My Day of Beauty at the SPX Comic Festival

As Ware spoke in his discussion on the latest work and exploration of his ACME Novelty Library, “you have to trust yourself as an artist at some point.” This trust of the self, otherwise following ones visceral, guttural, nature was a theme I encountered over and again throughout my interactions with artists at SPX Comic Expo venture. Asking the artists I found in the realm of the ‘experimental’ their motivation for this type of expression and communication, they continually replied that by trusting the depth and truth of what they wanted to voice, it naturally came out in this ‘alternative’ mode of expression–observing, from purely the aesthetics of the comics, a stripping of the six panel comic strip, the narrative, and the using of colors outside the primary pallet. John Martz, a comic who labeled himself of an artist of the experimental, spoke, “I just make it. It’s unplanned, its my humanness.” Aligned not only with this mode of trust,  a comic standing right next to John named Brian, also of the experimental described this trust as also one between the reader/audience and the artist. When first spreading his comic Day Freak the readers he encountered were frustrated the blind following of the narrator, and how they did very little in the shaping of the story itself, something that the readers of the experimental I also observed require in their readership. Creating a futuristic narrative of a man with many physical obstacles to overcome, Brian decided to not only listen to this feedback from the reader, otherwise audience, but trust its honesty and relation to the text. He then, in the copy right before our conversation, reverted back to his theme in his other experimental works where the character, otherwise protagonist talks directly to the reader, telling him or her how to navigate the text. thus making him or her partly responsible for the outcome–I then of course chimed in and said, “If we are told how to breathe and live within the adventure you have carved out for us, how is that experimental at all?” He replied, ” It is not the experiment of how closely the follow my instructions but when and how they decide to break them, to trust their path within the one I have already laid before them. Ultimately, if they don’t follow their own gut and break my instructions, they won’t get to the end of the narrative with the same satisfaction.” Here in his words I realized that every other experimental work I had seen earlier in the festival or throughout my engagement with the works of the experimental in our very class requires this upmost assertion of the self and our path within the very one laid before us by the artist and his or her creation. Specifically in Brian’s work DayFreak, this interactive nature plays out in not only the narrator talking to the reader directly, asking us with both visuals and words to ‘shoot the comic’ for example, and lines directed at us such as ‘ are you okay?’

Ware spoke later in his conversation that as artists ‘all we aim for is truth and beauty correct?” First seeming completely unrelated to my interpretation of his ACME Report, I then for the fist time understood why his book bothered me so deeply at points in my journey of absorbing its life. It was the pure honesty unavoidably extracted, that was first felt as a bombardment I should be able to avoid. As he then spoke later that the ‘best books’ are not just entertaining but shift something within you–indeed his work achieved this within me. Aligned exactly with Ware’s insight to the objective and desire of the artist, Celine Hoop, an identified female comic artist wanted to the very same thing. She goes about doing this herself by removing the text completely, with the idea that it is an analytical tool that removes one from the visual, otherwise the universal that she believes language can’t achieve. Hoop then backed related her vision to the experience of stroke victims who after having no words in their life feel the sensations of life much deeper, without an translation. She also spoke about her phenomenal experience of self publishing. “I can do literarily anything by self-publishing my work. The printing press allows for the freedom of speech and what should go with this is the freedom to present this speech whichever way one chooses, from the cover to what is actually said. However, moving away from her table I found a small publisher called Sparkplug that seemed to allow for this freedom of the artist. The man Jesus spoke that they as a company do not interfere whatsoever with the artists process, from the tittle to the actually pages and words themselves.” It was fascinating to me that this freedom of the artist, experimental or not can go about this journey many ways, with a seemingly growing support and foundation.

I was speechless for days after this plunging into this beautiful artistic world I had no idea existed–The display of pure emotion on a page. It permit me to comprehend that taste really is habit, that not only do we like what we are taught to like but that one can break out of this by diving into art forms that present and beg us to bleed outside this comfort zone of taste. Comics, as spoken by many artists that day, should no longer stay in this rare isolated segment of the world but spread its potential and brilliance to many humans and readers who can benefit from its power