Ode to Comix

Cover of Heart by Blair ButlerMy coworker is incredibly proud because the graphic novel written by his daughter (actually, a 4-volume comic now collected in an omnibus) has been acquired by our library and is in our catalog:

Heart by Blair Butler

This got me thinking about monks and medieval manuscripts.

Wait… What?

The title page of my coworker’s daughter’s graphic novel makes a big deal about the guy who did the lettering. This is normal in comics and graphic novels – the words are hand-drawn and are as much an art form as the illustrations. It’s my opinion that comic book lettering is the most direct modern inheritor of the tradition of illuminated manuscripts. No other form of writing since the invention of the printing press has placed the same value on the art of hand-drawn scripting; no other form of writing has blended the written word with pictorial art to the same extent.

And, as my coworker pointed out, the similarities between the culture of comic books and the culture of rare manuscripts doesn’t end there – every serious comic book collector stores their titles in plastic bags with cardboard backing to prevent damage; they keep them out of direct sunlight and try to keep them dry; they even handle the books with gloves sometimes. Comic book collectors actually do a pretty fantastic job of preservation!

I wonder… 1,000 years from now, will comics be among the best preserved materials from my lifetime? What would they say about our culture?

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