Taschen Publishes the First 21 Stories of Spider Man in a High Resolution, Extra-Large Format Art Book

Mar­vel Comics and art book pub­lish­er TASCHEN have announced an agree­ment to pub­lish Marvel’s rarest clas­sic comics “in their orig­i­nal glo­ry, in an extra-large for­mat.” And it all starts with Spi­der Man. The first vol­ume in the Mar­vel-TASCHEN series repro­duces the first 21 sto­ries of Spi­der Man, orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished between 1962–1964. TASCHEN has attempt­ed to “cre­ate an ide­al rep­re­sen­ta­tion of these books as they were pro­duced at the time of pub­li­ca­tion.” The edi­tions fea­ture super-high-res­o­lu­tion pho­tographs of each page, “using mod­ern retouch­ing tech­niques to cor­rect prob­lems with the era’s inex­pen­sive, imper­fect print­ing.”

You can explore the new Spi­der Man edi­tions here. The next titles in ‘The Mar­vel Comics Library’ series will be Avengers. Vol. 1. 1963–1965, Fan­tas­tic Four. Vol. 1. 1961–1963 and Cap­tain Amer­i­ca. They’re sched­uled for release in 2022 and 2023. Keep an eye out…

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Every Spi­der-Man Movie and TV Show Explained By Kevin Smith

Hear an Hour of the Jazzy Back­ground Music from the Orig­i­nal 1967 Spi­der-Man Car­toon

The Math­e­mat­ics of Spi­der­man and the Physics of Super­heroes

Free: Down­load 15,000+ Free Gold­en Age Comics from the Dig­i­tal Com­ic Muse­um

How to Make Comics: A Four-Part Series from the Muse­um of Mod­ern Art

How to Make Comics: A Four-Part Series from the Museum of Modern Art

A paint­ing? “Mov­ing. Spir­i­tu­al­ly enrich­ing. Sub­lime. ‘High’ art.” The com­ic strip? “Vapid. Juve­nile. Com­mer­cial hack work. ‘Low’ art.” A paint­ing of a com­ic strip pan­el? “Sophis­ti­cat­ed irony. Philo­soph­i­cal­ly chal­leng­ing. ‘High’ art.” So says Calvin of Bill Wat­ter­son­’s Calvin and Hobbes, whose ten-year run con­sti­tutes one of the great­est artis­tic achieve­ments in the his­to­ry of the news­pa­per com­ic strip. The larg­er medi­um of comics goes well beyond the fun­ny pages, as any num­ber of trend pieces have told us, but as an art form it remains less than per­fect­ly under­stood.  Per­haps, as else­where, one must learn by doing: hence “How to Make Comics,” a “four-part jour­ney through the art of comics” from the Muse­um of Mod­ern Art.

Cre­at­ed by comics schol­ar and writer Chris Gavaler, this edu­ca­tion­al series begins with the broad­est pos­si­ble ques­tion: “What Are Comics?” That sec­tion offers two answers, the first being that comics are “car­toons in the fun­nies sec­tions of news­pa­pers and the pages of com­ic books” telling sto­ries “about super­heroes or talk­ing ani­mals” — or they’re longer-for­mat “graph­ic nov­els,” which “can be more seri­ous and include per­son­al mem­oirs.”

The sec­ond, broad­er answer con­ceives of comics as noth­ing more spe­cif­ic than “jux­ta­posed images. Any work of art that divides into two or more side-by-side parts is for­mal­ly a com­ic. So if an artist cre­ates two images and places them next to each oth­er, they’re work­ing in the comics form.”

That sec­ond def­i­n­i­tion of comics includes, say, Andy Warhol’s Jacque­line Kennedy III — a work of art that con­ve­nient­ly hap­pens to be owned by MoMA. The muse­um’s visu­al resources fig­ure heav­i­ly into the whole “How to Make Comics,” in which Gavaler explains not just the process of cre­at­ing comics but the rela­tion­ship between comics and oth­er (often longer insti­tu­tion­al­ly approved) forms of art. And to what­ev­er degree they jux­ta­pose images, the works of art in MoMA’s online col­lec­tion — rich as so many of them are with action, char­ac­ter, nar­ra­tive, humor, and even words — offer inspi­ra­tion to com­ic artists bud­ding and expe­ri­enced alike. The bet­ter part of two cen­turies into its devel­op­ment, this thor­ough­ly mod­ern medi­um has the pow­er to incor­po­rate ideas from any oth­er art form; the high-and-low dis­tinc­tions can take care of them­selves. Enter “How to Make Comicshere.

via Kot­tke

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Take a Free Online Course on Mak­ing Com­ic Books, Com­pli­ments of the Cal­i­for­nia Col­lege of the Arts

Fol­low Car­toon­ist Lyn­da Barry’s 2017 “Mak­ing Comics” Class Online, Pre­sent­ed at UW-Wis­con­sin

Watch Car­toon­ist Lyn­da Barry’s Two-Hour Draw­ing Work­shop

Down­load Over 22,000 Gold­en & Sil­ver Age Com­ic Books from the Com­ic Book Plus Archive

Down­load 15,000+ Free Gold­en Age Comics from the Dig­i­tal Com­ic Muse­um

MoMA’s Online Cours­es Let You Study Mod­ern & Con­tem­po­rary Art and Earn a Cer­tifi­cate

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Cartoonist Lynda Barry Teaches You How to Make a Visual Daily Diary

Car­toon­ist and edu­ca­tor Lyn­da Barry is a favorite here at Open Cul­ture.

We’re always excit­ed to share exer­cis­es from her books and intel on her class­es at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wis­con­sin, but noth­ing beats the warmth and humor of her live instruc­tion… even when it’s deliv­ered vir­tu­al­ly.

Last week, she took to Insta­gram to inform the four­teen lucky U of W stu­dents enrolled in her fall Mak­ing Comics class to pre­pare for a new way of keep­ing their required dai­ly diaries, using a tech­nique she calls “sis­ter images.”

Those of us at home can play along, above.

Grab a com­po­si­tion book, or two blank sheets of paper, and a black felt tip pen. (Even­tu­al­ly you’ll need a timer, but not today.)

Rather than describe the ten-minute writ­ing and draw­ing exer­cise in advance, we encour­age you to jump right in, con­fi­dent that teacher Bar­ry would approve.

There are plen­ty of resources out there for those who want to learn how to out­linescript, and sto­ry­board comics.

Bar­ry aims to tap a deep­er vein of cre­ativ­i­ty with exer­cis­es that help stu­dents embrace the unknown.

The sis­ter diary’s pur­pose, she says, is to “let our hands lead the way in terms of fig­ur­ing out our sto­ries.”

Whether or not you seek to make comics, it’s an engag­ing way to doc­u­ment your life. You can also imple­ment the sis­ter diary tech­nique for dis­cov­er­ing more about char­ac­ters in your fic­tion­al work.

You’ll also pick up some bonus tips on draw­ing back­grounds, using all caps, allot­ting enough space with­in a pan­el for full body ren­der­ings, and stay­ing in the moment should you find your­self at a tem­po­rary loss.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Watch Car­toon­ist Lyn­da Barry’s Two-Hour Draw­ing Work­shop

Car­toon­ist Lyn­da Bar­ry Teach­es You How to Draw

Take a Road Trip Across Amer­i­ca with Car­toon­ist Lyn­da Bar­ry in the 90s Doc­u­men­tary, Grandma’s Way Out Par­ty

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

200 Comic Book Adaptations of Classic Novels Created (1941–1971): Frankenstein, Moby Dick, Hamlet & More

Thanks to “the rise of comics as a ‘respectable’ medi­um,” Ross John­son writes at Barnes and Noble, graph­ic nov­el adap­ta­tions now con­stant­ly reimag­ine lit­er­ary clas­sics for young read­ers. One Goodreads list col­lects over 200 recent graph­ic adap­ta­tions of clas­sics from Austen to Kaf­ka. These adap­ta­tions “aim to hon­or and embell­ish rather than replace the books on which they are based,” writes John­son, “because how could they?” They do, how­ev­er, allow us to “see, lit­er­al­ly and fig­u­ra­tive­ly, the sto­ries we love from new angles.” They also give kids and adults who may not fan­cy them­selves read­ers new ways to access and enjoy lit­er­ary clas­sics.

But are graph­ic adap­ta­tions real­ly a new phe­nom­e­non? They may be new­ly respectable, but they’ve been around since the very dawn of com­ic books as a medi­um. Super­man debuted in 1938, Bat­man in 1939, and in 1941, the first issue of Clas­sics Illus­trat­ed appeared — an adap­ta­tion of The Three Mus­ke­teers, fol­lowed by Ivan­hoe and The Count of Monte Cristo. The series was found­ed by Russ­ian-born pub­lish­er Albert Kan­ter, who imme­di­ate­ly seized on the poten­tial of com­ic books as edu­ca­tion­al tools dur­ing what is now known as the Gold­en Age of Comics.

Even as a pres­tige series sup­pos­ed­ly pro­mot­ing “great lit­er­a­ture,” Clas­sics Illus­trat­ed did not escape the notice of Dr. Fredric Wertham, whose book Seduc­tion of the Inno­cent began the moral pan­ic over com­ic books in the 1950s. Wertham found fault with the graph­ic adap­ta­tions of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Uncle Tom’s Cab­in for reduc­ing the nov­els to their most stereo­typ­i­cal and sen­sa­tion­al­ist ele­ments. It’s the kind of crit­i­cism we might find levied against graph­ic adap­ta­tions of lit­er­a­ture today, and in many cas­es, it may be war­rant­ed.

Few accused these graph­ic lit­er­ary adap­ta­tions of being great art in their own right. But they accom­plished Kanter’s pur­pose of get­ting comics read­ers excit­ed about clas­sic nov­els. The series ran for 30 years, end­ing in 1971, and became an inter­na­tion­al phe­nom­e­non. In Brazil and Greece, it pub­lished adap­ta­tions of authors from those coun­tries.

A Clas­sics Illus­trat­ed Junior series appeared in 1953, bring­ing chil­dren comics ver­sions of folk­tales and myths. After the series first run, spe­cial issues, reprints, and revivals appeared in lat­er decades, as well a series of tele­vi­sion films in the 70s and 80s. You can peruse over 200 of these adap­ta­tions dig­i­tal­ly scanned at the Inter­net Archive, arti­facts of the Gold­en Age and ances­tors of our cur­rent explo­sion of graph­ic nov­el adap­ta­tions of clas­sic lit­er­a­ture. For a deep­er study of this pub­li­ca­tion, you can pur­chase the 2017 book, Clas­sics Illus­trat­ed: A Cul­tur­al His­to­ry.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Free: Down­load 15,000+ Free Gold­en Age Comics from the Dig­i­tal Com­ic Muse­um

Free Com­ic Books Turns Kids Onto Physics: Start With the Adven­tures of Niko­la Tes­la

Take a Free Online Course on Mak­ing Com­ic Books, Com­pli­ments of the Cal­i­for­nia Col­lege of the Arts

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

Storytelling and Race in Captain America — Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #98

What is it for a super-hero to rep­re­sent Amer­i­ca? Though the char­ac­ter cre­at­ed by Joe Simon and Jack Kir­by in 1941 may have been a way to cap­i­tal­ize on WWII patri­o­tism, it has since been used to ask ques­tions about what it real­ly means to be patri­ot­ic and how Amer­i­ca’s ideals and its real­i­ty may con­flict. We’re of course talk­ing about race, a theme explored by Sam Wil­son, for­mer­ly Cap’s side-kick, pick­ing up the shield in the comics and now on TV (and in the forth­com­ing film).

Your Pret­ty Much Pop hosts Mark Lin­sen­may­er, Eri­ca, and Bri­an are joined by com­ic super-fan Antho­ny LeBlanc (return­ing from our ep.  56 on black nerds) to dis­cuss the recent com­ic runs by Ta-Nehishi Coates and Nick Spencer and espe­cial­ly Truth: Red, White and Black, Mar­vel’s 2003 comics mini-series by Robert Morales and Kyle Bak­er that tells the sto­ry of Amer­i­can super-sol­dier exper­i­ments on unknow­ing black men (rem­i­nis­cent of the real-life Tuskegee Syphilis Study). This was the source of the “first black Cap­tain Amer­i­ca” char­ac­ter Isa­iah Bradley fea­tured in The Fal­con and the Win­ter Sol­dier Dis­ney+ show, which we also dis­cuss.

Here are a few arti­cles that fed into our dis­cus­sion:

The final issue of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Cap­tain Amer­i­ca is com­ing July 7.

We rec­om­mend the Cap­tain Amer­i­ca Com­ic Book Fans pod­cast for more infor­ma­tion. Their recent inter­view with long­time edi­tor Tom Brevoort was illu­mi­nat­ing, and they spent eps.  33 and 34 walk­ing through Truth: Red, White & Black.

Hear more of this pod­cast at prettymuchpop.com. This episode includes bonus dis­cus­sion that you can access by sup­port­ing the pod­cast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This pod­cast is part of the Par­tial­ly Exam­ined Life pod­cast net­work.

Pret­ty Much Pop: A Cul­ture Pod­cast is the first pod­cast curat­ed by Open Cul­ture. Browse all Pret­ty Much Pop posts.

Take a Road Trip Across America with Cartoonist Lynda Barry in the 90s Documentary, Grandma’s Way Out Party

Who wouldn’t love to take a road trip with beloved car­toon­ist and edu­ca­tor Lyn­da Bar­ry? As evi­denced by Grandma’s Way Out Par­ty, above, an ear­ly-90s doc­u­men­tary made for Twin Cities Pub­lic Tele­vi­sion, Bar­ry not only finds the humor in every sit­u­a­tion, she’s always up for a detour, whether to a time hon­ored des­ti­na­tion like Mount Rush­more or Old Faith­ful, or a more impul­sive pit­stop, like a Wash­ing­ton state car repair shop dec­o­rat­ed with sculp­tures made from cast off muf­flers or the Mon­tana State Prison Hob­by Store.

Alter­nat­ing in the driver’s seat with then-boyfriend, sto­ry­teller Kevin Kling, she makes up songs on her accor­dion, clowns around in a cheap cow­girl hat, sam­ples an over­sized gas sta­tion donut, and chats up every­one she encoun­ters.

At the World’s Only Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dako­ta, she breaks the ice by ask­ing a beard­ed local guy in offi­cial Corn Palace cap and t‑shirt if his job is the ful­fill­ment of a long held dream.

“Nah,” he says. “I thought it was a joke … in Far­go, they call it the world’s biggest bird feed­er. We do have the biggest birds in South Dako­ta. They get fed good.”

He leads them to Cal Schultz, the art teacher who designed over 25 years worth of murals fes­toon­ing the exte­ri­or walls. Nudged by Bar­ry to pick a favorite, Schultz choos­es one that his 9th grade stu­dents worked on.

“I would have loved to have been in his class,” Bar­ry, a teacher now her­self, says emphat­i­cal­ly. “I would have giv­en any­thing to have worked on a Corn Palace when I was 14-years-old.”

This point is dri­ven home with a quick view of her best known cre­ation, the pig­tailed, bespec­ta­cled Marlys, osten­si­bly ren­dered in corn—an hon­or Marlys would no doubt appre­ci­ate.

Bar­ry has long been laud­ed for her under­stand­ing of and respect for children’s inner lives, and we see this nat­ur­al affin­i­ty in action when she befriends Desmond and Jake, two young par­tic­i­pants in the Crow Fair Pow Wowjust south of Billings, Mon­tana.

Frus­trat­ed by her inabil­i­ty to get a han­dle on the pro­ceed­ings (“Why didn’t I learn it in school!? Why wasn’t it part of our cur­ricu­lum?”), Bar­ry retreats to the com­fort of her sketch­book, which attracts the curi­ous boys. Even­tu­al­ly, she draws their por­traits to give them as keep­sakes, get­ting to know them bet­ter in the process.

The draw­ings they make in return are trea­sured by the recip­i­ent, not least for the win­dow they pro­vide on the cul­ture with which they are so casu­al­ly famil­iar.

Bar­ry and Kling also chance upon the Stur­gis Motor­cy­cle Ral­ly, and after a bite at the Road Kill Cafe (“from your grill to ours”), Bar­ry wax­es philo­soph­i­cal about the then-unusu­al sight of so much tat­tooed flesh:

There’s some­thing about the fact that they want some­thing on them that they can’t wash off, that even on days when they don’t want peo­ple to know they’re a bik­er, it’s still there. And I have always loved that about peo­ple, like …drag queens who will shave off their eye­brows so they can draw per­fect eye­brows on, or any­body who knows they’re dif­fer­ent and does some­thing to them­selves phys­i­cal­ly so that even on their bad days, they can’t deny it. Because I think that in the end, that’s sort of what saves your life, that you wear your col­ors. You can’t help it.

The afore­men­tioned muf­fler store prompts some mus­ings that will be very famil­iar to any­one who has immersed them­selves in Mak­ing ComicsPic­ture This, or any oth­er of Barry’s instruc­tion­al books con­tain­ing her won­der­ful­ly loopy, intu­itive cre­ative exer­cis­es:

I think this urge to cre­ate is actu­al­ly our ani­mal instinct. And what’s sad is if we don’t let that come through us, I don’t think we have a full life on this earth. And I think we get sick because of it. I mean, it’s weird that it’s an instinct, but it’s an option, just like you can take a wild ani­mal, a beau­ti­ful, wild ani­mal and put him in a zoo. They live, they’re fine in their cage, but you don’t get to see them do the thing that a chee­tah does best, which is, you know, just run like the wind and be able to jump and do the things… I mean, it’s our instinct, it’s instinc­tu­al, it’s our beau­ti­ful, beau­ti­ful, mag­i­cal, poet­ic, mys­te­ri­ous instinct. And every once in a while, you see the flower of it come right up out of a gas sta­tion. 

After 1653 miles and one squab­ble after over­shoot­ing a sched­uled stop (“You don’t want me to go to Butte!”), the two arrive at their final des­ti­na­tion, Barry’s child­hood home in Seat­tle. The occa­sion? Barry’s Fil­ipino grandmother’s 83rd birth­day, and plans are afoot for a potluck bash at the local VFW hall. Fans will swoon to meet this ven­er­at­ed lady and the rest of Barry’s extend­ed clan, and hear Barry’s reflec­tions on what it was like to grow up in a work­ing class neigh­bor­hood where most of the fam­i­lies were mul­ti-racial.

“I walked in and it was every­thing Lyn­da said,” Kling mar­vels.


The jour­ney is every­thing we could have hoped for, too.

Lis­ten to a post-trip inter­view with Kling on Min­neso­ta Pub­lic Radio.

H/t to read­er Char­lotte Book­er

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Lyn­da Bar­ry on How the Smart­phone Is Endan­ger­ing Three Ingre­di­ents of Cre­ativ­i­ty: Lone­li­ness, Uncer­tain­ty & Bore­dom

Car­toon­ist Lyn­da Bar­ry Shows You How to Draw Bat­man in Her UW-Madi­son Course, “Mak­ing Comics”

Lyn­da Barry’s New Book Offers a Mas­ter Class in Mak­ing Comics

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine — cur­rent issue: #63 Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

A New Yorker Cartoonist Explains How to Draw Literary Cartoons

“I enjoy pok­ing fun at any­thing edu­cat­ed peo­ple do and civ­i­lized soci­ety per­pet­u­ates that is odd, frus­trat­ing, wacky, or hyp­o­crit­i­cal,” car­toon­ist Amy Kurzweil, above, recent­ly told the New York Pub­lic Library’s Mar­go Moore.

Unsur­pris­ing­ly, she’s been get­ting pub­lished in The New York­er a lot of late.

The process for get­ting car­toons accept­ed there is the stuff of leg­end, though report­ed­ly less gru­el­ing since Emma Allen, the magazine’s youngest and first-ever female car­toon edi­tor, took over. Allen has made a point of seek­ing out fresh voic­es, and work­ing with them to help mold their sub­mis­sions into some­thing in The New York­er vein, rather than “this end­less game of pre­sent­ing work and then hear­ing ‘yes’ or ‘no.’”

Kurzweil has a fond­ness for lit­er­ary themes (and the same brand of pen­cils that John Stein­beck, Tru­man Capote, and Vladimir Nabokov pre­ferred—Black­wings—whether in her hand or, con­vers­ing with Allen on Zoom, above, in her ears.)

Get­ting the joke of a New York­er car­toon often depends on get­ting the ref­er­ence, and while both women seem tick­led at the first exam­ple, Kurzweil’s mash-up of Proust’s Remem­brance of Things Past and the pic­ture book If You Give a Mouse a Cook­ie, it may go over many read­ers’ heads.

The thing that holds it all togeth­er?

Madeleines, of course, though out­side France, not every Proust lover is able to iden­ti­fy an inked rep­re­sen­ta­tion of this evoca­tive cook­ie by shape.

Kurzweil states that she has nev­er actu­al­ly read the children’s book that sup­plies half the con­text.

(It’s okay. Like the idea that mem­o­ries can be trig­gered by cer­tain nos­tal­gic scents, its con­cept is pret­ty easy to grasp.)

Nor has she read philoso­pher Derek Parfit’s whop­ping 1,928-page On What Mat­ters. Her inspi­ra­tion for using it in a car­toon is her per­son­al con­nec­tion to the mas­sive, unread three-vol­ume set in her family’s library. Because both the size and the title are part of the joke, she directs the viewer’s eye to the unwieldy tome with a light water­col­or wash.

She also has a good tip for any­one draw­ing a library scene—go fig­u­ra­tive, rather than lit­er­al, vary­ing sizes and shapes until the eye is tricked into see­ing what is mere­ly sug­gest­ed.

A all-too-true lit­er­ary expe­ri­ence informs her sec­ond exam­ple at the 4:30 mark—that of a lit­tle known author giv­ing a read­ing in a book­store. Despite a pref­er­ence for draw­ing “fleshy things like peo­ple and ani­mals” she for­goes depict­ing the author or those in atten­dance, giv­ing the punch­line instead to the event posters in the store’s win­dow.

As she told the NYPL’s Moore:

A car­toon is always an oppor­tu­ni­ty to show­case a con­tem­po­rary phe­nom­e­non by exag­ger­at­ing it or plac­ing it in a dif­fer­ent con­text.

Over the last year, a huge num­ber of New York­er car­toons have con­cerned them­selves with the domes­tic dull­ness of the pan­dem­ic, but when Allen asked if she has a favorite New York­er car­toon cliché, Kurzweil went with “the Moby Dick trope, because whales are easy to draw, and I like a good metaphor for the unat­tain­able.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

New York­er Car­toon Edi­tor Bob Mankoff Reveals the Secret of a Suc­cess­ful New York­er Car­toon

The Not York­er: A Col­lec­tion of Reject­ed & Late Cov­er Sub­mis­sions to The New York­er

Down­load a Com­plete, Cov­er-to-Cov­er Par­o­dy of The New York­er: 80 Pages of Fine Satire

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. She most recent­ly appeared as a French Cana­di­an bear who trav­els to New York City in search of food and mean­ing in Greg Kotis’ short film, L’Ourse.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

In 1896, a French Cartoonist Predicted Our Socially-Distanced Zoom Holiday Gatherings

Imag­ine that, this time last year, you’d heard that your fam­i­ly’s hol­i­day gath­er­ings in 2020 would hap­pen on the inter­net. Even if you believed such a future would one day come, would you have cred­it­ed for a moment that kind of immi­nence? Yet our video­con­fer­ence toasts this sea­son were pre­dict­ed — even ren­dered in clear and rea­son­ably accu­rate detail — more than 120 years ago. “My wife is vis­it­ing her aunt in Budapest, my old­er daugh­ter is study­ing den­tistry in Mel­bourne, my younger daugh­ter is a min­ing engi­neer in the Urals, my son rais­es ostrich­es in Batavia, my nephew is on his plan­ta­tions in Batavia,” says the cap­tion of the 1896 car­toon above. “But this does not pre­vent us from cel­e­brat­ing Christ­mas on the tele­phono­scope.”

This pan­el ran in Belle Époque humor mag­a­zine Le rire (avail­able to read at the Inter­net Archive), drawn by the hand and pro­duced by the imag­i­na­tion of Albert Robi­da. A nov­el­ist as well as an artist, Robi­da drew acclaim in his day for the series Le Vingtième Siè­cle, whose sto­ries offered visions of the tech­nol­o­gy to come in that cen­tu­ry.

“Next to Zoom Christ­mas,” tweets phi­los­o­phy pro­fes­sor Helen de Cruz, Robi­da also imag­ined a future in which this “tele­phono­scope” would “give us edu­ca­tion, movies, tele­con­fer­enc­ing.” As ear­ly as the 1860s, says the Pub­lic Domain Review, Robi­da had “pub­lished an illus­tra­tion depict­ing a man watch­ing a ‘tele­vised’ per­for­mance of Faust from the com­fort of his own home.” See image above.

Though Robi­da seems to have coined the word “tele­phono­scope,” he was­n’t the first to pub­lish the kind of idea to which it referred. “The con­cept of the device first appeared not long after the tele­phone was patent­ed in 1876,” writes Ver­i­ty Hunt in a Lit­er­a­ture and Sci­ence arti­cle quot­ed by the Pub­lic Domain Review. “The term ‘telec­tro­scope’ was used by the French sci­en­tist and pub­lish­er Louis Figu­ier in L’An­née Sci­en­tifique et Indus­trielle in 1878 to pop­u­lar­ize the inven­tion, which he incor­rect­ly inter­pret­ed as real and ascribed to Alexan­der Gra­ham Bell.” The goal was to “do for the eye what the tele­phone had done for the ear,” though it would­n’t be ful­ly real­ized for well over a cen­tu­ry. When you raise a glass to a web­cam this week, con­sid­er toast­ing Albert Robi­da, to whom the year 2021 would have sound­ed impos­si­bly dis­tant — but who has proven more pre­scient about it than many of us alive today.

via Helen De Cruz

Relat­ed Con­tent:

A 1947 French Film Accu­rate­ly Pre­dict­ed Our 21st-Cen­tu­ry Addic­tion to Smart­phones

Jules Verne Accu­rate­ly Pre­dicts What the 20th Cen­tu­ry Will Look Like in His Lost Nov­el, Paris in the Twen­ti­eth Cen­tu­ry (1863)

How French Artists in 1899 Envi­sioned Life in the Year 2000: Draw­ing the Future

Mark Twain Pre­dicts the Inter­net in 1898: Read His Sci-Fi Crime Sto­ry, “From The ‘Lon­don Times’ in 1904”

In 1911, Thomas Edi­son Pre­dicts What the World Will Look Like in 2011: Smart Phones, No Pover­ty, Libraries That Fit in One Book

Paris Had a Mov­ing Side­walk in 1900, and a Thomas Edi­son Film Cap­tured It in Action

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall, on Face­book, or on Insta­gram.

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