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Big Day

Today on the site, Robert Kirby gives his overview of the past year in LGBTQ comics. That he is able to do so at length without even mentioning Alison Bechdel’s MacArthur “genius” grant shows just how strong a year it’s been. Here is how Rob begins:

No doubt about it, 2014 was a banner year for queer alternative/art comics. In this sub-scene of a sub-scene a wildly varied, thematically rich range of subject matter issued forth from alt-presses, micro-presses, and self-publishers. There was something for everyone, or at least a good number of everyones, queers and non-queers alike.

One hallmark of the year was the continued so-called Queering of the Mainstream (or Mainstreaming of the Queer), a phenomenon increasingly noted since the breakthrough of Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home in 2007. Justin Hall, in 2011’s No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics , asserted that queer comics had traditionally “existed in a parallel universe alongside the rest of comics,” but that just as queer culture in general had begun to leave the gay ghettos and spread into the larger culture, queer comics were beginning their own infiltration into the larger comics arena. I’d initially maintained a healthy skepticism to this notion; not questioning its veracity, but wary of the trend’s ability to make any but the smallest cracks in the glass ceiling against which so many of us queer cartoonists have bumped our heads over the years. I’ve since concluded that yes, this movement—this big amorphous queer thing—is having an impact as it continues to grow and spread itself around; to what degree remains to be seen.

We also have Sean T. Collins with a review of Annie Mok’s multimedia online memoir, “Worst Behavior”:

How do you take something as complex and confounding as the most tumultuous time in a person’s adult life and make a concise and compelling short story out of it? Annie Mok’s solution: Echo the tumult. In as-below-so-above fashion, Worst Behavior, an illustrated memoir for the “Dedication”-themed January issue of the online magazine Rookie, utilizes a hybrid format to describe and analyze a three-year period during which a host of issues that by rights would be overwhelming individually pulled Mok’s life in a dizzying number of directions. She uses prose, comics, illustration, hand lettering, sampled/disassembled/reassembled passages from her previous work, and quotes from the artists who’ve inspired her along the way to harness that onslaught in an act of creative judo, simultaneously communicating its power and demonstrating her artistic, emotional, and intellectual ability to best it.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

Charlie Hebdo. Today marks the release of the first issue of Charlie Hebdo since the attack on its offices last week. The print run was reportedly raised to three million copies. The Wall Street Journal has a report from the magazine’s press conference yesterday about the new issue.

A helpful website called Understanding Charlie Hebdo has been launched, which goes through some of the more controversial cartoons from the magazine one by one, explaining the symbolism and satiric intent.

Scott Sayare at The Atlantic has written one of the more convincing negative assessments of Charlie Hebdo‘s use of satire.

Jeet Heer wrote a 45-part Twitter essay tracing the connections between Charlie Hebdo and the American underground comics tradition.

Dennis Perrin, who wrote the biography of Michael O’Donoghue, one of last century’s most brilliant and influential satirists, writes about American antipathy to satire. Caro writes about her own discomfort with the sometimes cruelty of satire.

—Interviews & Profiles. Tom Spurgeon speaks to comics scholar Susan Kirtley. Paul Gravett talks to Dylan Horrocks.

—Reviews & Commentary. Philip Nel looks at how the legacy of racism manifests itself in children’s literature.

Ben Towle picks his favorite comics of 2014.

Dirty Fractals has a review of Lala Albert’s Janus.

Abhay Khosla reviews Bitch Planet #1 and Rumble #1.

David Brothers has a moving piece on how minority voices can be marginalized in comics culture. He’s always worth reading on this issue (among others). I have to say it disturbs me that he implicitly links that marginalization to Ken Parille’s column on this site from last Thursday, especially since he doesn’t explain why he’s doing so; I don’t think a fair reading of the piece supports that link. But I could be wrong, and because he’s a smart thoughtful guy whose views I respect, I invited David last week to write an essay about Ken’s column for TCJ, explaining where he thinks Ken went wrong. That offer is still open. I’d be interested to read it whenever and wherever he publishes it, even if it’s just my email inbox.

—Misc. Michael Kupperman writes about clashes with the New York Times over the strip he and David Rees contributed to the paper last year, which he chalks up to editorial cowardice and stupidity.

Here is correspondence between R. Crumb and Woody Gelman.

If you’re in New York, tonight there is an opening reception at the Society of Illustrators for a Gary Groth-curated exhibit on the work of Jonah Kinigstein.


2 Responses to Big Day

  1. You’re right, I should’ve been more clear on that front. I’ll edit in a note to make that segue more clear.

    The short (ha ha) version—Parille’s essay is obvious and awkward. I get what he’s doing, since “like all absolutists” is sort of a “HEY Y’ALL I’M NOT REALLY SAYING WE SHOULD EAT BABIES,” but he’s not really saying anything at all. He’s emulating the type of complaints the usual gang of idiots uses to go after people who write about social justice, or even just comics, in a way other people don’t like with very little exaggeration and threading a big “PSYCHE!” thru the text.

    I get it, but…there’s really nothing there to get in terms of the essay itself. It exists. It’s, at best, a half-hearted defense, one hamstrung by the fact that he doesn’t stick the landing. There’s nothing substantive to reply to in the essay for me outside of “I didn’t like how you wrote what you wrote,” especially in comparison to his Wertham essay where he brings the thunder and lightning, but I think the context around the essay, the context that brought forth the essay, is much more interesting and worthy of extended critique.

    Parille’s half-hearted defense ran in the pages (bear with me) of TCJ, which (as an entity) had a particularly bad 2014 in the eyes of the people Parille’s is speaking on. Setting aside ugly comments thread battles (it happens, tho the fights here are generally better argued for or agin than the ones basically anywhere else online), the TCJ Twitter has repeatedly mocked the interests and approach of a wave of young and engaged writers about comics, various interviews and posts from other have shown a similar dismissiveness…there’s a reason why after Parille’s post went up, a bunch of young and/or female voices saw it as comics dad yelling “get off my lawn” yet again. I know I had to read it a couple times myself because the introduction was repellent, just more of the same.

    I started writing after we spoke, and partway through I realized that Parille’s piece isn’t what I needed to reply to. He wanted to start a conversation, but but I think his point was lost in the depths of his essay’s structure. So I replied in an attempt to center the conversation where I think it’s headed anyway—the entrenched disinterest in the new criticism from both the Wizard and TCJ sides of the aisle, for lack of a better descriptor.

    But really, I didn’t do a direct rebuttal because then it’d be a game of “Which personality do I like more?” and end up in one of those fights where everyone walks away with hurt feelings and mean mugs. It’s the same reason why I didn’t call out names when talking about the abuse my friends have taken from others. There’d be a visceral pleasure in that, but then it’s “Soandso said a mean thing about Lady Writes-About-Comics” instead of “we have to get better at how we see the new criticism.”

    But, thank you for bringing this up, because I don’t want that part of my essay to be misconstrued. I stumbled, and I’m going to edit in a post-script shortly to that effect.

    (or, as it happens, five minutes ago, because I forgot to hit send on this comment. hi, i’m david, and i’m an actual adult)

  2. Tim Hodler says:

    Thanks for the response and explanation, David. It’s much appreciated.

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