Friday, December 21, 2007
Mind Riot edited by Karen Hirsch
Oh, coming of age. How annoying you are!
Editor Karen D. Hirsch says in her introduction to Mind Riot: “Since the beginning of the comix movement in the 1960s, many artists have taken coming-of-age as their subject. Those were the comix I loved best, with their gritty, honest and often hilarious portraits of a time of life too often put in a soft-focus haze by the mainstream media.”
I am not sure if this has been a change in the past ten years or so, what with the internets and the instant co-opting of anything underground, fresh and marketable, but I think that the teenage years have been used and abused by the media in a way that has just become very boring to me. I am not longer a teenager and for that I am very, very glad. I think, if anything, there has been a 180 in regards to the “soft-focus haze” that Hirsch complains of. Now TV teens get raped, have bad relationships, do drugs and get lost all in the name of audience titillation. These are no longer secrets, they are fodder. I am not endorsing that pain or ugliness be kept secret, but I think today’s teens are faced with something even worse, a predatory curiosity from the world that doesn’t care about them, and will do nothing to help them heal or prevent the same from happening again. And on the other had, the excitement and fear that is present during adolescence is universal, a fact of American life and, “gritty” or not when portrayed in art, bores me to tears.
Ok, ok, so why did I buy this work? Because it is packed comics by the ladies and men of the 90s that I hadn’t seen before. The three that I loved the best were by “Painted Friends” by Carl Swain, “The Girl From Another World” by Phoebe Glockner and “A Tale of Three Sisters” by Ann Decker. Again, these artists show up in Twisted Sister II and because this book is geared towards teenagers, we get a softer, but not stupider, version of their work. For this book, they do the hard work of making stories that are compelling as art without being exploitative or insulting. They also show, mainly through the introduction each artist gives before his or her piece, that being an adult can be fun: art and emotion doesn’t stop at 25. And it shouldn’t!
So what are you making right now?