Tagged: Fun Home

Fingeroth to Speak About Graphic Novels

Fingeroth to Speak About Graphic Novels

Danny Fingeroth, best known today as editor of Write Now!, will be speaking on the topic of graphic novels at the Court street Barnes & Noble in Brooklyn on Tuesday evening at 7 p.m.

Known for his superhero work, Fingeroth may seem like an unorthodox choice to write a guide to non-superhero, "literary" graphic novels such as Maus, Fun Home, etc. But that, he says, is the point. The world of the literary GN is unknown territory to many followers of superheroes. As  a result he wrote the Rough Guide to Graphic Novels, published recently by PenguinPutnam.

This is far from Fingeroth’s first boo, having previously authored Superman on the Couch and Disguised as Clark Kent.  Fingeroth was also previously Spider-Man Group Editor and a Marvel Comics writer.

In his Barnes & Noble presentation, Fingeroth will discuss the world of graphic novels and present his sure-to-be controversial favorites. Q & A and signing will follow, and perhaps a surprise or two will be in store.

Alison Bechdel on ‘State by State’

Alison Bechdel, who’s probably best known for her memoir Fun Home, has an essay and art in the upcoming State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America.

She has a note about the project on her blog, and then there’s a new review of it in Publishers Weekly.

From the (pretty brief) review:

Alison Bechdel’s illustrated story about her life after moving to Vermont brilliantly combines personal history with historical fact, as does Charles Bock’s essay on growing up and working in his parent’s Las Vegas pawnshop.

Comics panels at WisCon

Comics panels at WisCon

Karen Healey of GirlWonder reports on a few comics-related panels in which she’ll be participating at the upcoming annual WisCon feminist SF convention, May 25-28.  Here’s the full panel schedule.  My favorite is the one she’s moderating:

Sarcasm and Superheroics: Feminism in the Mainstream Comics Industry

2006 was declared the year of Women in Comics. Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home was one of Time’s 10 Best Books, best-selling authors Jodi Picoult and Tamora Pierce were signed up to write for DC and Marvel, and DC announced a new Minx line for girls. However, 2006 was also a year of increased feminist activism in mainstream comics. New websites "When Fangirls Attack" and "Girl-Wonder.org" collected and encouraged feminist debate on issues of diversity and sexism in comics, and there seemed to be plenty to talk about. Moreover, the Occasional Superheroine confessional memoir recounted a disturbing tale of abuse and misogyny within the superhero industry that was reflected on the pages of its comics. What has improved in the comics industry? What is yet to be done? What challenges are posed by the industry’s peculiar institutional structure? How can women break into the comics mainstream? How can we critique it? And what comics can you buy for your kids? M: Karen Elizabeth Healey, Charlie Anders, Rachel Sharon Edidin, Catherine Lundoff, Jenni Moody

There’s also an interesting-sounding X-Men panel on Sunday.  I’m officially jealous; it sounds like another great year for the WisCon folks.

Cartoonists Conundrum

Cartoonists Conundrum

While we’ve been in the throes of office hell, we’ve noticed some changes going on in cartoonist-land that bear passing along:

  • Alison Bechdel has announced that she’s cutting back on production of her popular Dykes to Watch Out For comic strip from biweekly to monthly, in order to work on her new memoir, which she estimates will be ready in 2009.  She’ll be interspersing the new strips with "archive strips" (aka reruns), the first of which was published today — check out the very first episode of DTWOF, from 20 years ago!  (And be sure to check out Amanda Marcotte’s review of Bechdel’s Fun Home on the A-list political blog Pandagon.)
  • Mikhaela Reid passes along the news about Ward Sutton ending Sutton Impact (check out The Beat for more) and about the closing of The New Standard, a very friendly venue for political cartoonists which will be sorely missed.  (See Glenn’s post below for further cartoonist troubles at larger circulation papers.)
  • We do have some good news to pass along, however.  The Ormes Society’s Cheryl Lynn has kicked off the Torchy Brown Art Meme over at her blog, the results of which will be published on TOS’s site.  (That’s Torchy over on the right.)  And Heidi MacDonald crows that the House of Twelve Comic Jam folks have a new meeting place, starting this very evening.  It’s not far from Jim Hanley’s, so Manhattanites can grab their weekly haul and a drink with that jam, if they have the bread.

And if you are going to drink, please draw responsibly.

ELAYNE RIGGS: Forward into the past

ELAYNE RIGGS: Forward into the past

The comics industry stands at an exciting crossroads. International acceptance of graphic literature is starting to have a positive effect on how Americans see non-superhero genres, as manga saturates teen audiences and award-winning autiobiographical novels like Fun Home and Persepolis enthrall adults. When you factor the geek contingent into that, as even the superhero genre (the one most non-comics readers associate and conflate with the medium itself) gains mainstream acceptance in blockbuster movies and hit TV shows, it would seem to be another Golden Age for the artform. The future of print and online comics looks healthier than ever.

So why is so much of the comics industry still mired in the past?

Take Previews, for instance. Now, Diamond Comics distribution and comic book retailers do many things right. Diamond’s comic store locator provides a valuable service, and Free Comic Book Day (this Saturday, don’t forget to peruse your local store with someone "new" to comics!) has become a much-anticipated event. And I suspect Previews isn’t as much a problem as a symptom of a wider dilemma facing brick-and-mortar specialty stores caught in the timeline between the demise of newsstand and mom-and-pop outlets (where many of today’s adult readers bought their first comics) and the promise of mainstream bookstores and targeted online purchasing.

Personally, I think the root of the problem is non-returnable product.




In her book No Idle Hands: The Social History of American Kniting, Anne Macdonald describes the Puritan roots of our country and how getting together to knit, quilt or sew was one of the few ways colonial women could get together to socialize. The only way they could justify the pleasure they took in each other’s company was to do some “productive” work.

In other words, our culture hates pleasure.

This might seem to be a strange thing to say when everything from beer to detergent is being sold with sexy commercials. But, see, that’s the point. Pleasure is being used to sell. It’s not being celebrated for its own sake.

Which brings us to comics and the lack of respect they get in our modern world. Comics are fun. Denny O’Neil says that comics are one of the few media that engage both halves of the brain, providing a buzz unavailable from movies or books. Even if that didn’t happen, comics are uniquely joyous. Anything can happen in the pages of a comic. Dogs can talk. Pigs can fly. The universe can be compressed into a ball, or be the staging ground for an epic battle. The battle can be between Galactus and the Avengers, or talking dogs and flying pigs.

Comics don’t have to be silly to be a pleasure. I’ve had a fine time reading Frank Miller’s Sin City, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, and Will Eisner’s A Contract with God, to name just a few, disparate titles. The pleasure comes from the books ability to get me to leave my own head and get into someone else’s, to try on another life and walk around.

Which brings us back to politics.

Back in the day (and by that, I mean the 1960s and 1970s), we thought that sex and drugs and rock’n’roll could change the world. We thought that if we showed how much fun there was in the counter-culture, no one would want to go to war.

We were right.

Comics were a major part of the counter-culture. Robert Crumb, Trina Robbins, Howard Cruse, S. Clay Wilson, Skip Williamson, Spain Rodriguez and many others blew away the straight world’s idea of what comics were about. They made comics about motorcycle demons, stoner cats, fabulous furry freak brothers, girl fights and lots of other stuff that wasn’t superheroes or expanded newspaper strips. They told silly stories that ridiculed the power structure and celebrated pleasure.

The war in Vietnam ended for a lot of reasons. Public opinion turned against it, and the troops came home. Comics helped.

There’s another war on now, and yet there are remarkably few comics that offer an alternative vision. We need them. We need more fun.

Bechdel goes to college

Bechdel goes to college

Alison Bechdel reports in her blog, "I just finished a two-day visit at Miami Dade College, sponsored by the Florida Center for the Literary Arts, where I talked  about Fun Home to a staggering array of classes, from Art to English to Human Growth and Development to The Graphic Novel." 

No fair, why couldn’t there have been Graphic Novel classes back in ancient times when I was in college?

Bechdel also spoke at the Gay-Straight Alliance meeting (whence this photo comes) and did a reading at the Broward County Public Library, which she details as one of her more interesting experiences in the Fun Home tour.  And speaking of libraries, she’s very happy to hear that the Marshall (MO) PL has voted to return Fun Home (as well as Craig Thompson’s Blankets) to their shelves, as are we.

Bechdel has Fun in NYC

Bechdel has Fun in NYC

For those New Yorkers who missed seeing Alison Bechdel at the New York Comic Con, she reports that she’s in town again today and tomorrow, appearing at National Book Critics Circle award events.  Her graphic novel Fun Home has been nominated for one of these awards, and Bechdel reports that "There’s a reading of all the finalists Wednesday evening at 6pm at The New School University, Tishman Auditorium, 66 W. 12th St.

"There’ll be some pretty fancy people there. A real literary smorgasbord. You should come! It’s free and open to the public. Then on Thursday the 8th, the award ceremony happens. That also appears to be free and open to the public, and also happens at 6pm at Tishman Auditorium. Though it probably won’t be as interesting as the reading."  More info on the NBCC site.