Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Best of the Decade: The Real Threat to the Novel

Dear Novelist

You're familiar with Warren Ellis, aren't you? The guy who wrote the novel Crooked Little Vein?
Well, he was slumming it for that gig. While we're all fumbling in the clay, cracking pots in the kiln and alternately creating functional tableware and grotesque, unlovely, and unwieldy monstrosities, Ellis and his contemporaries have taken what everyone presumptuously considered straw and are spinning it into a new golden age of fiction.

They're called comic books, fellas, the marriage of words and sequential art, and they're kicking our asses in the double aughts.

Age of Bronze, Black Hole, Blankets, the reissue of Transmetropolitan, Planetary, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Marvel 1602, Criminal, The Walking Dead, Darwyn Cooke's adaptation of The Hunter, 365 Samurai and a few bowls of rice, and these are just a tiny sample of amazing American comics. There's a whole dynamic world out there.

Of course you can dismiss them if you like, if it makes you feel better. And I don't deny there are a lot of really great prose novels out there. But this is the fact as I see it: the comic form in its malleability is a superior storytelling medium, superior not just to the novel but also to television and movies. And while I also don't doubt that these three media will continue to exist and produce quality art within their limits, the comic form has only just begun to push the boundaries of what it's capable of, art and story catalyzing one another into a beautiful blue flame.

Maybe an MFA in graphic design would have been a better choice.

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't agree with you more... I'd like to see novelists attempt what Grant Morrison can pull off... we've also seen quite a few novelists attempting the graphic novel form (like Jonathan Lethem)...