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

STOP PAYING ATTENTION.COM

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


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.


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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: explosionforgov
2009-11-17 05:25 am (UTC)
I'm honestly torn about how to feel about digital books...I really, really like getting stuff signed, and you can't exactly do that with a Kindle. There's also no new book smell, or the weight on your lap as you drive it to your house to read. But digital things are far more convenient and less of a stress on the arms than "real" books are...

Unfortunately, I can't make it out to see yourself or any of the other artists I really like. I'm not allowed by my parents to go out of state, either with my friends or alone. I hope it goes well, though.
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[User Picture]From: lucylou
2009-11-17 05:28 am (UTC)
Yeah, if Nelly hadn't brought her book, I'd have bought one to have Margaret Atwood sign it. As it was, I felt happy enough to get to meet her, and the signing was the only excuse I would have had. I feel differently about comic books-- Like I prefer to have them in paper form and signed-- but it's all a very muddy subject, with a lot of twists and turns.
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[User Picture]From: lucylou
2009-11-17 03:29 pm (UTC)
Yes, she's small and focused and has eyes that see the future instead of your face. Nelly and I were actually a little scared, but we LOVED it.

So far, I don't love YOTF as much as Oryx and Crake, but it's growing on me.
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[User Picture]From: clownfishdesign
2009-11-17 05:29 am (UTC)
I've been predicting "book plaques" since I first read of the idea in Julian May's Many Coloured Land way back in the early 80s.

I seriously think that as soon as they have the screen-glare thing nailed - which I believe Kindle etc. are coming very close to - that will be the kicker.

As another bibliophile, I think there will always be a market for paper books, probably as collector's editions, etc. Just as there still is for vinyl. When CD replaced vinyl, I basically figured, cool, now my hundreds of vinyl singles and albums have become collectors' editions overnight. Plus I was able to buy heaps of cheap 2nd hand vinyl.

I for one won't mourn the death of the mass-market paperback - after all, do all those trees really need to die for The Da Vinci Code?

Books in the future will basically be digital downloads or beautiful, leatherbound, parchment-paper, hot metal type (please?!) set works of art.
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[User Picture]From: lucylou
2009-11-17 03:34 pm (UTC)
So these things have been on their way since before I was born. Yep.

I agree about the screen glare-- but also hope for some prettier design along those lines. The kindle page is so drab! I actually prefer my ipod, screen glare or no, because it seems like the page (smaller, so fewer words) is a little more thought-out. I don't know. I like it.

I like the comparison with books and records. It's awful to think that some books won't be made books, but considering the cost and poor quality of printing and the changing markets of self-publishing, I think it's high time some changes were made in that big business. Perhaps digital printing might actually make it faster and easier for people to take that from corporations and make it better for the artists... who knows? I prefer optimism, or I couldn't continue to do what I do.

I shudder to think of all the crappy paperbacks filling our landfills.
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[User Picture]From: frey_at_last
2009-11-17 05:39 am (UTC)
You can't smell a Kindle!

I'm not prepared to jettison form for content, since that has been the whole trail of modern life and it just makes things easy, not happy. I've never read (or listened to, or watched) something where the "way the words were delivered" didn't affect the way I received them.

But this comic is great. :)

Edited at 2009-11-17 05:39 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: lucylou
2009-11-17 05:42 am (UTC)
I know what you mean about the smell! But I argue for both-- I don't need to smell the Twilight books, but I get a guilty pleasure from reading them (in secret, on the bus), while paying 20% less than were I to buy them in hardcover paper format.
I will always have books to smell when I need them. I just don't need to smell every book I read.
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[User Picture]From: michaelpatrick
2009-11-17 05:41 am (UTC)
I am trying to read your comic, but I am distracted by the beauty of your background pattern.

OK. The comic is good too.
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[User Picture]From: lucylou
2009-11-17 06:00 am (UTC)
Why thank you! I like it, too.
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[User Picture]From: lucylou
2009-11-17 03:39 pm (UTC)
I knowwww Lynda Barry is a geeeenius!

I buy books as much as I can afford/fit into my house. My parents are connected with the book world, and holidays are full of much book-giving and receiving. I wish there was some way to buy digital books from a mom-and-pop place, but I still give my business to good authors, I think. In cases where I love the book deeply and lastingly (Robin Hobb's Farseer Trilogy, which is also --technically-- a series I might not be keen on reading in public) are present in paperback and digital format in this house. Mostly because the paperbacks are falling apart from overuse, and so I can always keep them with me to read if I find myself pining for them all of a sudden and I'm on the bus.

Oh dinner parties, where wine breathes hot air into the cheeks of yaps, to be breathed out again into my face.
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[User Picture]From: callanhead
2009-11-17 06:22 am (UTC)
books can be destroyed and that's no good. digitally the information can be there forever and that is good.
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[User Picture]From: callanhead
2009-11-17 06:42 am (UTC)
also "antichrist"? whoa!
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[User Picture]From: morningapproach
2009-11-17 06:33 am (UTC)
I wish I could stop at the craft fair - we have no good craft fairs where I am (across the river from Detroit in Ontario) and are limited to church bazaars :p

Also, I think that I would read more digital books if I had an iPod to read them on, or a Kindle, or something. I am contemplating getting one, but I doubt that I will, unless someone buys me one. I am pretty good though with having books that are small enough to bring around in my purses (which are pretty big, one of them can fit a (small) laptop) and reading when I find time.
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[User Picture]From: lucylou
2009-11-17 03:44 pm (UTC)
YES. That's a big factor. After I'd whined for a full two years about how everyone had an iphone but me, my friend finally got tired of it and used his Mac connections to get me an ipod touch (which is all I wanted anyway, because I actually hate talking on the phone). They're getting cheaper, and I think that'll help, but it was a major factor in my purchasing more digital books. My stepdad has a kindle he rarely uses that I was creepily coveting for a while, though, so it was inevitable.

You're smart about keeping books in your purse, but I usually leave the house with just my pockets full, so the ipod is VITAL.
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[User Picture]From: godlessmachine
2009-11-17 06:38 am (UTC)
I agree. I don't think it's really bad that things are getting more digital and I don't think it'll ever be bad as long as we have the option to buy a physical copy of the book along with a digital copy.
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[User Picture]From: lucylou
2009-11-17 03:46 pm (UTC)
I think anything that allows us to own fewer physical objects is working towards a better world.
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[User Picture]From: madhatterpan
2009-11-17 06:59 am (UTC)
I'm too attached to books to give them up even if it means papercuts. I like the comfort of curling up with one, and the way they age too.

....I do suppose it would be nice for the cases where the books are put together shoddily and fall apart. (I'm looking at you, Harry Potter. Your binding sucks, and you should be ashamed of yourself.) Oh, and maybe they wouldn't be able to charge an arm and a foot for textbooks. At the very least, you wouldn't have to deal with shipping. So, yes, I can see the perks of digital books, and I don't mind if it becomes the norm, so long as they let me have print copies to love on.
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[User Picture]From: lucylou
2009-11-17 03:48 pm (UTC)
I could never give them up, either. But yeah, Harry Potter was similar to having a physical altercation, just trying to read the damn thing. The proportions were crazy, and the thing didn't stay upright, and there was just no way to read it with the book-jacket on without ruining the jacket from trying to balance the damn thing somehow. Plus, now it takes up like half of my bookshelves! AND John has his own copies, too, so there's like a complete shelf of Harry Potter books where we could have fit like twice as many books.
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[User Picture]From: wyrdness
2009-11-17 07:11 am (UTC)
My problem with digital books is that I find it strains my eyes in a way that paper books do not and I don't want to ruin my love of reading by associating it with pain :) Also I don't get on so well with scrolling (I think this is purely because I use the end of a page to briefly pause and digest what I've just read), but it'd be awesome if there was a kind of option to flip forward or back a 'page' at a time on the screen. :)
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[User Picture]From: lucylou
2009-11-17 03:50 pm (UTC)
Too true. My need for glasses at the age of 23 was likely less of an indication of enfeebled age than it was due to prolonged eye-strain. BUT there's always laser eye surgery! Ah, the future we live in.

And the thing I use to read on my ipod actually flips pages left to right with a little swipe of my thumb. It's designed remarkably well, with a small page and readable text, and the action in the flip is quite nice. AND you can NEVER LOSE YOUR PLACE. So nice.
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[User Picture]From: bsting
2009-11-17 08:24 am (UTC)
I actually read very little books period. I 'read' more comics than I do 'normal' books. And I notice that most of those comics I read online. Still, I buy quite a few comic books, but the irony is that it's usually a paper 'backup' of online comics I've already read. I'll re-read them, cause usually that's the first time I'll read them back-to-back instead of daily/weekly.

And there's a few comic books I'll buy without ever having seen a digital copy of it (Marjane Satrapi, Maaike Hartjes).

Alright, in all fairness, I do read a great deal of Livejournals and other weblogs. So in that sense I'm much more accustomed to screen-reading. I read a paper daily and an occasional printed report for work. But now that you mention it, I am actually studying for an exam now, using a digital copy of the book. Hmmm.
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[User Picture]From: jinty
2009-11-17 03:32 pm (UTC)

Thanks so much for the Maaike reference!

She came to our comics convention in Oxford back in 1997 and I haven't caught up with her stuff for a long time - but always loved it. I've looked her up now and yay! of course she has a blog.
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[User Picture]From: pinkyxxswear
2009-11-17 08:37 am (UTC)
I love the physicality of books. I tend to develop a great deal of sentimentality toward (some of) them. Though I really like the idea of a kindle, I just can't do it.

Probably totally bias as an ex-Borders employee.
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[User Picture]From: rin_666
2009-11-17 09:42 am (UTC)
Hi I started watching your journal a while ago and it just inspires me all the time, every tiem I read your stuff I just want to go and draw my life. I totally agree with you about the digital books! I love reading and to me so long as I can read the story it doesn't matter how it's delivered to me (to be honest the reason I love owning books is so people can be astounded by how many I've read :P). Keep up the good work!
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[User Picture]From: jabberworks
2009-11-17 10:02 am (UTC)
Great comics essay! :-D Sad that the guys on the panel were so down about things, though. From what I've seen, comics really seem to be taking off, and with cheaper printing, there have been innovations both digitally and in affordable beautiful physical books. I mean, I love the deckled edges of Pedrosa's 'Three Shadows' and the simple but beautiful paper engineering of my studiomate Viv's book, 'There are Cats in this Book'. The physicality of those couldn't be supplanted by a Kindle.

But I buy a lot of rubbishy cheap-and-cheerful books (like Wordsworth classics) and they're full of typos and too-small print and I have no affection at all for their production value. No reason I couldn't read those digitally.

I think digital just gives us more options, and two routes to go, so more chances to play with format. I think people possibly appreciate the physicality of books more when they're reading a lot of digital things, (like the way I started almost killing for bread when I was on a no-carb diet). So maybe there will be less chance for rubbishy, badly printed books to do well but it will actually give beautiful books a boost. I think the future's bright! :-)
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[User Picture]From: bougieman
2009-11-17 11:18 am (UTC)
I guess you have to look at it from their perspective to understand the pessimisim. These are highly skilled commercial artists who have been making a respectable living from their art for multiple decades, and they are facing an uncertain future for their craft that, at the moment, is finding most of their peers forced to get a day job in order to pay the bills.

For instance, someone like Jim Woodring unable to make a living off his comics and art is, to me, the equivalent of Jimi Hendrix forced to become a shoe salesman because no one will pay to hear him play guitar. It is fucking madness.

I understand their bitterness very well.
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