So, what's all this "Ninth Art" business? This article from ArtsEditor begins with a pretty good summary of roots of the expression, but essentially it was film critic Claude Beylie's term for comics in an expansion of film theorist Ricciotto Canudo's list of The Seven Arts: architecture, sculpture, painting, music, poetry, dance, and cinema. (Beylie added number eight, television, as well as number nine, comics.)
This isn't the first outlet to use the term in its name. This so-named journal was around for five years, and this German (?) site about super-heroes uses the designation, which is apparently quite common is Europe, in its address.
For my own part, the name change represents a break from my previous comics blogging, both at the Recreation Annex and more recently as a category on my keystone blog. In those venues, I rambled about whatever aspects of comics caught my fancy, played the snark-game a little, revelled in my silver-age memories, and generally made a mash of things.
Here, I want to be a little more intentional. As I continue my more-and-more scholarly study of comics, comic books, graphic novels, or what-have-you, I am drawn primarily to formal analyses of comics and secondarily to inquiries into comics as a social construct. I have less interest in aesthetics, literary criticism, genre histories, fandom, or biographies; I have a great interest in using comics in the college classroom. I hope to contribute some small efforts here that will help fill the same shelf currently being stocked so well by Matt Madden and Derek Badman.
In that spirit of advancement, I will be spending the next week as a student in the Graphic Novel Intensive class at the Pacific Northwest College of Art. I am particularly thrilled because the class is being co-taught by Ellen Forney, but regardless, I am looking forward to six days full of comics, theory and practice. (Dig this syllabus (PDF).)
So, this minifesto is just to get the air circulating in here; I'll be back in a week or so with a report on the class.