MadInkBeard by DerikBadman

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Krigstein on Panels and Pages

Via the aforementioned Joe Zabel interview, a scan of an analysis of Bernard Krigstein’s “Master Race” by John Benson, David Kasakove, and Art Spiegelman (from EC fanzine Squa Tront). I’d like to find a better reproduction of the comic as the copies of the art is rather deteriorated after so many generations of new copies (looks to be a scan of a photocopy) (A reader directs me to this scan). The analysis is a interesting read of structure and mood. The end of an interview with Krigstein is attached to the article, and here’s an interesting excerpt:

Krigstein: Kurtzman’s pages, like Simon and Kirby’s pages are not really composed spatially. They are total in another way. Now they are great; now Simon and Kirby is great. But I am not thinking of composing a page that way. If you take apart a Kurtzman page or an Eisner page and look at a single panel, the single panel falls. It can only exist as a total page. The Eisner panel as an individual panel cannot exist by itself without its surrounding page. It exists only as a page because they exist in time like a movie. They are held together by a sequence of actions.

The panel has to exist by itself, otherwise the integrity of the art is in jeopardy. Until the artist arrives at the point where he realizes that by drawing a single panel he has a single work of art that exists by itself as a single statement which can live by itself, only then can all the panels live together. And then you reach a totality that is completely out of the realm of the infantile kind of page continuities that comics are filled with.

Each panel must exist by itself. And the thing that makes a comic page different from every other day in the year is that each of these individual works of art, at the same time as they have a totally individual life of their own, also exist as a total group, as a unit. This was my inspiring motivation in doing comics. If you can pull out your panel and frame it, exhibit it as a panel, and then have the reader unconscious of that as he’s reading the totality, then you’ve done something, in my estimation. You’ve raised comic book art to the level of Goya, if you can achieve that.

This way of looking at a panel as an individual unit is, I think, unusual for a comics artist. This is very different from how I view a panel, as a part of the whole, the whole being the page/strip. Benoit Peeters view of comics is also quite different, seeing comics panels as inherently linked to the preceeding and following panels.

I’m wondering how many other comics artists share Krigstein’s view.