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Archive: January 2004

More comics

While I’m posting comics, here are a couple more I’ve done:

Family Circus Photoshopping

Family Circus Photoshopping

Yes, that is the actual caption on today’s Family Circus. Is it a joke about supermarkets marking up their prices? I do not know. Now it’s an HTML joke, go me.

Wonder Woman Action-Packed Laundry Issue

Thank you, Steven Wintle: Wonder Woman #246 is on my must-find list!

Wonder Woman

The Amazons don’t have good fabric softener! Who wrote this brilliance? Jack C. Harris.

… and says, “Hang on a minute….”

Dirk Deppey sez, in attempting to refute John Byrne’s arguments against original graphic novels (a noble, if not difficult, endeavor):

Moreover, consider the notion that no one will pay for a $20 book without having read it in pamphlet form first. Can anyone who’s given the bookstore market even a cursory examination do anything but laugh? How does Byrne think hardcover prose novels sell? The argument’s equally idiotic where graphic novels are concerned. Picture Craig Thompson, Joe Sacco and Marjane Satrapi smacking their foreheads and crying, “Why, God, why didn’t I listen to John Byrne when I had the chance!?!” Mind you, Thompson, Sacco and Satrapi produce works that the average person in the street might actually want to read

While I understand the argument he’s making, that people choose what to read largely based on reviews and recommendations rather than just wanting extra copies in different formats of books they’ve already read, it might have been a bit stronger if more than one out of the three examples worked primarily in original graphic novels. Maybe 1.5, if we count making two volumes of French Persepolis into one book for the anglophone market as still dealing in graphic novels. It’s a story told in segments, of which the version I read is one, but so are its constituent books and the other parts of the series. Maybe the issue is that 80 pages in French b/w does not a pamphlet make? I don’t know how anyone could claim Sacco was saving is work for his graphic novels, though, since Safe Area Gorazde (and I apologize to any linguistic purists that html doesn’t seem to allow me to use the proper “z”) had the preceding comics journalism he had published in various venues during the war serving as a teaser for discerning readers and Notes from a Defeatist is a collection of previously published works. I don’t follow Deppey closely, though, and I’m not sure how limiting his definition of a graphic novel is. Is Persepolis a limited series? Is Notes from a Defeatist not a graphic novel in that it’s not a novel by standard criteria, whatever those are? I really don’t know and it’s not a question that interests me.

Anyway, yes, it’s good that people read works that are interesting and getting a lot of critical attention, like the books of all three cited writers. I also believe it’s bad to take John Byrne seriously, but perhaps someone’s gotta do it. The truly horrifying thing is that people do, and concur.

And on a last and unrelated note, Deppey says Byrne “stands athwart history and says ‘Stop!’” a quick search shows that perhaps Byrne should have been yelling, but maybe he just doesn’t have as much energy as the young William F. Buckley, Jr. I’m frightened I caught the reference and want to know whether it was supposed to have political implications about Deppey’s already uncloaked opinions about John Byrne or whether it’s a throwaway line. Both, probably.

Theory is as dead as irony

Cultural theory is dead! (Link from David Fiore.)

In this age of terrorism, he [Terry Eagleton] says, cultural theory has become increasingly irrelevant, because theorists have failed to address the big questions of morality, metaphysics, love, religion, revolution, death and suffering.” … The postmodern prejudice against norms, unities and consensuses is a politically catastrophic one,” he writes.

Now this is apparently a standard criticism of postmodernist theory, that it rejects norms and consensuses. You so crazy, Terry Eagleton! What postmodernists reject norms and consensuses? Stupid ones, I guess? I don’t. I say, as a postmodernist, we have nothing but norms and consensuses. But see, (some) non-postmoderists seem to think something like, “If we see a consensus among humans, that’s probably indicative of some kind of absolute or truth or something like that.” But postmodernists, or postmodernists who think like I do anyway, think more like, “Well, we have this consensus, so we’d better deal with that and not worry too much about whether it’s a universal absolute truth or whatever.” See how that’s different than a rejection of norms and consensuses consensi? It’s a loving embrace of them.

More Decadent Baby Talk

Tiffany jewelry offers the perfect reward for a hard-working mother, a $7K diamond watch suitable for diaper changing!

I’m really not sure who the target audience is. I assume it’s not 1950s-era glamour girls with new babies, and it’s presumably not for people who imagine themselves that way, since that seems like a fairly specialized fetish. But do people who appreciate irony spend thousands at Tiffany? Some must, I suppose. I certainly don’t. And yet I’m fascinated with the picture. I’d appreciate a poster, even. But it doesn’t make me want a watch, only an explanation.

I guess fashion photography has its own idioms. I enjoyed the New York Times weekend magazine spreads in my early teens for their sheer lunacy, the high-gloss hideousness they portrayed with a poker face so that I never knew if people really wore parts of these outfits or if the whole industry was a colossal joke. Even crazier are the ads for perfumes, since anything beyond the despised stinky envelopes in magazines or mailings is only about conveying a mood, and I really don’t see the connection between my self-esteem and scented water, but perhaps that’s a personal flaw. I’m also wondering who’s sold on the right-hand diamond phenomenon (temporary link, requires free login), a marketing campaign designed by the diamond cartel to get women to buy themselves diamond rings, since engagement ring sales aren’t doing enough for the industry. I’m sure it’s terribly liberating not to wait around for a ring, but why not just ditch the diamonds altogether if the symbology of the engagement ring is so oppressive?

Then again, I’m not immune to the power of advertising images. I went head-over-heels for a car commercial (I thought Volkswagen, but I can’t find anything about it on their website) showing a South Asian American family. There wasn’t anything special about the commercial, but it was so refreshing to see a “different” look from what’s usually given that I got all excited and happy. This is yet one more reason I don’t watch much tv.

Is no news good news?

This just in! Jessica Simpson isn’t pregnant! Not only that, but she doesn’t even plan to become pregnant any time soon! Moreover, if she were pregnant, she probably wouldn’t star in a show about it on MTV. Stay tuned for more updates in this shocking turn of events.

I realize celebrity worship is big and that I’m utterly unamerican for not having a celebrity crush (and maybe for other reasons) but I really hope there was some context to this other than “Britney’s in the news; better put out a press release.” That still doesn’t explain why anyone would publish it, though.

And just for the record, me, I’m not pregnant. Not even looking for a dog. Everything’s just a-ok, not that anyone asked me either.

Internet Explorer Eats More Babies

And another thing about Internet Explorer! It doesn’t display PNGs properly. If you’re viewing this page on IE, you won’t see a lovable little pirate underneath the Peiratikos title (by the way, “peiratikos” is an Ancient Greek word which, being translated, is “pirate,” or “pirates,” or something like that). If you want to see what IE does to our poor pirate, check out our 404 page.

Sue Storm has a boy head!

John Jakala brings tidings of ugly manga art from Marvel. Mr. Fantastic is Billy Bob Thornton flashing gangsta-rap hand things!

Now, the idea behind the Marvel Age is to republish 1960s-era Marvel stories with new manga art. At least Marvel is being honest now about their creative autophagy.

Derridean D&D!

Bruce Baugh uses Dungeons & Dragons to illustrate some very basic concepts of deconstructionism. I think I don’t like the term “deconstructionism.” I think deconstruction is a fine critical strategy, but I don’t see that it needs to be elevated to an ism. I mean, it’s a pretty basic and obvious (to me, anyway) concept—meaning is unstable, hierarchies and oppositions in texts are unstable and deconstruct themselves. Actually deconstruction doesn’t destroy stability of meaning, it shifts the site of meaning creation from the text to the reader. Well, meaning is not so concrete… meaning is not objective. Shall we say it is subjective? I say no. After all, there isn’t one Reader of a text, but many, readers who analyze and critique and discuss. Stanley Fish’s idea of interpretive communities. Meaning is a social construct. That is a central concept of postmodernism as I think of it.

Which is not to say I think there’s any problem with Mr. Baugh’s blog post. That’s a great little essay, I hope he writes much more.