July 19, 2016:
July 19, 2016:
It has been a good long while since I posted. This is what happens when a long-running family crisis refuses to resolve itself. As I've mentioned, my 91-year-old father-in-law broke his hip last November, and for the last eight months Phyllis and I have been dealing with the consequences, most recently the need to sell his house and its all too plentiful contents, and his 2000 Ford Crown Victoria. (He was still driving, without issues, until his accident, and he found the sale of his car far more distressing than the sale of the house where he'd lived for more than forty years.)
We've been able to break away only briefly since the crisis began, and we'll do so again this week. We'll be at San Diego for Comic-Con International, starting tomorrow. I'll be the subject of a "spotlight" session, and I'll be one of a half dozen participants in a Mark Evanier panel on Walt Kelly. Here are the particulars on both presentations, starting with the earliest:
Walt Kelly and Pogo
The greatest newspaper strip of all time? Some would call it that. Even if you aren't one of them, you've gotta love the wit and whimsy of Walt Kelly's magnum opus, Pogo, now receiving its first-ever complete reprinting in an Eisner Award-winning series from Fantagraphics Books. Remember this great artist with comics historian Maggie Thompson (Comics Buyer's Guide), film critic Leonard Maltin, historian Michael Barrier, cartoonist Scott Shaw!, Eric Reynolds (co-editor of the Complete Pogo series), and moderator Mark Evanier (Groo the Wanderer).
Friday July 22, 2016 12:30pm - 1:30pm
And on my "spotlight" session:
Spotlight on Michael Barrier
Author Mike Barrier (Funnybooks: The Improbable Glories of the Best American Comic Books) will talk about the challenges and rewards of pursuing an interest in comic books that bypasses superheroes in favor of artists like Carl Barks, Walt Kelly, and John Stanley. Randy Duncan (author of The Power of Comics: History, Form and Culture) will moderate, with PowerPoint visuals.
Friday July 22, 2016 4:00pm - 5:00pm
Randy is a fellow Arkansan who teaches at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia. We collaborated on a PowerPoint show at the Akansas Literary Festival last year. This one will be better, I think, my grasp of PowerPoint having gotten much stronger in the interim.
I'll be available to sign books in the autograph area after my session.
From John Richardson: I'm really enjoying Funnybooks. As I read and re-read portions of it, it has struck me recently how different this comics world is from “serious” comics. You mention that in your last post. As I got up into high school, I began fairly suddenly to have interest only in funny comics. The closest thing to the superhero world that I spent time on were Eisner’s Spirit comics – and I really, really loved those. I think it may be because they seemed to realize they were comic books in a way others “serious” ones didn’t. They were more parody than I realized at the time. I haven’t read any graphic novels or anything since the Dark Knight Batman in the '80’s—loaned by a friend—so I can’t judge anything current; but serious comics often seem to have a sort of inherent denial of their own identity. I know, I know… that’s a very offensive opinion to have, but I can’t help it.
MB replies: Actually, that pretty well summarizes my own attitude toward "serious" comics. Superheroes are inherently frivolous, and it's the comic books that recognize and embrace that truth—The Spirit above all, Captain Marvel—that I can enjoy reading. It's the comic books that insist on being taken seriously, like Miller's Dark Knight and Moore's Watchmen, that I find tiresome, often disgusting, and generally hopeless.
[Posted August 3, 2016]