Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Important article on the G.N.-themed "Beowulf"

Via our indispensable friends at Arts & Letters Daily, an exceptional article on the current graphic-novel themed movie version of Beowulf, screenplay Neil Gaiman. I can't extract the kernel: it is all kernel. But it hits several topics of our class interests, including the disconnect between what academia prefers and what (largely male) readers and movie-watchers prefer and purchase; the difference between pagan and Christian notions of the heroic; and the nature of criticism.
....there is a distinct sympathy for honor culture in [works like Miller's 300]....brute strength, tribal loyalty, and stoic courage actually get things done.
Academe finds all this loathsome and backward, and, of course, our liberal culture is ostensibly opposed to the social hierarchies, patriarchy, and chauvinism of older honor cultures. But narratives and representations about heroic strength (even flawed and misdirected) remain deeply satisfying for many people.
Link to the article from the Chronicle of Higher Education is here.

Good price for a G.N.

Classfellow N.K. passes on the information that has a "a screaming deal for anyone looking to add Art Spiegelman's In the Shadow of No Towers to their collection."

Click this post's or the book title for the hotlink.

[A 'screaming deal'?]

Saturday, November 24, 2007

"Behind the Scenes" Video

One of the seminar groups has given permission to make available online their "Behind the Scenes" documentary of preparation for their presentation. The files are at this link and are in DVD-format.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Guest Speaker: Becca Young

Tomorrow's guest speaker on the graphics side of things has the following pertinent biography:
Becca Young - Senior Designer - Karyo-Eldman: building design and brand identity for organizations and companies> throughout Vancouver. She began pursuing her passion for a career in graphic design while completing a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature at the University of British Columbia. Becca's vivid imagination -- a result of her combined aptitude with the literal and flair for the visual -- make her a valuable member of the Karyo design team. She was formerly a senior designer at Evolutionary Imaging and Advertising Design, for six years, and possesses extensive experience with non-profit organizations as well as the restaurant, entertainment, event-planning and fashion industries. Becca has a passion for technology, and is a key resource for multimedia, online, new media, website and interactive> projects.

Graphic Novelists .... on 'The Simpsons'

Here's a double-shot-of-espresso pop-culture hit, via classfellow C.V.
I had the Simpsons on the TV, as I do once in a while on Sunday nights....and I looked over at the TV and Bart and Milhouse were at a comic book convention, when who showed up but Alan Moore and Art Spiegelman....Also, Comicbook Guy called all the children, "fanboys" (whichI remember being a comic book term).....The episode is called "Husbands and Knives".

Friday, November 16, 2007

Weather symmetry

Update: now that was mildly freaky.
[Today's (smaller) picture beside ..... ]

Here is a picture I took from my office window on November 29th last year.

Be ready....

More on Charles Schultz

Further to the earlier post on the new and exceptionally valuable biography of Peanuts creator Charles Schultz, has a delightful slide-show essay on the book which adds specific strips to analysis of the artist and the biography.

I recommend viewing the slide-show, along with the articles in my earlier post, to get very practical examples of how to make scholarly analyses of comics.

And follow this link to a delightful page praising " artist who’s done the Peanuts gang, all grown up and drawn ....[manga] style. [I smell online dojin....]

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Final Paper: Permanent Link Added

I have added a permament link under 'Pertinent & Impertinent" at the right here to the Final Research Assignment Criteria post--->

"Are You Breaking the Law Right Now?"

Classfellow P.O. sends along this informative video article, pace our lecture on dojinshi.
Slate contributor Tim Wu looks at how common copyright infringement has become, and how companies sometimes choose to look the other way (when it benefits them, of course).

Friday, November 9, 2007

Reading Manga as Japanese

Please take a second to vote in the poll to your right: give your honest opnion & we'll discuss this Tuesday.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Comics in Rare Book and Manuscript Collection

From classfellow C.V., an article from Cornell University on the addition of an extensive comics collection to their elite Special Collections.
The breadth of the comic collection in the library's Division of Rare Book and Manuscript Collections includes 10,000 hand-drawn newspaper comic strips and related materials from the 1940s through the 1980s as well as more than 5,000 comic books. The collection contains obscure titles, popular newspaper comics, celebrated comic book heroes and many comics featured in recent movies.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Manga and its embodying culture

There is an excellent article online on the artistic operation of sabi, "Bashō and the Poetics of 'Haiku'", by Makoto Ueda in The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism.

Tuesday's lecture gave a rigourous introduction to Japanese aesthetic concepts, in order for us to properly understand the ideas and culture which make manga, manga and not merely comics written in Japanese. To review, three important sensibilities presented were mujokan, mushin and mono no aware. These concepts were then described in terms of the over-arching wabi-sabi worldview. Next, specific æsthetic concepts were detailed: shichi-go-san, jo-ha-kyu, ten-chi-jin and shin-gyo-so. Lastly, the Japanese composition principle of Ki-Sho-Ten-Ketsu was explained.

The lecture gave you material by which your understanding of our manga course texts can be enriched. As always, if you require points of clarification or elaboration from lecture, stop by any of the abundant Office Hours!

For more information on the Japanese æsthetic , visit this majestic online resource.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

"Atop The Fourth Wall"

Via classfellow C.V., this excellent site on & around comics,
Here is their explanatory blurb:
Welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where we sit over bad comic books and set fire to them. We all know there are bad movies, bad TV shows, and bad novels, but not enough focus is given to those awful, awful comic books. Now I love comics. I can list off several titles at any given point that I'm reading and love, but some books are just plain awful.So here's how it works - I find a book that is so painfully bad (or one is suggested to me) and I go over it detail by detail, analyzing and scrutinizing its flaws and trying to make you laugh along the way at some of the sheer idiotic funnybooks out there. Either go to the latest review or click "Read More!" to see the archive!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Comics Writers Political Selves

A look behind the curtain at the private political involvement of a comics writer & manager is viewable at the unlikely viral success, Hillary! Uncensored- Banned by the Media: a preview of an upcoming documentary on Hillary Clinton, and featuring .... Stan Lee.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Group Seminar Project: Deadline Extension

I am extending the deadline for the Seminar Group Evaluation Presentation from week twelve to week thirteen. Present the completed project to me, then -- that is, hand it in to me in in my office or my Department mailbox -- on or before November 29th.

Friday, November 2, 2007

We are not alone.....

Classfellow N.K. sends along this link to an article about some university courses around comics. His email includes the following, lucky *(&@(!:
Also, I had the great pleasure of meeting Henry Rollins on Tuesday night and he had mentioned that he went to the San Diego comic-con so I asked him what his take on comic books was with regard for our course topic. He said that although he loved them it is difficult to defend them as literature, he did, however, conclude that they are important and should be taken seriously! So if Henry Rollins says it's so then isn't that enough?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Keeping it real

Part of the requirement for a scholarly presentation of graphic novels (so-called, of course) is, as you by now know, to add sorely-needed gravity to some airy -- at times, gassy -- effusions of aggrandizement from devotees.

This coming from someone who passionately enjoys comics. Under the stimulus of Alan Moore's Albion I had nearly indecent personal response, and I want to trumpet its excellence far and wide. That, however, makes me a fan. As an academic, I have to be ruthless in exorcising my enthusiasm (as in OED, Possession by a god, supernatural inspiration, prophetic or poetic frenzy) and approach the work -- and all comics the same -- with cool and measured reason.

Here is an example of what I mean. Look at these three blurbs from a current back cover of Moore's Watchmen (a comic which I entirely enjoy):
  • "The would-be heroes of Watchmen have staggeringly complex psychological profiles"
  • "A masterwork representing the apex of artistry"
  • "The greatest piece of popular fiction ever produced"
Now this is so over-the-top that it defies parody. The Onion could hardly increase the extremism. I happen to think Watchmen a great comic, and worthy of laudation. But staggeringly complex psychological profiles? And the greatest piece of popular fiction? Whoever wrote these plaudits (the first is from the New York Times) either has let enjoyment cloud judgement or simply has not read much fiction. Moore, for all his excellencies, cannot hold a candle to the truly great novelists; indeed, I have a hard time believing that Alan Moore thinks that Alan Moore holds a candle to .... oh, Dostoevsky, say. (And the adjective "popular" puts Watchmen up against Charles Dickens....)

This is not to say that when we write and lecture and present on a graphic novel that has made us greatly and cleanly happy we adopt dolorous countenance. Enjoyment and delight are healthy responses. It is rather, I would say, that calm and rigourous scholarly analysis improves our enjoyment by allowing us to know that, if ever a favoured work should be shown to fail against credible criteria of literary merit, the ones that do pass academic scrutiny are to that degree the more worthy of our huzzahs.