Raiders of Lost Knowledge, by Mike Gold
A couple weeks ago, Linda and I were at the Norman Rockwell Museum for the opening of their graphic novels exhibit. If you can get to Stockbridge Massachusetts before the end of May, I highly recommend it. Even if you can’t get there by then, I highly recommend the Museum.
Well, I think I managed to break my record. I actually went off-subject in my very first paragraph. When I read this online, ten days from now (I’m writing ahead because I’ll be at the Mid-Ohio Con), I will really be embarrassed. But, again, I digress.
We were there at the invitation of the Museum and of Mark Wheatley and Marc Hempel. We did a graphic novel called Breathtaker, which was both published by and loathed by DC Comics. Joke’s on you guys: we were at the Rockwell. Anyway, it seems I’m digressing once in each paragraph. I promise I’ll be more linear.
Dave Sim, of Cerebus fame, was among the dozen or so honorees. Well deserved; he’s possibly the only single cartoonist to pull off a 6,000 page graphic novel. Dave, Linda and I got into a lengthy conversation about the medium and its future – occupational hazard, that – and in the course of discussion Dave suggested it was possible – possible, mind you – that it takes a higher level of intelligence than average to be attracted to the graphic storytelling medium (I think Dave called it “comics”). The Simpsons’ Comic Book Guy isn’t the exception, he may be the rule. And I’ll admit that most of the Mensa people I know are into comics, but that’s probably because a lot of comics people I know were in Mensa. And most of them couldn’t get laid there, either.
But we, as a micro-society deviant or otherwise, do seem to have a thirst for knowledge. So, with the kind permission of our DVD Extras columnist Ric Meyers, I can highly recommend the Young Indiana Jones DVD box sets. Not so much for the teevee movies contained therein, which I rather liked even though they lacked the action and pacing of the theatricals, but for the documentaries. The first box set (of two) contained 12 discs and some 38 documentaries, each running about 15 to 30 minutes.
Produced by the folks at Lucasfilm, these documentaries are by and large superior to the typical History Channel fare and vastly more interesting than the crap you suffered through in school. Your kids will probably be force-fed this stuff; they’ll be better off for it.
Among the subjects: T.E. Lawrence, Teddy Roosevelt, Norman Rockwell, ecology, Degas, Puccini, Jung, Eastern spirituality, Pancho Villa, the Easter uprising, and women’s sufferage in both the United States and in England. If you haven’t been counting, that’s but a few.
I can’t say I’ve seen them all – yet – but I can say this: the ones I have seen thus far were so good I have yet to watch any of the teevee movies. Linda’s a Lawrence of Arabia fanatic, and the documentary “Colonel Lawrence’s War” received her highest praise. And she’s a tough audience.
These two box sets aren’t cheap. They retail at $129.99 (the second one is to be released the middle of December), but if you can rent them or buy them at a discount you’ll think it worth the effort.
Particularly if you have kids – and you’ve passed along that comic fan DNA.
Mike Gold is editor-in-chief of ComicMix.