Ed Champion interviewed Alison Bechdel for his Bat Segundo show (listen to it here) and among other interesting statements is this (slightly edited, mostly for excess verbiage from thinking on her feet) during a discussion of comics and the everyday:
“The comic strip is the definition of quotidian: it comes out everyday, you read it on the toilet, it just weaves itself into your everyday life. It’s about little details. It’s not about grand sweeping dramas. Graphic stories are able to show incidental life without having to describe it. It would be boring in a book to read about a piece of crumpled paper on the floor. You might not want to waste time describing it. In a picture you can just show it without drawing attention to it, without pointing to it.”
I love this concept, but I’m not sure it’s something we see in practice very often. Most comics are not concerned with the everyday at all. Those that are generally considered so are usually so minimally drawn that those everyday objects are lost. Gasoline Alley, for instance because I’m currently reading it, is more about everyday rhythms than objects. More the pace of the everyday than the details.
Though on the other hand, realist strips like Mary Perkins do often show that casual level of everyday detail. I think that’s part of what attracts me to those old strips, being able to see things as they were in that time period without the interference of the artifice that one would see in historical fictions. (A similar attraction exists for me with old movies.)