So… you might ask, what exactly are poetry comics? That’s just what Over The Line sets out to show you. I think it succeeds both in addressing what constitutes this genre and in showing the plethora of shapes its iterations can take.
UK-based Sidekick Books just launched Over The Line: An Introduction to Poetry Comics in September of this year (i.e. last month), and it immediately caught my eye for two reasons: 1) the hot-pink cover and 2) the promise of an introduction to a genre of poetry that’s pretty much a new species to me. Like the peculiar animal that is prose poetry, poetry comics constitute a hybrid genre; they are an intersection of poetry (verbal / print language) and comics (visual communication).
The book opens with introductory remarks about the form / genre and an in-depth discussion of what connects poetry and comics before we even start putting the two together. As Williams and Humberstone show, the two genres already have a number of similar features and processes, both on the reception and the production side of things, if you want to get real technical.
The bulk of the book, however, consists of a wide variety of poetry comics, some with lots of words, some with hardly any, some with very intricate artwork, some where the visual aspect looks more like something you might create drawing with your non-dominant hand while in a moving car. Williams and Humberstone take on a very complex, diverse genre — so diverse that, really, their chosen approach is the only practical one: to supply a short introduction and then let the work speak for itself, rather than spend hundreds of pages trying to explain what examples can communicate in instants.
This book is fresh and beautiful, and I’ve no doubt I’ll come back to it often.
If you want to add it to your shelf, you can order your very own copy here: http://www.sidekickbooks.com/overtheline.php
By the way, the creative folks at Sidekick have also produced a number of other interesting / unusual books, such as an anthology of video game-based poems.