Your intrepid superhero-comics blogger has not made the journey to SDCC, an event which, from what I can tell, is probably sour anyway. Plus, those of us who stayed home get food and sleep. Plus, we need not lack for comics-related stimulation thanks to literary blog The Valve's virtual symposium on Douglas Wolk's new book, Reading Comics: How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean. The book is not remotely as annoying as the subtitle, which was probably chosen by committee. I enjoyed it a great deal, and recommend it unreservedly. I'm also part of the symposium, thanks to Valve ringmaster John Holbo. I'll be writing about the book here over the next few days as part of the event, but tonight I wanted to point you to the existing symposium contributions.
- Tim Burke, "If the Juggernaut Ran Into Thor's Hammer . . . "
- Kip Manley, "Always Already"
- Lawrence LaRiviere White, "What I Don't Know About Comics"
- Katherine Farmar, "Inside Outside In: a second look at Reading Comics"
- John Holbo, "Belgian Style Waffles?"
- Adam Roberts, "Exaggeration"
- Peter Paik, "Talent and the Passionate Tradition"
- Martyn Pedler, "Straw Man and Other Superheroes"
Of the batch, Burke, Manley and Pedler take off from and to different extents argue with Wolk's take on superhero comics; LaRiviere and Roberts try to use Wolk to justify their lack of interest in multipage sequential art as a medium; Farmar argues that the national traditions of comics art are more distinct than Wolk gives them credit for; Holbo plays off of Farmar's essay; and Paik discusses - lots of things: to be frank, I've only skimmed it.
Nevertheless, I agree with part of Paik's entry that did jump out at me:
He does a marvelous job of sparking interest in the creators he clearly admires, such as Carla Speed McNeil, the Hernandez brothers, Chester Brown, and Grant Morrison - in the chapters dedicated to them, Wolk demonstrates his skill at zeroing in on the essential details of a work without giving away too much in the way of plot.
I enjoy this aspect of Reading Comics a lot. I find Wolk to be delightful at expressing delight, and I find a lot of delight in the book. To that extent, I disagree with Burke, who sees way more frown on Wolk's face than I do.
Cover image courtesy Da Capo Books.