Así se titula un ensayo de Mathias Wivel sobre la relación entre el cómic y las bellas artes, un texto para el catálogo de una reciente exposición ya clausurada que reunió trabajos de David B., Phoebe Gloeckner, Anders Nilsen o Anke Feuchtenberger. Entre otras cosas, Wivel escribe sobre el particular lenguaje gráfico desarrollado por el cómic desde sus inicios, tendente por sus necesidades narrativas a la figuración no naturalista, caricaturesca y simbólica, en lugar de seguir la tradición del naturalismo propia de la pintura desde el Renacimiento (aunque, no obstante, haya ejemplos de esto último entre autores de cómic; entre otros Wivel cita a Foster, Raymond, Caniff o Giraud). Extracto:
What these two artists [David B. y Kevin Huizenga] have in common, however, is that their imagery is always simplified and clearly legible — as is Crumb’s, incidentally. They work within the classical tradition of cartooning, making use of the pictorial and narrative conventions developed in comics over the past hundred and fifty years — since the Swiss cartoonist and author Rodolphe Töpffer (1799-1846) in the years between 1833 and 1845 published seven extraordinary comics albums and if not invented, then more or less established the formal language of modern comics. This was all a development of a much older tradition of caricature and a direct offshoot of the popular prints of the time. Amongst the central characteristics of this approach to drawing is a clear, actively assertive use of contour and an iconically simplified representation of reality. This tradition has always constituted the main track in the development of comics and newspaper cartoons, forming an anti-mimetic counterpoint to the developments in fine art through the modern era, from the Renaissance on. A popular, low-culture pictorial tradition that seeks to condense and typify, rather than to describe and specify.
This pictorial style was developed to serve the purpose of storytelling. Because it eschews naturalism, it is well suited to depict the passage of time, not just from panel to panel, but within the individual panel. Thus action and reaction, or the questions and answers of a conversation, can be shown within the same panel without causing confusion. This form of ”elastic” time is much rarer in, for example, painting than in comics, where it usually occurs in almost every panel. Furthermore, the formal language of cartooning easily incorporates idiomatic symbols such as speed lines, flying beads of sweat, or smelly serpentines that would invariably seem out of place in a more naturalistically founded image.
Wivel también toca la cuestión de la interacción entre texto e imágenes propia del cómic:
Another decisive factor in the historical development and identity of comics is the sophisticated interaction in them of image and text. Just as all writing springs from an idiomatic abstraction of images, the cartoon is an abstraction of reality, and in comics these two go hand in hand. One thus often sees the overall artistic idiom of comics, the combination of images and words, described as the cartoonist’s ”handwriting.” (...) Inherent in the modern paragone were the seeds of a hierarchical ordering of the arts. With the classicizing, elitist art of the Renaissance tradition and the establishment of the academies came much clearer ideas of ”high” and ”low” culture than had been known earlier, and, as already noted, the combination of image and text came to be maligned in high culture. Fine arts moved in one direction, and the other art forms — including what would develop into comics — went in the other.