Greg Shaw’s Parcours Pictural (2005) opens with the noisy black color page. If you look closely, you can see that there are small Ben-Day dots of blue, red, yellow, and black. Panel-by-panel, colours are separated by each: first blue, and then yellow. These four colours of CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (Black)) are primary colours of printing. Printed matters such as graphic novels — like Parcours Pictural —, comic books, comic strips or self-published zines are still the most popular medium for reading comics. By representing the primary printing colours, Shaw signifies this critical relationship of a printed medium and comics.
It is intriguing that Parcours Pictural represents the colour as a Ben-Day dot. The poor quality of Ben-Day dots printing was one of the indicators of the low art state of comics as Liechtenstein’s amusing appropriation famously showed. However, a half-century later, it has become a cool cultural image.
A decade ago, some artists around the Atlantic Ocean started experimenting comics without representation, i.e., abstract comics. As modern art eschewed representation as mere mimesis, comics’ embrace of it engendered disregard of comics as low art. As one of the first abstract comics, it is not surprising then that Parcours Pictural deploys the Ben-Day dots, which symbolize the high and low art division as Liechtenstein’s appropriation works.
In a later chapter, squares of shades with diverse colours, reminiscent of pixilation, appear. This similarity to pixilation suggests the computer image compared to printed or analogue images in previous chapters. Analogue images are represented by circular dots, while the digital images are represented by square pixels. Analogue images in Parcours Pictural are represented by CMYK, the subtractive colour model for printing, while digital images are represented by RGB (Red, Right and Blue), the additive colour model of the light.
Moreover, this contrast of analogue and digital images show that even the most fundamental and abstract elements of the image — pixel and dot — can be representative. Parcours Pictural opened significant opportunities for abstract comics.
A SILENCE! and a BAH! in adjacent panels? Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Chic Stone were spoiling us in Fantastic Four #34, 1965. (And a reminder that for all the BAH! action you can handle, there’s our sibling blog, @marvelbah.)
Are the Lara Janson comics considered "canon" in your opinion?
Would you mean Lars Jansson? If so, definitely a strong YES.
Lars Jansson took on writing Moomin comics after Tove felt tired of it because their mother, Signe Hammarsten-Jansson, wanted to keep Moomins in the family. Tove personally taught her brother how to draw the Moomins and for a good while siblings made comics together (these comics are signed “Jansson” without first names). So Lars definitely knew what he was doing and his choices are approved by Tove. They are definitely part of the comics canon.
However, different mediums for Moomins have entirely different canons. Books, comics and animated adaptions all have different characters and characterizations. It’s up to individual fan which medium and canon is their favourite or if you accept them all.