Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Graphic novels | A number of incoming freshmen at Duke University have refused to read Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, chosen as the summer reading selection for the class of 2019. Brian Grasso started the conversation by posting on the class Facebook page that he wouldn’t read the graphic novel because of its depictions of sexuality, saying, “I feel as if I would have to compromise my personal Christian moral beliefs to read it.” That opened up a discussion in which some students defended the book and said that reading it would broaden their horizons, while others shied away from the visual depictions of sexual acts. And Grasso felt that the choice was insensitive, commenting: “Duke did not seem to have people like me in mind. It was like Duke didn’t know we existed, which surprises me.” [Duke Chronicle]
Graphic novels | Two volumes of The Walking Dead Compendium topped BookScan’s list of the Top 20 graphic novels sold in bookstores in March, and Vol. 60 of Naruto was No. 3, but ICv2 thinks the new Avatar: The Next Airbender graphic novel premiering at No. 4 is headline-worthy. [ICv2]
Awards | With his duties complete, Charles Hatfield describes what it was like to be an Eisner judge. [See Hatfield]
Creators | Gilbert Hernandez talks about his childhood and that influences, from Dennis the Menace to Steve Ditko, that shaped his latest graphic novel, Marble Season. [The Chicago Tribune]
Being an Eisner Awards judge has to be one of the coolest gigs in comics—I know this because I was one last year. Comic-Con International has just announced the names of the 2013 judges, and as always, they represent a mix of the different sectors of the business — creation, criticism, retailing, journalism, and of course, Comic-Con itself. Here’s the lineup:
Michael Cavna, a writer, editor and artist for The Washington Post and the man behind the newspaper’s Comic Riffs blog, which is an important part of my daily reading.
Charles Hatfield, professor of English at California State University, Northridge and the author of Hand of Fire: The Comics Art of Jack Kirby, which won an Eisner Award last year, and Alternative Comics: An Emerging Literature, as well as a contributor to The Comics Journal and a member of the Modern Language Association’s Discussion Group on Comics and Graphic Narratives.
Adam Healy, co-owner of Cosmic Monkey Comics in Portland, Oregon.
The Columbus College of Art & Design has announced the schedule for its first-ever comics symposium, Mix 2012. The event is highlighted by a keynote event with Chris Ware, as well as a rare screening, two exhibitions ,and a comics-making marathon for CCAD students.
While the symposium is primarily held Oct. 3-6, there are several events occurring around it, such as a Maus roundtable discussion on Tuesday, Oct. 2, and a three-week gallery exhibit starting Sept. 21 that showcases original artwork from Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth.
Thursday night features a screening of the acclaimed BBC Four documentary by Jonathan Ross, In Search of Steve Ditko, which has rarely been shown in the United States (outside of YouTube, that is). There’s also an open house at Ohio State University’s Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, where the public will be able to dive into the largest and most comprehensive academic research facility of printed cartoon and comics art. How many opportunities have you had to examine original art from Jeff Smith’s Bone, Bill Watterson’s Calvin & Hobbes, Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo in Slumberland, the work of P. Craig Russell, and more?
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.
If I had $15 I would be in comics heaven, starting with Shade #4 (DC, $2.99). I’ve loved what Cully Hamner and James Robinson have done so far, but seeing Darwyn Cooke drawing this issue knocks it up to a whole new level. It’s like seeing David Bowie sit in on an up-and-coming band’s gig one night. Next up would be the reunion of Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen in Secret Avengers #21 (Marvel, $3.99). I was halfway hoping they would break from the serious tone of the title and revisit the inanity of Nextwave, but the preview dashes that hope; still, excellent work of two guys at the top of their game. Next up would be Invincible #87 (Image, $2.99), promising an all-new level of beatdown for Mark Grayson. Lastly, I’d get Jason Aaron’s fresh take on Marvel’s mutants with Wolverine and the X-Men #4 (Marvel, $3.99). Part return to basics and part brand-new day, seeing Logan having to be the respectable one and not the plucky wildcard is fun, and the cast Aaron’s assembled is great.
If I had $30, I’d continue reading Aaron with Wolverine #300 (Marvel, $4.99). Jokes about the constant renumbering/reshuffling/rejiggering of Aaron’s run aside, it’s been a swell ride and looks to be heading up to a finale of sorts. Next up would be Batwoman #5 (DC, $2.99). Williams’ art continues to impress, and while the story doesn’t match up to his levels with Rucka on Detective Comics, he and Blackman are striving for something I haven’t been able to fully understand yet. Lastly, I’d pick up Northlanders #47 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99). Artist Declan Shalvey is an inspired get for this series, really showing off what he can do outside Marvel’s Thunderbolts.
If I could splurge, I’d dive into Eric Powell’s adaptation of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (IDW, $19.99). Putting Powell together with Twain isn’t an obvious team-up, but given Powell’s depth of work I’m interested to see how it turns out.
A great comic review can make you feel like you’ve read the book without showing you so much as a panel…but, y’know, showing a panel really can’t hurt. And three recent reviews — Tucker Stone on Taiyo Matsumoto’s Blue Spring, Charles Hatfield on Blaise Larmee’s Young Lions, and Noah Berlatsky on Junji Ito’s Uzumaki — really struck me with their well-selected spot art. A glance at each review’s illustrations — dynamic, sexy, and horrific respectively — can probably tell you whether these books are the kind of thing you wanna check out, which is great, because each review is a solid examination of what makes them worth checking out in the first place. Click the links, feast your eyes, and see what you think.
If you have not read the first part of my interview with Jeer Heer, follow this link. In this second part, the email exchange branched out to include Kent Worcester. Worcester, an associate professor of political science and international studies at Marymount Manhattan College, has collaborated with Heer on two books, co-editing 2004’s Arguing Comics: Literary Masters on a Popular Medium and (more recently) 2008’s A Comics Studies Reader. We discuss both books. My thanks to Heer and Worcester for their time.
Tim O’Shea: Would you ever consider preparing a revised edition of 2004’s Arguing Comics: Literary Masters on a Popular Medium? How has your perspective changed–looking at the 2008 critical landscape in comparison to your 2004 view of the medium?
Kent Worcester: Yes, we have considered preparing a revised edition of Arguing Comics. There are at least a few essays on comics by major twentieth century intellectuals that we overlooked the first time around. A second edition would allow us to not only incorporate new material but also to expand the discussion in the introduction concerning the relationship of comics-oriented discourse to larger cultural conversations. I would very much appreciate having the opportunity to strengthen our underlying argument, which is that debates over comics are central to the so-called “culture wars” that have been a defining feature of American politics for many decades.