Sloane Leong's here again today with a review of a book collection of Andrew Hussie's mega-successful webocmic, Homestuck.
I remember the manic hype around Homestuck during its original run online (between 2009 and 2016), which easily consumed the attention on anyone within five or six degrees of it. The oversaturated presence of the webcomic and its rabid fans exhausted me before I even had a chance to want to read it on my own terms. On top of that, it was overwhelming to even think of diving into if you weren't already on the wagon during the first year, and I had missed that cut-off point. The jagged pixel artwork, the torrential updates, and the copious walls of colorful chat conversations were turn-offs for me, and the buzz about it was deafening. The webcomic became a magnetic field that you were either completely absorbed by or fully repelled by. No in-betweens, no casual readers. This sort of fandom environment was the quintessence of the decade. The early 2000s felt to me like everyone was completely in thrall to their particular media fandom (RIP SuperWhoLock) and then something happened in the early 2010s and the open manic enthusiasm started to fade out. Avid fandoms are still around of course, but I think the proliferation of social justice discourse began heavily permeating online social media at this point and readers became more careful as to what and, more importantly, who they wanted to stan for publicly. This is all to say that the virtual participatory fan culture around Homestuck, its generation, and consistent fervent popularity has been my only point of engagement until now, an interesting but distant vantage point.
Now to the brick of a book at hand. Homestuck, Book 1: Acts 1 & 2 is an interesting but overall redundant artifact. Homestuck follows a small group of tweens as they chat online, avoid their guardians, and watch their homes get destroyed by meteors before getting sucked into a video game. In his preface, Hussie is quick to point out that most of the first three acts were influenced by reader submissions and that the virtual locus of Homestuck is crucial; seeing it in static book form means readers miss out on the dynamism its digital nature provides. These books are meant to be supplementary at best. As someone reading it for the first time in book form, this made me less than excited to read further.
—Reviews & Commentary. Jeet Heer writes about the recent controversy over the Apu character in The Simpsons, tying it to the history of racial stereotypes in comics.
The common defense of Apu is that The Simpsons has many stereotypes (the Italian Fat Tony, the sometimes-Jewish Krusty the Clown, the Scottish Groundskeeper Willy). But none of these characters exist in a cultural reality where they are the only representative of their ethnicity: there are myriad Italian-American and Jewish characters on TV, but for many years, Apu stood as a singular representative of desi culture. That’s slowly starting to change with shows like Mindy Kaling’s The Mindy Project, but these programs haven’t yet had the cultural impact of The Simpsons.
There’s a big difference between the self-deprecating ethnic comedy of Kondabolu and Kaling, which belongs to a tradition of Richard Pryor and Jerry Seinfeld, and having a white man do an Indian accent (as Hank Azaria does for Apu). As Kondabolu argues in a conversation with Whoopi Goldberg, there’s an undeniable element of minstrelsy in Apu.
For The Paris Review, Chris Ware remembers the poet J.D. McClatchy.
As the spouse of one of my closest friends, Chip Kidd, I got to know Sandy McClatchy as one might know, well, a friend’s spouse. Chip and Sandy met in the early nineties, Chip and I having been friends for a few years before and I first learning of Chip’s infatuation when he mailed me a color-xeroxed eight-by-ten-inch publicity photo of Sandy with the words PROPERTY OF C.K. written diagonally in red across its lower quadrant like bubble letters on a school spiral notebook. Though I felt like I’d been passed a secret note in math class, I offered up my heartiest of congratulations because Chip had been single for a while. Privately, however, I was worried: Chip and I really only talked about comics and dumb stuff; this guy was a poet and opera librettist. What do poets and opera librettists talk about? What was I going to talk about if I ever met him? ...
—Interviews & Profiles. For the NYRB, Claudia Dreifus interviews Art Spiegelman.
I take it that you are no fan of Schindler’s List?
I think of it as the feel-good version of that S&M cult classic The Night Porter. There’s a scene in Schindler’s List in which the commandant played by Ralph Fiennes is in bed with a woman, and he takes his handgun and shoots some Jew he sees out the window. The message there, inextricably linked, is that all sex leads to holocausts. They are somehow joined at the hip: the two concepts.
As troubling was the Best Foreign Film in 1999, Life Is Beautiful. It said, ultimately, that if only the victims could just have taken it all with a song in their hearts and tap-danced their way, Chaplin-like, through the barbed wire, then “life” would be “beautiful.” I read somewhere that the director said he’d been inspired by Maus. If that’s true, I would have liked to go back in time and yank the book out of his hands!
The Fader talks to Anya Davidson.
I feel like some people are marathon runners, some are sprinters, and some are in between. As a cartoonist, I’m a marathonist. My normal format when I’m working on books, left to my own devices, is making longform works. When I’m asked to do shorter form work, for me the idea of putting a narrative on a single page is like, How would I even…? I love writing long dialogue. I’m kind of a maximalist, so the idea of trying to fit any kind of a narrative in that small of a space — I know it’s possible and there are people who do it beautifully — but how would I fit a story on a single page? It just seemed overwhelming. It made more sense to me to do… it’s obviously not a gag comic but it’s more of a… I don’t know!
Great Big Story has a short video interview with Daniel Clowes:
The Comics Alternative podcast talks to Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden.
News. The New York Times has followed up on The Hollywood Reporter's recent story alleging that Stan Lee may be a victim of elder abuse.
For four decades, Mr. Lee has lived in a relatively modest two-story house in the middle of what has become some of Los Angeles’s most valuable real estate. Dr. Dre is a neighbor, and Leonardo DiCaprio lives down the block, on a street where houses can list for north of $30 million.
Inside the suburban-style home, a nurse and a maid bustled in the kitchen. Although Mr. Lee seemed at ease, the armed guard lent an air of surveillance that made it difficult to entirely relax.
The house is a time capsule of late 1970s Hollywood. Decorated by his late wife, it is dotted with ceramic animals, carved figures in African and Asian styles, and large gilt-framed mirrors hung on mirrored walls. Empty hooks surrounded by dusty outlines sit amid prints and original works by noted artists — Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso, Alexander Calder, Salvador Dalí and Roy Lichtenstein — suggesting a home being slowly eroded.
“My wife, she’s the only person in the world that I would know of who would put a big mirror on top of a big mirror,” Mr. Lee said. “And when she was here, she had so many paintings, all over. Most of them have left now. My daughter took a lot of them, and a lot of them have gone elsewhere.”
On Friday, Lee filed suit against his former business manager, Jerardo Olivarez.
Following The Hollywood Reporter’s investigative piece on Lee being a potential victim of elder abuse by his inner circle, the comic book icon filed a complaint in Los Angeles Superior Court claiming that Jerardo Olivarez is only one of the “unscrupulous businessmen, sycophants and opportunists who saw a chance to take advantage of Lee’s despondent state of mind, kind heart and devotion to his craft” after the death of his wife in 2017. Lee, whose time working at Marvel in the 1960s led to the creation of characters such as Spider-Man and Iron Man, alleges that by managing his affairs, Olivarez caused him to lose “a tremendous among of money as money and assets were being transferred to Olivarez by Lee without Lee being aware these actions were being taken.” The amount of money the suit claims was transferred from Lee’s Merrill Lynch Account without permission was approximately $4.6 million. The suit even claims that Olivarez orchestrated a scheme to sell Lee’s blood as “collectibles” in Las Vegas without his permission.