After the grandiose heights of the Eisner Awards at Comic Con 2008 it was necessary to come back to planet earth. That Comic Con was scarily huge is oh, I don’t know—an understatement? The sheer numbers alone are daunting and for us, as the old/new kids on the block it was clear we had a lot to learn. And that’s what this year has been about for me. As I attempt to catch up to the last 71 years between the end of the Major’s period in comics and what’s happening now–wow seems pretty lame. Every tiny step I take reveals a dizzying bombardment of talent and stunning visual and written content streaming in from the far reaches of the known and unknown worlds. At every turn I meet creative, talented and real action heroes going about their business. I’ll be featuring a few of these dynamos over the next several months.
So far I’ve discovered that there is a decidedly coolish vibe disguised as “we’re just geeks” and then there’s the “we’re the real comics world cause we’ve been here since the dinosaurs” and of course, there’s the “Hello Hollywood, I’m a graphic novelist and a screenwriter” world. I sort of fit into the dinosaur category but that’s a serious club and rightfully so as it requires some major bona fides. I’m doing my best gentlemen. Given all that what’s a mere girl reporter to do?
Well, since my main focus is on the history of comics with an emphasis on my grandfather’s contributions I continued doing research and it’s been a great year for that. I’ve been in Nancy Drew mode and discovered the Secret of the Moldy Papers which will be revealed soon.
Last fall, Dr. John Lent asked me to write a rebuttal to David Hajdu’s portrayal of my grandfather from his book, The Ten Cent Plague in the International Journal of Comic Art.
If you don’t know Dr. Lent’s work and his journal check it out. He has been promoting the work of comics artists throughout the world in the journal for the last ten years. The journal has a scholarly tone but there are plenty of articles to interest the general reader. Hey, I wrote for it and had fun doing it. All’s fair etc. Mr. Hajdu. I’m looking forward to the next issues as I’ll bet there will be some eye popping work coming out of Iran with everything that is happening there. Anyone who has seen the YouTube videos of Allu Akbar being sung through the black night in Tehran gets a glimpse of the poetry and power of the Persian people. I’m sure Dr. Lent’s journal will be posting the latest from artists in Iran.
As an aside, Iranian Marjane Satrapi who now lives in Paris and is the writer of the graphic novel Persepolis has some new material that is being passed around the web and if you haven’t seen the film version of Persepolis grab the DVD. It’s beautiful and poignant and the interviews with Miz Satrapi talking about her work both from a technical standpoint and from the heart of the matter make for great viewing.
I also wrote an article detailing my personal history and how I got involved in this whole search for the misty beginnings of comics for friend Howard Cruse, comics artist extraordinaire. He puts out a magazine called North County Perp whenever there are underwriting funds and he can spare a few moments from his busy schedule.
Howard is an incredibly prolific artist and tirelessly encourages the rest of us in our own work. Stuck Rubber Baby Bumper is, in my humble opinion, one of the great graphic novels of all time.
There’s lots more to tell, a trip to the old country to see the chateau the grandparents lived in while in France before the big crash brought them back to the States and the ensuing big adventure in comics. I’ve met some terrific writers on comics like Tom DeHaven, It’s Superman among many others and started to meet some of the au courant in today’s world of comics like Peter Coogan and the work he does as the founder of the Institute for Comics Studies and Bradley Ricca whose film Last Son, I’m dying to see. Any of you who saw it at this year’s Comic Con chime in. Recently I had a fascinating interview with Francis DiMenno, serious comics fan and erudite historian and I’ll be posting that in the next few days as well as much more from all of the above.
So until then thanks for being there.
Great info. Indeed the Major should be the pursuit of cultural scholars in and out of the biz. This raises questions as to whether comics can be considered literature if there are scholarly texts on the subject. I say of course they’re literature – or can be. There’s a discussion about comics being art on the Publisher’s Weekly blog that took place at the San Diego Comic con that’s pretty interesting.
The history of the Major is one of the most fascinating stories of a beginning of an industry that I can think of. I’m sure there’s a Rosebud in this story too waiting to be revealed. Keep us posted!