Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Classfellows' Web Comic Recommendations

From classfellow Clinton Hallahan:
Just a couple things I wanted to bring to your attention. [I loved the TED McCloud talk when it first came out -- worth a Permannt Link, now I think about it. Prof.]
The first is that in my internet travels I came across a video on the venerable TED Talks site of Scott McCloud talking comics. Worth a watch, I think

The second is a webcomic that I worship on a semi-professional level. It's a bit of an acquired taste but the writing is just stellar. I have recently turned young Lucas Westhaver onto it and made him into an acolyte. It's excellent. It's almost impossible to link to one that can pique your interest immediately, but this one is funny. The characters are just...I am slightly obsessed.

And finally, I am currently watching your friend Ken Steacy auction off prints for one of my favourite charities via webcam. You can find out about that here

Thought that was kind of funny. A sketch he did of Wonder Woman is currently going for about $400 dollars in a live chat auction. Crazy.
From classfellow Daniel Lin:
This is a web comic called ButterSafe, strange, but interesting. Since the link is to the homepage only, you may find a different comic in place of the current one (text based one), just click back.

Also, I am currently following a manga called Pluto. It's a revisit (sic) of the classic Japanese robot genre, as opposed to superheros. It contains Astro Boy and what I think might be Black Jack.
...two websites that look at the religions and sexuality of various comic book characters. I find it really interesting because for a long time these were two elements of comic characters lives that could not be explicitly stated in comics, but often existed as subtext. For example, the Thing of the Fantastic Four was always intended to be Jewish, but that was not explicitly stated for years, likewise the shapeshifting mutant Mystique was always intended to be bisexual, though likewise that could not be explicitly stated (apparently the original idea was that she had been Nightcrawler's FATHER while temporarily male, though later stuff puts her as his mother). The most intriguing idea, and something I've never been able to find explicit reference to was a rumour I heard that the Joker in the 70s was supposed to be gay. Certainly the graphic novels Return of the Dark Night by Frank Miller and Arkham Asylum by Grant Morrison make Joker sexually ambigious, having him gleefully call Batman "darling," cross-dress, use lipstick to highlight his lips, etc. Certainly his obsession with Batman often has a strangely sexual tension (as does Lex Luthor's with Superman, most creepily in the "Superman: Doomsday" movie).

Here's the website.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Graphic Novels Debate

All are invited to a laughably one-sided debate between Dr. Clint Burnham--finely-chiselled and prize-winning poet, novelist and hirsute intellectual--and some hapless makeweight fanboy by the name of "Ogden", on a question of literary merit between Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and Mark Waid & Alex Ross' Kingdom Come. The great Dr. Burnham will school his opponent, and delight the assembled multitude, by the dialectical potency of his critical presentation of Mr. Miller's never-too-much-to be-praised work of comics genius. A few brief minutes will be wasted while the bumbling Ogden attempts a futile argument for what would be the other side, if there were one.

The memorable event will be Monday November 23rd in Blusson Hall 10021 from eleven thirty to twelve twenty.

Local & Classfellow Comics

From bushel-averse classfellow Bevan Thomas:
"[By me] ...a short piece about comic books being adapted to television...also a short article on some comics I enjoyed as kid as well as one on Grant Morrison."
"...a group of cartoonists in the city....their website..."

"...a couple of comic book writers who have their comics up on the Net ....[are]
under the comic book section."

"....the entire run of Elfquest was put-up on their official website ... under their comics section.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Brilliant Book on Comics Heroes

For those of you writing on heroes and superheroes in comics, Christopher Knowles Our Gods Wear Spandex: the Secret History of Comic Book Heroes is indispensable. More than presenting comics heroes in a line with historical antecedents, the book gives large prominence to gnosticism, theosophy, occult groups and the entire magical impedementia of the Victorians as direct influences. Both Crowley and Gaimon are featured in a way that will be familiar to you from lecture, with some additional information and perspective.

I now have a copy of my own for anyone who wishes to a borrow be. [Image courtesy]

Was Superman's arch nemesis Lex Luthor based on Aleister Crowley? Can Captain Marvel be linked to the Sun gods on antiquity? In Our Gods Wear Spandex, Christopher Knowles answers these questions and brings to light many other intriguing links between superheroes and the enchanted world of estoerica. Occult students and comic-book fans alike will discover countless fascinating connections, from little known facts such as that DC Comics editor Julius Schwartz started his career as H.P. Lovecraft's agent, to the tantalizingly extensive influence of Madame Blavatsky's Theosophy on the birth of comics, to the mystic roots of Superman. The book also traces the rise of the comic superheroes and how they relate to several cultural trends in the late 19th century, specifically the occult explosion in Western Europe and America. Knowles reveals the four basic superhero archetypes--the Messiah, the Golem, the Amazon, and the Brotherhood--and shows how the occult Bohemian underground of the early 20th century provided the inspiration for the modern comic book hero.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Classfellow Blurb

From Classfellow Clinton Hallahan, this gonzo comment after recently first reading Will Eisner's Contract With God:
I'm not surprised it's popular. It hits like a warhead, one of those pieces of fiction that upon subsequent readings you can't capture the way you felt about it the first time. Novelty becomes an asset for things like this, I think (and that may also apply to From Hell and Jack The Ripper too: the novelty of a media-fueled celebrity killer aiding it's legend).

Alan Moore & "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen"

From Douglas Wolk (author of Understanding Comics), found in
Nov. 24, 2007
Years before its publication, Alan Moore described The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier as "not my best comic ever, not the best comic ever, but the best thing ever. Better than the Roman civilisation, penicillin ... and the human nervous system. Better than creation. Better than the big bang. It's quite good." More>>>

Thursday, November 5, 2009


[An excellent guest-post here from one of our number. All are welcome to submit any comics-related posts for wider publication.]
Hello everyone: I’m Bevan, the tall pale guy with the black laptop that’s been bogging the class down with all those comments about Sandman, From Hell, and to a lesser extent the other books. Anyway, I was talking with Dr. Ogden about the Watchmen movie and expressed some comments about it that he suggested be posted on the blog. So here there are, and be warned that there are some spoilers:

Unlike many people, I don’t think the movie was a good movie. The opening credits showing the effects of superheroes throughout different parts of history (Comedian assassinating JFK, Andy Warhol painting the heroes, etc.) was brilliant, but most of the rest of it didn’t work so well. There are various reasons, but two main ones:

The first was that I felt the movie lacked “energy.” I just couldn’t get involved in what was going-on. I wasn’t carried away by the story. It’s hard, if not impossible, to give reasons for this sort of thing. Something either has it or it doesn’t, and Watchmen didn’t.

The other is easier to explain. The movie took some of the more problematic or disturbing elements of the comic and cranked them-up to make them objectionable. For example, the murder of the Comedian and the sexual assault on Silk Spectre takes up relatively later paper time in the comic, but are very long in the movie, dwelling on very raw, disturbing, and ultimately uninteresting violence. Dr. Manhattan busts up a vice club by blowing-up many of its members, which is implied in the book (something that always bothered me), but is graphically shown in the movie. Nite Owl apologies to Rorschach for yelling at him, saying that he’s Rorschach’s friend (despite all the things the man’s done), which is exaggerated in the movie.

But most objectionable of all is the fight with the gang. In the book, Nite Owl and Silk Spectre are attacked by a street gang, and after that they defeat the gang, they become seriously turned-on (one of the themes of the book is the erotic overtones of being a superhero). Now, in the movie this fight happens, but the two very clearly KILL many members of the gang. People getting aroused by being in a fight is one thing, people getting aroused by just killing a group of people is something else.

Now obviously most of this stuff is already in the book, but I found that the movie cranked it up enough so that it changed from something artistically sound, to something that left a bad taste in my mouth.

Anyway, that’s my two cents.