Friday, December 24, 2010
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
In my last semester of college, I took a Yiddish Literature and Culture class. We read the classics, watched movies, and listened to Klezmer music. As you all know, I am obsessed with comics, so when I found some with Yiddish themes, I sent them immediately to my teacher. After being inundated with a few emails (each recommending another comic), he wrote me back saying “These will come in handy when I teach my Jewish Graphic Novel course!” To this day I am not sure if he was mocking me or is actually going to teach that class.
So if he WERE going to teach that class, I would want him to include these comics in his Yiddish section:
Klezmer: Tales of the Wild East by Joann Sfar
Lubavich, Ukraine, 1876 by Sammy Harkham (This comic is online, so check it out!)
Market Day by James Strum
I would go back to college to take that class, mark my words.
As a side note, I think The Dybbuk, a play about Jewish mysticism, love, and possession, would be the best graphic novel ever. The darkness of a small shtel, the flashbacks, fast forwards, and history, the ghosts and death! I would just become a writer/artist to translate The Dybbuk to comic form.
Here are some scenes from the movie of The Dybbuk:
The whole movie is also online.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Liniers’ abundant imagination and capacity for turning aspects of daily life into something fantastical makes Macanudo one of the most interesting comics I’ve ever read. He takes a perfectly normal situation and shows us a new perspective. For example, one strip features two tennis players hitting a tennis ball back and forth, observed by two pigeons. In the last panel, one pigeon says “poor egg,” referring to the ball. Liniers reinterprets a tennis match from the point of view of birds. The charmingly naïve view that the characters have of their surroundings makes the comics funny as well as endearing.
It is extremely difficult to describe this comic strip in a blog post because there are so many plots and characters. There are dwarves, frogs, robots, lice, penguins, tomatoes, pigeons, sheep, dogs, ghosts, radioactive toys, and human beings. The strips are set in generic cities and the countryside as well as various regions of Argentina. Liniers features a few regular strips: “Oliverio, the Olive” where poor Oliverio avoids being eaten in a number of cruel ways; “The True Adventures of Liniers” where Liniers, drawn as a human with a rabbit’s head, recounts the mundane, but oddly fascinating things that happen to him; “People Around Here” a strip that focuses on the innermost thoughts of a few people (see above). One of my absolute favorite tropes is his portrayal of emotions as physical creatures. Endorphins are tiny, small oval-shaped creatures. Envy has fangs and weighs people down by standing on their shoulders. Melancholy is a spotted yellow creature that follows people around, harassing them.
There are so many themes I want to explore in Macanudo that writing generally about this comic is disappointing. I taught a class about Argentine graphic novels during interterm last year and we read excerpts for a discussion of portrayals of the city. I might come back to that theme later in my posting.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
I was fresh off the plane, only three days in Buenos Aires when I first read Macanudo by Liniers. I decided to study abroad in Argentina for three reasons:
1. It is a Spanish-speaking country
2. My Spanish teacher in college was from Argentina, and we read a lot about it
3. The cartoonist Quino.
I decided to spend 11 months in a country partially based off comics, so it makes sense that one of the first things I would do is try to find something to read. Macanudo was recommended to me by one of the young, hip language tutors when I told him about my love of comics. When I first started reading it, I understood some of the jokes. They were filled with slang and referenced aspects of Argentine culture I hadn’t encountered. I began to truly appreciate Macanudo after I had lived in Buenos Aires for a few months and acquired an Argentine boyfriend (a great cultural reference).
So I’ll write more about this story in a bit because I am falling asleep. I’m feeling under the weather and took a Tylenol PM about 20 minutes ago, which is extremely poor planning because right after I decided I wanted to write a blog post.
Suggestion of the moment: read Ivan Brunetti’s Misery Loves Comedy. It is simultaneously disgusting and hilarious. I laughed, felt nauseous and physically dirty, and laughed again. I wish I could describe some of the things I read in this post, but merely writing about some of the things he draws would get this blog a “NC17” rating.
My absolute favorite comic was “HRRLFK! 1,784 Things That Make Me Vomit” where Brunetti describes things from “Soporific, bland, lifeless, sub-moronic, sickeningly cute, unfunny ‘comic’ strips” to “Every single human being who has ever lived, is currently living, and/or will someday be born.” He states, oddly enough, that “Graphic cartoon depictions of vomiting” also makes him sick. Brunetti’s comics make him out to be a self-loathing, sexually perverse jerk, but he lives in Chicago (with three cats!) so I hope I get to meet him.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
And then my dad bought me Owly pins! All my favorite characters are represented on these pins. I also wore three of them the next day and got a compliment....from a ten year old.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
As you might gather, we have a very supportive and interesting relationship. So, imagine my disappointment when he returned to school without his phone charger and has been unable to talk for the past few days. I checked out four amazing comics yesterday and have been unable to tell him about them! This is a short version of what I would say if we were talking on the phone:
West Coast Blues by Jacques Tardi and Jean-Patrick Manchette
“Comic noir (is that even a thing?)! I want them to turn it into a movie so I can experience it again.”
I Shall Destroy All Civilized Planets by Fletcher Hanks
“Reprinting of a lost comic from the 1920’s and 30’s. My favorite series is Fantomah, ‘Mystery Woman of the Jungle.’ When she gets angry and goes after evil-doers, her head turns into a frowning skull and she gets all blue and muscled. Also, at the end, the editor, Paul Karasik, wrote his own comic about finding these comics and talking to Fletcher Hanks’ son. It’s crazy and will blow your mind. He uses comic panels from Hanks’ work to show the contrast between his work and personal life.”
Dykes to Watch Out For: Split Level by Alison Bechdel
“Awesome. I laughed out loud a few times while reading and now my dad thinks I’m insane. I also just bought 4 more issues on Amazon.”
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, I.N.J. Culbard, and Ian Edginton
“Why do we even read books any more when they can be turned into amazing graphic novels?”