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Don’t Look Back

Today, Katie Haegele is here with a review of Jesse Reklaw’s unusual Couch Tag.

The first part—the book’s five sections are described by Reklaw as novellas—is told as a series of stories about each of the pet cats his family had throughout his childhood. There were thirteen of them, and they all met a bad end—by dying of distemper, having too many litters, getting run over, or just running away. They were given names like Paranoid and Dead Duck by Jesse’s dad, and tripped with fishing line by Jesse himself on a day when he was feeling mean. Reklaw’s drawing style has a rounded softness to it, and the cutesy lettering of the chapter titles belies a nastiness underneath these stories. In this clever way, Reklaw manages to impart a queasy but subtle sense of unease and instability. If this is what became of the cats, what was life like for the kids?

Elsewhere:

—Internet Controversy du jour.
Alan Moore has been enraging the Twitter masses on a regular basis for years now, usually through offhand interview comments dismissing superhero comics, superhero comics readers, and/or superhero movies, but this time is on another level. Pádraig Ó Méalóid asks Moore about some of the criticisms that have dogged his work over recent years and Moore responds in essay form, addressing topics such as, yes, his aversion to superhero comics, but also accusations of racism, rape fixation, and more. There’s a lot to unpack, and I will leave it for interested readers to judge how convincing his arguments are. Much though not all of it seems reasonable to me (I continue to think that while Moore and collaborator Kevin O’Neill’s intentions were clearly benign, their handling of the golliwog character in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was ill-advised), but his manner of presentation seems unlikely to win over skeptics. It also would have been nice if there were more followup questions on the points where his arguments are less than air-tight.

Moore then goes on to fire back at some of his critics, including journalist Laura Sneddon, Dez Skinn, someone “whose name escapes me but who is evidently pleased to identify himself as a Batman scholar,” and Grant Morrison, whom he insults at length, only stopping just short of comparing him to Shia LaBeouf. Moore also declares this to be something like his final interview, at least of this nature that he will be dramatically decreasing the amount of interviews he gives from now on, so longtime fans (and detractors) should not miss this one. Those not well-versed in the background may find the reading unpleasantly bitter.

—News & Profiles.
Calvin Reid profiles international comics agent Nicolas Grivel (who represents artists like Ulli Lust, Blutch, and Dylan Horrocks). The Eisner Awards are currently accepting submissions. The Image Expo is currently going on, and those interested in upcoming announcements from that company should check in with more mainstream-oriented comics sites today. The New York Times reported on one such announcement, a new deal with Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. The CBLDF reports on a New York district court ruling upholding the government’s right to search laptops at the Canadian border. Tom Spurgeon interviews Gilbert Hernandez.

—Reviews & Commentary. Rob Clough writes about Julia Gfrörer’s Black is the Color. Neil Cohn comments on the non-universality of some visual imagery. The Gilbert Hernandez interview linked to above led to a brief but interesting discussion between Andrew White and Frank Santoro on how much influence “classic” American comic-book aesthetics should have on current artists.


18 Responses to Don’t Look Back

  1. Oliver says:

    Moore’s “final” interview — is that like his much-publicised “renouncing” of superhero comics after ‘Watchmen’?

  2. Michael says:

    Nowhere in his essay does he say that that it’s his final interview. The blogger characterizes it that way with his title and question mark, and Moore says any future interviews he carries out will be “rigorously selected.”

  3. Rafael says:

    One can only hope. It would be a huge shame missing out on reading Moore’s always entertaining and intelligent ramblings on whatever topic due to the unbeliavably petty, morally repugnant even, online smear campaign by superhero-addicted manchildren (not to mention their former messiah, advertisement figurehead for “modern mythology” Grant Morrison).

    I guess it just goes to show the power of retarded people in large numbers, when even a modern Luddite like Moore can be annoyed by the internet despite having no web presence at all.

  4. Dorian G. says:

    “Unless anyone is realistically suggesting that we remove the character from our continuity after a negative reaction from a solitary reader,”

    I’d really like Alan Moore to come on down to a mostly black school in the U.S. and show some of the kids and teachers and parents there the pages he’s talking about. Maybe blow them up to poster-size, get everyone’s input, have a show of hands.

  5. Dorian G. says:

    Go Team!

  6. Timothy T. says:

    “someone “whose name escapes me but who is evidently pleased to identify himself as a Batman scholar,” ”

    Chris Sims – Professional Batmanologist?

  7. Kate H says:

    The “Batman scholar” is Dr Will Brooker, professor of Film and Cultural Studies at Kingston University and editor of ‘Cinema Journal’.

  8. Stuart says:

    I wish Alan Moore would talk at my school, he’s brilliant.

  9. Luke P. says:

    So the feelings of schoolchildren determine the acceptability of whatever we might write about? This is a real argument? You said this to real people and they didn’t slap you?

  10. pallas says:

    “I”d really like Alan Moore to come on down to a mostly black school in the U.S. and show some of the kids and teachers and parents there the pages he’s talking about”"

    I think the proper analogy would be if a bunch of age appropriate black students read the comics (maybe college age would be age appropriate, I’m not sure, given the sex and violence what the age appropriate book audience would be),so they could see how it was used in context, and then he explained to them why he didn’t think it was racist and they had the chance to say whether they agreed or disagreed. (Why would the parents be there, I never heard of a parent child book event during school?)

    You seem to have chosen an incendiary analogy, children too young to read the book, who didn’t read the book, and just saw pictures out of context. And thrown in the parents being there to incite some sort of “think of the children” image.

    It doesn’t seem like you are discussing the issue in good faith.

  11. Luke P. says:

    This & the recent Ted Rall melee illustrate pretty well how detached Leftism has become from reality.The “out-lefting” is not a bug, it’s a feature.This is what Leftism is today.You guys are in serious trouble.

  12. Oliver says:

    Well I’m certainly shaking. As if anyone ever reads Daily Kos for the cartoons anyway.

  13. Kate H says:

    Slightly curious that Moore can dismiss criticism of his work coming from a “Batman scholar”, while at the same time lavishing a lot of praise on hagiographer Lance Parkin, best known for hacking out cut-and-paste books about Britain’s littlest-loved TV soap, ‘Emmerdale’.

  14. Che Eurabia says:

    Don’t you think we know full well we’re in serious trouble? The Rapture will come soon and then levelheaded people like you’ll ascend to Heaven while we’re Left Behind.

  15. Scales says:

    Thanks, the thought of Alan Moore hanging out on Comics Alliance and cursing Chris Sims was an odd image for me.

  16. Paul Slade says:

    To Kate H: It’s hard for anyone to judge the reliability of your assertion when you present no evidence to back it up. You may well be right in identifying Brooker for all I know, but what led you to that conclusion?

  17. Rafael says:

    @Paul Slade

    Paul, it was the much learned and enlightened Dr. Will Brooker, PhD in Comparative Batmanology and Completely Missing the Point of 15-minute Short Films, the guy who twitted about how he stormed out in disgust of the event due to Act of Faith being a slut-shaming film about a woman commiting suicide.

  18. Pallas says:

    Paul, he’s identified at the Comics Beat article discussing the events that lead to the interview.

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