Does thinking about comics in literary terms mean that we’re not giving enough credit to the artists? Eddie Campbell considers the argument:
A long time ago, when comics started getting complicated and written continuity was needed, a job opened up for people who could write the stuff. I’m talking as long ago as 1920 and The Gumps, when cartoonist Sydney Smith started using the story suggestions of a traveling jewelry salesman named Sol Hess. Writing comics is a special skill quite different from writing prose. But before you take it all apart, ask: can you take the pictures out of a sports cartoon, or reduce a clowns’ circus performance to its plot? Can everything about a musical performance be conveyed in a stave of notes, or can everything about a film be known from its shooting script? Sometimes, while everybody else was watching the clock, the clown, the actor, the singer, the cartoonist, the writer even, because writers never have as much freedom as we think they have, have slipped their own story in between the tick and the tock.