[Jake Rossen:] Where do you think the comic strip fits in today’s culture?
[↑Bill Watterson:] Personally, I like paper and ink better than glowing pixels, but to each his own. Obviously the role of comics is changing very fast. On the one hand, I don’t think comics have ever been more widely accepted or taken as seriously as they are now. On the other hand, the mass media is disintegrating, and audiences are atomizing. I suspect comics will have less widespread cultural impact and make a lot less money. I’m old enough to find all this unsettling, but the world moves on. All the new media will inevitably change the look, function, and maybe even the purpose of comics, but comics are vibrant and versatile, so I think they’ll continue to find relevance one way or another. But they definitely won’t be the same as what I grew up with.
[Jake Rossen:] I’m assuming you’ve gotten wind of people animating your strip for YouTube? Did you ever mimic cartoonists you admired before finding your own style?
[Bill Watterson:] Every artist learns through imitation, but I rather doubt the aim of these things is artistic development. I assume they’re either homages or satiric riffs, and are not intended to be taken too seriously as works in their own right. Otherwise I should be talking to a copyright lawyer.
[Jake Rossen:] Is it possible some new form of sequential art is waiting to be discovered? Could the four-panel template die out as newspapers dwindle?
[Bill Watterson:] Form follows function, as the architects say. With words and pictures, you can do just about anything.
Artificial Paradise, Inc is an experimental film anticipating a future where a major corporation has developed an unique software, based on organic virtual reality, which holds all the lost memories of humankind. A user connects to this database of the forgotten…what is he searching for?
That juxtaposition of technology and humanity is a key theme of the cyberpunk movement [...] (Brown 2011)
When Synners [Cadigan 1991] was published, the World Wide Web didn’t exist; few people had access to computers for leisure use; virtual reality hadn’t made it out of the labs. Yet Cadigan wrote, with typical assurance, of a noisy, noirish, dystopian future, of characters overwhelmed by sheer noise (physical and mental), of a plethora of information conveyed in media old and new, of the breakdown of the body/technology boundary. The world of Synners feels (un)comfortably familiar from the vantage point of the present day. (Brown 2011)
Seed and the control of seed lies at the heart of agriculture.
In Africa around 80% of seed comes from local and community saved seed resources. This seed is adapted to local conditions. It forms an integral part of community food security and agricultural integrity. This entire traditional system is now under threat.
A broad front of commercial interests, aided and abetted by the World Bank, the American Seed Association and government agencies, along with front groups, academics and so-called philanthropists, are endeavouring to alienate this crucial resource. [...]
What is at play here is a direct conflict between peasant farmers networks and the neo-colonial attempt to subvert African agriculture by restrictive, first world regulation. The Southern African model is being repeated in East and West Africa, through similar comprador networks.
What will happen should ↑UPOV [Union internationale pour la protection des obtentions végétales] be broadly adopted? As soon as indigenous seed becomes contaminated by patent protected seed varieties, all rights to share and trade that seed will be lost, forever.
The irony of this is profound, as the very germplasm, which ↑Monsanto and ↑Pioneer rely on is the result of thousands of years of peasant breeding that remains categorically unrecognised. What is good for the goose is clearly not good for the gander. The end result will only see one winner, which will certainly not be indigenous African farmers. (Ashton 2013)
We must not forget that when radium was discovered no one knew that it would prove useful in hospitals. The work was one of pure science. And this is a proof that scientific work must not be considered from the point of view of the direct usefulness of it. It must be done for itself, for the beauty of science, and then there is always the chance that a scientific discovery may become like the radium a benefit for humanity. (↑Marie Curie, Lecture at Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York, 14 May 1921)
I well remember going to conferences in 2006 and 2007 where trendy social theorists presented papers arguing that these new forms of securitization, linked to new information technologies, heralded a looming transformation in the very nature of time, possibility—reality itself. I remember thinking: “Suckers!” And so they were. (Graeber 2011: 15)
Ich erinnere mich an Vorträge aus den Jahren 2006 und 2007, in denen Gesellschaftstheoretiker auf der Höhe ihrer Zeit darlegten, dass diese neuen Formen der Verbriefung in Verbindung mit den neuen Informationstechnologien eine bevorstehende Transformation der Natur von Zeit und Möglichkeit—ja der Realität ankündigten. Ich weiß noch, dass ich dachte: “Blödmänner!” Und das waren sie wirklich. (Graeber 2012 : 21-22)
Something seems to be in the air. Just recently we had Jiré Emine Gözen’s doctoral thesis ‘↵Cyberpunk Science Fiction‘ (2012), now Krzysztof K. Kietzman has published his M.A. thesis ‘↓Constructs of innocence in selected works of cyberpunk and postcyberpunk fiction‘ under a creative commons licence (and the thesis is ‘In tribute to and memory of ↑Aaron Swartz—a cyberpunk (1986-2013)’). Krzysztof ↑told boingboing:
I studied American literature in Poland and published my Masters Thesis on cyberpunk and postcyberpunk for free under a Creative Commons BY SA license. It is available online and covers the writers William Gibson (‘Neuromancer’) and Neal Stephenson (‘Snow Crash’, ‘The Diamond Age’) and the theme of innocence in cyberpunk fiction. This theme will be familiar to Boing Boing readers, as it appeared in the works of Mark Dery and John Barlow, among others. The thesis explores such topics as American individualism, escapism, religion and Rapture, ‘the rapture of the nerds’, AIs, etc. One chapter also covers cyberpunk in general.
This is a detail of page 72 of the July 1982 issue of the magazine ↑Omni. Depicted is the beginning of ↑William Gibson‘s short story ‘↑Burning Chrome.’ It is a bit of linguistic history, because here the word ‘cyberspace’ saw print for the very first time.
Fittingly enough in the same issue, right after the first part of Gibson’s short story, there is an article (Manna 1982) on ‘↑Tron‘ (Lisberger 1982) featuring double-paged stills, illustrating the subheading ‘A science-fiction film leaps inside a bizarre computer world’:
This picture spreads over pages 82 and 83 of Omni July 1982, showing off computer-generated imagery from ‘Tron.’ The caption reads: ‘Sark’s carrier is blasted back into its wire-frame skeleton’. It almost seems like the screen captures from ‘Tron’ serve as illustrations for ‘Burning Chrome.’
I am able to show you all this, because ↑The [Glorious] Internet Archive now carries a freely downloadable ↓complete collection of Omni magazine:
OMNI was a science and science fiction magazine published in the US and the UK. It contained articles on science fact and short works of science fiction. The first issue was published in October 1978, the last in Winter 1995, with an internet version lasting until 1998. [...]
In its early run, OMNI published a number of stories that have become genre classics, such as Orson Scott Card’s “Unaccompanied Sonata”, William Gibson’s “Burning Chrome” and “Johnny Mnemonic”, Harlan Ellison’s novella “Mefisto in Onyx”, and George R. R. Martin’s “Sandkings”. The magazine also published original sf/f by William S. Burroughs, Joyce Carol Oates, Jonathan Carroll, T. Coraghessan Boyle, and other mainstream writers. The magazine excerpted Stephen King’s novel Firestarter, and featured a short story, “The End of the Whole Mess”. OMNI also brought the works of numerous painters to the attention of a large audience, such as H. R. Giger, De Es Schwertberger and Rallé.
To my mind Omni (1978-1995), together with ↑Heavy Metal (1977-), was one of the most important carriers and amplifiers of the ‘cyberpunk discourse’ (↑Wired saw the light of day not before January 1993).