4CP is a production from a blogger who goes by Half-Man Half-Static and who bills himself (or herself) as “a curator of lost items.” Whomever Half-Man Half Static is, they’ve built an impressive little network of truly excellent comics- and pop-culture-themed, Posterous-powered blogs which you can see here.
Included among these is the slightly more famous and equally superb Comic Book Cartography. Like 4CP, Comic Book Cartography also mines historical comic books for curious gems, specifically incidents of outlandishly implausible information design perpetrated by comics writers and artists from a bygone age. Many of the treasures unearthed on Comic Book Cartography are truly remarkable artifacts of vague, Atomic-age, scientific daydreaming refracted through a naive, pop cultural lens.
Looking at examples like the one above, a cut-away diagram of The Fantastic Four’s futuristic corporate headquarters, I defy anyone to argue that our current fascination with information graphics doesn’t originate, at least in part, from the kinds of schematic graphics like this that old comics routinely dealt in.
In a slightly different vein, I’m a devoted reader of the blog Comically Vintage, which hilariously de-contextualizes full panels from, again, decades-old comic books in order to highlight their absurdity. There’s a slight bias towards the over-the-top histrionics of romance comics from the 1950s and 60s, but super-heroes, war-torn soldiers, creatures of horror and cowboys are well represented too. Perhaps most predominantly, the bloggers have great fun with the questionably unintentional but unmistakable undercurrent of homosexuality that runs through pretty much every genre of comics, ever.
Comically Vintage is a joint operation from four bloggers billing themselves as “paleocomicologists,” and in many ways they’re exemplary content creators in the tumblelog-style: their posts are fast and furiously paced, sometimes coming at the rate of ten or twenty per day. None of the core content is original but the bloggers add just enough value in their brief, sardonic captions to make it entertaining. And, naturally and unfortunately for this style of blogging, I have no idea who the people behind it really are. (Not coincidentally, Comically Vintage is published on the Tumblr platform.)
Nevertheless, I’m a fan — of all of these blogs. They’re so fascinating to me because they continue to demonstrate that comics reward closer examination from all angles, whether it’s through the quiet inspection of their finer details, identifying common visual tropes, or gentle ridicule. They also make a statement about the value of comics: in and of themselves they don’t form a complete and definitive argument for the validity of the comics form, but they make worthwhile contributions to the idea of their general acceptability. Through the quick insights into the subtext of these old panels that they provide, these blogs nudge us all towards the inevitable future in which we as a society finally accept comics as a great art form of the last century.