Dash Shaw (Bottomless Belly Button, Body World) wrote his first essay on comics in a contribution to the comics art mag, Comics Comics, with a look at a book of prep work for an animated movie, Groundwork for Evangelion: 1.0, that turned into a debate over comics and cinema.
It’s interesting to note that Shaw begins his essay with a plea to “go easy” on him, the same plea he used at the start of BBB. A superstar cartoonist, like himself, doesn’t really need to ask that, does he?
So, the overview of the book, which is wonderfully detailed, leads to a discussion on whether or not comics should share any of the vision of film. Quoting from Chris Ware, who comes out completely against comics sharing anything with film, Shaw follows up with his own view.
Here is a Chris Ware quote from Shaw’s piece:
I don’t like to think of my work as “cinematic.” A movie is passive — you’re watching it, taking it in. Where a comic strip, it’s completely active: you have to read it, search it for meaning, for the connection with your entire experience and your memory. Yes, you do have the illusion of watching something happen in a comic strip — but if it’s done well, it comes alive on the page like a novel. A novel is the most interactive thing ever created.
Dash Shaw concludes that “cinematic” comics can be seen in a positive, not passive, way and that cinema is “one of many modern languages that comics can react to.”
I think it’s too much to come out so against film as Ware does but, this is Chris Ware, and I’m happy to “go easy” on him. His vision has gotten him where he is. And of course, his way is only one of so many ways of making comics.