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Downloading Optimism - Lucy Knisley Page 2 [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Lucy Knisley


Downloading Optimism [Nov. 16th, 2009|11:06 pm]

Oh man, eventually the words are going to completely take over my comics and I'll just be writing out essays by hand. And yet, I could have written so much more! Must... stop... and focus on... my actual scheduled work for today...

I drew this last night and tonight, and Linney helped. Cats are such jerks.

Atwood's new book (The Year of the Flood) is a follow-up to Oryx and Crake, which I read when I was eighteen or nineteen, and which made a profound impact. Nelly and I actually read it together while we were traveling by train, and had to read it aloud to one another in order not to fight over who's turn it was with our one copy. It gave me a serious fascination with genetic engineering, especially pertaining to the food and drugs we put in our bodies. I'm really loving The Year of the Flood, but I'm trying to read it as slowly as possible, to draw it out as long as I can (and because it tends to give me very strange dreams, so I try not to read it before bed). A warning; if you plan to pick up either of these books, you will never see scientific-breakthrough product commercials the same way, again.


I'll have a table at the Chicago Holiday Renegade Craft Fair in about three weeks, with my crafty pals, Nelly and Nora. There will be so many comics and bags and neat stuff for sale! And I'm gonna sell little on-the-fly watercolors at the request of visitors-- so it's your chance to have me paint whatever your heart desires! Whee!

Come visit us, please? See you there!

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[User Picture]From: girlatomic
2009-11-17 03:47 pm (UTC)
I bought a Kindle a few weeks ago and I haven't looked back since! I love reading and I love books, but I honestly haven't felt like I'm missing anything by not holding the real thing in my hand or smelling it or whatever!
The convenience of it more than makes up for everything else. I love that I can read more than one book at the same time, not have to carry around massive hardbacks anymore and buy books on the go. It's just brilliant, I don't have a single bad thing to say about it.
Reading on the Kindle is super easy on the eyes, it doesn't look digital so doesn't strain them like a computer screen does (or the Sony ebook readers, I thought they looked very screen-like actually). About half an hour after I first got it, reading on it felt completely natural. I also read much quicker on it than normal books for some reason. And the books are cheaper too! I mean, what's not to like?!
I should probably be sponsored by Kindle or something, I've been recommending them to everyone I know!
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[User Picture]From: seattleeco
2009-11-17 04:12 pm (UTC)

See you at the fair!

I hope I'll be able to come now that I live in Chicago (hey, I work at the Aquarium, yay). Would you be willing to do a quick watercolor of our cats if I brought a picture??

Oryx and Crake made a huge impression on me, too -- and I read it in paper form, because I'll admit to being one of those people who just loves the feel and form of paperbacks too much to go for an e-reader, even though they make sense for those times when I'm lugging five books in my bag on a long-haul flight. Ah, I love me some run-on sentences.
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[User Picture]From: vogdoid
2009-11-17 04:26 pm (UTC)
ugh, we were gonna go to this! But then we got lazy! Ugh laziness.
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[User Picture]From: lecraie
2009-11-17 05:05 pm (UTC)
I feel like one of the beautiful things about books going digital is it begins to make books IRL more mystical and fantastic. I've always found the physical object of a book to be a magical thing and if they begin to go into extinction, they become not unlike a unicorn or other mythical beast. The loss of the textual book just makes a book more special when you feel compelled to purchase it.

It also makes book artists and people who hand-bind seem all the more extra special. :)
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[User Picture]From: daaakota
2009-11-17 05:08 pm (UTC)
I was there at that panel too! It's weird (to me) that you were there, cause I wanted t go and see some comic artists I admire, and (not to be a kiss ass) but you are a comic artist I admire and have been reading longer then and more then any of the other guys.

I loved what Lynda Barry said about art being a baby you have to take care of, and make money for, rather then the other way around. Even though it should be obvious, it really cleared stuff up.

But again, I disagree about the online phenomenon. If not for the internet, I wouldn't know about alternative comics. There weren't any around when I was a kid in Southern California. So I think it's an opportunity rather then the end, but maybe it's hard for people to see, like the way people are scared for the death of newspapers, because everyone reads the news online.

Anyway, it was so fun to see these people in real life. I had never seen them before. Lynda Barry was so charming and funny, and Chris Ware was so... kinda crazy. Great though.
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[User Picture]From: daaakota
2009-11-17 05:14 pm (UTC)
That's not to mention all the great art and paintings I've seen online. Sure, it's better to see them in real life, but I would never have heard of or seen a Caravaggio if not for the internet. (I guess there is one now, at the Art Institute, but hey...)
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[User Picture]From: jinty
2009-11-17 05:27 pm (UTC)

Margaret Atwood and paper vs elec books

I didn't get on with Oryx and Crake; this was mostly because it was a pretty good but not outstanding post-apocalyptic SF novel that owed a big unspoken debt to other post-apocalyptic SF novels. I've read better, basically, though it was good of its kind (and it is a kind that I like). I much prefer Octavia Butler.

Re electronic books - I like reading on screen in many ways - there's always plenty to read because it's always being updated! And I do keep some books on Stanza on my iPhone so that I always have something kicking around to read if I'm otherwise short of reading material. I begrudge the fact that it runs the battery down, though, and I have so many paper books that I'm much more likely to read one of those in any case.

I think you're right about the possibilities for the future and how people can close themselves off from them. Times are tough for the newspaper industry and for other traditional media; people who are publishing stuff on the web in colour, more cheaply and more flexibly than they were previously able to do stuff, are on the up side of that wheel and exciting things are happening to them and for their readership. Not everyone's going to be able to, or will want to, make massive changes in the way they produce or create stuff, but I don't think it's the death of books.
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[User Picture]From: tacto
2009-11-17 05:42 pm (UTC)
Lucy, I have been really enjoying your LJ and comics for some time now and thought it was time I told you that :) I like how every comic has a fullness to it so that by the end it feels satisfying like an excellent dessert of just the right size.
On the topic of your comic this time, for books, I have been always a paperphile and thought that nothing could tempt me into digital until 4 consecutive moves happened. That made clear the painful truth of "do not be attached to earthly possessions" - for as a bibliophile the dilemma of getting rid of books that just could not all travel along was more than real. And now I realized that the number of books that I actually absolutely want to keep in paper form (because they are for a lot, older than me, smell of my childhood and have beautiful hard covers that proudly wear the age scars on them)is not that big. On the other hand, the number of books I would like to keep close in case I wanted to re-read them but would not necessarily care to carry around with their paperbacks is considerable - and the Kindle might be just the right solution to that. It comes to a point that I refrain from buying some books because they would take up space - so I guess digital reading is definitely in the near future for me. Good bye, reactionary views! Save the trees! :D
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[User Picture]From: disarm_jane
2009-11-17 06:02 pm (UTC)
Omg. I saw recently that M.A. was visiting our school in February a few weeks ago and I flipped a shit. In my mind I had already imagined myself babbling praise to her like you and Nelly are doing in this comic. Now I don't feel quite so original since you guys already did it. lol
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[User Picture]From: kinaree
2009-11-17 06:13 pm (UTC)
Last night, I read this on my iPhone from bed (because I'm lazy and I noticed your update on twitter). I realized "HEY! I could just buy tha Boneshaker (novel) on the kindle app and get the book for way less. AAAAAAAAND I won't have to tug it around with all my heavy school supplies in a phone I already carry everywhere with me. WHY HAVEN'T I DONE THIS YET?!"

But now I want the book so cmpriest, who is totally awesome, can sign it someday... ;_; *is torn*


I am pretty excited about The Year of the Flood, especially now from what you've written here. My boyfriend and I read it at the same time (also with one shared copy) and both loved it. We called each other CorkNut for a good many months after. ^_^

AHH so many books, so little time. >.
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[User Picture]From: finkenstein
2009-11-17 06:36 pm (UTC)
Fantastic comic lucy!!!
I totally agree with you about the content being more important than the way you view it.
However, I also love the feel of a book in my hands. How thick and heavy a new hard cover book is. I would hate to see them go away in loo of kindles and ipods and things. I can understand the fear in people that they might.

I have also talked to older people in the comics feild who are skeptical or straight up know nothing about web comics and it makes me sad. Time change! New things come! The old things don't have to die but we should always be open to the new, or else what is progress for?

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From: ext_214980
2009-11-17 09:52 pm (UTC)

Comics People Are Just Like News People

Funny to see that comics people are struggling with new media in the same way as news people. In fact, one of the panelists you mentioned is famous for his reluctance to respond to news changes. In Chicago, the big catalyst was a forum called the Chicago Journalism Town Hall (http://chijournalismtownhall.com) which flushed out the new entrepreneurs. Some of us then went on to run the Chicago Media Future Conference (http://chicagomediafuture.com) to figure out what comes next.

Maybe this sort of thing needs to happen with comics?
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[User Picture]From: dancewildly
2009-11-17 10:34 pm (UTC)
I love how that commercial is basically saying "use our product and SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES!" Even if I hadn't read Oryx & Crake, I would be freaked out by it. (Also, Oryx & Crake is the reason I can no longer eat chicken nuggets.)

But really I de-lurked to say that I love love love your art, including French Milk, and your music, too. Your song The Last Time made me cry. :)
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[User Picture]From: curiositykt
2009-11-17 11:32 pm (UTC)

I love my kindle..

Since getting a kindle last year for christmas, I've read probably 300% more than any other year. But I find myself constantly in this argument as well.
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[User Picture]From: mr_sadhead
2009-11-18 12:42 am (UTC)
Well-P, I can imagine a lot of old comics creators are a little freaked out about new media, particularly if they've lost paying gigs at alt papers and such. This week sees the shuttering of Window Media, which published gay newspapers and magazines in Washington and the South and Boston -- is all that content going online? Probably not. Are there illustrators and maybe a cartoonist or two who just lost a market?
I distrust e-books because I had an MP3 player on which I stored hours of songs, and now that the battery is dead, can I get to those songs? No. Can I play my Julian Cope tapes for Kaija and turn her on to his music? Yes. When the battery goes on your e-book, you're going to have to buy another one, and hopefully it will have stored your books, or you're going to have to download them again ..
The other thing is, if you're a poor unemployed guy with no money to spend on a Kindle, you're not going to get to read any e-books. See, the thing about tech -- online comics and e-books -- is that you have to have a certain amount of spends to buy into them. It's not egalitarian. You and I will never know how poor one can be not to be able to get online and do stuff, but there are people who are, and they're being compressed into the new underclass.
Nice cartoon, though.
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[User Picture]From: florence_craye
2009-11-18 03:03 am (UTC)
Great comic!

I have to say I am not all enthusiastic about all-digital books or digital for books that are not fine art books and then really expensive editions that most people can't afford, even if they don't want to get a digital copy. Reading things off a screen, especially small ones, hurts my eyes. and damn it, I like books the way they are. Even if they're pretty damn expensive at the moment. And it seems strange to have to get laser eye surgery so we can continue to read.

Plus, how will people be able to afford the readers? I can't get an iphone or a kindle because they're out of my price range. Not to mention the issues with DRM and copyright with the computer files. And think about people in the rest of the world who do not have the funds or the technological infrastructure to support all of this.

I can totally understand what the older artists and writers are talking about. Technology itself is not the answer. We need to find a pathway in between and remember that not everyone on earth has access to these things. There are so many issues with this topic that it is not just yay-technology or boo! Lots to think about!
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[User Picture]From: art_lurker
2009-11-18 05:24 am (UTC)
so interesting!
things to ponder.

see you at renegade!
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[User Picture]From: sennasilver
2009-11-18 07:00 am (UTC)
I don't loathe digital books (I read fanfiction too!), but I don't support it either. If digital books do to print books what iTunes did to CDs, etc. I'll be devastated.

There's just something about holding a good book in your hand, being able to take it anywhere, having it even when you don't have any other luxuries. A book won't run out of batteries or crash, a book is just a book. Not to mention the fact that there's a sort of artistry to certain books with the covers and things. And I really really enjoy having signed books. I can't fathom how you could pass it up.
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[User Picture]From: mr_sadhead
2009-11-18 05:47 pm (UTC)
On the other hand, what really damaged the profile of CDs was sheer corporate greed. When you pay $12 for a new CD (list price is still $18, but nobody sells CDs for list price), the balance of that money goes to prop up the record company and distributors, and very little goes to the artist. They wanted to keep getting that money, so when online music file sharing showed itself, they decided that instead of exploiting it and getting some money out of that also, they'd just try to get rid of it. And they didn't. They busted down Napster but that didn't solve the problem, so when iTunes came along they all tagged along with that, but they had to accept a smaller percentage of the take because they were late to sign up ..
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[User Picture]From: rabid_wulf
2009-11-18 07:11 am (UTC)
I am part of a group at my U trying to revive our literary journal, and the print vs online debate is one that is close to my heart, so I've been giving this a lot of thought. And I was gonna leave a nice, well-planned, articulated debate about the pros and cons of both, but then I saw Oryx and Crake and completely forgot about everything else. You are awesome.
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From: a_mario_divided
2009-11-18 09:14 am (UTC)
I love the idea of the kindle and e-books, and look forward towards eventually getting one, but the difficulties comics have with these devices concerns me. I mean, no color strikes a lot of great books off the list, and the small screen sizes (imagine reading Akira on a 6" screen) are a huge problem. Hopefully better technology will allow comics to be viewed just like regular books, but I'm afraid of a future where kindles are the norm and comics can't adapt. Of course, webcomics will continue to be a big part of new media, but I find that it's difficult to read a long-form work on the computer.
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[User Picture]From: awcomix
2009-11-18 10:47 am (UTC)
I really have to agree with you about loving both print and digital. I think a lot of time is wasted by people saying 'books are so great...' Yes they are great but that doesn't mean that getting the information some other way can't be good too. Can't one enjoy collecting vinyl and also own an iPod?

I'm keenly awaiting a viable and easy digital option for distributing comic content (I mean for actual purchase, not how it is 'previewed' on the web)
eReaders look like a good option although I haven't even got to the stage o figuring out how to format the content (plus in my opinion as the screen are only B&W at this stage it would be best to stick to B&W material)
If rumours of this apple tablet are true, perhaps we could see a market open up for full colour comics on these portable devices.

I can't unfortunately read text of a regular computer screen. I'm not sure if it is the screen so much as is my eyes adjusting to scrolling text as I move down the page.
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[User Picture]From: _w_o_o_d_
2009-11-18 10:50 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: tariq_kamal
2009-11-18 11:11 am (UTC)
We likes this comic.

And I get the desire for traditional paper-based books -- if you don't have the infrastructure (i.e. convenient access to electricity, wireless Internet and a digital reader), books beat digital every time.

I can read a book on the toilet without worrying about dropping it in the can and totally wrecking it, for example (it'll just be totally gross). I can read it in the shower, and know that the book'll get ruined, but... not right now. There isn't that 10-milisecond lag that sets me teeth on edge after a while (I've found that in almost every digital device I've read; it might not be there at first... but then I start noticing it. Thus begins the end of the digital honeymoon).

...I'm a TERRIBLE book owner. My wife was horrified by the state of my books when she married me.

Mind you, this all doesn't mean that books won't be replaced by digital readers. They will be. But they'll have to be DAMN good. Or offer things that will compensate. Which I'm sure they will.

Just not right now. Not in Malaysia anytime soon, at any rate. Oh, I'd give my left arm to buy more books from authors and not be ripped off by import duties :(
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[User Picture]From: used_songs
2009-11-18 12:29 pm (UTC)
I'm here via boingboing and I really love this comic. Would you mind if I shared it with my students? I'd have to take a copy as LJ is blocked in my school district, so I thought I'd ask. My students and I have been talking about print vs digital (I'm an English teacher). I'd like to use your comic in conjunction with this blog post on print being the anomaly rather than the standard.
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[User Picture]From: lucylou
2009-11-18 04:35 pm (UTC)
Go right ahead! Happy to help. Thanks for asking!
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From: ext_192760
2009-11-18 12:47 pm (UTC)

digital books

I read an entry on BoingBoing about your comic (downloading Optimist) and I love it. Like your work.

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[User Picture]From: litter_ladder
2009-11-18 02:34 pm (UTC)
nice comic. maybe the folks who planned that panel will feature you next time?
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