Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Linko! LXXI

* So, I'm pretty sure most comic people haven't been following this, but of late my acquaintances in the Young Adult/kid lit field have been going off on every conceivable means of social media about some pretty drastic condemnations of modern YA lit in two of America's biggest papers. First, there was a piece in the New York Times that asked the general question of "Why are all these books for teens so grim and gritty?" and then – the real kickstart to this whole ruckus – an article in the Wall Street Journal by Meghan Cox Gurdon about how truly hideously awful many YA books really are.

And hey, it's a pretty bland, pointless little article. It makes big claims about what YA literature really is and what it means for young readers without citing any kind of specific evidence. Mostly it just stirs the pot to get attention, but holy shit, what attention it's gotten. Anyone interested in following the action of YA writers, editors bloggers and the like speaking out against Gurdon's article can look into the Twitter hashtag #YASaves

Beyond that, anyone interested on seeing the kinds of broad reaction to this whole thing could do worse than to check out this blog post from writer Laura Ruby, this Publishers Weekly article on the whole kerfuffle, this Minnesota public radio piece on everything, this NPR roundtable featuring Gurdon and several folks who have publicly disagreed with her and lastly, the most recent disagreement to work its way back to the WSJ as the paper highlights why writer Sherman Alexie is taking them to task.

I'm not entirely sure that the YA writers who are up in arms about this piece aren't making a much bigger deal about this whole thing than it actually is. Then again, I do prefer this kind of discussion around books for young readers than crazy people burning Harry Potter because they think it's the Devil or some shit.

[Note: if you're wondering how I picked the above image, I went Google fishing for a YA cover that was particularly slutty and/or violent but chose this one because it had Twilight placed next to Smallville, which made me giggle for some reason. So there.]

* In much better kids book news, the School Library Journal ranked their picks for what should be the finalists for the Newbery Medal this year, and two of my professors books made the cut (they're the last two entries, FYI).

* Back on the comics front, there is a supremely great find up right now at Jacque Nodell's invaluable Sequential Crush blog: a 1974 DC romance comic that sure seems like it's about a young Lesbian girl. It is kind of hard to tell if that's the creator's intent for sure as the story swerves from openly addressing...well, anything at its end. Nodell wonders aloud whether or not a modern reading is pulling too much out of the strip, which is entirely possible, but I'll admit I have absolutely no frame of reference for what the average teenager knew/thought about their queer peers in the '70s. I've been reading a lot of hardboiled detective fiction from the '40s and '50s of late, and there's plenty of coded language (dandy or what have you) around characters meant to be gay, but I don't know when that kind of writing crossed in to pop culture to the point where I could watch "Revenge of the Nerds" in the '80s and get what the joke was about Lamar.

I think maybe I'll have to ask Lynn Phegley about this next time I go back to Michigan.

* Fantastic post by Heidi Mac at The Beat about the perceived dearth of women working in comics. I mean, I expect some of the dudes on the CBR message boards to only mean "superheroes" when they say "comics," but people who know better should really know better, and props to Ace for pointing that out.

* Hey! There's an anime show coming to Chicago. I may go for funsies.

* Folks interested in the "Parks & Recreation" book that just got announced may want to check out this article on Cricket by the show's writers who will be heading up that effort.

* Saving to listen to later: this podcast on kids comics featuring some of the dudes from Ape Entertainment's Richie Rich relaunch.

* I've never had the urge to get Showtime despite hearing some good things about its original TV shows over the past few years, but a sci-fi series headed up by Salman Rushdie could make me rethink that stance.

I've probably mentioned this before, but I love how Tom Spurgeon takes the time to go through the many blogs dedicated to classic comics and finds the really choice stuff so I don't have to. Included in this survey is:

* Al Wiseman's Punky – God, I love the kind of off brand cartoonists showcase strips that frequently pop up in more well known magazines. Also: why can't people draw like this anymore?

* Walt Kelly Fairy Tale comics - Related to the above opinions!

* Brief, but effective Irwin Hasen biography post.

* In depth post on Carmine Infantino's attempts to sue for the rights to The Flash. I knew about this only in brief detail before now, so hooray for this.

1 comment:

adamphilips said...

Hey Kiel - Nice post. That Al Wiseman comic looks amazing - I'm really into old comic strips but never heard of that one. FYI, he was the main artist on the Dennis the Menace comics, which were gorgeous.

Walt Kelly is one of my heroes - Pogo is waay up there on my list of best comic strips ever. Fantagraphics collected his Our Gang comics from the early 1940s, but except for a single comic book here and there, nobody's ever collected his non-Pogo comics work, which is too bad, because there's a ton of it, and it's all great as far as I can tell. I believe he wrote most if not all of that material himself.