Ad Hom

Well folks, this is the week we break the comics internet, which is actually not very hard, but...uh, here we go.

Today Abhay Khosla initiates a four-part examination of the year 2015. Get into it. Here's a taste related to the Charlie Hebdo massacre:

Away from the internet, this was an utter tragedy, a despicable outrage, nothing but a horror show. Online, however, the tragedy at Charlie Hebdo was followed by something nearly as troubling: otherwise rational people stating on the internet, quote, I think the Hooded Utilitarian is making a good point here, unquote. [shudder]

After the shootings, many had been moved to tweet “je suis charlie” — French for “I kiss the bibliotheque”, according to Google Translate. People plainly hoped to express unanimity with the fundamental precept that people are only civilized if allowed to express themselves without fear of violent retaliation. But in response, the Hooded Utilitarian was quick to publish “In the Wake of Charlie Hebdo, Free Speech Does Mot Mean Freedom From Criticism”.

Yes, apparently gunmen wielding assault rifles, submachine guns, pump-action shotguns, etc. were all engaged in an avante-garde act of comics criticism. I’d always wondered why Tom Spurgeon carries around that butterfly knife– I guess the rest of us have been insufficiently armed this entire time. Quick! To the armory!

And of course, not to be outdone, Joe McCulloch is here to suggest your buying patterns for the week. You know what's weird? Now that Bergen Street Comics is gone, there is nowhere for me to go and look at new comic books in all of South Brooklyn. Desert Island is very far away from me. Some enterprising, childless, and well-heeled human should open a store, or a store within a store! Or something.

And we also have Greg Hunter reviewing Jacob Canfield's new comic, I Fell Asleep.

“I Fell Asleep”, a scrolling, online-only comic from Jacob Canfield, takes on the perspective of a young woman approaching a potentially life-altering confrontation—or at least potentially approaching it. The character, Erica, is wasting time on the Internet while her boyfriend is out, and contemplating an end to the relationship. The comic documents either Erica’s first step toward independence or her usual step before rationalizing the relationship’s problems. “I Fell Asleep” scrolls, an intuitive format for Canfield’s subject matter, encouraging readers to construct the tension and hesitation of Erica’s evening in.

Elsewhere... oh gee, I dunno, there's only so much to point to on the internet. There's this typically silly piece at The Guardian on edgy new comics. I have read most of these comics, and they're like on par with one of those USA TV shows like White Collar. Not Justified over on FX, but just OK entertainment, usually with incredibly bad drawing. That's fine! There's equally bad work being touted all around everywhere! Bye for now.

13 Responses to Ad Hom

  1. Iestyn Pettigrew says:

    What – no way to comment on Abhay’s post? Boo!

    Abhay – good points, well made. I remember reading Jill Lepore’s article and thinking she was being very kind. I’ve read comics for 28 years and I find most Marvel and DC comics almost impossible to follow now.

    Everything seems to believe it EPIC and AWESOME and REALLY MATTERS. It’s all so impressed with it’s own mythic importance, it’s the reading equivalent of dating someone more in love with themselves than they are with you.

  2. Tim Hodler says:

    Keeping the comments closed was Abhay’s choice.

  3. Alex Buchet says:

    I was banned from The Hooded Utilitarian for objecting strongly to their revolting coverage of the Paris massacre. I know other contributors who have withdrawn in disgust.

  4. Briany Najar says:

    The internet will break alright… when quadrillions of Simple Minds fans amass to complain at their band being referred to as Simply Red.
    That’s for sure.

  5. Tony says:

    You might as well close the comments on all adjacent articles such as this for the whole week.

  6. Someone else spotted the Simply Red/ Simple Minds error then.

    Hated them both so I didn’t care enough to mention it.

  7. Stuart says:

    This is gold.

    Cannot wait for the rest.

  8. (comic creators’ word for “shoppers”)
    My favorite bit.

  9. Gabe Fowler says:


  10. Kim O'Connor says:

    Oh man. It’s a sad day to find myself in the comments about Abhay Khosla, someone I read almost every day.

    There have long been “sides” to the Charlie Hebdo conversation, haven’t there? Sides that (imperfectly) map onto the coverage of that conversation I’ve seen over the last year at tcj and HU. Funny enough, from where I’m standing, these sides have never been in opposition. There was a tragedy…a tragedy that all parties recognized from day one. On top of that tragedy, people perceived different states of emergency, threats to freedom of speech and rampant Islamophobia chief among them. Both of those threats were real and have been articulated with varying degrees of skill; whichever one you chose to focus on was a matter of triage. Of priorities.

    The emergency that Jacob Canfield perceived when he wrote that piece at HU was not a burning need to zing the dead or to be FIRST, but a concern about the lionization of racist work and its relationship to Islamophobia. I think Jacob saw comics in the spotlight and wanted to dissent–quickly–to correct the totally gross impulse to memorialize the dead or protest terrorism or whatever by propagating hook-nosed caricatures of Muslims.

    Meanwhile, to this day, only the other “side” of the “debate”gets any credit at all for the basic human shit that anyone who’s not a sociopath feels upon hearing that a roomful of other human beings has been gunned down in cold blood. Feeling bad about mass shootings is the emotional equivalent of our autonomic system; it is a base-level reaction. To imply that Jacob–or anyone, really–was somehow incapable of having those simple reflexive feelings is cheap and gross and weird.

    I mean, his essay wasn’t perfect. As I see it, his biggest mistake was in referring to the victims as “racist assholes,” which I think confused the issue and was also in poor taste, even though I tend to agree. He set a contentious tone, which maybe set the stage for these two diametrically opposed sides that (I’m pretty sure) never existed. But I also think his piece put a much-needed check on a conversation that was out of control–and to accomplish that, he was working on a deadline that was real, if self-imposed. On top of that, I’m pretty sure Jacob was mad…not at a pile of dead cartoonists, but about the shitstorm surrounding them…and maybe also mad about the fact that comics couldn’t, just once, rise to an occasion and exhibit enough wherewithal to feel sad about murder and have a thought in its fool head at the same fucking time.

    Abhay Khosla, in sharp contrast, hasn’t been working under any time constraints. He had more than a year to mull over this nuanced, fraught topic with his big funny lawyer brain. Tell me, what’s his excuse? What I see here is a Wikipedia-level recap of the shooting itself, the same old willful misrepresentations of Charlie Hebdo’s critics, some half-baked zings, and a couple potshots at the Hooded Utilitarian. Did I for real just read a diatribe against “internet scolds digging for racism like truffle hogs”…hogs that condone MURH-DAH? And did he seriously just suggest that the ~Internet drama~ of those same swine is the real cause of racism in this world? Man, maybe I’m just not getting the joke, but to me that sounds like garbage.

    You want to talk about the intersection of Charlie Hebdo and Internet drama? Let’s start with how this blog crows about “breaking the comics Internet” and Abhay himself, who makes no qualms about stirring the pot.

    I call bullshit. Enjoyed the rest of the piece, though.

  11. Who else, Alex, if you don’t mind me asking?

  12. Alex Buchet says:

    Jones, I don’t have their permission to tell you. I can only say that they were regular contributors to HU and confirmed to me in private that they would never post there again.

    [ED NOTE: This comment has been edited to remove a further response to Kim O’Connor which included overly personal attacks. If more such comments come in, we’ll shut the thread down.]

  13. Briany Najar says:

    “and maybe also mad about the fact that comics couldn’t, just once, rise to an occasion and exhibit enough wherewithal to feel sad about murder and have a thought in its fool head at the same fucking time.”

    Comics is singular? Comics is singular and has a head? Comics is singular, has a head and can be expected to have emotions? Comics is singular, has a head, can be expected to feel emotions and can exhibit wherewithal?

    Not in Kansas.

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