poems + comics = pomics

It’s my turn to post again, so odds are that today’s Eleventh Stack spotlight will shine on either poetry or graphic novels, right?  Double right!   Today’s post is about both poems and comics, and the weird hybrid animal that spawns from their combination: “pomics.”

We’ve got evidence proving that poets were hip to the comics scene as early as 1946, when E. E. Cummings wrote the introduction to a collection of George Herriman’s Krazy Kat comics.  In fact, he portrays the strip as an analogy for the dynamics of love and wisdom, democracy and individualism.

Matthea Harvey is a contemporary poet who has professed her love for comics, especially in this interview with Poetry Foundation, in which she and Jeannine Hall Gailey discuss the inspirational themes of dozens of graphic novels, manga and anime titles and authors, including Paul Hornschemeier‘s Three Paradoxes,  Osamu Tezuka‘s Astro Boy and several of Hayayo Miyazaki‘s works.

Not only is Jeannine Hall Gailey another comics fan, she’s also a pomics creator.  Her book, Becoming The Villainess, includes the poem “Wonder Woman Dreams of the Amazon” and several poems from her chapbook, Female Comic Book Superheroes, which you can listen to her read here.

Poetry Foundation.org has taken a clear stance on the side of pomics by initiating their creation in its feature, “The Poem as Comic Strip.”  So far, the series has included collaborations between Ron Regé, Jr. and Kenneth Patchen, David Heatley and Diane Wakoski, Gabrielle Bell and Emily Dickinson, and Jeffrey Brown and Russell Edson.

The 1960’s must certainly have produced some impressive cross-genre overlap with its combination of psychedelic poetry readings and mind-warping underground comics, both exploding in San Francisco.  One example is Ginsberg’s Illuminated Poems, which graphic novelist Eric Drooker illustrated.  According to Graphic Witness: Four Wordless Graphic Novels, Ginsberg credits Lynd Ward’s silent graphic novels as the inspiration for his famous poem “Howl.” 

The symbiotic relationship between poetry and comics is so far-reaching that I’m sure I’ve left out some approaches–but if you know of any more examples, I’d love to read them.



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5 responses to “poems + comics = pomics

  1. Don

    Hey, Née

    Great post. Here’s something to add

    Author Morice, Dave, 1946-
    Title Poetry comics : an animated anthology / Dave Morice.
    Publisher New York : T&W Books, c2002.

    These actually originally came out in the early 80’s – “Poetry Comics: A Cartooniverse of Poems” by Dave Morice (Simon and Schuster, 1982) – and there was one called “More Poetry Comics.” He did all the classics. His stuff pre-dates the graphic novel so you can say poetry helped actually create the graphic novel genre. I also have a full length adaptation of “The Waste Land” in graphic form.

    Lynd Ward’s stuff rocks.


  2. Don,

    Thanks! That adaptation of “The Waste Land” must be amazing!


  3. Andrew

    Awesome post!

    Not exactly the same thing, but as a Tori Amos fan, this sounds intriguing:
    from Wikipedia:
    “In July 2008 Image Comics released Comic Book Tattoo, a 480-page book containing 51 graphic stories, each based on or inspired by an Amos song. Editor Rantz Hoseley worked with Amos to gather 80 different artists for the book, including Pia Guerra, David Mack, and Leah Moore. It includes an introduction by longtime friend Neil Gaiman, creator of The Sandman series.”

  4. Thanks, Andrew! Turns out that the countywide system owns the book, so I’m totally jumping on THAT bandwagon…wow!

    Leigh Anne

  5. Andrew,

    I’m a Tori Amos fan, too, and must admit that I read Comic Book Tattoo cover to cover shortly after its release, though I tried really hard to pace myself. I definitely enjoyed it, and my bet is that you will too! (Also, a copy should appear shortly on the CLP- Main adult graphic novel section, too.)


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