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Bad Guys

Today, we bring you the inimitable Bob Levin’s review of the newly collected cartoons of the great writer Flannery O’Connor. He wasn’t wholly satisfied:

Flannery O’Connor: The Cartoons acts as if there was no mystery as to how she managed. It proceeds as if Step One is “Teach a chicken to walk backwards”; Step Two “Mock Physical Fitness Day”; and Step Three… BANG! You have bumped noses with Hazel Motes. It makes nothing of the newt eyes and bat claws bubbling within O’Connor’s cauldron: prematurely deceased father; controlling, disapproving mother; not entirely chosen celibacy; lurking, potentially fatal genes. It overlooks the gasses fermenting in this mix: frustration and fright, bitterness and pain, grief and rage. All brewed while she drew her way through GSCW. All foretold unseen vistas, untasted spice, unheard notes, unscented perfumes, uncaressed flesh. Only her imagination could compensate. Only it could lead her on. And cartoons only carried her so far. She required a greater conveyance to discharge what she held within.

O’Connor would not encourage this type of analysis.

Off-site, I recommend reading the following, among other links I have surely missed or forgotten:

—An article on Dan Dare and Eagle written by the eminent comics historian Paul Gravett to accompany a British museum exhibition. Gravett’s always worth reading.

—Rafael Medoff writing for the Jewish Journal about a 1942 cartoon drawn by Theodore Geisel (that’s Dr. Seuss), the only cartoon in which he ever explicitly addressed the Holocaust. (via)

—Robin McConnell, the host of the popular comics radio show Inkstuds, has launched Canadian Comics Archive, an online repository for rare and unusual Canadian comics.

—Noel Murray writes about Comic-Con for the A.V. Club, in which he plausibly claims we are currently going through something of a “golden age” of comics. I think this is arguably true. What puzzles me about Murray’s article is that he claims this to be the “legacy of Comic-Con” itself, but never really explains why this particular convention is responsible. I think the efforts of historians like Bill Blackbeard, publishers like Fantagraphics and D&Q and IDW, editors like Spiegelman and Mouly, and scores of individual cartoonists have far more to do with the current renaissance than did any particular movie-promotional event, no matter how visible it is. And they would have done it with or without—and maybe even did it despite—things like Comic-Con. But aside from that flaw, Murray’s impressions as an intelligent outsider are worth reading, and make me wish I’d attended.

—Jim Emerson writes about the dumb morality of superhero stories. This just one of dozens of these kinds of stories that have been written over the past few years. I am not linking to it for any other reason other than that I enjoy the idea that the bread and butter for decades’ worth of TCJ reviews and articles has now become the most popular hobbyhorse of movie critics instead.

—At the Hooded Utilitarian, Ng Suat Tong reviews Joe Sacco’s Journalism, and Marguerite Van Cook ponders the “postmodern sublime” she finds in cartoonists like Ben Katchor and Mark Newgarden.


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