A man who fights against himself
The Noah Van Sciver of As a cartoonist is sometimes honest, sometimes cartoonish, and sometimes both self-aggrandizing and self-effacing (not to mention rather easily self-degrading).
What he’s not – as a character in these comics and, one assumes, as a creator – is that he ignores the artifice of his restraints. There are moments in this book that come pretty close to memoir, in which Van Sciver’s character interacts with his father, his brother, and his own childhood self, but those moments never escape the feeling of being edited. , reworked by faulty memory or to make a more concise strip.
Listen to the latest episode of our weekly comic book podcast!
So, although it is primarily autobiographical, one cannot quite classify the book as an autobiography. This is not a graphic novel; you couldn’t describe it as narratively romantic. You can’t define it as just a retrospective either (several of the strips here are taken from his own Blammo comics or anthologies like Now), because the book to behave like a retrospective; there is no sense of chronology, no archival sterility in the presentation of the tapes.
Instead, As a cartoonist is something so much more thoughtful and directed. Van Sciver selected these strips precisely, and he arranged them in this way, so that perhaps we could understand the vague outline of his concerns, the roots of this work, for which there is no thesis or conclusion . This is a book grappling with the identity of this present moment.
While the previous book Complete Works of Fante Bukowski depicts a character fighting for an artistic heritage, As a cartoonist illustrates an artist questioning the validity of a.
Van Sciver presents cartooning – the medium and his own work – as something artistically elevated, beginning the book with portraits of historical greats that culminate in the unnamed “Master Cartoonist”, whose quasi-historical buzz is captured in several bands under the banner “Le 19e Cartoonist of the Century”. After a few personal stories, Van Sciver sneaks into the final portrait, this time of himself.
The wider implication is that cartoonists throughout history could have groped their way to this higher art, mistake after mistake that led to the greats starting this collection and, ultimately, to him. Given that he’s consistently portrayed as having poor judgment, being inconsiderate or downright rude, and sometimes seeking attention (as his stupid 19th-century cartoonist might do), it seems clear that Noah Van Sciver (the real-world cartoonist) is having a hard time coming to terms with this great medium.
This internal conflict is what unites all the pieces in the book, creating a larger portrait of a man in constant struggle with himself. It’s not until Van Sciver meets his own child in the last strip of the book that this struggle can come to an end, that Van Sciver can accept that he’s had a hand in creating a real and worthwhile legacy.
This book, then, could be seen as a collection of evidence, a collection of arguments, about what life is. As a cartoonist.
‘As a cartoonist’ features a man struggling with himself
As a cartoonist
As a cartoonist manages to capture the artist’s internal struggle towards something meaningful.
Capture precisely edited moments of a lifetime.
Creates a rambling but compelling portrait.
The absence of conventional framing can leave the reader adrift.
Become a patron today to get exclusive perks, like access to our exclusive Discord community and monthly comic club, ad-free browsing on aiptcomics.com, physical paperback mailed to you every month, and more !