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Theater of the Mind

We’re excited today to introduce a new column from the cartoonist Julia Gfrörer. It’s called Symbol Reader, and in it Julia plans, in her words, to use “principles of psychoanalysis, philosophy, and comparative mythology to deliberately overthink the symbolic language of comics.” In her inaugural column, Julia overthinks comics by Joe Decie, Eleanor Davis, and Michael DeForge. Here’s a sample:

The psyche requires an “other,” the hypothetical imaginary friend to whom we address dialogues we cannot entrust to actual people in our lives. Often this other takes the form of an idealized version of a person close to us (we imagine a loved one holding our hand during a difficult medical procedure), or even someone we dislike (we visualize delivering the tirade an unscrupulous friend deserves, and enjoy imagining that person’s reaction) and we withhold the pursuit of the experience in reality because we know it cannot produce more satisfaction than its counterpart in fantasy. In fact the task of reconciling our actual relationships against the projected desires with which we mentally conflate them can be aversive, leading us to dodge true intimacy lest actual events somehow contradict a more comfortable constructed narrative. Essentially this is the question posed in the very first panel of Eleanor Davis’s comic for The New Yorker: Who needs friends when you have Terry Gross?


Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. The Joe Shuster Awards’ most recent Hall of Fame inductees have been announced.

—Reviews & Commentary.
Rob Clough reviews the British volume of the Hic & Hoc Illustrated Journal of Humo(u)r, and pans Lucy Knisley’s latest.

—Interviews. Shaenon Garrity talks to Gene Luen Yang, and Chris Mautner talks to translator/publisher Ryan Sands. Oh, and Ed Brubaker reveals some interesting Tom Hart/Jon Lewis trivia in an interview about the end of Fatale.

—Misc. Melissa Mendes wrote a candid short essay on her struggles with depression and anxiety.

The L.A. Register takes the 80th anniversary of Al Capp’s Li’l Abner as a hook to run a timeline of American comics strips.

Cartoonist Hillary Price visited the home of Mort Walker.

Sean T. Collins takes to Rolling Stone to explain the history of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Wired has a nice, fascinating article on Topps veteran John Pound’s code-based comics.

Seth likes his refrigerator.

—Funnies. Mike Lynch posts the midcentury pyschoanalysis-flavored cartoons of Marcel Vertès.

This Pete Toms comic going around is really strong.

—Not Comics. Still, this excerpt from ace designer Peter Mendelsund’s new book, What We See When We Read, and the book as a whole, is worth reading by those interested in the comics form, both for the way he integrates visuals into his text, and for his analysis of how readers of prose visualize what they read themselves (a process that, according to one point of view, cartoonists supplant when they provide readers with their own artistic representation).


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