Every day our link dump fills with mainstream media attempts to explain or analyze the comics. As repetitive as it becomes, it is still our duty to flag such efforts in an attempt to stick a damp finger to the wind of popular thought. Here is today’s offering:
Â§ Michiko Kakutani, the comics-loving New York Times notoriously withering critic proves to have a soft spot for Roz Chast. Well, who doesn’t?
The wacky world Roz Chast has created in her cartoons is a parallel universe to ours, utterly recognizable in all its banalities and weirdnesses, but slightly askew, as if our current 2000-something reality had been transported back to the 1950âs TV land of âLeave it to Beaverâ? â a place where phones still have dials and television sets still have rabbit ears, a place where women still wear blouses with Peter Pan collars, and men still wear their pants too high on their waists. Itâs Manhattan and Brooklyn re-imagined by someone channeling the Simpsons, Steven Wright and Talking Heads; the New York suburbs as seen by the love child of Gilda Radner and Woody Allen.
Â§ In that same comics-loving NYT, smartie-pants critic David Hajdu still makes an elementary error while delivering a thoughtful review of An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, and True Stories
Of the many artists in this movement, at least a few are surely worth consideration in the next vote for the literary voice of our time â although not all are under 40, if the rules are tight about age. The pages of the âAnthologyâ? make cases for nominations for Clowes, Green, Adrian Tomine and Kim Deitch, to start: Clowes for irony so complex that it seems the very bio-system of his comic-book world; Green for his nightmare humor â nuns administer shock treatments through cross-topped metal helmets! â and sweet vulgarity; Tomine for his graceful evocation of loneliness and rage; and Deitch for her cynical romance with the past and sheer kookiness of spirit.
Â§ And finally, Think! Analyze! The Utne Reader provides the latest look atCOMICS’ STARTLING POLITICAL ALLUSIONS!!!
Comic books have always reflected the social and political environment in which they are created, but only recently have superheroes started to address the issues raised by the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq. Though writer Mark Millar, a Scotsman, is well known for his leftist sympathies (his “dream project” is a 21st-century comic book version of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital), Civil War consistently refuses to advocate for one side or the other. Its approach is to create an event, the Registration Act, that no superheroes can control and then allow them to respond in ways that are consistent with their characters-and illuminate contemporary political dilemmas.
UPDATE: David Hodler at Comics Comics has given Hajdu the businesss.
Well, maybe it is just a little alloyed, but only because the reviewer was one lazy and condescending critic named David Hajdu, who is probably best known for his book about the ’60s folk scene in Greenwich Village called Positively 4th Street. I say lazy and condescending because it is quite clear from reading his review that he didn’t bother to do the relevant research, but he still felt qualified to act as a generous mandarin, bestowing status on a “disreputable” art form that has finally earned his good graces.