This week on the mainpage Caroline Small, Ng Suat Tong and I participated in a roundtable on the Best American Comics Criticism anthology edited by Ben Schwartz. Jeet Heer, Brian Doherty, and Ben Schwartz himself also participated. In comments other critics joined in, including Rob Clough, Ken Parille, Robert Stanley Martin, and Kent Worcester. So check it out if you haven’t already.

Oh, and there’s a comment thread on the roundtable here as well which includes a discussion of French language and Japanese comics criticism.


Domingos Isabelinho discussed Dominique Goblet’s and Nikita Fossoul’s Chronographie.

Kinukitty talked about European fashion magazines, Dave Mustaine, and Makoto Tateno’s Yokan Premonition.

In a guest post, teacher and artist Sean Michael Robinson explained that it’s a good thing for art teachers when students are into anime and manga.

JR Brown wrote an extensive article about the history of the pretty boy in Japanese art.

I reviewed Issue #22 of the Marston/Peter run on Wonder Woman.

Vom Marlowe talked about gender issues in the young adult prose series Percy Jackson and the Olympians.

And a music download of Beatlesesque pop.

Utilitarians Everywhere

Caroline Small is going to be on the Critic’s Roundtable panel at SPX, along with many other illustrious folks. (Via Robot6.)

Critics’ Panel: How We Judge
3:00 | Brookside Conference Room
The accessibility of online publishing alongside traditional media has enabled a diversity of critical voices who are addressing the broad spectrum of comics being published today. A diverse group of critics will discuss the disparate bases for their own critical opinions, and the extent to which they regard different kinds of work in different ways. Join moderator Bill Kartalopoulos for a discussion with Johanna Draper Carlson (Comics Worth Reading), Gary Groth (The Comics Journal), Tim Hodler (Comics Comics), Chris Mautner (Robot 6), Joe McCulloch (Jog the Blog/Comics Comics), Ken Parille (Blog Flume), and Caroline Small (The Hooded Utilitarian).

At the Chicago Reader I review JimCollins’ Bring on the Books for Everybody.

In The Gift of Death, Derrida concludes that literature is an empty, parasitic untheology, constantly seeking forgiveness for its meaninglessness. Ever the tenured radical, he sees this revelation as an affront to the academic establishment. But cultural studies is a more callow establishment than Derrida anticipated, and members like Collins don’t have a problem with emptiness. On the contrary, Collins is “delighted” just to find that literary fiction “forms part of the cultural mixes” that modern cultural consumers “assemble with such gusto to articulate who they are, and what is crucially important to them.” The content of their identities and concerns is utterly beside the point. Are they Nazis? Misogynists? Drooling idiots? As long as they embrace it with gusto, who cares? The point of literature is to make a statement regardless of what’s said. By the same token, Collins is aware that, say, The Oprah Show is witheringly stupid and the movie version of The English Patient is an apologia for imperialism—but he can’t bring himself to take the next step, which would be admitting that some of the detritus of popular culture deserves to be scorned.

On Splice Today I talk about the new film The Last Exorcism in light of the criticism of James Baldwin.

For Baldwin, the bed floating, the fluid spitting, and special-effects gouting, were all part of a willful disavowal. The little girl with the deep voice uttering curses is an innocent possessed by the devil…but Baldwin argues that the upper-middle-class milieu in which she sits and writhes is anything but innocent, and that the movie is therefore an example of (in various senses) bad faith. Baldwin notes that at the end of the film, the “demon-racked little girl murderess kisses the Holy Father, and she remembers nothing.” This convenient amnesia is, for Baldwin, emblematic of America’s penchant for forgetting what they have done, to whom, and for what ends.

At Madeloud I have some recommendations for sexadelic lounge music. Groovy!

Other Links

R. Fiore was inspired by our Popeye roundtable to write a really entertaining appraisal of the Fleischer Popeye cartoons.

Tags: , ,