Today at The Comics Journal, we're launching our latest installment of Cartoonist's Diary--with L. Nichols, the cartoonist behind Flocks, a graphic memoir just published by Secret Acres. In his initial installment, L. gets on a cross country flight...with small children.
We've also got a return to these pages by the indefatigable Alex Dueben, who spoke with Eisner Award winning writer and editor Frederik Aldama about the work he's been doing over the last few years.
You’re a tenured professor and you have a lot of scholarly credentials; what has it been like watching comics studies be embraced by academia over the course of your career?
In 2000, I was hired by the University of Colorado, Boulder, as my first job. I knew for a fact that the books that were going to get me where I needed to go – associate and then full professor – would have to be pretty recognizable by senior scholars. That is, they would have to be on literature for the most part. So that’s what I did. I wrote those books. But I knew in the back of my mind that I wanted to write books on comics. That’s something that I’d always wanted to do, even as a graduate student. Once I was a full professor, I started writing these books. There are many other of my colleagues – usually senior scholars – across the country who are building comics studies into the robust discipline it is today.
As a result of all this work, we’re starting to see our PhD students and more junior colleagues writing dissertations as well as publishing articles and books on comics. While it’s a very different scene than the early 2000s, I still advise my PhD students to write a chapter on straight alphabetic literature to present when they give their job talk. Why? There will still people in the room who don’t think comics are worthy of study – and they will be voting on whether or not to give my student the job.
We’re in a transition moment. On the one hand, in our scholarship we have arrived. I just published an edited volume that I titled, Comics Studies Here and Now, to celebrate this arrival in terms of scholarship. At the same time that we’ve “arrived” there’s still some old guard scholars out there gatekeeping this scholarship. There’s a lot of anxiety among colleagues about our arrival, so our younger colleagues and students still need to tread carefully.
Our review for today is of Peter Kuper's recently published collection of Franz Kafka stories, Kafkaesque. Rich Barrett has the mic:
Usually, when adapting literary prose, comic creators are too slavish to the source material, unsure of what to cut from the sacred original text, resulting in paragraphs of narration that overpower the art. Kuper’s greatest feat here is how heroically he edits Kafka down, using just the right amount of words as captions to accompany his visuals. In being so concise, he stays true to form as a cartoonist without losing anything vital from the source material and keeping Kafka’s “voice” intact.
While linking to Batman Penis related content should have probably been just the once, Stephen Colbert's take on the situation includes criticism of DC's business practices and that dumb "for mature readers" tag they use, so whateves, let's keep this train rolling.