Frank Santoro recently posted a note about ‘fusion cartoonists.’ He sees the work of Paul Pope and Scott McCloud’s Zot as progenitors of a new stylistic movement (a loose term – perhaps a better word is sensibility?). Other, younger cartoonists mentioned in the same breath are Brandon Graham, Brian Lee O’Malley, and Dash Shaw. Their work (according to Frank – and I concur) is a new kind of fusion of contemporary and international influences. Their works draw on art from all the major comic-book producing regions: America, Japan, and Europe. This international miscegenation is key.
Frank likes Jazz metaphors and I think ‘fusion’ generally fits… though it’s perhaps a little broad. I’ve been thinking recently along similar lines, but aligning these artists with a recent art-world concept of Altermodernism. The term & concept was coined by Nicolas Bourriaud in 2005. Bourriaud asserts that post-modernism has exhausted itself and it must be replaced by a new concept. His candiate is Altermodernism. Here’s his explanation:
“Artists are looking for a new modernity that would be based on translation: What matters today is to translate the cultural values of cultural groups and to connect them to the world network. This “reloading process” of modernism according to the twenty-first-century issues could be called altermodernism, a movement connected to the creolisation of cultures and the fight for autonomy, but also the possibility of producing singularities in a more and more standardized world.”
To my eyes this really fits what Frank is describing.
Altermodernism itself is still rather vague and ill-defined… it’s very new after all… but at least it’s meaning is not yet so overstuffed like it’s predecessors post-modernism and modernism. I for one would be thrilled to see comics at the head of an artistic vanguard, embracing and extending the meaning of the zeitgeist with the same kind of determination seen in the art world. Down with Alternative. Long live Altermodern!