Posts filed under Comics Studies

Forthcoming: PopMatters Column and TCJ Article

Two bits of news, kids. My "Ties That Bind" column at PopMatters will return in March. I took a hiatus last summer in order to focus on some book-length projects: finishing my novel The Day and getting it out to agents, getting further ahead on my book about The 'Nam and my book of music criticism (described below). I'm excited that "Ties That Bind" will once again be a monthly column. Thanks to the PopMatters editors who graciously welcomed me back.

Also, I'll have a long essay at The Comics Journal sometime in March. It examines this concept of "profluent lingering" which I've written about before, but this time tackles poem comics, specifically two works by the extremely talented Bianca Stone. More on that when it's out.

Thoughts on ICAF 2014

I had the great pleasure to be part of the International Comic Art Forum where all of these superb artists and scholars convened for three days of intense discussion about comics at (The) Ohio State University. It's one of those incredibly rare opportunities to hear Phoebe Gloeckner, Dash Shaw, Carol Tyler, Justin Green, Hanneriina Moisseinen, Jeff Smith, Nate Powell and Congressman John Lewis rivet audiences just after hearing academic talks on Rube Goldberg, the Hernandez Brothers, Y the Last Man, and comics about the Rwandan genocide. It was also a chance for me to catch up with some friends, make some new acquaintances, and be a small part of what might be a defining moment in the comics studies field's development: the founding of the Comics Studies Society, the first of its kind in America.


What follows are thoughts on the event as best as I can remember them based on my shaky memory and notes scribbled in handwriting which my students have described as "archaic" and "Paleolithic." (Okay, not that last one.) My recollections shouldn't be taken as more than recollections. If you want to follow an online thread about the week's events, search Twitter for #ICAF14.


And let's just say, right off the bat, that The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum was a generous host, and we owe that institution much thanks, as well as the indefatigable Jared Gardner and Bill Kartalopoulos, who held the weekend together as emcees. Any pictures below were taken by Jared unless otherwise noted. You can visit his Flikr album here.

Posted on November 22, 2014 and filed under Comics Studies.

This One Summer: Floating

My review of Mariko and Jillian Tamaki's This One Summer is up at Heavy Feather Review. Here's an excerpt: 

This One Summer is also a master class in the use of breakdowns—panel compositions from page to page—to control the comic’s pace and emotional resonance. Readers of Jillian Tamaki’s SuperMutant Magic Academy, an online comic, might be surprised by the flair and diversity of her layouts. Splash pages and double-page spreads, often focusing on minutia details like the girls’ legs as they walk down a sandy path or a simple image of Rose reading in her bedroom, are used first to create that floating quality of summer and then the vague but enormous sense of confusion and pain which plagues everyone. In one sequence, Evan leans in to kiss Alice in a top-to-bottom vertical panel, emphasizing the possibility of their happiness; in the very next panel, just as tall, the bowl Alice holds becomes the focus of the panel as it slips from her fingers, ruining the moment.

Not sure I nailed what I wanted to say in the review's final paragraph concerning YA fiction and comics. It had something to do with this article at Slate and the shitstorm it kicked up earlier in the summer, but I felt like I was starting to run long. As I am now. Maybe another time.

Posted on July 23, 2014 and filed under Comics Reviews, Comics Studies.