§ Cartoonist Julia Gfrörer has begun a column for TCJ.com called Symbol Reader, in which she analyses comics for their deeper meanings and how those meanings are conveyed, as with “These Cans” by Joe Decie:

It’s a paradox: the thing which exists does not really exist because its material state goes unappreciated; the consumer interacts primarily with the metaphysical idea which has replaced the thing, yet he does this ritualistically, by interfacing with the irrelevant object itself. Decie reinforces this paradox in his artistic choices. His narrative sketch of the drink’s abstract joys is circumspect. He doesn’t tell us what song it reminds him of or why (I decided it’s “God Lives Through”), he doesn’t show us the nostalgic pop-top in action (merely—significantly—the hole described by its absence), or even identify the feeling as nostalgia. Like him, we are unable to access enjoyment by drinking it, but then he also withholds from us the secondary enjoyment of its symbolic power.

This is an outgrowth of a tumblr by Gfrörer on the same subject, also called SYMBOL READER. Remember how I”m always calling for most contextual analysis of indie comics? This is what I was talking about.

§ Megan Purdy at Women Write About Comics has a bunch of similar craft-related links, including Deb Aoki on OEL manga, and so on.

§ SPX is a few weeks away! EEK! Did you get a hotel room? The North Bethesda Marriott has been sold out for weeks, I’m told. Anyway, Rob McMonigal has started a series of SPX Spotlight posts looking at the many comics that will be there.

§ Occasional Beat contributor Megan Byrd weighs in on Dawson-gate and actually reads Angie Bongiolatti along the way:

The novel is heavy with philosophical questions about socialism, identity, and the deep chasm between beliefs and how one actually practices politics in daily life. The story occasionally flashbacks to the late 90′s when the main characters are younger, more carefree, and slightly more concerned with sex than politics. Anything described as a “literary graphic novel” is already a hard sell to comic book stores, and this is definitely one of those books. Low pre-order numbers through Diamond, the largest comic book distributor, does not surprise me in the least. Without strong buzz or knowledge of previous work, store owners are reluctant to order anything from the back pages of Previews, especially from publishers that have only a few listings in the 300+ page catalog. It is an exhausting task to comb through Previews each month to place orders for the things you know customers want, let alone ordering books you think they might possibly be interested in based on the cover alone.

§ Ronda Rousey played Smurfette the Strong Female Character in Expendables 3, and sounds off on superheroines while revealing that you can’t actually fight in high heels. Because if anyone could do it, Rousey could do it, so it must really be impossible.

§ Speaking of Expendables 3, it was a floperoonie, coming in behind the new Ninja Turtles movie and Guardians of the Galaxy still going strong.  Some attempted to attribute this to piracy, other politely coughed while pointing out that for a can’t-miss idea, the first two Expendables movies were just awful and this one looked just as bad.


  1. I haven’t watched any of the Expendables movies, and don’t plan to. Though, I was entertained with Guardians of the Galaxy.

  2. The excerpted sentence reads like textbook Barthes, always going on about how symbolism (Barthes called it “myth”) obscures true meaning. Same old same old.

    I liked the first Expendables for what it was: a valentine to the bad old days of action cinema. The second flick was hollow and stupid, but the third at least sports some decent set-pieces. I will admit that Stallone looked kinda bored even though he wrote the thing.

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