Sunday, November 8, 2009

An Interesting Question

Hi everyone, and thanks for inviting me to contribute to the Abstract Comics community! Andrei has been gracious enough to feature some of my work in previous posts, and posted an interview a while back as well.

I have recently completed a one-page comic, which presents a really interesting discussion point. Before I say more, see the comic, titled "Subway":

So an explanation: The comic is a reflection on living in New York City (which I proudly call home). It is a reflection of the various comings and goings of people. We never really know these people, so in a way they are nothing more than abstract figures in real life as well. This is where the interesting question is asked: does this comic fall within the "acceptable boundaries" of an abstract comic?

The question of "acceptable boundaries" has surfaced many times during my reading of this blog, and my theory is you have to define those boundaries on a case by case basis. There's no black and white delineation for abstract comics, and I think it's impossible to create one. "Subway" has no direct narrative, but there is definitive sequencing giving motion to the rider and the other railcar. The subway cars in "Subway" have definitive shape and character, they are not abstracted in any way...however the other riders were made abstract on purpose.

Another thing to consider is perspective, which doesn't get discussed too often. The role of the viewer plays a major factor in determining if something is abstract. I think many regular readers of this blog would agree with me when I say that "Subway" is not really an abstract comic. However, for someone who has not experienced city life, or riding on a subway, would that make the entire experience described in this comic itself abstract? I am not describing the experience to the viewer, but merely reflecting it, which means they must try and understand the experience.

I am interested to hear your reactions to the comic and this discussion point.

- Chris

P.S.: I have recently overhauled the website, During this overhaul, I have posted all of my comics in full. My abstract comic book "Stray Thoughts" (mentioned in this blog previously) is now available for reading in its entirety online!


  1. I think that without the title, the drawing is quite abstract, and allows the viewer to imagine the context of the imagery. The large title, when included as part of the work, somewhat prevents speculative looking and makes the piece much more of a specific illustration.

  2. I liked it, and I think it may be called "partially abstract" or "kind of" abstract, if we follow your own thoughts on the matter.

  3. "Being an artist is as good a cover story as any" as my friend Richard once said, and I believed him. I am a fan of all art that has no place to call home. I thought I'd found my niche with "comics" and now I discover the added distinction of "abstract comics." I recently posted a "Homage to Jack Hamm" on my blog,

    First principle: I cannot escape the boundaries of reality by getting out of my body and "knowing" what is REAL. I cannot ignore the incoming sensations through eyes, ears, touch, taste, and smell. I cannot escape the culture into which I was born. I cannot escape the imprinting from early childhood. We write and we draw. As Scott McCloud pointed out in "Understanding Comics," some images (icons) are more representational; some are more symbolic. Finding a definition for God has proved problematic. I am not holding my breath about "Abstract." Every artist must choose the ultimate liberation of finding one's own true voice. I'm with Oscar Wilde, who said, "We're all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars."

  4. i would say that this is a defined sequence featuring reconizable and defined concepts. we wouldn't say a norman rockwell painting is absract even though that way of life may seem foreign to us. You drew a train. even to someone who has never seen a train they live in the same world as trains, trains don't purely exist as a concept or theory they exist in reality, therefore i don't see how this is possibly an abstract comic


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