I wish comics smelled more like prose paperbacks

I am reading The Penguin Book of Prose Poems, an anthology of… well, prose poems. A nicely-sized paperback made out of stacks of typical cheap FSC paper. But my goodness, the book smells good. Almost vanilla-ish, earthy, subtle. And I think, man I wish comics smelled more like prose paperbacks.

Comics smell like ink: heavy, pungent. Like glue in effect. I’d know โ€“ the Carpet Merchant came out as a dense giant sandwich of CMYK; nearly every page is covered from corner to corner. Apparently people enjoy that smell. It’s the first thing they would comment on, before they talk about the art or the story. I like watching people plunge their face into my book. It’s funny, but sweet.

Unfortunately I don’t like that smell very much. It’s not my thing. I wish comics smelled more like prose paperbacks. I want vanilla. I want the smell that comes with yellowing pages. I want comics to compliment the atmospheric scent of my studio-bedroom, which is also a library. I want comics to smell like a dusty library. I don’t know. I have memories of reading that’s incongruous to the materials my books are printed with. My entire history is cheap FSC paper and brittle ancient sweet stock. But comics are a different medium, and until they make ink that smells like prose paperbacks (though if we had a choice, I’d prefer peach or brown sugar), comics will have to smell like comics.

Hello, hello

    • catato
    • October 23, 2020
    Reply

    i do wonder if it would be feasible for more comics to be printed differently..? archie comics come to my mind- the paper def is thinner(?) – and importantly, doesnt smell like ink (i don’t like the smell either!)

    • Reply

      Hm yes, though the concern would be the disposable quality of it. Old Archie comics were printed in really really cheap ink/paper that was standard in those times because those comics then were mass-produced for newspaper racks and grocery stores (which sadly isn’t a thing in the Western market). Now that we’re in the age of artsy thick paper with nice inks it’d be good to discover a compromise…

Reimena Yee is a graphic novelist, artist and flamingo enthusiast.

She creates the webcomics The World in Deeper Inspection, and The Carpet Merchant of Konstantiniyya; the latter of which is the first Malaysian graphic novel to be Eisner-nominated.

Currently writing and drawing a whole bunch of stuff. Is a nerd for all things spooky and historical.

Melbourne / Kuala Lumpur

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