Major museum retrospectives for Robert Crumb and Art
Spiegelman are markers of the general acceptance of comics as art. As Paul
Gravett reminds us in his profusely illustrated analysis of the medium, the
comic strip as we know it today was a product of late-19th-century popular
culture and was long accorded little respect by the guardians of high culture.
And yet, self-conscious artfulness was sometimes present early on amidst what
was often a deadline-driven pulp industry. Comics
is valuable for its insights into the medium, including its relation to
film (as panels are to frames) and the ability of the most inventive strips to
tell stories in motion without the burden of words.