Comics for People who Don't Read Comics

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Thad
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Re: Comics for People who Don't Read Comics

Postby Thad » Tue Oct 22, 2019 1:03 am

Superman Smashes the Klan, by Gene Luen Yang and Gurihiru, is the kind of throwback we need right now. A loose adaptation of the seminal 1946 radio serial Superman and the Clan of the Fiery Cross, it tells the story of the Lees, a Chinese-American family who move to Metropolis and are targeted by the Klan.

It's a gorgeous book, with an art style clearly modeled after the Fleischer cartoons but with a manga flair. And it's a whole lot of fun in places (Superman punches a nazi in a mech suit!) -- but dark and disturbing in others, as you'd expect from a book where the antagonists are the KKK. Yang softens things a bit; there's no graphic violence and he foregoes the use of any serious racial slurs, but this is still a book where white supremacist terrorism is front-and-center. And a Lex Luthor monologue never chilled me like a Klansman monologue.

Yang takes some time to examine the complexities of racism, too, and the way that victims of racism can still be racist themselves; in one particularly notable scene, after the Klan leaves a burning cross in the Lees' front yard and some black passersby scramble to help put it out, Mr. Lee gives them the cold shoulder and says he didn't ask for their help and would like them to leave.

As for Superman himself, this is a young version; he's brash, he's self-assured, but he's not the confident grownup he'll someday be. And he can't fly yet. He's also never encountered Kryptonite before -- and Yang uses that encounter to tell Superman's own story as an immigrant who doesn't always feel like he belongs.

The book's also, very consciously, written for a young audience. Not too young -- my nephew is 8 and I'd like to spare him learning about the Klan for a little while longer -- but it'd be appropriate for a typical 12-year-old.

The backmatter is interesting too; Yang briefly summarizes the history of the Klan, Chinese-Americans, and his own experiences growing up in the 1980s and facing racism in a more modern context.

The story isn't finished yet; last week's release was Book 1 of 3. But I'm totally onboard for the next two.

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Upthorn
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Re: Comics for People who Don't Read Comics

Postby Upthorn » Tue Oct 22, 2019 2:11 am

Thad wrote:Superman Smashes the Klan, by Gene Luen Yang and Gurihiru, is the kind of throwback we need right now. A loose adaptation of the seminal 1946 radio serial Superman and the Clan of the Fiery Cross, it tells the story of the Lees, a Chinese-American family who move to Metropolis and are targeted by the Klan.


If I'm not getting confused, the most important part of the 1946 radio serial was the naming of actual real life names of people associated with the actual real life Klan. Does this continue that tradition?
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Thad
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Re: Comics for People who Don't Read Comics

Postby Thad » Thu Oct 24, 2019 12:13 am

I don't believe the serial named actual Klan members, but it exposed their codewords and rituals. Among other things, it's a lot harder to take a terrorist organization seriously once you know they're grown men who go around calling themselves "wizard" and "dragon".

The leader of the Klan in the comic is called the Grand Scorpion; I don't know if that's a real thing or not.

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Re: Comics for People who Don't Read Comics

Postby Thad » Tue Jul 14, 2020 1:18 pm

I picked up Mad #14, the Jaffee tribute issue. I do believe it's the first Mad I've bought in 20 years -- almost exactly; the last one I remember buying was a high school graduation issue when I graduated myself.

The first thing to notice is that all that talk last year about Mad going all-reprint was somewhat exaggerated. It's gone mostly-reprint, but there's still some new stuff in there -- in this issue, the new stuff is mostly other cartoonists riffing on Jaffee's signature bits (inventions, Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions, and, of course, the fold-in). Aragones has his signature pantomime cartoons, in the margins as usual plus a couple pages dedicated to Jaffee. And most of the reprint material is, as you'd expect, by Jaffee himself, plus one final Jaffee fold-in (though they don't seem to be retiring fold-ins; apparently there have been a couple new ones by Johnny Sampson over the past few months).

The words "legend" and "iconic" get thrown around so much as to lose all meaning, but when I say Jaffee is a legend and the Fold-In is iconic, I mean it.

I'm not sure what "I hope he enjoys his retirement" means for a 99-year-old man in an era where everything's shut down and people aren't supposed to leave their houses, but I hope he enjoys his retirement as much as he can under the circumstances.

And I'd love to see Evanier interview him.

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Re: Comics for People who Don't Read Comics

Postby Thad » Sat Jul 18, 2020 12:44 pm

In honor of Congressman John Lewis, I'm gonna mention March again. Here's what I said about it in 2015:

Thad wrote:March is fantastic too. John Lewis knows a thing or two about telling stories, and here he strikes the right balance between past and present (he uses Obama's inauguration day as a framing device), between humility and the acknowledgement that yeah, what he and his peers did was pretty important stuff. Andrew Aydin helped with the script and Nate Powell drew it. I think it all comes out really nicely. It's a familiar story but it's well-told, particularly for its target audience of young people learning the history of the civil rights movement. I finished volume 1 over the course of one day and decided to up my contribution to the top tier so I could get volume 2.


March is important; it's a comic everyone should read. Support your local comic shop if possible, but if you can't, that's understandable under the circumstances.

They were working on a followup, Run. I expect we'll still see it in some form, eventually.

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Thad
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Re: Comics for People who Don't Read Comics

Postby Thad » Mon Jul 20, 2020 1:12 am

Thad wrote:The first thing to notice is that all that talk last year about Mad going all-reprint was somewhat exaggerated. It's gone mostly-reprint, but there's still some new stuff in there

In last Thursday's Chat with the Groo Crew, Aragones said that the plan is still for Mad to go all-reprint eventually but that it hasn't happened yet. (He said that as of right now he's still producing new work for the magazine.)

Someone also asked about his autobiographical comics in Sergio Aragones Funnies and he said that the reason he hasn't done any since that series ended is that it's just too much work on top of his other projects. He said he would like to do a book recounting some of his memories, but if I understood him correctly he said it would probably be prose, not comics.

I'd prefer to see it in comics, of course, but I'd still love to read it in prose. Aragones has great stories and he's great at telling them, even without pictures.

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zaratustra
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Re: Comics for People who Don't Read Comics

Postby zaratustra » Mon Jul 20, 2020 3:51 pm

That's... pretty sad. I mean I personally know an entire new generation of people that could easily fill MAD magazine with quality content

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Thad
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Re: Comics for People who Don't Read Comics

Postby Thad » Mon Jul 20, 2020 6:23 pm

Yeah, the issue is certainly not a lack of talented cartoonists.

I talked about it a fair bit when it was first announced (see previous page) but generally I figure it's the usual incompetence at Warner. They really do not know what to do with their comics properties, and seem to think that shaking up the org chart every year or so is the answer.

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