Sunday, July 6, 2008

Michael's Guide to Comic Books that I Have Liked, Part One

So, in the interest of proving that there is more to my life than reviewing Dungeons and Dragons (keen-eyed readers will note that *of course* there is more to my life than Dungeons and Dragons: just look how long it took me to read the darn book), I am introducing a periodic series here for the blog. A number of you have recently asked me about graphic novels and comic books; and which ones are good to read and so forth. So, every so often I'll highlight a good comic book that I enjoyed, and tell you a bit about it.

First up is "Understanding Comics" by Scott McCloud. I'm highlighting this first, because if you're going to read comic books it helps to be literate within the context of the medium. And Scott's book can help you with that. He's written a couple more books along this like, "Reinventing Comics" and "Making Comics", but 'Understanding Comics" is the bedrock, and I recommend it highly. It gives you the lowdown on the form and theory of comic books. Check it out.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

I was reading a collection of essays by Ursula K. Leguin the other day, and found this quote, which I liked a lot:

"In many college English courses the words 'myth' and 'symbol' are given a tremendous charge of significance. You just ain't no good unless you can see a symbol hiding, like a scared gerbil, under every page. And in many creative writing courses the little beasts multiply, the place swarms with them. What does this Mean? What does that Symbolize? What is the Underlying Mythos? Kids come lurching out of such courses with a brain full of gerbils. And they sit down and write a lot of empty pomposity, under the impression that that's how Melville did it.
"Even when they begin to realize that art is not something produced for critics, but for other human beings, some of them retain the overintellectualizing bent. They still do not realize that a symbol is not a sign of something known, but an indicator of something not known and not expressible otherwise than symbolically. They mistake symbol (living meaning) for allegory (dead equivalence)."