Experimental Comics by Karrie Fransman : Brief Review

I managed to sneak off from my incessant improv antics at Lakes International Comic Art Festival yesterday for long enough to see Karrie Fransman discussing her work, and experimental comics in general, with Mary Talbot, in the sober setting of the Kendal Town Hall council chamber (complete with working gavel and a not-at-all sinister portrait of the Queen!).

Fransman’s best known for her graphic novels “The House That Groaned” and “Death of an Artist”, the latter of which I’ve discussed elsewhere. She made a very good point that the approach she took to that book – of narrating via multiple fictional voices – is relatively common in literature, but completely unexplored in comics. And there’s a lot of this unexplored territory out there, excitingly.

She also talked us through a number of her other, smaller experiments in form, including

(Her website appears to be having some intermittent issues right now, so I’ve provided links elsewhere. Check out http://karrieransman.com, I’m sure it’ll be back on its feet soon.)
The big takeaway from the talk, for me, was a reaffirmation that comics are in their infancy, and that there is plenty of uncharted territory to explore. Karrie’s doing a great job at charting some of this, and does so without sacrificing the fun element (her humour is often quite dark, but not far below the surface). I came away feeling challenged to up my game as a formalist, which is great.

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