Do Everything

“Comics are just words and pictures. You can do anything with words and pictures” – Harvey Pekar

If you read comics, or even read about comics, I imagine you’ll find that quote enchanting. It conjures images of children buried in notebooks building impossible landscapes in crayon and of wonderful conceptual essays that spill across pages, illustrated with monk-like endurance by people who cannot help but see terrible things.

Pekar’s statement is wonderful, but it falls a little short of what I want to see.

I have written here as placeholders some reminders, three little words: Future; Optimism; Ambition. I am supposed to be writing about comics. Bear with me.

The future is a process. Time is not made of fixed instants, it is not binary, it is not a thing that leaps to dates or tipping points. The future is a long now, a time that moves towards all time, in which we change and are changed by what we do and what we encounter. You are taking part in this process, allowing your ideas and techniques to be shaped by this movement through time. When you become aware of this you start to see the effect you have on other things, people and places, and on the lives you never really know. You can do anything to the world around you: some you will never want to do again, but a lot more you’ll be happy to put your name to in that long, constant tomorrow.

Tomorrow is worth seeing. Since people began to think about the unknown ahead of them a prevailing sense of doom has crept into thought and discourse, but I’m becoming a lot more optimistic than that allows. People can and repeatedly do accomplish brilliant things, in the face of impossible odds, on a global and personal level. I work knowing that what I put out now I will better, knowing that I learn from my mistakes and will try to avoid repeating them.

I have the ambition to affect an audience, to change them in some way, if even a barely tangible one. You have to put yourself on the line to do that, but the rewards can be magnificent. We spend most of our lives going through experiences wrapped solely inside ourselves, and it would be beautiful if those rare moments of cultural or emotional specificity – when somebody reaches out to us and says “You are not alone” – happened more often.

You see I want you to think about the images you have seen of doomed worlds. Of nuclear death. Of solitude. Of rot, entropy and carnage. Of the flash-burst obliteration projected behind a thousand artists. These pictures, all around you, that say “What comes next is the end.”

Reject this; I will. My grandparents saw Europe break out in peace, my parents saw men walking on the moon and I have seen the world collaborate to pool its knowledge in the space between servers and source code. And before that begins to seem big and impossible I want you to remember that you are moments away from combining words and pictures to share a story, shape an idea, perhaps affect someone for years to come. You have an opportunity to fail a thousand times without judgement and you should take advantage of that.

So if we can do anything, what means we shouldn’t aim to do everything?

Do Everything is an essay from the first volume of Solipsistic Pop written by Matthew Sheret.

Declaration of The New Vague

Comic comes from the dictionary. In Greek it means “pertaining to comedy”, to “revel”. In English it means “funny”, “amusing”, “you read them? aren’t they for kids?”, “spandex superheroes”, “juvenile”, “self-indulgent autobiography”, “artistically bankrupt” and “the lowest artform next to mime”.

We believe different. Except when we don’t.

It is time for a new paradigm. A new wave of Comics. A new, vague blueprint for Comics to take up. This is a map that lets you fill in the locations and plot your own course. Away from something definitely, without knowing for sure what we’re moving towards.

We do not create Graphic Novels, Sequential Art, Pictorial Narratives or whichever self-hating label is in vogue

We create Comics. We acknowledge such distinctions were once necessary but reject the notion that they still are. As with novels, films, and video-games, Comics shall remain a clumsy description of the medium but one that we embrace.

Comics is Comics

We will not create Comics as pitches for tv shows, movies or other media. We create Comics because the content demands to be expressed in this medium. Comics are not storyboards. Comics are not stepping stones to other media. Comics is Comics is Comics.

We reject the straight-jacket of live art space, bleed margins, script formatting, bristol board and other rules of Comic creation

The Comic chooses the format. Not the other way around. It is understood that rules must be mastered before breaking them but we counter that rules must be broken to be mastered.

We reject the notion that print is dead

True, the screen promises endless possibilities but we vow to create beautiful work you can hold and beautiful work you cannot. We are committed to producing gorgeous, tactile Comics that readers will cherish.

We don’t like superheroes, auto-biography, crime, war, horror, science fiction, comedy, confessionals, fantasy, romance, vitriolic polemic, meta, politics, manga, westerns, or zines

We like Comics, and that’s all that should matter.

We trust the Comic to speak for itself

We do not care what brush you use or what nib size you choose. We do not need to know your brand of notebook or your favourite drink. We just ask that you show us what you make and let it live or die on its own strengths and weaknesses.

We will not settle for specialist shelves and longbox storage

We want Comics to fight for space with design bibles, coffee table dead-weights, podcasts and posters. We want comics to be handed to you on your journey home from work and we want them framed in well-lit store-fronts. We want your children to learn how to read with them, and we want you to unlearn how to read with them.

We will create

We will write. We will draw. We will paint. We will print. We will sew. We will publish. We will bind. You will know us by the trail of Comics.