Continuing the project of uploading most pages form Notebook Ethel. As I said before these are from a few years ago now.
“Comics, in some ways, are already structurally more synesthetic than “text-only” writing, with their combination of pictures and words inducing a flowing sense of movement and sound and sometimes even smell.”
“To work as hard as possible, and then, when you think you’re done, to work just a little bit harder. To know that if it feels “right” it may actually be completely wrong, and that if it feels “wrong” it may be completely right. There’s no governing principle to any of this except that strange instinct and feeling within yourself that you simply have to learn to trust, but which is always unreliably changing. To create something for people who have not been born yet. To pay attention to how it actually feels to be alive, to the lies you tell yourself and others. Not to overreach—but also not to get too comfortable with your own work. To avoid giving in to either self-doubt or self-confidence, depending on your leaning, and especially to resist giving over your opinion of yourself to others—which means not to seek fame or recognition, which can restrain rather than open your possibility for artistic development. With all this in mind, not to expect anything and to be grateful for any true, non-exploitative opportunity that presents itself, however modest. And to understand that being able to say “I don’t know what to do with my life” is an incredible privilege that 99% of the rest of the world will never enjoy.”
“As an undergraduate student and aspiring cartoonist, the book laid open most often on my drawing table was Blackbeard and Williams’ weighty Smithsonian Book of Newspaper Comics. For years I’d been led to believe by various comic book aficionados that the zenith of achievement for the medium were the EC comic books of the 1950s, but after discovering the Smithsonian book, it became all too clear to me that the real original geniuses of the medium were the pre-cinema cartoonists of the throwaway Sunday supplements of a half century prior. As a general history, the book evenly balanced a necessary all-inclusivity with an otherwise gently insistent esthetic sophistication, which was something of a virtuosic tightrope act of curation: covering everything while still allowing the greats to shine. Choosing a few representative examples of Krazy Kat and Little Nemo is hard enough, but what about introducing Gasoline Alley and Polly and Her Pals to a brand-new readership, to say nothing of uncovering the obscure efforts of George Luks and Lyonel Feininger? Even better, the strips were presented in a warm, large, full-color format which at the time must have been extraordinarily expensive, but allowed their complicated and intricate compositions to be truly re-appreciated; earlier histories of comics had tended towards text-clotted black-and-white tour schedules, amputating single panels and freeze-drying them in black and white as little more than passing souvenirs of an outmoded 19th and early 20th century naïveté. (As an aside, one of the deciding reasons I agreed to design the “Krazy and Ignatz” series was that Mr. Blackbeard was its acting editor, and I considered it a personal honor to be asked to contribute.) By devoting his life to the preservation and location of these near-extinct supplements and sections, Bill Blackbeard saved an American art from the certain peril of trash men, librarians and ultraviolet light so that we, the generations to come, could appreciate their unprepossessing, unpretentious and uproarious beauty. The comic strip may have been disposable, but Bill Blackbeard’s founding contribution to the understanding of it as an art was, and always will be, timeless.”
“What you do with comics, essentially, is take pieces of experience and freeze them in time,” Ware says. “The moments are inert, lying there on the page in the same way that sheet music lies on the printed page. In music you breathe life into the composition by playing it. In comics you make the strip come alive by reading it, by experiencing it beat by beat as you would playing music…”
“As cartoonists and comics still attempt to acquaint themselves with not only how to express real human emotion but also try to decide exactly what human emotions are worth expressing, the most facile and immediate way to do it is to write about oneself”