logicomix 13-01-2010

this is brilliant and i'm not sure how i missed it. the story of the quest for a logical foundation to modern mathematics in the late 19th and 20th century (and the link between logic and the mental illness from which many of the protagonists suffered), all seen through the lens of bertrand russell's life.

but like all graphic novels (someone has to invent a new term), i can't help feeling sad that the vast amount work that has gone into its production will be read so quickly (i can't even look at chris ware's masterpiece jimmy corrigan, the smartest kid on earth without feeling a kind of sympathetic horror). at least five people were intimately involved in creating logicomix, it will have taken them a very long time indeed and most readers will get through it in the couple of hours.

maybe this doesn't trouble most writers / artists of graphic novels. maybe the ease of reading promises a larger readership which compensates for the lack of commitment demanded by individual readers. maybe those readers re-read more often.

true, a film can take several hundred people several years to make. but there's something impersonal and industrial about most films. true, you spend 90 minutes watching a play, but a good play has an afterlife, bring repeatedly reincarnated in different bodies (and some plays get written very quickly). graphic novels, on the other hand, like novel novels, feel more intimate and singular' a person talking to another person via pieces of paper. and good conversations demand some effort from both sides.

i love good graphic novels but i'm waiting for someone to write one which solves this fundamental problem: how to slow the reader down so they do some work which is commensurate with the work done by the writer / artist.