Comic Art: The Seduction of the Innocent

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Comic Art: The Seduction of the Innocent In 1991, at the 13th Annual World Fantasy Convention, an issue of the comic book series The Sandman was selected by a panel of experts in the field as the Year's Best Short Story. This was not the first time that a comic book has been nominated for a prestigious literary prize (the first and only previous one being Art Spiegelman's retelling of the Holocaust in animal fable form Maus for the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1987), but it was the first to have won. The ensuing uproar at the awards ceremony and the umbrage that many took at a mere comic book winning instead of a standard-print story resulted in the rules of the awards being changed. Henceforth, no comic book could be nominated, much less win. Like the people at the World Fantasy Awards in 1991, most of us would not think that a comic book could reside on the same level of artistic creativity as a paintings, epic novels, poems or concertos. Were the eminencies at the awards right then, in rejecting the notion of The Sandman as literature? For the comic to have been selected, by a panel of blue-ribboned experts, no less, surely there has to be something in The Sandman to render it worthy of the honour of receiving the award. For us to understand what it was about The Sandman that caused such a reaction, indeed, such fear, we have to know what, in the first place, a comic is. When we speak of "comics" we generally mean either the funnies -- comic strips in the newspapers - or of superheroes, spandex optional, who fight crime and save the world on a regular basis. The comics can be loosely defined as "a narrative in the form of a sequence of pictures - usually, but not always, with text" (Sabin, 5). A graphic ... ... middle of paper ... ...eil et al. The Sandman #29: Distant Mirrors - Thermidor. Canada, Vertigo/ DC Comics, 1991. Gaiman, Neil et al. The Sandman #63: The Kindly Ones - Part 7. Canada, Vertigo/DC Comics, 1995. Inge, M. Thomas. Comics as Culture. University Press of Mississippi, 1990. Lent, John A. Pulp Demons: International Dimensions of the Post-war Anti-Comics Campaign. London: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1999 McKean, Dave. Dustcovers: The Collected Sandman Covers 1989-1997. Canada, Watson-Guptill Publications, 1997. Plato. Republic X, The Collected Dialogues of Plato, Including the Letters. Ed. Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns. Trans. Paul Shorey. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1961. Romemesko, James. The Mike Diana Saga. 1994. Sabin, Roger. Adult Comics: An Introduction. New York: Routledge, 1993.

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