Tuesday 27 January 2009

Batman as jazz

For years I've kicked at the theory that comics and jazz represent America's only unique, indigenous art forms. This point was made back in the 1970s, and has been repeated and rebutted countless times since along the lines of "Comics appeared in Europe years before they turned up on North American shores!" and "The roots of jazz are in Africa, not New Orleans!" etc. et al into boring infinitude. I know. Because I was a part of many of these conversations.

Yet, no matter how many times I talked about it with my comics-savvy colleagues (just imagine these conversations, for a moment) I always walked away with a different idea: That comic books and jazz have more in common than we give them credit for.

My jazzbo father Dad would probably wretch, but I finally got around to writing about it on the Globe and Mail's new Books site. My essay is called "Batman and jazz," and doubles as a sort-of book review of the sensational Bat-Manga! The Secret History of Batman in Japan.

Please buy it! And read my piece! And if you feel the need, rip me one!


warren said...

I can see your point. You made it well, nice piece. It actually puts the whole revamping tendency in a new light for me. For a while I just thought it was because they couldn't come up with anything better. After Paul Pope's 'Bat-Man year 100' I kind of 'got' what the riffing was all about.

Brad Mackay said...

Yoinks - i fully intended on mentioning Poe's take in the piece, but it slipped my mind. That book was pretty interesting, and refreshing to read.