Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Oxford Reads Comics

Since I've moved to Oxford, MS, I've been slowly implementing my plan to bring comics/comix (heck even graphic novels) to the greater community. I have a four point plan. First is to find the comics geeks who are surely all around us, buying groceries and working just like a normal person. Second is to organize them. That is where I am now. I've formed a comic book reading club (now even formally recognized by our local indie bookstore, Square Books).

My mailing list is around 15 but only 6-8 have shown up on a regular basis. We meet monthly and discuss a book. Usually, I get the pleasure of selecting the read, which has been a lot of fun.

Today, we discussed our only superhero book so far, Superman: Red Son written by Mark Millar (he of Kick-Ass fame) and drawn by Dave Johnson, et al. Since this is like a mini-grad class, I also sent along Umberto Eco's essay "The Myth of the Superman" which shone a very interesting light on this "alternative" universe story. I admit that superhero books were my gateway book, which is the case with many red blooded fan boys and girls. With the exception of some exceptional books, which, at best, only comment on superhero comics for the most part, I dabble in these books for entertainment. Upon comparison with the really nice list I am about to discuss in this post, the art and the writing, though entertaining, fell quite short. The same faces rarely looked the same on the same page! As one of my book club members said the art was the comics equivalent of Michael Bay. Click here for the New Yorker's evisceration of Transformers 2.

Though I do not have the time to go into the details of our discussion, it was interesting to read a book about the cold war in the post cold war. The premise: Superman lands in the Soviet Union instead of the Midwest USA. (I explained the premise to a non-comic book reading colleague who tolerates my fits of geekery and his response was, "well, that would cause some problems" as he seriously thought of the ramifications.) Anyway, the book is a much gentler version with only scant references to what a monster Stalin was. I guess one could not have the "boy scout" in the same room as Stalin. I mean, Supes would have to know about the gulags, right?

Next month, we are going to read a couple short stories and some experimental comics by Chris Ware and Richard McGuire. We may also look at Rebecca Dart who wrote Rabbithead (but click on the live journal link because I am so digging her "doodles" -- especially the Hail Eris, Goddess of Discord). In August, we are going to read a manga, but I need to think about that one. How much shall I rock their world?


Ben Zuerlein said...

How do we interested Oxonians join this mailing list?

Wendy said...

The mailing list just coordinates our monthly book club meetings. If you live in Oxford, Mississippi, then you are welcome to join us. If you are looking for a place to talk academically about comics, may I suggest this list:

Wendy said...

Hey Ben, sent you an e-mail you. I also deleted your last comment so you don't get spammed!