Sunday, March 1, 2009

Reading List: February 2009

Though the content over the past month has been bit sparse, I feel like most of it has been of a certain quality that isn't always there when I write. I believe I will begin to shift away from the straightforward review and discuss books and movies in a broader context, probably influenced heavily by my studies. In fact, I am currently working on two entries that should be up in the next couple of days concerning a film and an aspect of photography that has changed the way I think about a lot of photojournalism.

Progress on the school front is progressing nicely. I have already determined a way to make the seminar
paper for my Digital Literacies class the third chapter of my thesis, easily killing two birds. However, I am struggling a bit with where to take a project in my Film & Feminism class; there has got to be a decent way to examine the depiction of women in noir comics in comparison to the much older noir films that inspired them.

Troubling to me is my seeming inability to read any long form fiction. I have shelved two or three novels this month without making much of a dent because I just am no longer inspired to keep going. Perhaps my selections just didn't jibe with my tastes, but it feels like there is a bit of a shift going on in my reading life. Especially considering the fact that I am making little to no progress in the second volume of M.T. Anderson's Octavian Nothing duology after enjoying the first so much. That said, I have committed to read Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses with some friends, so we'll see how that goes.

In February, I manged to read 17 books and graphic novels, including a manuscript for an upcoming novel written by two of my friends that won't be listed here. The rest were:
  • Ultimate Spiderman, Vol. I by Brian Michael Bendis & Bagley
  • Multiliteracies for a Digital Age by Stuart A. Selber
  • A Singular Destiny by Keith R.A. DeCandido
  • Planetary: All Over the World by Warren Ellis & John Cassaday
  • Preacher: Proud Americans by Garth Ennis & Steve Dillon
  • The Uncanny X-Men: Days of Future Past by Chris Claremont & John Byrne
  • Astro City: Family Album by Kurt Busiek & Brent Anderson
  • The Fire Gospel by Michel Faber
  • Ultimate X-Men, Vol. I by Mark Millar & Adam Kubert
  • V for Vendetta by Alan Moore & David Lloyd
  • Preacher: Ancient History by Ennis, et al.
  • Planetary: The Fourth Man by Ellis & Cassaday
  • Astro City: The Tarnished Angel by Busiek & Anderson
  • All Star Superman, Vol. I by Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely
  • Amercian Insurgency by Roberto J. Gonzalez
  • Powers: The Sellouts by Bendis & Michael Avon Oeming
I have also experienced a severe cutback in the amount of mainstream comics I can read, mostly attributed, I believe, to my studies of the conventions and ability to spot just about anything pages before it appears. Thus, I am really enjoying Astro City and Powers who use said conventions as common knowledge and build on that foundation, rather than just rebuilding a foundation we've all seen a hundred times before.

Questions and comments are strongly encouraged. Big recommendation for Faber's The Fire Gospel, which was to be the basis of a post about the time I started to rethink this forum. I hope that this month sees a few more readers sharing in the slightly new direction.


Anonymous said...

What did you think of All-Star Superman?

Allyn said...

I've not read All-Star Superman yet, but partly because I don't want to shell out now for the two hardcovers, if the rumored Absolute Edition surfaces this year. I have read the first issue — a reprint of that was DC's Free Comic Book Day offering last yet — and I liked it. I just want to buy it, the whole shebang, at once. :)

Any thoughts on Planetary? I've never read the crossover volume, Crossing Worlds, though I should be getting that today from Amazon. Planetary is a book that I tell people they should read to follow Watchmen, and I generally thought it was a load of fun. (It doesn't hurt that I can envision a Torchwood crossover in my mind, either; I imagine Jack Harkness and Jakita Wagner, and my mind goes all kablooey.) Reading Planetary gave me a new appreciation for Ruins when I reread that last month.

Jon Polk said...

Morrison is able to capture the magic of the 1960s Superman, providing one of the most fun experiences I've had with the character. I have yet to read Volume 2, but when I can get a copy in the next couple of months I'll probably write about the series in some detail.

Planetary is among the best of origin stories, though reading only two volumes thus far I am unsure as to how good I think the overall project is. What I find most intriguing is the mounds of backstory that is kept secret from the reader (and usually Snow), but seems to be firmly established w/i the mind of Ellis. It's revealing these facets of the story that urge me to acquire the next volume in a hurry.

I don't really understand why you are making the Watchmen/Planetary connection though, Allyn. he similarities seem at best superficial to me.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I really enjoyed the first All-Star volume. Morrison seems to get Superman right-- it's a little weighty, but it's mostly fun. I didn't used to be a fan of the more out-there Superman stuff, but I'm slowly being won over. Whenever volume 2 hits paperback, I'll pick it up too. (DC's collected editions policy is so terrible these days.)

Allyn said...

I understand what you mean about a tenuous connection at best between Watchmen and Planetary. I think you could easily say, "The only thing these have in common is that they were printed on paper." :)

The connection I see is that the two books examine the comics medium itself, from opposite directions. Watchmen looks at a world where heroes like out of comics are real, while Planetary looks at a world where everything comics told us about is actually real. Where Moore uses comics to criticize comics in Watchmen, Ellis and Cassaday celebrate the imagination of comics in Planetary. If Watchmen is the grim-n-gritty, then Planetary is the necessary corrective. That's how I see the two books as connected.