Punk poet. Noisemaker. Grandpa.
A History of Poetry Comics #15
John Porcellino is one of my comics heroes and major inspiration when I started drawing. His cartoons done in black lines are direct, uncluttered, achingly beautiful simple. His style is perfectly matched to the directness of his narratives, thinkings, observations, and poetry. He’s known for his King Cat Comics, which he has self-published since 1989 and have been reissued as collections. Among these pages are gems of poetry comics, many evoking haiku.
In an April 2018 interview with The Herald, Porcellino talks about the connection between poetry and comics: Comics, especially self-published comics, broke down the barriers between artist and audience the way punk rock did. It allowed for a more direct connection. / Many cartoonists note the similarities between comics and music, which I agree with. In the same way, there are similarities between comics and poetry. As I mentioned, I’ve studied and written poetry throughout my life – it has always been a creative part of me. / Somewhere around the late nineties I started to more consciously begin to integrate my comics with my poetry. Around this time, many of my comics began life as straight poems – text on a page in poetic form – that I adapted into comics.
There are way too many to share all my favorites, so here are just two of his poetry comics:
Both of these poetry comics perfectly capture small moments – just enough words with the right accompanying drawings – balanced – leaving us simply to hear the bee and feel the fog.
Porcellino’s website KING CAT COMICS is where you’ll find more about his world. Check it out!
Warning: This incomplete history maps my journey as a poet learning about comics and doesn’t follow a strict chronological order.