Thursday, June 29, 2006

More Than Just Comics

Okay, so Abdelrahman Mohamed's comic, "The Petronians", seems pretty interesting. Innovative even, at first glance. And in many ways, it is. The only thing that's been bothering me about it is that it lacks... originality.

I know, i know, that paragraph totally contradicts itself and the enthusiasm in my last post. I still am enthusiastic about this comic, but... how can i explain this?

Okay, you know when you see a reproduction of a famous painting? Let's take the Mona Lisa as an example here. You still enjoy it and admire it. But the fact that it's a reproduction, a copy of someone else's work, makes it loose some of its value. (Or, in the case of the Mona Lisa, a lot of its value.) Let's say the artist painted a picture of a different woman, like the "Angelina" or something. It would be a different picture, but if he did it with the same talent that Leonardo did his work, it would become a classic in its own right. Both paintings would be a picture of a woman, but each one would be valued for its own reasons.

With this example in mind, wouldn't it be interesting to see something completely different come out of "the UAE's first homegrown superheros"? I mean, do all comics have to rest on the prototypes of Superman and the Fantastic Four? Take Japan as an example: they've got their whole manga thing going on. Manga is, when it boils down to it, a form of what Americans call "the comic book". But at the same time, it's very unique from the traditional American comic. Manga has its own styles, rules, forms, and customs. That's what makes it special. Its originality gives it appeal. And manga, being a Japanese form, is the best medium to present Japanese culture. The same goes for American comics. Since they're created by American minds, they best transmit American culture.

Every artist knows that the detail of each brush stroke, sentence, and note makes a huge impact on a piece of art. What is art, after all, other than an accumulation of details brought into one "entity"? Art lives when created properly. Sentimental, but true. It speaks for its creator, its environment, its circumstances, its culture. Do Arabs need that today or what? Imagine, an Arab form of the comic book to explicitly capture Arab culture. No need to try to squeeze in bits that don't fit or cut loose ends.

"But they're just comics, for heaven's sake!"

Yeah, but look what manga did for Japan. It's a whole industry! Money and national pride. What more could a country want?

And plus, this is just an example of a greater idea, or principle. It's the tip of a philosophical iceberg. I could go on and on... but i'll probably end up making myself dizzy. So enough for now. There's plenty of time to come.

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