effects don't count as dialogue, right? ;-)
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:04PM
MicMit at 8:05AM, Aug. 9, 2010
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See here's the flaw in demanding narrative be part of a comic, you have to define what a narrative is
Dictionary.com
1. a story or account of events, experiences, or the like, whether true or fictitious.
2. a book, literary work, etc., containing such a story.
3. the art, technique, or process of narrating
it seems to me you expect to see character and environments but these don't define a narrative. If you insist on considering a narrative in those terms, you have to think more broadly about those, consider there definitions. We've all seen comics consisting solely of polygon characters, this square is no less of a character than those. The white background for a space is nothing alien either, and that's if you don't consider the black squares a space or void in itself.
Again in your demand for context, i have to say you aren't thinking broadly enough. You're looking for the context only within the the page, but that's not the entire comic anymore than the paint on the canvas is all the painting. You have to consider it's the page itself, the environment around it, every detail surrounding it.
Here's the context of this comic in terms of this argument: 4 black squares which may or may not be part of a sequence, presented on a white background, on a message board thread asking if it's a comic, on your computer, at your home, in your town, in your city, county, state, country…..you get the point.

Presentation is always more contextual than than the actual content. The art world would never have been to fascinated by Duchamp's urinal had he presented it in a bathroom.

edit: @DAJB I actually really love your comic, you might try presenting to www.abstractcomics.blogspot.com. I'm not entirely sure how they work, but they may give you a feature
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:01PM
demontales at 8:19AM, Aug. 9, 2010
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I don't think most of the people meant a narrative or sequence as characters and environnments only. I think they meant something that evolves, moves, progress. A question that could arise is also, if this is a comic, does the word “comic” as a meaning anymore. is it just art? and does art means something? And we can go on like this forever, destructuring the language forever. Not saying it is a good or bad thing here, just observing
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:10PM
DrLuck at 11:29AM, Aug. 9, 2010
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I would say the image is art (being a visual aesthetic). Whether I like it or not is not included, but it is art. Is it a comic? It's a sequence of black boxes. Comics, according to Will Eisner, is “sequential art.” It's a sequence, and it's art, so I suppose one could say that it's a comic. It could easily just be someone half-assing a comic for the sake of doing so, or it could very possibly be commentary on art and comics as a whole. Really, it depends on how you want to interpret it.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:17PM
isukun at 2:08PM, Aug. 9, 2010
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I would have to say no. It fits the category of sequential art, but not comics. It isn't the panels or the illustrations which define a comic, it is the marriage of illustration and narrative. No, you don't need detailed humanistic characters, dialog, or even anything identifiable, but there does need to be the illustration or suggestion of a sequence of events. A picture of a kid looking down at a broken vase with a baseball bat in his hand has narrative, a plain black surface with no title, context, or dialog does not. One of the major points of monochromatic paintings is to separate the narrative from the meaning of the piece, so to then try to claim a work with the same abstract approach is a comic is kind of an insult to the art form. The above sequence isn't any more a comic than Allan McCollum's Collection of One Hundred Plaster Surrogates.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:05PM
MicMit at 5:18PM, Aug. 9, 2010
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isukun
I would have to say no. It fits the category of sequential art, but not comics. It isn't the panels or the illustrations which define a comic, it is the marriage of illustration and narrative. No, you don't need detailed humanistic characters, dialog, or even anything identifiable, but there does need to be the illustration or suggestion of a sequence of events. A picture of a kid looking down at a broken vase with a baseball bat in his hand has narrative, a plain black surface with no title, context, or dialog does not. One of the major points of monochromatic paintings is to separate the narrative from the meaning of the piece, so to then try to claim a work with the same abstract approach is a comic is kind of an insult to the art form. The above sequence isn't any more a comic than Allan McCollum's Collection of One Hundred Plaster Surrogates.

That's an interesting way of looking at it. I hadn't considered thinking of it in terms of a more generalized piece of sequential art. This is ironic since my last post was all about thinking more broadly (congrats you out-broadened me).
I still consider it a comic though. I disagree that such an approach is an insult to monochromatic paintings, because it is a separate medium. Since the function of the medium is different, you must consider the work differently, it essentially has no ties to painting.So with that said, I do believe it has a narrative, it's just that narrative is open to interpretation.
And I still insist that this does have context, and it's all in how its been presented. Its context is the question of whether it is a comic or not.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:01PM
isukun at 7:43PM, Aug. 9, 2010
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What you are referring to, though, is meaning, not narrative. Narritive requires action and change that occurs as a sequence of events, not just the interpretation of a static medium.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:05PM
mlai at 12:11AM, Aug. 10, 2010
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Well, Isukun gave the erudite answer.

I'll give the layman's version for MicMit: Your posts perfectly illustrate why people consider minimalism to be elitist and snooty.

FIGHT current chapter: Filling In The Gaps
FIGHT_2 current chapter: Light Years of Gold
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:06PM
DAJB at 12:18AM, Aug. 10, 2010
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MicMit
@DAJB I actually really love your comic, you might try presenting to http://www.abstractcomics.blogspot.com. I'm not entirely sure how they work, but they may give you a feature
Ha! Thanks - but, strictly speaking, my comic's not abstract. ;-)
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:04PM
demontales at 5:47AM, Aug. 10, 2010
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MicMit
I hadn't considered thinking of it in terms of a more generalized piece of sequential art.

I'm not sure if the answer's gonna make more sense, but what?

If the context is us asking the question, does that mean our lives are comics? Or that we're books, computer, anything that supports comic?

And yeah, I see a narrative, in the very dark. Like is often said :“Look I drew a snowtorm” when having a blank sheet.

I'm surprised you looked up narrative in the dictionnary, but not comic. I'm not usually for strict definition but comic is not as broad as art. Some may break the usual form of narrative or sequence, but it's close to what a comic is generally accepted as. Of course everyone can say, to me this doesn't look like this, or it looks more like that. Debates still have their reasons to be there. However, this kind of debate can go endlessly and will never have an answer. Also people tend to stick to their opinion because it is really more of the way you see things and there is not much way to give a logical reason.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:10PM
F Y R E 13 R A N D at 6:30AM, Aug. 10, 2010
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I basically agree that the image is neither art nor a comic, because it lacks context.

The content of the piece is non-existent, and in terms of abstract beauty or interest it's nothing special either. If this were ever considered “art,” it would be purely in the context provided by the artist or the time/place it's presented in. It would most likely be some kind of statement about what can and can't be considered art, or what people can be fooled into paying to see… but whatever the case, the statement created through context is the art, not the object. The image here would be just a diversion or a red herring – an obstacle, testing you for your ability to see through it and grasp the underlying statement. In that vein, the object is completely interchangeable.

That kind of interpretation doesn't work for anything and everything you can find and slap an “art” label on, and it certainly doesn't work for this image, in its given form.

Is it a comic? I'd say no, for the same reason – no context. Four black squares are not a comic. I can probably go out and find a sequence of four black squares in the pattern of a neck tie or wallpaper swatch, but if I scan that and show it to you, that won't make it a comic. There's no meaning or narrative or anything recognizable in the image at all – and while it may be considered a segment of a comic if it takes place in the context of a greater sequence, it is worthless in isolation. You might as well just look at an empty space on the wall in front of you and say that's a comic.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:25PM
Orin J Master at 8:18PM, Aug. 10, 2010
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well, it's not a comic because there's no context to infer any kind of story. and it's not art because it has no artistic merit except what you attempt to introduce externally.

i can tell you what it is though. sophistry. most modern “Art” is sophistry, actually.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:22PM
MicMit at 7:45AM, Aug. 11, 2010
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F Y R E 13 R A N D
I basically agree that the image is neither art nor a comic, because it lacks context.

The content of the piece is non-existent, and in terms of abstract beauty or interest it's nothing special either. If this were ever considered “art,” it would be purely in the context provided by the artist or the time/place it's presented in. It would most likely be some kind of statement about what can and can't be considered art, or what people can be fooled into paying to see… but whatever the case, the statement created through context is the art, not the object. The image here would be just a diversion or a red herring – an obstacle, testing you for your ability to see through it and grasp the underlying statement. In that vein, the object is completely interchangeable.

That kind of interpretation doesn't work for anything and everything you can find and slap an “art” label on, and it certainly doesn't work for this image, in its given form.
I understand that you are essentially saying that context provides the meaning not the object itself, but I fail to see why this doesn't work for this image. The context of the work does not have to be on the piece, but can be provided by its surrounding elements. Again I point out Duchamp's urinal he called “Fountain” wouldn't have been nearly as controversial as it was, had he decided it was best presented in restroom. So if you're looking for a meaning consider the surrounding elements of this image as it is now.
isukun
What you are referring to, though, is meaning, not narrative. Narritive requires action and change that occurs as a sequence of events, not just the interpretation of a static medium.
But an interpretation of static images is exactly what a comic is. At the end of the end day comic illustrations are nothing but abstract and formless lines that have been put together for us to interpret as something-else, but even if we read it that way (which it's perfectly possible we won't) that's never actually what it is. It's still just lines. In that matter this image functions perfectly as a comic, it's a series of abstract forms placed together, if you read it as a sequence or a narrative then it has one, if you don't then it doesn't, as with any other comic. It all lies in your freedom of interpretation, this image can take advantage of that and make you aware of it.
mlai
I'll give the layman's version for MicMit: Your posts perfectly illustrate why people consider minimalism to be elitist and snooty.
What's snooty? I'm arguing for the idea of open interpretation. Minimalism doesn't require you to understand anything about art, or anything for that matter. In terms of this piece and other visual works, all it requires is your ability to see and an appreciation for subtlety. We've become so accustomed to searching for deeper meaning in works of art that we can no longer simply enjoy somethings form. It is in fact a giant slap to the face of elitism in art.
Orin J Master
i can tell you what it is though. sophistry. most modern “Art” is sophistry, actually.
I assure you that that is not just modern art, but all art. The difference is this piece as well as other minimalist works is it does not rely you misinterpreting what are heart abstract forms for natural forms. They are works that encourage you to interpret them as you will, even if it's nothing more than the form itself.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:01PM
F Y R E 13 R A N D at 11:58AM, Aug. 11, 2010
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MicMit
I understand that you are essentially saying that context provides the meaning not the object itself, but I fail to see why this doesn't work for this image. The context of the work does not have to be on the piece, but can be provided by its surrounding elements. Again I point out Duchamp's urinal he called “Fountain” wouldn't have been nearly as controversial as it was, had he decided it was best presented in restroom. So if you're looking for a meaning consider the surrounding elements of this image as it is now.

The context doesn't make this image a work of art, because the context is purely you posting a series of four black squares on this message forum, within a post where you ask if this can be art. If you created this series of squares, or photographed them, or even stole them from some mundane source such as a section of brick wall, with the intent of using it as a statement and presenting it as a work of art, then sure, it would be art. It wouldn't be good art, since these ideas have already been explored a long time ago (in the context of the contemporary art scene this would be laughably irrelevant) – but no one could tell you it's technically not art.

You have to remember that the context a work exists in is not limited to how or where the artist presents a piece, but a greater scope that considers what came before it, the points of view of the viewers, the artistic values of both society at large and the art world specifically, and a laundry list of other factors. You have to ask: Is this piece important and relevant to you or anyone else? Why are you presenting this as art?

If I've made the wrong assumption here, I apologize, but I'm pretty certain you've only shown us these four squares as a hypothetical example, for the purpose of discussion. You know this is very similar to other pieces that came before it, and you yourself have mentioned Duchamp's Fountain as an example of art that tackles the same issues you wish to discuss.

So, yes, if you were Duchamp or any other artist from a time period where the big question of “What is Art?” was still a relevant and controversial topic, and you came up with these four squares as a response to that – maybe that would be art. But as it exists here, on this message board in 2010, with its only purpose seemingly to be a jumping-off point for discussion, I would say no. Functionally, it's the exact same thing if I posted any random image off the internet – say, a duck – and made the topic “Can ducks be art?” I didn't make or find that image of a duck with the intent of presenting it as art. I didn't fit it into a context where it takes on a new meaning and causes you to reflect upon yourself or society. I just showed you a picture of a duck and said it was art. That's not what Duchamp was doing, and that's not what art does.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:25PM
Orin J Master at 1:32PM, Aug. 11, 2010
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MicMit
I assure you that that is not just modern art, but all art.
i assure you there is nothing of art that you could possibly grasp with that mindset.

The difference is this piece as well as other minimalist works-
that isn't minimalist. minimalism is deconstructing the content within a medium to it's essential meaning by removing all but the most basic possible framework that accompanies it. this is, to be blunt so as to avoid any possible academic reinterpretation, meaningless crap you threw up so you could run your mouth on a subject you don't actually understand and hope you sound like you know something. it doesn't say anything about comics or art because it's not related to either, it just tells us you want people to give you attention.


well played, troll. well played.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:22PM
MicMit at 4:47PM, Aug. 11, 2010
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Orin J Master
it doesn't say anything about comics or art because it's not related to either, it just tells us you want people to give you attention.


well played, troll. well played.

Listen, if i have in anyway insulted you or your ideas, or led you to believe that all I want is attention, I'm sorry. That has not been my intention, though. I have my own opinion in the matter, it's a subject I'm interested in, it happens to disagree with your own. I'm glad you do, because it's what I wanted for this discussion. While I have my own opinion, I'd like to see others because it allows me to consider more on the subject.
And if I were trolling, I'd have a terrible sense of humor (which I do, but it has little do with trolling and more with a love of Wes Anderson movies)
The reason I said that all art is sophistry (which I'll admit was a word I had to look up) is because no object actually carries with it an innate meaning. Any meaning you put on to piece is arrived at through abstract reasoning. Harsh and heavy lines do not necessarily mean anger, that is an interpretation, and there's no legitimate way to rationalize that, because that line has no connection or similarities to the emotion of anger. Not to mention most meanings pulled from a piece have little to do with fact and more to do with less tangible ideas like morality and respect.
Now despite that an interpretation of a work will be derived without the use of proper logic, I don't dismiss the interpretation as worthless, thus I don't dismiss Art. To me, Art exists to make us think and, much like this discussion, to express ideas that we as a viewer may have been unaware of. It is a tool that helps us grow.

Now on your ideas of minimalism, we may be pulling from different backgrounds, but I disagree with it on the fact that it is impossible to create an object that cannot be reinterpreted. If anything, the minimalists created their work to be devoid of meaning, especially impalpable ideas. The simple fact of the matter, though, is that everybody is coming from a different perspective and everyone with a different background. Anyone coming across an object is going to come to a conclusion entirely based on their own experiences. Nothing exists that universally has one interpretation.
F Y R E 13 R A N D
If I've made the wrong assumption here, I apologize, but I'm pretty certain you've only shown us these four squares as a hypothetical example, for the purpose of discussion. You know this is very similar to other pieces that came before it, and you yourself have mentioned Duchamp's Fountain as an example of art that tackles the same issues you wish to discuss.

So, yes, if you were Duchamp or any other artist from a time period where the big question of “What is Art?” was still a relevant and controversial topic, and you came up with these four squares as a response to that – maybe that would be art. But as it exists here, on this message board in 2010, with its only purpose seemingly to be a jumping-off point for discussion, I would say no. Functionally, it's the exact same thing if I posted any random image off the internet – say, a duck – and made the topic “Can ducks be art?” I didn't make or find that image of a duck with the intent of presenting it as art. I didn't fit it into a context where it takes on a new meaning and causes you to reflect upon yourself or society. I just showed you a picture of a duck and said it was art. That's not what Duchamp was doing, and that's not what art does.
The question of “What is Art?” will always be relevant as long as art exists and its boundaries are being pushed. This is slightly different, it has roots in the prior question but is instead asking you “What is a comic?”. This does fit into your understanding, because it does require you to reflect on a part of society. It asks you to reflect on comics, which are a part of society.
From your example, it sounds like you believe a work has to be presented as art for it to be considered art. This is just me, but I don't agree with that. I think anything, no matter how it's presented, that makes me reflect on myself or society, as you said, is art. For the sake of discussion, perhaps it's better to rephrase the question as “Could this function as a comic?”
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:01PM
Giratinasaur at 5:14PM, Aug. 11, 2010
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By technical definition, it's a comic - an image separated clearly into panels, with stuff in them. It's not at all rewarding, nor does it seem to have any semblance of a plot, but then again most comics are like that anyway. So yes, I suppose it could be called a comic, but it's a pretty bad one. Also, like some other people explained, it has no context, it's just a black box. Some people who spend their days hunting for the meaning of life in fallen pinecones can perhaps say that this obviously represents someone in deep personal distress, or maybe depression.

And don't even start on the definition of art. Art is whatever the heck you want it to be.

The House of Jirachi: the only webcomic that has static rats and ebony felines working together in tandem.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:36PM
isukun at 10:40PM, Aug. 11, 2010
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But an interpretation of static images is exactly what a comic is.

Never said a comic wasn't. I said a comic wasn't JUST that.

By technical definition, it's a comic - an image separated clearly into panels, with stuff in them.

Comics don't require images separated into panels.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:05PM
DarkGesen at 9:59AM, Nov. 7, 2010
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I thought the picture wasn't loading properly.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:07PM
SarahDot at 4:40AM, Dec. 7, 2010
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I think I have a good definition of art:

“Anything that has mass and takes up space.”

No. Wait. That's matter.

Seriously though. I believe art is anything made to elicit emotion. The quality of the art depends on the artist's ability to cause the intended emotion or emotions, the depth of those emotions, and the variety of those emotions.

(Taking this definition to it's logical extreme, you can have the argument whether or not 9/11 was art.)

This work is most certainly art. I don't like it, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It is a comic, too. If any of you have seen the quality of the artwork in my comic, you'd see that I really can't talk about what's in the panels of anyone else's comic. ^_^

What is or isn't art is a bad debate to have. Most things can be considered to be art by someone. The good debate is whether or not a piece of art achieves its goals. Since we are sitting here on a forum talking about it, I think this piece has.

Sarah
http://www.drunkduck.com/Worst_Best_Comic_Ever
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:22PM
Faliat at 5:11AM, Dec. 7, 2010
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Nope. It's art, but that isn't a comic.
The only way it could be one is if it was a strip trying to portray the passage of time in a dark and quiet space.
But it needs a strip before or after it, or one panel with text in it to put it into context.

By itself it's just a horizontal pattern of black and white lines.


But don't worry.

I fixed it!


Call that jumped up metal rod a knife?
Watch mine go straight through a kevlar table, and if it dunt do the same to a certain gaixan's skull in my immediate vicinity after, I GET A F*****G REFUND! BUKKO, AH?!

- Rekkiy (NerveWire)
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:25PM

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