Ah, it's been too long since we've had a Ken Parille column! But he's here today with a piece perfect for the dog days, "Comics Criticism: Seven Hot Takes for Summer 2016".
It was once the bane of the comics connoisseur: the “Comics Have Finally Grown Up” article. Enlightened readers know that for decades, if not centuries, cartoonists around the world have been creating sophisticated art for smart folks, young and old. Thankfully, that article, of which there have been too many for too long, has fallen by the wayside. But an equally specious think-piece is emerging to fill the vacuum: the “Comics Can’t Grow Up Unless It Promotes the Kinds of Things I Like” essay. Of course, the writer never puts it quite that directly.
In a popular subgenre of the “Comics Can’t Grow Up Unless...” piece, the writer argues that the “medium” cannot mature or progress unless it values and supports children’s and YA graphic novels. The majority of comics I read are for children and teenagers, but I don’t expect, or require, you to share my enthusiasm for Little Dot, Our Love Story, Bunny, Wonder Book of Rubber, Fast Willie Jackson, or Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen (I also teach Children’s Literature for a living). It’s weird to say that “comics” won’t be fully grown until “it” embraces books for people who are not fully grown. Would anyone say the novel can’t mature unless it embraces paranormal teen fiction (which I’ve also taught)? No. Why do (some) comics critics say such weird things about comics?
—Columbus Alive profiles Caitlin McGurk.
Caitlin McGurk was destined to work in the comics industry. There were telltale signs during her childhood on Long Island. She remembers obsessively collecting and organizing comic book cards and admiring the pictures in the “Stations of the Cross” while waiting in the communion line at her Catholic church.
—Daniel Barron interviews MariNaomi.
Was there any point in writing your books where you felt like the filter needed to be turned on, or that you had to tread lightly?
Omigod, toootally. It’s so stupid. For example, I was telling a story about my boyfriend seeing me after hours. We were fooling around and I got my period. My parents were coming down the stairs and I shoved my boyfriend in the closet and he was covered in my blood. When I wrote it at the time I thought, “Well, my parents should never see this.” Because they didn’t know that I would sneak guys in. Also, “No one must ever see this because it’s so embarassing.” The whole time I was drawing I felt so mortified. And now I think back, “That was one of the best stories that I have! Why was I so embarassed by it?” I was a kid. Who cares?
—Caitlin McCabe at the CBLDF writes about Jack Davis.
His fostered talent at EC Comics, though, would land him in hot water with child psychologist Dr. Fredric Wertham and within the pages of his infamous 1954 book The Seduction of the Innocent—the book that began a decades long crusade against comics and ultimately the near destruction of the industry.
Among sixteen pages of reproduced illustrations from various comic books were two panels from Jack Davis’ The Haunt of Fear story “Foul Play!” The aptly named story recounts the tale of a dishonest baseball player who gets his comeuppance when his teammates decide to play baseball with his dismembered remains in the dead of night.