ABR speaker talks comics

Taylor Tompkins By Taylor Tompkins

Sept. 24, 2015 at 11:27 p.m.

Bill Kartalopoulos

Bill Kartalopoulos   Contributed Photo for The Victoria Advocate

The audience in the Alcorn Auditorium on Thursday got a peek into the inner life of comics with the latest speaker in the University of Houston-Victoria and American Book Review's Reading Series.

Bill Kartalopoulos spoke about comics, their criticism and philosophy.

Kartalopoulos serves as the series editor for Best American Comics and teaches comic history at New York's School of Visual Arts.

Any images that are intended to be juxtaposed and read in a deliberate sequence are comics, Kartalopoulos said.

Comics have been considered more as a serious media form during the past 10 years, he said.

"Literature is respectable, right, it's in the canon. Every university has an English department," Kartalopoulos said. "Comics have only recently entered the realm of the institution, only recently started to be taught in universities, only recently been a regular presence in book stores and libraries."

Comic book writers and artists are being awarded prizes and getting grants, which are opportunities that have been afforded to writers and artists in other fields for a long time, Kartalopoulos said.

UHV brought Kartalopoulos in for the series because of how he views comics, said Jeffrey Di Leo, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences.

"He was the first speaker we've had in that talks about comics as literature," Di Leo said. "From what he said today, comics are definitely a part of that literature."

Comics are much less accessible than they were years ago, Kartalopoulos said.

Children used to be able to pick up the latest issue of their favorite comic at their local grocery store, but now readers have to seek out a specialty store to find them, he said.

Content of comics can be reinforced by their form, making meaning come from not only the words and images, but also the structure of the panels, Kartalopoulos said, using a Little Nemo comic to demonstrate.

"It's linear and it's global. It's microscopic and macroscopic - you zoom into the panel to see what that content is, you zoom back out to see how the panel relates to everything else," Kartalopoulos said. "It doesn't privilege one facet over the other. It's a dynamic between those two things that produces the ultimate media here."


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