Comics and Chris Ware in Virginia Quarterly Review
Comics have long battled against proponents of "serious literature," who have often decried comics as a less intellectual medium than prose.
In the past few years, comics have become increasingly accepted into popular culture, and now it seems they’re well established in the literary world too.
The Virginia Quarterly Review, one of the elite literary magazines, ran a special comics issue this spring, which I just happened across on a recent trip to the bookstore.
It features a cover by Art Spiegelman (seen at right) and, best of all, a new story from Chris Ware. The fictional biography of Jordan W. Lint shows the character’s life through a glance at single days of his existence.
You can see a preview at the VQR Web site, right here.
We've actually had a great many comic covers since editor Ted Genoways took over five years ago. Eric Wight drew the cover of our Spring 2004 issue, Art Spiegelman drew the cover of our Fall 2005 and Fall 2006 issues, and Chris Ware rendered the cover of our Winter 2008 and Writers on Writers issues. I've gotten in the habit of posting super high-quality versions of our cover art for our fellow comic fans, such as of Ware's two covers [ 1, 2]. That 15-year-old problem of how to do justice to comics on a screen hasn't been solved yet, so I figure putting up 2,000 pixel-wide GIFs will do the trick for now. Thumbing through the stack of recent issues by my desk, I think that most of our issues have had at least one comic in it (Spiegelman, Liniers, Ware, etc.), not counting Ross MacDonald's one-page comic that appears on the back page of every issue. Plus we've had a bunch of articles about comics (Geoffrey Hayes writing about his brother, Rory and Jeet Heer on Little Nemo both leap to mind), and even one comic artist moving outside of his own medium, paired photographs by Charles Burns.Funny story: When our Spring 2004 issue was released, it was quite a shock to the publication's readers. Up until then, we were the kind of magazine that put the table of contents on the cover and that started renumbering pages at "1" not with each new issue, but with each new year. One old lady actually wrote to cancel her subscription, complaining that the new look of the magazine "didn't complement [her] coffee table anymore." :)Anyhow, yes, we're comics geeks here. I've got a well thumbed-through collection of Bone, Sandman, and Cerebus at home, and enjoyed a quiet thrill every time I saw Frank Miller around town, back when he still lived here. We're not trying to change the rules of lit mags, just publishing what we like to read. :)