The webcomics blog about webcomics

The Dictionary is Broken

Webster’s dictionary is rather useless if you look up the word “literature.” It goes off mostly in generalities about the culture surrounding literature, the only useful part being: writings in prose or verse; especially : writings having excellence of form or expression and expressing ideas of permanent or universal interest.

It becomes a question like “What is Art?” What is Literature?

Maus is being taught in university classrooms as literature.  If the definition if literature is dealing with words written in prose, how do we deal with works like Maus and Persepolis? It is a certain style and pacing?

This particular musing comes from my viewing of kris dresen’s Grace, in which is she combining her forceful use of sequential art as well as dialogue to create a story which could be literature. Her pictures portray longing, thoughtfulness, desire; universal concepts all– but does that make them art? Or literature?

Graphic novels and webcomics seem to be at a juncture where they don’t seem to be art because they are telling a concrete story and they don’t seem to be literature because the story is driven by pictures. While the popular webcomics seem to be mostly gag-a-day and long drawn out storylines, is there room for finite creations? For people who create works just to convey human experience?

What is literature? And are webcomics literature as well?

Webcomics are literature and art together. Which is what comics are as well. They can be critiqued both under “art” and “literature”. But more importantly, I think they are a form of storytelling and cultural reflection.

Or some other fancy word that I forgot when I left university for good.

I’ve always felt it’s at least a little pretentious to call something “literature” while the author is still alive to argue with his/her critics.

Once something is forced to defend itself, and does so successfully in spite of the vacuum left behind by the death of its creator, THEN we can talk about it.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t some really good stuff out there, nor does it mean that the school of sequential artists cannot strive to create deep, meaningful pieces that are devoid of both punchlines and explosion effects. It just means that I think the judgements we pass TODAY on those works will be largely unnoticed in the grand scope of literary history.

The real question is what value does the term “literature” bring to the table?

Stuff that’s truely great in one way or another… is the stuff that’s going to continue to be readable and relevant and interesting over the long haul.

And clearly anything that does survive over the long haul (50 years is a good start, Charlie Brown) is literature and art.

Until then, using literature to describe something is only an attempt to convince the people you’re talking to of the value of the work.


Oh, I’m sorry, you wanted a discussion?

While the popular webcomics seem to be mostly gag-a-day and long drawn out storylines, is there room for finite creations?

There is room for everything out here. It’s the Internet.

The only reason I can think of for my webcomic’s entry at Wikipedia to stand unchallenged, when there’s a well-documented (or at least often-discussed) anti-webcomic bias at Wikipedia, is that the anti-webcomic faction thinks mine is literature because it’s about King Arthur. Delete Ryan Estrada and keep me? Seriously.

I suppose you could classify comics (In both print and web forms.) as graphic literature.

And I think there is room for every type of story on the internet. Why wouldn’t there be?

The internet is a series of tubes. There is not enough room for everything.

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