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Archive: February 2005

Rose’s Little Brother on Seaguy

Several months ago, Rose and I lent her brother Seaguy #1-3 after extracting a promise that he would tell us what he thought about them. The idea was to get a thirteen-year-old’s perspective on an esoteric Grant Morrison comic book and present it for the benefit of the comics blogosphere. Rose mentioned a few weeks ago that I never got around to posting about this, so here it is now, a thirteen-year-old’s thoughts on Seaguy:

Rose’s brother:

I liked them. They were kind of confusing, though. For example, what are the “Mickey Eye” people doing everywhere? What exactly is the Xoo? What is that giant beetle doing on the moon and why did it stop the revolution of the moon?

Do you have the fourth one?


Unfortunately, there isn’t a fourth one, yet. This is a complete story, but there may be another story later.

Do you have any theories about what Micky Eye and its people are doing, or what Xoo is? I have my own ideas, but I wonder what yours are.

Rose’s brother:

Mickey Eye is these things, since they’re in the comic-
-They’re against the Xoo people.
-They’re trying to wake up the beetle or something.
-They are very wide spread.
-They have plenty of money.

Xoo is these things-
-A substance made that can become conscious.
-Manufactured for use for anything.

So these are my ideas-
1= Mickey Eye is an evil organization that wants to wake up the beetle to take over the world, and Xoo is the only thing in its way.

2= Mickey Eye is an organization that wants to stop Xoo’s spread because Xoo is too powerful, or a threat to their power. The beetle is the only thing that can stop Xoo, and Mickey Eye is trying to wake it up.

3= Mickey Eye and the people who make Xoo are both evil and want to take over each other, and the people who make Xoo created Xoo to destroy Mickey Eye. Mickey Eye is planning to counter with the beetle.

4= Mickey Eye and Xoo are working together, for reasons unknown.

What do you think?


I think everything you say makes sense to me. I don’t know how Xoo fits into the big picture—it seems to be a wild card. Mickey Eye made (or discovered, it’s hard to tell) Xoo, but it can’t control Xoo. I think what Xoo is, basically, is the New. I mean, not any specific new thing that Mickey Eye has invented, but a strange physical manifestation of the abstract concept of novelty—that’s why it can be used for anything. Mickey Eye wants to control how people are exposed to new things, and they want to control how people think about new things, but Xoo (New) is too powerful, especially with meddling heroes like Seaguy getting involved.

And as for Mickey Eye, I think it’s supposed to remind us of Disney (hence the “Mickey” mascot and the amusement parks). Not that Disney is as powerful as Mickey Eye, obviously, but just imagine what things would be like if Mickey Mouse ruled the world: the whole world would be Disney World. Disney World is the happiest place on Earth, but it would surely get oppressive if you always had to live in manufactured bliss and weren’t allowed to stop being happy. That’s the world Seaguy lives in.

(By the way, does anybody remember which blogger first came up with the Xoo/New idea? I remember reading about it when Seaguy #1 came out, but I don’t remember where.)

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17 February 2005 by Steven | Permalink | Comments disabled

“How can you be so shallow at a time like this?”

I think you can probably take it as a given that I’m going to remain a bad blogger for a while, but I’m not actually giving up. Instead I’m going to rant a bit (at least tonight) and that’s making me really excited. Rant!!

Steven and I got Vimanarama last week, since it was one of the few comics that needed to be bought the day it was out. Of course, it’s taken me almost a week to talk about it, but at least I’ve got an angle. Grant Morrison and Philip Bond have created the first segment of a three-part story about a young South Asian British guy, Ali, who meets his betrothed, Sofia, as they set off what may become the end of the world. I think the idea is sort of a Bollywood manga with Muslim leads, which was enough to have me sold on the story, but I’m afraid it may be just too alien for some readers. Even Jog, in an otherwise excellent analysis didn’t notice that the characters were in England, not India. Of course other readers didn’t notice that soccer is played with the feet and a black-and-white ball (I tease, Johnny! But is youth soccer not huge in your part of the state?) so maybe I shouldn’t write it off as cultural disconnect issues. Anyway, I very much enjoyed the book, but that’s not quite what I’m going to talk about.

Still, there’s one thing that’s getting to me, and that’s the issue of hijab, or Muslim dress (I use it here to mean specifically women’s headcoverings, but it’ll go a little beyond that). I’ll be quite open in saying that I’ve never been to the UK, but I think I can speak with a fair amount of certainty about young Muslim women in the American Midwest, and so that’s mostly what I’m going to do. Now, this is only the third mainstream comics story I’ve even read that involved veiled women to any major extent, the most recent previous being Morrison’s introduction of Dust in New X-Men. I know Dust is still an active character in the spinoff Mutant Academy X stories (or whatever the official title is now; it had two colons when I was reading it) but I haven’t kept up with those, despite being interested in what becomes of her, since what became of the rest of the characters didn’t mean anything to me at all. I was a little annoyed by the outfit she wore, since she’s from Afghanistan, which was certainly a topical locale, but where the blue burqa has taken on an almost mythical symbolic status, and yet she wears all black, scarf, gown, and face scarf (niqaab) which is a look I associate with Saudis or women from the Gulf states. It’s visually different from the Iranian chador, which generally includes a blanket-like rather than self-closing headcovering and no face-veil. So Dust was dressed this way because it made a good visual counterpoint to Fantomex, who had a similar amount of skin showing beneath his white helmet and bodysuit. I was just never convinced there was a good cultural justification and kept waiting for it to show up. I know modesty and self-respect are issues that are playing out for her in the newer X-Men book, but I’m not sure how well that will work.

The prior instance was a story written by Brian K. Vaughn for the JLA Annual #4, in which the JLA meet Turkey’s defender, young humanitarian doctor Selma Tolon a/k/a The Janissary. Her costume incorporates the Turkish flag and includes both a face veil of sorts and a red hijab. This made me laugh a lot, since part of Atat????rk’s secular revolution involved outlawing headcoverings for women in public schools or civil service positions. So Turkey’s great defender is a scofflaw! But this is an interesting point that ties into Vimanarama, because women who think that exercising their religion means covering their hair are stuck in a situation where they have to either leave the country or get some sort of religious schooling. So the Turkish women who study in the U.S. will disproportionately wear headcoverings, because they don’t have options at home. In case you haven’t picked up on this yet, I don’t have anything against hijab and actually can understand the appeal. It’s really empowering to be able to make yourself un-sexualized, to force people talking to you to look at your face, but of course there are practical drawbacks both in the Midwest and, I assume, in Britain, where Vimanarama is set. I do think it’s only a good choice if it is a choice, though, if there are legitimate and legal options (e.g. not Turkey and not Iran, pre- or post-Islamic revolution) .

And that brings us to Vimanarama, where seemingly secularized Ali wonders about God’s plan for him while threatening to kill himself if the girl he’s supposed to marry is ugly. He’s bringing a prayer rug to his injured brother, even though I think we can safely assume that traumatic head injuries are the sort of thing that exempt you from required prayers. And somehow Ali’s father, who is traditional enough to be arranging a marriage for his teenaged son, isn’t traditional enough to require that he change out of his tracksuit. It turns out Sofia’s parents are equally lax, letting her travel unaccompanied in capri jeans and a midriff-baring top beneath her hooded sleeveless sweatshirt. This strikes me as a little odd just because I think it’s not a culturally specific situation for parents to press their children to dress up for high-pressure situations like this, but we’ve still got 2/3 of the story to go and I won’t be sad if this point is never explained. As it is, I think it’s meant to set up Ali and Sofia as something new, both aware and accepting of their South Asian heritage while not keeping all the markers of Muslim identity, which is going to create a nice triangle with what seem to be Hindu god-beings they’ve roused. But I want to get back to those markers of identity, because while I realize there’s a re-veiling movement going on worldwide (not unlike the Turkish example above, in part as a way to mark the wearer as separate from secular society, to make a political statement) but, at least in the area I know, it’s not big among the Pakistani population. That’s why I was a little surprised that Ali’s home looks like this:

Ali's family, featuring two differently veiled women

The woman with the white headscarf is his sister Fatima, but again her outfit is just a little odd. In my experience, South Asian women who wear headcoverings wear loose, colorful scarves that may not even totally cover their hair (or they may have another tight hair cover beneath that) and often a salwar kameez, or loose pants with a tunic. But anyway, not only is she wearing some sort of jilbab (long coat) with her white scarf, but it’s a black one. And the other woman, potentially Ali’s mother or Omar’s wife or someone else entirely, has a face veil as well and in all black. I don’t know if this is common among British Muslim women who veil, but it is not the standard here and struck me as odd. I wouldn’t think it was all that strange for this one family to be more formal about covering or even to be part of a group that keeps stricter than standard dressing requirements, but I’m not sure how it fits into the story and what exactly is being portrayed. Is this a literal representation of the clothes women in a family like Ali’s would be wearing, or is it supposed to be symbolic of the roles they play as Muslim women? It’s because this is such a powerful symbol that there are arguments about veiling and control of veiling in post-revolutionary Iran and Turkey and the recent school legislation in France. It’s an issue of personal choice, but also more, and I’m interested to see what the “more” in this case will turn out to be. Of course, there’s good reason to disagree and say that Vimanarama isn’t set in a world that’s like ours but for the magic stuff, but in one that’s fundamentally different in many ways.

Ali meets Sofia

Wrapping things up a bit, Marc Singer already noted what I was going to comment on, that the Adidas-like logo on Ali’s jacket approximates the shape of the magical lotus. I do still want to point out Sofia’s first appearance, above. Covered in darkness, her hair and upper face are covered as if by a veil, her eyes pupilless slits. And so the focus is on her mouth and neck and shoulders, a sort of anti-hijab that at the same time draws Ali to her face, although he definitely later gets around to checking out her body. Her still face seems like an allusion to the masks Morrison so often uses, a reminder that all of these women are bodies onto which things are being projected. Ali’s eventual task is not just to find Imran (and wow, “Looking for a baby?” is some pickup line!) but to find the real Sofia beneath her collected facade and, along the way, to find himself. But beginning with this scene, Sofia is in control, the more secure and active of the two. Until that point, Ali had been the go-to guy in his family, the one who could be depended on to take charge (even if with some sighs) and do whatever needs to get done. And yet as the world shifts, Sofia is the one who finds the clues to get to Imran’s location, despite being new to the region, not to mention this magical area. Yet with the appearance of the Ultra-Hadeen, there’s another shift, and both Sofia and Ali are unsettled, among strange beings who are not their God, and ready to embark on something very, very new. I know I’m right with them.

Music Meme


Total amount of music files on your computer

949 songs, 4.72 GB. According to iTunes, it would take me 2.4 days to listen to all of them.

The last CD you bought was…

The I ♥ Huckabees soundtrack, I think. More recently, I purchased Franz Ferdinand’s entire first album on iTunes.

What is the song you last listened to before reading this message?

Before reading this message? I don’t remember. The last song iTunes played before I started writing this post was Green Day’s “No Pride.” Right now I’m listening to Weezer’s “Burndt Jamb.”

Write down 5 songs you often listen to or that mean a lot to you.

Five songs I often listen to or that mean a lot to me? That couldn’t possibly be more arbitrary. I chose these songs sort of at random, I guess.

  • “Muzzle” by The Smashing Pumpkins. It’s good for when you need to be reminded that it’s OK you never grew entirely out of your “fourteen-year-old romantic” phase—and why would you want to grow out of being amazed by the distance to the sun and lamenting and celebrating mortality, anyway? This song reminds me of many of my favorite works of art, but perhaps especially The Invisibles and Romeo and Juliet.
  • “Beatles Mash-up Medley” by Hank Handy and The Beatles (find download links at Boing Boing). A lovely mashup of forty Beatles songs.
  • “Scott Pilgrim” by Plumtree. I discovered this song through Bryan Lee O’Malley. It’s like a super-condensed rock version of Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life.
  • “No One Else” by Weezer, because I just imported the CD into iTunes and this song is playing right now.
  • “The Show Must Go On” by Queen, as well as the version from Moulin Rouge. Because I’m out of room and I have dozens more songs I could name, so whatever. Both versions are totally awesome, although I love the Moulin Rouge version even more.

Who are you going to pass this stick to? (3 persons) and why?

Nobody! I guess I can see the point of building an explicit self-replicating mechanism into a meme—self-replication is what memes do, after all—but this chain-letter stuff becomes an anti-self-replication mechanism when the meme comes into contact with people like me who don’t want to play along. Infect yourself with the meme if you want it (or, bum bum bum, if it wants you!). You don’t need me to pass the torch.

Rose Music

I was asking Steven the other night whether we participate in question memes making the rounds, since my instinct would be to ignore them. He was interested, though, and since I’ve been called out by Dorian Wright AND because it was a birthday present, I have no choice but to comply.

1. Total amount of music files on your computer:

I seem to have 1.14 GB right now, but this is a new computer. And all of it’s legal, or at worst semi-legal mashup downloads. But I haven’t had this computer long and have other music I’ll eventually add, since my iTunes listening is getting a tiny bit predictable.

2. The last CD you bought was:

Two New Pornographers albums, Electric Version and Mass Romantic. The Christmas gift certificate didn’t really cover both, but I couldn’t decide between them fast enough before the store closed and so bought both. I used to buy cds all the time, especially weird ones from the 4/$10 (and once, on a happy day, 15/$10!) bin at my now-closed local store, but for several historical and financial reasons I’ve totally fallen away from new and interesting music. Someday I hope to go back, but it’s almost depressing to go into a store and see how far behind I am. Same with fiction, really, except that was library-based then and now.

3. What is the song you last listened to before reading this message?

I thought it would be cheating to put something on this morning, knowing that I’d have to answer here. Steven had on Queen in the car last night, so something from Queen’s Greatest Hits, Vol. 1. None of us can recall what it was and I made him turn it off because the cd is about 20 minutes long which means it’s impossible to play it in the car without hearing everything 20 times, especially if Steven insists on skipping songs.

4. Write down 5 songs you often listen to or that mean a lot to you.

I’m going to take the historical approach of pivotal songs that have meant a lot and choose only songs and only songs in English, which I hope will let me narrow things down to 5. Can you tell I’m not good at this? I might do an instrumental set later or even one of songs where I don’t or only partly understand the language. That could be fun, too.

Leonard Cohen’s “Story of Isaac” got me seriously started on folk music and song-as-poem stuff at age 13 or so.

Over the Rhine’s “Within Without” was a local-band-makes-good(ish) song I listened to every time I had to leave my room for a year or so in high school. I still like them on the whole, but maybe other songs more than this one.

Veda Hille’s entire album Spine, but maybe “One Hot Summer” if I had to pick just one song: “there’s so much beauty that I don’t believe in / god knows that my moth holds more teeth than wisdom.” It took me forever to bring myself to buy the album because the cover art was so grisly, but no one else was willing to get it even for $2.50. I would probably say it’s my favorite album.

Rose Polenzani is another favorite, and I think today I’d choose “Flood” as the one I hold onto most strongly, but it probably changes. Hers were just about the only cds I bought in college and she’s lovely and smart and charming in person. Yay!

While I can’t find a satisfactory link, “Midnight Radio” is probably my favorite song from Hedwig and the Angry Inch , or maybe “Random Number Generation.” I think that’s as close to new as I can get.

Honorable mentions who really deserve to be up there include The Incredible String Band, Robyn Hitchcock, Dar Williams, Ani DiFranco, Richard Shindell, Erin McKeown, Aimee Mann, The October Project, Eric Bogle, Cornershop, Jane Siberry, Lisa Germano, Pooka Blonde Redhead, Laura Nyro, Talking Heads, Nick Cave, The Rheostatics, The Klezmatics, and really lots more people I really love and can’t distill to a top 5. I’m probably cheating by having two men in my top 5, since mostly you can boil me down to female voices with sharp, haunting lyrics, but maybe there really is more to me than that.

5. Who are you going to pass this stick to? (3 persons) and why?

This is part of the reason I’ve been holding off, because I don’t want it to be a popularity contest or make people feel pressured or anything like that. I suppose Steven had better do it to even things out around here. Beyond that I’m not going to make it mandatory, but I’d really like to hear anything about music that other people want to say.



You say it’s your birthday!
It’s my birthday too—yeah!
They say it’s your birthday!
We’re gonna have a good time!
I’m glad it’s your birthday!
Happy birthday to you!

Yes we’re going to a party party!
Yes we’re going to a party party!
Yes we’re going to a party party!

I would like you to dance—birthday!
Take a cha-cha-cha-chance—birthday!
I would like you to dance—birthday!

You say it’s your birthday!
Well it’s my birthday too—yeah!
You say it’s your birthday!
We’re gonna have a good time!
I’m glad it’s your birthday!
Happy birthday to you!

“They experience time and motion differently.”

There’s been plenty of good blog-writing on Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s We3: Ian Brill, Ian Brill again, Jog. Johnny Bacardi, Johanna Draper Carlson, Marc Singer. And most of you have probably already read it anyway, so I’ll skip the overview and get right into a close look at the book’s many visual pleasures. All of the images in this post are links to larger images.

We3 #3, p. 23

The image to the left (We3 #3, p. 23) is one of the best examples of the most common layout technique used in We3: a large image with small panels overlaying it. The technique is used in other comics, but Morrison and Quitely use it better than most, as the overlay panels don’t act as part of the story’s sequential-art narrative, but instead act as meaning-modifiers on the large image. In the large image, Bandit and Weapon 4 are angrily staring each other down, but the two eye closeups complicate their staredown in two ways: their positioning emphasizes Weapon 4’s physical and emotional dominance of Bandit, and Bandit’s eye reveals his terror. Marc Singer points out the panel of “a minuscule dog that seems to represent how 1 views himself after a whiff of 4’s combat pheromones” (I thought it was a rat until Marc mentioned it!) whose presence seems to imply that the overlay panels aren’t necessarily part of the diegesis, not only because there is obviously no diegetic tiny dog, but also because the way it blends in with the larger image suggests that there is, impossibly, a tiny dog standing directly in front of Bandit. The moment of cognitive dissonance between the impossibility that there is a tiny dog and the visual implication that there is a tiny dog confronts the reader with the diegetic ambiguity of the overlay panels. That ambiguity makes the set of eye closeups even more interesting, because there’s no telling whether Bandit’s expression of terror is diegetic or non-diegetic—there’s no telling whether Bandit looks terrified or only feels so. And, as desperate as Bandit must be to hide his terror, he must not be sure he’s really hiding it—and haven’t most of us found ourselves desperately hoping our true emotions are invisible at one time or another? I know I have.

We3 #2, pp. 6-7

Some overlay panels seem to represent snapshot glimpses of what the combatants see in the midst of battle—the image to the left (We3 #2, pp. 6-7) is one of the most spectacular uses of snapshot overlay panels. I’ve never been in a fight, let alone a military battle, but I always imagine that the experience would be sort of the real-perception equivalent of that image of Bandit leaping through a jeep: a flood of visual information that doesn’t quite add up to a big picture. When the soldiers in the jeep realize a cyborg dog is about to jump through the windshield and maul them, I imagine they get quite an adrenaline rush and sensory overload, but there’s not enough time to make sense of anything. The overlay panels represent visually how the soldiers experience Bandit’s attack. The large image, on the other hand, represents Bandit’s ability, with his cyborg-enhanced animal sense and deadly combat training, to grasp the big picture.

But there’s even more going on in that image: notice the different apparent rates of time in the overlay panels and the big image. The big image uses the standard comic-book technique of duplicate images of one character tracing a path of movement through one panel to create a speed-up effect. The overlay uses a large number of panels showing incremental stages of a single action to create a slow-motion effect—look at the top tier, in which a bullet takes eight panels to travel through a soldier’s head, and the lowest tier, in which a soldier’s foot takes three panels to lift off the gas pedal. These actions take a fraction of a second, but the multiplication of panels dilates the diegetic time. Other overlay panels don’t appear to fit together narratively at all, and the breakdown of narrative cohesion fragments the diegetic time. When I try to read the overlay panels and the big image at the same time—an activity the layout actively encourages—I get three different temporal representations of the same narrative sequence, and the way the conflict between them disjoints my reading only enhances the other perceptual representations I’ve mentioned.

Now, here are two more pages from We3 (We3 #2, pp. 12-13 and #3, p. 6):

We3 #2, pp. 12-13We3 #3, p. 6

The first is another instance of Morrison and Quitely using a standard comics technique—this time it’s a character breaking out of the panel borders, typically used to suggest strength or power—to remarkable effect. In Animal Man, Morrison went meta and allowed characters to see the panel borders and move outside them. In We3, Tinker can move in and out of panels because she moves too quickly for the soldiers to react, and the soldiers are trapped within the panels by their limited perceptual abilities. The panel border comes to represent the limits of perception.

The second panel from the second page above is an allusion to Tinker’s panel-jumping attack—but, on this page, the animals aren’t around. In fact, the sequence of panels—the first with a point of view directly behind the homeless man, the second with the point of view seemingly directly in front of the homeless man, and the third a return to the first panel’s point of view—suggests that the second panel and the smaller overlaid panels represent the homeless man’s point of view. This is the one place in We3 where the panel layout is used to represent a human’s perception. This scene isn’t quite as action-packed as the cat’s attack in issue #2, but the large crowd of police officers and soldiers, flashing squad-car lights and blinding flashlights, would probably disorient most people. The small panels mirroring the panels from issue #2, particularly the penultimate right one that shows a closeup of the hand that grasps the homeless man from behind in the third panel—a hand the man shouldn’t be able to see—indicates the homeless man has superhuman perceptual abilities similar to the animals’. (Jog has the same idea, but he doesn’t seem convinced of it.) I think this strengthens Rose’s theory that the homeless man is a veteran—maybe the military did something to him that made him like We3, something that obviously doesn’t happen to everybody in the military. His ready acceptance of talking animals and confident determination to remove their “coats” seems to suggest he’s mentally unbalanced (he says he needs liquor, and the building where he lives is full of broken bottles—is he an alcoholic?), but maybe he knows more than he lets on.

No wonder Morrison called his recent Vertigo work “supercompressed.” Where a “decompressed” comic book enforces extended examination of a limited set of information through slow pacing and repetitive panels depicting incrementally changing scenes, We3 has an almost overwhelming amount of information packed into it, with even the spatial relationships between panels on the page modifying and extending the meaning of the pictures. I could go on and on, but this is enough for now.

Now we are sick

This post has been stagnating for over a week now. Other posts that wait unfinished for so long I just kill because I can’t pick up my thoughts well enough to keep going, but I’m hoping I can weave this together topically. See, I haven’t written here because I’ve been sick and I don’t know why. I had a flu a week (two weeks?) ago and have just been exhausted ever since. No fever, though I have more nightmares than usual, but I spent this weekend taking 3-hour naps and then wanting another one a few hours later. I’m just miserable and completely drained, which I’m sure has been a lot of fun for all the people who have to spend time with me, too.

At any rate, I stayed up a week ago Sunday reading It’s a Bird…, Steven Seagle’s fictionalized account of his personal crisis when offered a job writing Superman. It’s a physically beautiful volume, a comfortable size with fascinating art, but it was the story I’d wanted to read for a long time. In the story at least, Seagle’s family has a history of Huntington’s disease, and so his first tie to Superman is an issue of the comic he and his brother share in a hospital waiting room while the adults confer about his grandmother’s condition. Huntington’s is a family secret he hasn’t discussed with anyone growing up, something he was aware of without understanding at all, and the Superman gig and the news that his father has disappeared bring it to the surface.

Apparently Seagle (again, at least in the story; from here on out I’ll just treat “Seagle” as the fictional character since we have a Steven on the site already, and I’ll deal with Seagle-the-author-guy as needed when he shows up) didn’t learn about Huntington’s when he took biology, which is strange because I know we covered it as early as 7th grade. I was 12 and I was obsessed, because it seemed like such perfect story material. While Seagle says it lacks a celebrity face, there’s Woody Guthrie, whose frailty in his son’s movie Alice’s Restaurant apparently made quite an impression on viewers at the time, if my mother is to be believed. I mention this also because the parent/child relationship is at the core of the tragedy of Huntington’s, so while Woody’s decline is in some ways that of his generation (and Arlo’s drifting and trying to avoid the war is supposed to be characteristic of his decadent, passionate generation) it is also part of a story about what it means to be watching your father die young and painfully while your classmates are doing the same thing half a world away. Huntington’s, as I recall from my long-ago studies, is a real O. Henry disease; by the time you realize you have it at age 40 or so, you’ve already passed it on to your children. It’s practically the only (certainly the only I know) major genetic disease that is dominant rather than recessive, which means that there are no carriers. Either you have it or you don’t. If one of your parents has it, there’s a 50 percent chance you will, too.

Seagle didn’t really play with that aspect of it, didn’t talk about the odds, which seemed, well, odd in a story in which he worries so much about his own chances. He doesn’t tell his girlfriend that there are genetic screenings available now (another messy, tough issue that would make good story fodder) perhaps because he doesn’t know, but also because this is the story of his myopically private anguish. And really that’s what made it interesting. The book is comprised of vignettes, glimpses of Seagle with his girlfriend or with his editor or looking for his father or writing about Superman or the comics versions of the Superman stories he was writing. Seagle’s initial argument in wanting to turn down the Superman gig is that he has nothing to say about this invincible man, but he realizes that Superman works best as a foil for our flaws, as a way to safely understand the limits of our doomed bodies. It’s a Bird…, in addressing this head-on, is probably a more successful Superman story than most I’ve read, which isn’t saying much. It creates a sort of universal appeal because we all (I hope) worry occasionally or often about the secrets our genes and our families hold and what will happen when they get out.

Maybe I was just a receptive audience because I have to do a daily checkup on my mystery ailment to figure out whether things are getting worse (nope) or better (possibly today, I hope). Other people have to worry about cholesterol or tendencies toward cancers. And then there’s the history we know we hold, the times lately I’ve had to assess my ennui: is this normal stress and sadness or a return of the sort of depression from which there seems to be no escape? One part of what makes reading fun is that it’s a way to get out of my body a bit (when the books aren’t too heavy or my arms too tired) without pretending I don’t have one or that it has nothing to do with what’s going on in my head.

What was going on in my head as I read It’s a Bird… was initially disappointment that Seagle (author and character) didn’t seem to have more than superficial insights into Superman, that there were potentially some factual errors I don’t even remember anymore (I’m not sure about a connection between the Nazi-mandated Star of David and Superman’s outfit) but also hope that something more would come of this. It’s not as deep as what I would have wanted, but nothing much seems to be lately (and is this a symptom of laziness and overwork and intellectual stagnation on my part? I think so!) and I’m not the one who got to write it or even wanted to. It’s a beautiful book and a thoughtful one, a story about superheroes that strives for harmony, peace, a calmed self. For all that I enjoyed it and would have liked it even more if I’d waited until this week to buy it in paperback, but that’s not really an option. We do what we choose with the time that we’ve got, and if that means I occasionally buy a hardcover book at full price, so be it. And now I’ll wind some yarn and rest.

Today’s Recommended Reading (from/for me!)

This is a day that will live in whatever the good version of infamy is. After great suspense, The Secret Friend Society is live, featuring Hope Larson and Kean Soo and their respective webcomics Salamander Dreams and Jellaby. I’m a bit sad it wasn’t more sinister content, but not really surprised and I’m looking forward to reading the two stories. But the real reason I’m obsessed with Hope Larson’s work is that I’m hard at work in my head designing a ham hat even though everyone I’ve told about my plans thinks it’s a bad idea. (Oh, and for Steven: “Pah!”)

It’s also the publication date for The World according to Mimi Smartypants, a novel in the form of online diary entries from the Mimi Smartypants website. I’d beeen reading entries occasionally and then in December and January gave in to the allure and read the entire archive. It’s something that makes me laugh, which is rare in written pieces. I’m sure it helps that we have at least minor things in common — a past history with the violin, a desire to keep making Greek jokes after college, really maybe not much more than that because she’s basically cool — but something just clicks. I’m looking forward to eventually reading the book version even if it will be repetitive, because I’m interested in this phenomenon of turning blogs into books. It wouldn’t work here!

And I feel like I ought to follow the rule of threes, so I’ll just add that it’s a great day when it’s 7:00 am and I’m not at work already! Variable schedules have their downsides, but right now I’m not feeling it.

Oh, but more important is Seaguy, one of my favorite comics from last year, is available in an eminently affordable trade paperback today. I intend to buy a copy when I get off work (which will be late, of course, to compensate for late starts) and curl up and read gleefully. At one point Steven solicited comments on it from my 13-year-old brother to counter the arguments that it was too difficult to follow, but I don’t know what ever became of them. I just recall that he was curious about who held behind-the-scenes power, what Mickey Eye represented, and whether there was going to be more. Also, did we have any other comics he could read? I think the only way we got him to talk about this one was by telling him we wouldn’t lend him anything else until he did.