Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Not adding to the stockpile of puns on the word “canon”

A few weeks ago, Chris Mautner started an attempt to define what might constitute a canon of comics. Timothy Callahan followed up with a longer list. Chris returned to the subject here, and there have been further comments from Heidi MacDonald and John Holbo.

My first reaction on looking at Chris’s and Tim’s lists (somewhat unfairly, as Timothy at least is explicit that he is attempting to set out a canon of American comics) was something along the lines of, “Gad, Sir! How can there be a comics canon that includes nothing by Hergé, Leo Baxendale or Osamu Tezuka?”

Further reflection on my reaction, and the comics I’d be tempted to canonise, leads me to suggest the following definition:

Comics canon Those comics which the commentator drawing up the canon has read and been influenced by, minus a few that he or she finds too embarrassing to mention, plus a few that he or she would like people to think that the commentator had read and appreciated.

At least, that’s how I’d go about it. I suppose that a canon should really arise from debate leading to some sort of consensus, but I don’t think that F R Leavis paid much attention to anyone else’s opinion, do you?

“Canon Fodder” from 2000AD, art by Chris Weston, pinched from 2000AD Online. Oh, damn, it’s a pun!


Timothy Callahan said...

Ha! I like your definition of "Canon," and it's probably closer to the truth than most would care to admit.

Of course, my American Canon is totally free from such personal bias and doesn't include anything that I put on there just because I thought it was "awesome."

Steve Flanagan said...

One sign of a mature canon will be that we can play an eqivalent of the game David Lodge created for the Eng Lit academics in his novls: name the book you feel most guilt about not having read.