Comics’ “Low Culture”

Mark Luce’s review of The Complete Calvin and Hobbes in today’s Kansas City Star is pretty much your standard "huge book" "groundbreaking strip" "timeless classic" blah blah blah that I’m assuming most reviewers are filling their respective papers with lately.

And it’s all true.  I dare you to find a cartoonist who doesn’t adore and admire Watterson’s transcendent achievement.  And I’m thrilled to see the complete collection so lovingly realized.

But what struck me in this particular review was this quote:

"Watterson uses the lowest of culture (comics) for decidedly intellectual dialogue."

Well crap…  Low culture.  Had I known that I’d have never gotten into cartooning!  Someone better tell The New Yorker they’ve been had.

You know I could rant for pages about this, but I’m gonna sum it all up with my own low culture; Hey, Luce!  Kiss my ass!

(BTW, should you agree, drop him a line…)

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7 thoughts on “Comics’ “Low Culture””

  1. If you look at the table of contents in any New Yorker magazine, there is a list of cartoonists appearing in that issue, under the heading titled "drawings by." So, if you want to be technical I suppose, the New Yorker DOES NOT use the C-word when referring to its own cartoons.

  2. I was motivated to learn to read because I wanted to read the "funnies" in the newspaper, not the front page. To tell a joke or a story in the fewest words possible, to produce a easily recognizable drawing in the fewest inked lines as possible…that's a highly refined intellectual form of culture.

  3. The world is full of ignorant hicks. One of whom clearly reviews for the New Yorker. Calvin and Hobbs was brilliant literature. Simply and without caveat.

  4. Sunny – Boy, did you nail it on the head there. If "Brevity is the soul of wit" as Shakespeare suggested, then cartoons and comics are indeed high art.

    Holly, just to clarify, that review was in the Kansas City Star, not the New Yorker.

    One more thing, and this is for my pal Mikey; don't you find it odd that they classify them as "drawings" in the mag but sell them as "cartoons" at the site? I think they're too busy being esoteric to be uniform over there.

  5. I think Sunnyblue hit the nail on the head. The comic strip page is what attracts a lot of kids to newspapers in the first place. Calvin and Hobbes helped establish a generation of kids with the habits of reading newspapers in my opinion. For me, it went even further – it also got me started in the IT industry (10 years ago) thanks to the first website I created, Cool Calvin and Hobbes Collection ( ), which is, you guessed it, a Calvin and Hobbes fan site.

  6. I know that I happen to be a little late to this disagreement but I must ask one thing: are you, Mr. Anderson, literate? Mr. Luce did not, in any way insult comics, graphic novels, or whatever you would like to call them. He merely pointed out a social pattern in which comics are not seen as literature but instead basic and “lowbrow” reading, often oriented toward children. If you had bothered to read the entire article you might know this. I, in fact, happen to know Mark Luce personally. I know that he teaches several different graphic novels at literature. He made that particular comment about them being the “lowest culture” because that is what society dictates they should be. He does not agree with such conventional thinking, he challenges them.

  7. “A little late” is a bit of an understatement considering that post is about 3 years old, but thanks for dropping by.

    Also, I deleted the duplicate comment you sent me on my follow-up blog entry regarding this.

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