>Here are a couple of pages from my mini-comic, You Are Mini-Comics Creator (2005).
Neil mentioned the experimental poet, Kenneth Koch, and posted a link to a vid clip of one of his lectures with Charles Hatfield at the 2004 ComiCon about one of Koch’s books, The Art of the Possible! Comics Mainly Without Pictures (Soft Skull Press, 2003).
Neil also linked a post from MadInkBeard, where Derik Badman disusses the work of David Lasky, in particular Lasky’s comics adaption of Poe’s “The Raven” in the Orchid anthology (Sparkplug Comic Books, 2002).
So we have what are ostensibly the works of three creators (if I do not so humbly include my own) that prima facie demonstrate the existence of imageless comics. But really, as the tired adage goes, “the exception prove the rule.” I explicitely created my mini (as well as its companion piece, “in memoriam John Cage”) to prove my claim about the absence of imageless comics, false. But does this give us good reason, ala McCloud, to not talk about what is essential to comics: namely the sequence of images. While both Neil and perhaps Derik may disagree with McCloud and me, I question the fact that any of these examples are really imageless (for the record, Derik doesn’t claim the Lasky work is without images, only that they play a very small role in it).
Not really wanting to get into this too deeply (since the whole idea of pointing out the paucity of imageless comics was tangential to the main issue I was making in a previous post) I’d rather pose some questions. And let’s leave aside the whole problematic of text being very specific types of images.
The questions are:
1) Are any of the examples above really imageless?
2) If we omit the text from the latter two examples, would the pages be imageless?
3) Is my example actually imageless?
4) What are all those lines and blocked shapes then? Sure, we may call them the “frame,” or just simply call them “panels” and “word/thought balloons,” in other words, just the bearers or containers of the images (which, if I’m not mistaken, is Neil’s hypothesis).
5) Was Scott McCloud just talking bunk when he stated that two black squares, side-by-side, constitutes comics or a “map of time?”
I’ll just give some preliminary and quick remarks–though I don’t consider this discussion closed by any means. Books are generally used to bear or frame what we might call “linguistic images” (or maybe “lexical images”). These are obviously different than what we might call “pictorial images” or, if we need, sequential art. I don’t think most of us have a problem with distinguishing between the two, but for now I’m going to leave it at this.
If you want an excellent overview of the traditional debate between “text” and “image,” you could do a lot worse than reading W.J.T. Mitchell’s Iconology: Image, Text, Ideology or reading a number of the essays found at the online magazine of visual narrative, Image and Narrative.