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Morning Improv Vacation Notice & Some Thoughts on Comics
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Scott McCloud
The one and only


Joined: 23 May 2001
Posts: 299

PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2002 2:10 pm    Post subject: Morning Improv Vacation Notice & Some Thoughts on Comics Reply with quote

Friday, June 21, 2002

The Morning Improv will be taking a Vacation for a few months after the current Improv (#18) is complete.

I'm going to be travelling quite a bit this summer (including the two courses in Minneapolis and, of course, the San Diego Convention in August) and updating on the road wouldn't really be practical under the circumstances.

Just as importantly, though, I've decided to use that hour or two each morning when I *am* home to work on a project of mine that's been languishing on the back-burner for a long time while we struggled under our usual deadline and financial pressures. It's called "The Right Number" and it's an online graphic novella about a man obsessed with phone numbers and with the quest for the perfect mate. It's also a somewhat radical format -- each panel is embedded in the previous panel, so you need to zoom through the comic while reading it (yeah, Flash required for this one...). Format aside though, I've come to really like this story and I think it's important that I get it told soon.

Speaking of which...

Lately, there's been a growing concern (sometimes finding Yours Truly as a prime target) that the comics world -- both online and print -- is being overrun with empty experiments; that comics artists have somehow forgotten how to tell good stories and are content to just play with the form and offer nothing of any lasting human value or interest. Like most such collective observations, this one is at least half-right. Since the mid-90's, interest in comics as a form definitely hit a new high and a lot of the small press scene took a distinct turn for the experimental, with a highly experimental wing of online creators not far behind.

The "all-form-no-content" complaint tends to overlook the historic function of such periods, however. Hardly any of the aggressively experimental creators working in the last ten years were really turning their back on storytelling for good. Many of those art-school refugees sporting day-glo silk-screened lizard-skin minis at SPX in '98 are hard at work today on their own graphic novels and have plenty of stories to tell us; and if history is any indication will be all the better as storytellers having taken those experimental roads early on. And though formal experimentation is still important for the webcomics scene to find its shape in the next few years, there's also a growing body of great storytelling online that's bound to grow in quantity and quality throughout this decade.

When lamenting the supposed plague of experimental work, we shouldn't forget that two of the most formally inventive creators comics has ever seen -- Art Spiegelman and Chris Ware -- took aggressively experimental roads in their early work that led eventually to two of comics' most heartfelt and celebrated graphic novels; works with more "content" per square inch than anyone even knew comics was capable of before those two started screwing around.

I've always thought that a cartoonist should follow his/her muse wherever it leads. In the last decade, perhaps motivated by a sense of stagnation following the ambition-impaired "Wow-Rolling-Stone-Likes-Dark-Knight!" '80s, a lot of artists took comics in as many weird directions as they could to shake things up. I tried to do that myself; sometimes with disastrous results as with Th*t L*nc*ln Th*ng, sometimes with mixed results as with the online work; but in every case, I was operating under the assumption that the only way to keep the faith was to simply work on whatever I most *wanted* to work on.

Now, at this stage in my career, I want to tell some stories. The Right Number is first up, but there are others. I'm even doing a little mainstream work this year to stay afloat; an upcoming Justice League Adventures story(!) that I'm weirdly proud of, and a likely Superman Graphic Novel. Mostly though, I have ideas for various strange graphic novels that don't really fit into any category, but that I hope to someday write and draw.

I still love to experiment, and I will bring The Morning Improv back before too long. There are way too many great titles that *need* to be drawn. But in the meantime, I hope you'll find the stories I have to tell worth your while.

Look for a preview of "The Right Number" in this space sometime this summer.

Thank you for reading.

Best,

--Scott


Last edited by Scott McCloud on Fri Jul 11, 2003 8:20 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Randy
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2002 3:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent thoughts Scott. Something for everyone to think about.
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InkAddict
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 23, 2002 12:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The "all-form-no-content" complaint tends to overlook the historic function of such periods, however. Hardly any of the aggressively experimental creators working in the last ten years were really turning their back on storytelling for good.


I have to say it feels great to see that this is happening once again:

In the seventies, a few new comics magazines and their resident artists shook up the European comics world. (M?tal Hurlant, Pilote, Fluide Glacial and Echo des Savanes, mainly)

Until today, some say those artists were more concerned about form and "artistic perspective", but whatever happened afterwards with the magazines (two of them went broke, one went mainstream, the other one went plain vulgar), they have offered us some of the best comic artists ever in the field of adult comics (Some of you might recognise Enki Bilal, Moebius or Jodorowsky,...)

I'm sure these experimental waves will bring us new wonders and am seeing them happening already!

Thanx Scott for this nice insight and the hope you are offering everyone in the community!
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Christopher Lundgren
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 25, 2002 4:28 am    Post subject: If it just wasn't for the whole thing about aliens... Reply with quote

That's funny--the "Lincoln Thing" of which you speak (or rather of which you dare not speak) is the only print comic of yours I've actually read. (Aside from Understanding and Reinventing, OF COURSE.)

Actually I thought it was pretty good until the end, at which point it was... mmm, not so good.


In art, experimentation is the best weapon against stagnation.
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Randy
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 25, 2002 7:18 am    Post subject: Re: If it just wasn't for the whole thing about aliens... Reply with quote

Christopher Lundgren wrote:
In art, experimentation is the best weapon against stagnation.


I really like this line.

Randy
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Greg Stephens
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 25, 2002 11:19 am    Post subject: Re: If it just wasn't for the whole thing about aliens... Reply with quote

Christopher Lundgren wrote:
Actually I thought it was pretty good until the end, at which point it was... mmm, not so good.


I also quite like "Lincoln" and the bit with the aliens seems a bit weird, but it's really just a McGuffin used so that the topic of symbols v. reality can be brought up. That's what the story is really about. I also think that with this in mind, the blending of flatter, iconic characters with 3D objects and- more importantly- realistic-appearing symbols works on a thematic level.
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Cowman
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 25, 2002 1:57 pm    Post subject: Re: Morning Improv Vacation Notice & Some Thoughts on Co Reply with quote

Scott McCloud wrote:

...is being overrun with empty experiments; that comics artists have somehow forgotten how to tell good stories and are content to just play with the form and offer nothing of any lasting human value or interest.


heh. do you think Monkey Town could be an example of this?

-sometimesilikestoriessansvaluecowman?
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bgztl
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Joined: 15 Apr 2002
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 27, 2002 5:55 pm    Post subject: Re: Morning Improv Vacation Notice & Some Thoughts on Co Reply with quote

Anonymous wrote:
Scott McCloud wrote:

...is being overrun with empty experiments; that comics artists have somehow forgotten how to tell good stories and are content to just play with the form and offer nothing of any lasting human value or interest.


heh. do you think Monkey Town could be an example of this?

-sometimesilikestoriessansvaluecowman?


More like super-hero comic satire.

Hey it may be "lowbrow" art but it was good enough for Plautus, Swift, Dave Ber, E. Crumb, and me.
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losttoy
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Joined: 02 Apr 2002
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 29, 2002 12:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just have to say, "Bravo Scott." You and your Morning Improv have been an inpiration to me. I am egarly awaiting "The Right Number" and from your description I am sure I will enjoy it. Good luck.
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Tim Mallos
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Joined: 23 Apr 2001
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 01, 2002 2:43 pm    Post subject: Really looking forward... Reply with quote

I'm really looking forward to attending your July 14-19 class. Was it preparing for the course that has fanned your story-telling flame?

Whatever the source, I can't wait to benefit from your obvious enthusiasm!

Anyone else from the board attending the first class? I know Randy ended up in the second week. (Bummed me out!)

I'm really looking forward to a week of evenings to drink a couple beers / coffee, draw, and hopefully talk to other members of the class...

Tim
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Randy
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 01, 2002 3:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm lookin' to hang out with some people during the second week. I wish that I would have gotten into the first one. But then I thought about it, McCloud will have his stuff down a little better for the second class. So it's better! Even though I don't get to hang out with some people that I wanted to. ::sigh::

So if you're going to the second week, or even the first, let's start making plans!

Later,
Randy
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Scott McCloud
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 02, 2002 2:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Was it preparing for the course that has fanned your story-telling flame?


It had been coming for a while, but yes, in considering what good storytelling was all about for the course, it seemed important to also try to apply that knowledge in my own work as I go.

As for the first week/second week differences... Boy, I'm glad I don't have to make that decision! I can see good reasons to pick either one over the other.
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vin
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2002 9:14 pm    Post subject: well scott as for your "vacation" Reply with quote

couldn't you have started taking a break before monkeytown?
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novalis
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 23, 2002 5:03 pm    Post subject: Re: Morning Improv Vacation Notice & Some Thoughts on Co Reply with quote

Scott McCloud wrote:

It's also a somewhat radical format -- each panel is embedded in the previous panel, so you need to zoom through the comic while reading it (yeah, Flash required for this one...). Format aside though, I've come to really like this story and I think it's important that I get it told soon.
--Scott


You could use JavaScript instead. If you use Flash, it will be very difficult for some people to view it. Javascript works almost everywhere. I bet lots of people on this board could help you if you had questions about Javascript.
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Ned Lem
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 26, 2002 9:52 am    Post subject: Form, content, etc. Reply with quote

I just wanted to say that I completely agree with you on the form content issue. I also can't wait to read The Right Number.

P.S. You thought you could get rid of me didn't you. It isn't that easy.
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Scott McCloud
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 26, 2002 11:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ned, welcome back!

Thanks for being such a good sport.



(They really *were* good titles)
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 30, 2002 3:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Scott McCloud wrote:
Ned, welcome back!

Thanks for being such a good sport.


Good Sport? That's what you think. Just wait until I hack your page.
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pOnju
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Joined: 30 Aug 2002
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2002 1:06 pm    Post subject: haitus Reply with quote

I love/miss Morning Improv as much as the next guy...

and I don't mean to be annoying by saying this, but hiatus is typo'ed as haitus.

Looking forward to the return of Morning Improv!
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Fett101
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2002 11:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey look. First guy to post in Sept. Oh woe to us all. Oh well, seperation makes the heart grow fonder
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 18, 2002 11:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Without Morning Improv we all shrivel up and die.
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gazorenzoku
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2002 11:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When is the Justice League Adventures story coming out? I am a big fan of that goofy little comic... but don't tell anyone...

vince
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