A Brown study
Last year I mentioned the voluminous notes that cartoonist Chester Brown has made on his various comics. Today, the new site Toronto Standard has a piece up by me on this topic, entitled "Text Appeal." It begins:(Thanks to Jason McBride, and to Tim Hodler at The Comics Journal, and to Hillary Chute!)
If years ago, when I was in college, someone had dubbed me a tape of The Best of Leonard Cohen, I’m not sure what I would have made of the music. There’s a chance I would have become a fan. But I happened to buy an old copy of the LP, the back cover of which is given over to Cohen’s notes on the songs. None exceeds seven lines in length; the shortest is 12 words long. They masquerade as compositional backstory, but really comprise a sly autobiography in prose poems, perfect compressions of wanderlust and good old-fashioned lust. A persona is being erected even before the record is out of the sleeve. (Indeed, it includes a comment on the jacket portrait: “I rarely ever look this good, or bad, depending on your politics.”) Cohen’s notes didn’t deepen my experience of the music, but rather replaced it. The songs took a back seat to the life lived, a life recorded telegraphically but indelibly on that tan back cover. The pleasure, the point, of The Best of Leonard Cohen was not where I thought it was.