Erica Friedman started the week by asking a bunch of creators and cartoonists why they made art.

For his first official column, Alex Buchet looked at some inaccuracies in Harvey Kurtzman’s war comics.

This is a delightful con wrap up by Kristy Valenti. The comments are even funnier.

Richard Cook continues his look at the Silver Age Flash.

I made fun of R. Crumb’s Genesis, particularly his floating bearded heads.

Vom Marlowe looked at the illustrated children’s book series Billy and Blaze.

Caroline Small compared Crumb’s Genesis to work by Howard Finster and Basil Wolverton.

I reprint an old essay about war in literature.

And here’s a random download mix with Thai music, funk, ZZ Top, and maypole dancing.

Utilitarians Everywhere

At Splice Today I reviewed Kelis’ new album.

Flesh Tone isn’t horrible. It’s just anonymous—which is perhaps even more depressing. Kelis’ distinctive, not-quite-ready-for-primetime voice is processed into bland submission, and the Neptunes’ unique production is replaced with third-drawer dance-floor dreck. The lyrical nuttiness of Kaleidoscope is entirely gone; instead we’re left with groaners like “Just like the sky on the 4th of July/you make me high.” The low point is probably “Song for the Baby,” the cheery sentiments and perky beat of which put Kelis dangerously close to Amy Grant territory. There’s a bitter irony too in “Scream,” where Kelis insists, “You’ve won the right to scream and shout.” Unlike on Kaleidoscope, Kelis does not in fact scream. She barely whimpers.

Also on Splice, I talk about Kierkegaard, Abraham, puritanism, and aesthetics.

This shouldn’t be particularly surprising. If there’s one tendency in Protestantism that’s stronger than the loathing of aesthetics, it’s the veneration of the same. The Bible, after all, is a series of tales. Kierkegaard sneers at aesthetics because he takes them so seriously. The problem with stories is not that they’re stories, but rather that they’re not the one story. It’s because he loves the tale of Abraham so elaborately that Kierkegaard denigrates other narratives as sentimental balderdash. Sci-fi jelly creatures attacking—that doesn’t have the terror, the sorrow, the human interest and moral power of Abraham walking to the mountain to slay his son. Away, then, with the jelly creatures! Puritan philistines are just particularly foul-tempered critics; their iconoclasm is just one long bad review.

Other Links

Roland Kelts is writing some interesting stuff about the fate of manga in the U.S. over at tcj.com.

And in my continuing pursuit of blog amity: Jeet Heer’s piece on Harvey Pekar is balanced and thoughtful.

Caro put me onto this really pretty great Newsweek article about Lily Renée

Derik Badman has a thoughtful assessment of Ben Schwartz’s Best American Comics Criticism.

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