15 November 2007

Comics, Criticism, and the Compass

For folks bored with all these musings about comics, I once again offer a supplemental daily entry with a couple of outside links.

And the first one is about...comics! It's Publishers Weekly's brief report on a panel discussion about the future of comics retailing, through comics shops or bookstores, especially with more of the industry going online. One excerpt:

As graphic novels continue to claim more and more shelf space at traditional bookstores, the issue of how to categorize graphic novels in bookstores--by format or content--remains complicated.

[Graphic novels publisher Rich] Johnson reported that Barnes & Noble recently decided to shelf the Yen Press title With the Light, a manga tale about raising autistic child, in the child developmental section, rather than the manga section.

But [Pantheon Editorial Director Dan] Frank, who recalled “the tremendous amount of difficulty” he experienced in 2000 getting traditional bookstores to stock the critically-acclaimed Chris Ware graphic novel, Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth, remarked that “even to this day [we] can have trouble with the more traditional chains. They don’t know quite where to put some of our things.”
On the heels of the National Book Award for Denis Johnson's Tree of Smoke, I can't help linking to B. R. Myers's thoroughly exasperated review of same in The Atlantic:
When a novel’s first words are “Last night at 3:00 a.m. President Kennedy had been killed,” and the rest of it evinces no more feel for the English language and often a good deal less, and America’s most revered living writer touts “prose of amazing power and stylishness” on the back cover, and reviewers agree that whatever may be wrong with the book, there’s no faulting its finely crafted sentences--when I see all this, I begin to smell a rat.

Nothing sinister, mind you. It’s just that once we Americans have ushered a writer into the contemporary pantheon, we will lie to ourselves to keep him there.
The same issue of the magazine includes Hanna Rosin's article about how the upcoming Golden Compass movie will deal with the His Dark Materials trilogy's portrayal of religious organizations and sexual awakening. That investigation is hampered by the facts that:
  • Rosin has apparently seen neither the movie nor the script.
  • All the bits that are really controversial appear in the latter two books, especially the third, and therefore were never slated for this movie anyway.
So, like the Catholic League's bombast, this is all based on unproven assumptions.

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