Various bits and bobs.

THE PERFECT PLANET: Comics, Games & World-Building  NEW!

A long essay looking at the role of world-building, fantasy and utopia in comics, role-playing games and computer and console games.  Along the way, I talk about James Kochalka's The Horrible Truth About Comics, Scott McCloud, Will Eisner, the Situationist International, Time Magazine, Tolkien, Herge, the Forgotten Realms, HarnWorld - and plenty more. 

It's based on a paper I presented at the 'Creative Writing in New Zealand' conference, in Christchurch, New Zealand, September 2003.  A book collecting the conference papers, including this essay, is forthcoming from Auckland University Press.  But in the meantime, you can read it here.

OH, SISTER  This is the introduction to Roger Langridge & Cornelius Stone's No More Mrs Nice Nun: the Collected Knuckles the Malevolent Nun, volume 1, published by Antipodes Publishing.  You can read it here (note: this link takes you to Roger Langridge's own very fine web-site).
WHEN IT HURTS TO LAUGH  This is the introduction to the Spanish edition of Roger Langridge's Fred the Clown, published by Ediciones Balboa.  You can read it here.
TOM HART'S WORKING HARD: Selling Futures in Hope  This is the introduction I wrote for Tom Hart's The Collected Hutch Owen, volume 1, published by Top Shelf.  You can read it here.


The magazine of comics news and criticism.

INVENTING COMICS: Scott McCloud's Definition of Comics.  Pages: 1   2   3   4   5   6

This is a long essay examining Scott McCloud's book Understanding Comics as a work of polemic (as all theory is, I suppose).  It uses a close reading of the book's opening chapter to kick off on a meandering journey through the ideological, aesthetic and metaphorical substructures of McCloud's work.  Conveniently enough, Understanding Comics is overflowing with geographical and cartographic metaphors, enabling me to rave on at length about two of my favourite obsessions: maps and comics.  If Understanding Comics is a manifesto for the creation of a Comics Art Nation, my essay is a kind of counter-manifesto - part tribute and part antidote to McCloud's groundbreaking work. 

By the way, the thing I'm proudest of about this essay is the layout.  I reckon this is by far the best way to write about comics - with panels, sequences of panels and even whole pages quoted (i.e. reproduced in full) within the text, rather than simply illustrating it off to one side.  This seems such an obvious way to do it, I'm amazed it's not the norm.   The only other place I can remember seeing it done this way is in a long essay by Samuel R. Delaney - also about Understanding Comics - which appeared in the New York Review of Science Fiction ('The Politics of Paraliterary Criticism,' New York Review of Science Fiction, issues 98-100, October-December 1996; Vol. 9, No. 2-4).  Delaney's article introduced me to this method and for that, as well as for being a great essay, I strongly recommend it.

As for my essay, it appeared first as a minicomic and then in The Comics Journal #234, June 2001.  It is presented here on 6 pages (which are of varying length - I tried to keep each page from taking too long to download).

Lots of people helped with this essay, including Bart Beatty, Jeff Levine and Anne Moore (all of whom had a hand in commissioning or publishing it), Gene Kannenberg (who sent me a copy of Samuel Delaney's essay) and Brad! Brooks (who put me on to Scott's book in the first place).  I also gained a lot from numerous conversations with Terry Fleming, Roger Horrocks, James Kochalka, Tom Hart, Tim Kidd, Sophie MacMillan, Tim Bollinger, Lars Cawley, Comix@, Comix-scholars and too many others to mention.  Lastly, the biggest debt is owed to Scott McCloud himself, for writing his wonderful book in the first place and then for being so gracious and enthusiastic about my invasive surgery on it.  Scott has invented a whole new genre of comics: the comics essay.  Understanding Comics is still the best example of the genre - and, in my opinion, one of the best comics ever made.  Of course, Zot ain't half bad either...

REMEMBERING MOOMIN  This is a brief and personal tribute to Tove Jansson (it really just describes my personal memories of her work), published in the Comics Journal, number 238, October 2001 (the issue Tom Devlin edited).  You can read it here.


New Zealand Comics

This is a 92-page book I edited and published in 1998 as the catalogue to an exhibition of the same name.  It features two historical essays (by myself and Tim Bollinger) and one-page profiles of 50 contemporary NZ cartoonists and - of course - some comics.  Find out more about it - and read excerpts - here.


This is a daily newspaper, for which I've written as a freelancer.

Enough to Chill a Tiger's Blood. Feature about Phantom Fandom in New Zealand (timed to coincide with the release of the Phantom movie in 1996).


Pavement is a bimonthly New Zealand glossy magazine, for which I wrote a regular Comics column and occasional features on comics news between 1995 and 2000. The column is now written by Tim Bollinger.  Here is a selection of these columns (Nb: these are the pre-subediting drafts).

Comics Column February / March 1998    Books about Comics: a Beginner's Guide.  A short guide for the budding panelologist.


Comics Column April / May 1998    Books about Newspaper Strips.  As above, a short guide.   Also, a short review of See Saw (Kidd / McMillan / Jamieson).


Comics Column Unpublished draft (late 1998)    The State of the Industry.  Comments on the crisis in the Direct Market.  I never used this piece, but parts of it were incorporated into the Dec 98 / Jan 99 piece below.


Comics Column December 1998 / January 1999     The New Golden Age.  A brief report of what I found at the Small Press Expo in September 1998.  Plus reviews of Tiny Bubbles (Kochalka), The Sands (Hart), Queen of the Black Black (Kelso) and other stuff.


Comics Column June / July 1999    Gruesome!.   Review of the catalogue to an exhibition on the influence of comics on contemporary New Zealand painters.  Also brief reviews of five recent releases.


Comics Column August / September 1999    Two New Books.  Reviews of The Jew of New York (Katchor) and Fred the Clown (Langridge) and other recent releases.


Comics Column October / November 1999    Some Recent NZ Comics.  Loose (ed. Knox et al), Identity Cleared of Beard Ripping (Neville & Noone), Monument & Ray Gun Girl (Ellison) and brief reviews of some recent imports.


Comics Column December 1999 / January 2000    Made in New Zealand.  Landmarks of NZ comics in the 20th Century.


Feature October / November 1999    Viva La Comix! The launch of a new NZ comics anthology called Linoleum.


A New Zealand magazine of literary theory and cultural studies.

REALITY GAMES.  This brief essay on Role-Playing Games (e.g. Dungeons & Dragons) was written by me (with considerable input by my father, Roger Horrocks) for AND (issue 2, February 1984).  It's now a very old and rather dated essay, but I thought I'd post it here anyway, since I'm doing some research into the history of RPGs at the moment for some upcoming projects.   So on the off-chance that you're curious, you can read this ancient essay here.

Nb: The Pavement column is supported by one of my favourite New Zealand comic shops: Gotham Comics, 131 The Mall, Onehunga, Auckland. Ph/fax: (09) 634-4399, email: gotham@comics.co.nz, website: www.comics.co.nz. Mail orders welcome.

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Copyright 2000 Dylan Horrocks