Monday, July 30, 2007

The Briefest of Updates in the Briefest of Posts

This is Not A Real Post, Gentle Reader, nor does it contain Much Of Value. Rather, I thought I would drop my Constant Readers a quick note to say that yes, I am Still Alive, I have completed the Grade-a-thon (of doom!), I finally (!) have read all of The Deathly Hallows (!!!), and I nearly--just nearly, Friends!--split my sides at The Simpsons Movie.

Further, Mr. Reads and I just received A Large Shipment of graphic novels from the Fairy, and The Family Reads is looking forward to settling down with some non-school (and alas, non-Potter) reading. On the docket is Lex Luthor: Man of Steel, Ms. Marvel: Best of the Best, Seven Soldiers of Victory Vol. 1, and Ultra: Seven Days. Also nabbed from the library: Thursday Next: First Among Sequels (Jasper Fforde), The Sons of Heaven (Kage Baker), and In Dublin's Fair City (Rhys Bowen).

All in all, a perfectly wonderful way to begin what is to be, in truth, my only week of Summer Vacation. Having taught both summer sessions and having made Great Strides on Dissertation Progress has, in truth, Exhausted This Humble Author. But before I retire for the evening, I do have two questions for you, Friends, if I may Be So Bold.

Question #1:
As Arrogant Self-Reliance's One Year Blogiversary is on August 7th (from its Initial Incarnation at the Old Address), I would like to Do Something Special to Commemorate the Occasion. Any suggestions for SuperSpecial Blog Posts?

Question #2:
What does it mean that I keep accidentally singing the line from the Spider-Man theme song as "Fashion is his reward" rather than "Action is his reward"? Does it mean that my two worlds--Academic Fashion Fandom and Pop Culture Comic Book Fandom--are colliding? Or uniting?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Amy Will Not Read the Week (of July 27, 2007)

I announce a Brief Respite from my blogging duties, Gentle Reader, as the end of summer term hits hard, as does its accompanying grading.

I Beg Your Pardon from Reading the Week this week, and will resume regularly scheduled (and hopefully, With More Frequency) blogging duties next week.

Until then!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Amy Reads the Week (of July 20th, 2007)

How is it possible, Gentle Reader, that Catwoman makes Amazons Attacking make sense, but Amazons Attack does not? Of course, neither do Supergirl, Teen Titans, or Wonder Woman. I must confess that I’m a bit grumpy with the Amazons Attack plotline. It seems as if several of the female characters in DC have changed radically in the past few weeks, and part of that radical change makes No Sense At All. I assume this will All Make Sense Soon—as soon as I find out who’s controlling Hippolyta, perhaps?—but until then, I am experiencing another quandary that’s Rather New for This Humble Author.

Yes, it’s true, Friends: I am experiencing Marvel Over DC Preference for the first time in my life.

That is to say, I have finally—finally!—caught myself up on the New Avengers, and all I can say is, “yeahbuwha?” Or, rather, WOW. Now *that’s* some Very Intriguing Writing Indeed!

Mr. Reads, who has Waited Patiently for me to get caught up on my comics reading, has been biting his tongue, refraining from revealing The Big Reveal to me, until I could get up to speed on said reading. Now that I am, I can see why he was chomping at the bit, more than a little. This series has vaulted into My Current Top Five, and as a Tried and True DC fan, that’s saying Much Indeed.

A short post for a long week, I know, but I’ve miles to go before I sleep, and more importantly, miles to go before the Harry Potter release tomorrow. I’ll have Book 7 in my greedy little hands Saturday around 12:15 p.m., so goes the plan, and I won’t stop reading until the sun comes up again, or I finish the book, whichever comes first. So until then, Friends, happy reading!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Amy Reads the Week (of July 13th, 2007)

Happy Friday the 13th, Gentle Reader! I confess that Fridays the 13th never have filled me with dread, but rather, their successor, Saturdays the 14th, tend to be Unlucky for This Humble Author. I'm not superstitious by habit, mind, but rather, I grew up in the Bayou, drenched in Catholic, Southern Folklore, and Voodoo imagery. Sometimes--just sometimes, Friends!--you Can't Take The South Out Of The Girl.

No matter, as I plan to spend the majority of my Saturday finally catching up with My Pop Culture. But as I prepare to embark on several missed weeks of Amazons Attacking, and Crossovers Crossing-Over, I started to think of a subject Quite Dear To My Heart.

That's right, Gentle Reader. Fashion.

Perhaps it is because the phrase, "no capes!" (gratitude, The Incredibles) has lived with me for a few days now, or perhaps it is the dissertation topic, coming out in One Form Or Another, but I have been thinking about Super Hero Fashion for Some Time Now. Specifically, I wonder what you, Friends, claim as your Favorite Super Hero Costume.

I am Ever The Fan of Wonder Woman's full armor, of course, a la Kingdom Come, but the Elseworlds' Red Son grey, red, and black suit is nothing to dismiss lightly. Over Marvel-side, I do so enjoy Ms. Marvel's black and yellow suit, even with the sash that some despise. There is also Spiderwoman's fantastic suit, and Big Barda's armor is so elaborate it's Nothing But Fun.

But lest we Forget The Gentlemen while we Remember The Ladies, I have to say that Alan Scott's Green Lantern suit, the original, is Nothing But Charming. I have a soft spot for the Dark Knight, too, of course, not to mention Daredevil (I do so love the color red) and who can discount Thor's dramatic entrances complete with helmet?

But further, I love to see the redesigns, even when they seem So Utterly Strange, like the X-Men reboot, or Spider-Man's metal suit. DC's Elseworlds line, in particular, offers this chance to explore Our Beloved Costumes in new and interesting ways.

Any thoughts, Gentle Reader, before I drown myself in work, work, work once again?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

My Pop Culture? Meet My Pop Culture!

The briefest of brief posts, Gentle Reader, as the next three weeks begin a rather grueling summer session, time-wise, but Overwhelmingly Rewarding, life-wise. There are Things I Need To Do before I run off on Yet Another Errand, and therefore my time with You, for the next three weeks, is Rather Limited.

But, and yes, Friends, there is a "but," I just heard the most Marvelous News from Mickle at True Confessions of an Hourly Bookseller!. It seems that one of This Humble Author's Favorite Writers, Ms. Diana Gabaldon, is writing graphic novels of her characters, Jamie and Claire, from the Outlander series!

You must understand that These Novels are in no small part responsible for my Obsession with All Things Scottish, an obsession small but nurtured before 1992 when I first encountered Ms. Gabaldon's work, and now, some 15-odd years later, a full-blown Adoration! When I visited Scotland last May, I went to the Battlefield of Culloden, in memory of those real-life fallen heroes, brought to fictional life by Ms. Gabaldon's work.

As I'm sure you are Well Aware, Friends, I absolutely adore it when one aspect of My Pop Culture meets another aspect of My Pop Culture. I see them wave to each other, and I smile.

Off to the wilds, Gentle Reader, and until next time, happy reading!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Amy Reads the Week (of July 6th, 2007)

A few weeks ago, Gentle Reader, the Glory that is Google Alerts clued me in to the following article in the Winston-Salem Journal by Colleen Long, that offers the opinion that more novelists are moving into comic books because comics are gaining respect in The Academy and in The Mainstream. First, I would be inclined to ask, “What is this ‘Mainstream’ of which I hear so much about?” but rather than consider the Distinction between Tastes (gratitude, Mr. Bourdieu), I rather would like to consider the Distinction people continuously make between Popular Culture and “Real” Literature.

Constant Readers (and you know Who You Are, and how much You Are Adored, Friends!) of Arrogant Self-Reliance know that this is A Hot Topic for This Humble Author. That is to say, I work in The Academy, and I exist in The Mainstream, and I couldn’t agree more that comic books, and thus by extension other hot items of popular culture such as television shows, movies, etc., are deserving of the same sort of criticism we direct towards novels considered “Literature.” Why, you may ask? Well, because writers like Charles Dickens, Charlotte Bronte, and Wilkie Collins were the Stephen Kings, Barbara Michaelses, and Neil Gaimans of their day. Because that which Entertains Us, Reflects Us, ad nauseam, all the time.

I have taught comic books, and yes, I mean both Graphic Novels and Super Hero Comic Books, and I have been taught comic books, and yes, I mean both Graphic Novels and Super Hero Comic Books. And I am A Fangirl, existing within A Fandom, adoring Super Hero Comics so much that I write on this blog faithfully about Said Heroes. I work in Both Arenas of Comic Book Fandom, and I feel that We Few, We Happy Few, We Band of Fans, do ourselves a disservice every time we insist comic books are not to be taken seriously.

There have been myriads of dialogues opened the past few months, Gentle Reader, that have discussed the importance of race, sexuality, gender, identification, authenticity, age, image, presentation, etc. in comic books today. I am overwhelmed with joy when I see the wealth of discussion happening about comics, because that means comic books Are Being Taken Seriously. The moment we relegate our comics to “mere pop culture” is the moment we disengage ourselves from the dialogues they spark, the joy they produce, the value that we, as fans, have in our fandoms.

But still, I have seen some argue that comic books are fun, and shouldn’t be taken too seriously. And since this argument seems to come up in response to dialogue sparked when a fan finds something in a comic book, or on a cover, in a marketable piece of fandom, or other such places Worthy of Discussion, both Good and Not-So-Good, I begin to suspect it is a way of divorcing our Entertainment from Critical Discussion.

I have argued this before and I likely will do it again, but truly, Friends, I believe, Very Strongly, that Our Popular Culture says as much about Us, As People, as our High Art, our Canonical Literature, our Orchestral Music. Particularly as the past 150 years or so have seen A True Rise in the Forms of Popular Culture.

There are so many reasons that my Major Field of Study is Victorian Literature and my Subfields of Study are Popular Culture, Science Fiction, Fashion, and Feminist Theory. I believe all of these fields marry, and marry in Interesting Ways. (I also believe that Victorian England sparks most, if not all of these interests, but that perhaps is a post for another day). As most of Victorian Literature was Popular—one need only think of the celebrity of Charles Dickens’ work, for example—most of the novels discuss Popular Issues of the Time: women’s rights, gender ideologies, issues of class and race and nation, education, etc. Important social issues Writ Large as Fiction, as they are in, say, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. As they are in, say, Runaways.

And lest we forget, Friends, most of These Canonical Novels were Serialized, too.

Weekly or monthly serialization does not strip a title of its worth or importance. Otherwise, where would Charles Dickens’ novels be? Or George Eliot’s? Or Elizabeth Gaskell’s? What, then, will our Great-Great-Great Grandchildren think of Our Literatures? Certainly they will canonize graphic novels like V for Vendetta or The Watchmen, but, and I truly believe this, Gentle Reader, some Super Hero Collections will be canonical, too. Superman: Red Son, for example, or Identity Crisis, not to mention Wonder Woman: Eyes of the Gorgon, Green Arrow: Quiver, Astonishing X-Men: Gifted, or Hellboy: Seed of Destruction.

Let us embrace these dialogues that question and critique our popular cultures. Let us spark our own dialogues about the importance of fashion in the DC Universe, or the role of minorities in the X-Men. Let us enjoy all facets of Our Popular Cultures, even those facets that spark debate.

Perhaps especially those facets that spark debate.