Master Cartoonist John Jensen wrote to Bloghorn about the stories of criticism for the one year postgraduate study into Comics and Visual Communication recently launched by the University of Dundee. We publish his letter below.
Tom Harris is an MP whose hobbies include astronomy, science, fiction, cinema, karaoke and tennis. He was a journalist before he became a politician. His activities, particularly his wide range of hobbies (how does he find the time?) suggests a broad interest in the world around him.
Fiction or, if you want to be up-market, literature deals in words, whilst the cinema deals in pictures and they both, at their best, deal in ideas. So do comics, which deal in all these things.
The history of comics is itself a wonderful journey through time and many talents (admittedly some of them terrible!) but modern comics and graphic novels are revelatory. Countries such as the UK, France, Germany, Belgium and Italy publish works showing the wide differences, and occasional resemblances, between each other. The United States and Japan share the comic experience but manga and its storylines is different from the storylines and violence found in Marvel Comics or in DC publications.
Many studies, either useful or just plain interesting, are to be found in those little story-telling boxes. The University of Dundee is offering a one-year Masters degree in comic studies: one year, not three. Probably too many students will try to enter what they see as an easy option, but someone perceptive and genuinely interested in the juxtaposition of words, pictures and ideas will not be wasting their time or ours – except, of course that of Tom Harris MP. After a hard nights karaoke, taking in a serious study of ‘the relationship between international comics cultures’ would be just too tiring!
Bloghorn thanks PCOer John Jensen for his thoughts and invites you to share yours in the comments below. If you are interested in the local reaction to the comments of Tom Harris and the issue you can read them at the Dundee Courier.