PRINT Summer 2014

Kerry James Marshall

Kerry James Marshall, Dailies (detail), 2003–, silk screen on paper, 22 x 30".

But if you start out to “read” a comic, you are starting
out wrong. . . . Comics are to be looked at first . . .

—Samuel R. Delany, Silent Interviews: On
Language, Race, Sex, Science Fiction, and
Some Comics

YOU CAN HIT HARD or be as sensitive and silly as you like. You can be immediate and topical in ways that are less forgiving in, say, painting. For freewheeling cultural and critical commentary, I cannot think of a more flexible platform than the daily newspaper comic. The loosely gridded, standard half page can accommodate an extraordinary variety of styles, subjects, and treatments. And the near-impossible feat of following one’s favorite strips for long, uninterrupted sequences makes discontinuity integral to our experience of the medium. Interruption, then, becomes a useful device for stacking complex scenarios and playing around with shifting areas of attention. When I finally understood the potential of a whole page with different titles to “draw out” ideas and narrative, I adopted the format for my ongoing project Dailies.

Dailies, initiated in 2003, is the second iteration of Rythm Mastr, an epic superhero drama set in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago’s South Side. Whereas Rythm Mastr, first presented as an installation for the 1999 Carnegie International in Pittsburgh, is a novelistic story, Dailies incorporates Rythm Mastr and contextualizes it as one of several open-ended scenarios and propositions. For example, “Monuments for a New America” (2008), presented by Rythm Mastr Comics and BLKSTTIX International, a fictional production company, imagines the renovation of monuments to the principle of liberty: Those dedicated to slave-holders are augmented with statues of slave rebels, thereby undermining the tendency to idealize history.

Kerry James Marshall is an artist based in Chicago.