odds and ends

I don’t know why, but I feel compelled to point something out about this las week of comics, focusing on my teaching Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky. I don’t especially like it when people who draw comics leave excessive blog posts attached to the work to explain what they’ve written and drawn but I’m going to indulge for a moment.

I hope folks realize that these were four comics focusing on one period of my class, and not a week-long lesson. It would be RIDICULOUS to do a week’s worth of work on Jabberwocky in a high school class. It’s a fun poem, but there’s not a lot of meat on that bone.

I’m reminded of that one Gary Larson cartoon where he drew the dogs playing “cat tetherball” with a tied-up feline. Larson received dozens of offended letters from readers who couldn’t believe what those dogs were doing to that cat… despite dog/cat animosity being a cornerstone of comedy for decades. The cartoonist mused that one of the reasons people were upset is that the comic didn’t resolve itself- you could read it, see those dogs… and then half an hour, pick the newspaper up and still see those damn dogs playing tetherball with the cat!

At any rate. I got an e-mail about it. I wanted to address it. I have. Now let’s talk about books!

…………………..

While most people were out last Friday snagging deals on flatscreen televisions and digital cameras, this was my lone purchase:

Dread and Superficiality: Woody Allen as a Comic Strip is a fascinating artifact. Until I ran across this beautiful, thick collection I wasn’t aware the Wood-man had his own comic strip in the late 1970’s/early 1980’s.

Written and drawn by Stu Hample with minimal imput from Allen, Dread and Superficiality rings the same comedic bell over and over again. Woody as the luckless lover, Woody in therapy, Woody being neurotic… the repetitiveness of the comics collected here doesn’t make for a great immersive read. The introduction to the book cops to the problem, wherein Hample admits he kept the strip broad when he should have been going more sophisticated.

As a result of Hample’s creative choice to stay broad, he ends up inadvertently highlighting the difference between the later, more serious efforts from Allen and his earlier directorial efforts. At the same time that Allen was moving toward a less comedic approach with his films, the Play it Again Sam version of Woody Allen was yukking it up in newspapers across the country.

………………..

I just picked up The Leftovers by Tom Perotta this week and have been enjoying it.

Perotta has something of a reputation for documenting the ennui and complexity of suburban living, although this is my first go-around with one of his books. I will freely admit, I picked up The Leftovers based on its’ hooky premise- an unexplained Rapture-like event results in millions of people disappearing from existence. Those that are “left over” must pick up the pieces of their community.

While many authors would focus on the event itself, I loved the way Perotta sidesteps the implications of what he calls “The Sudden Departure” and instead focuses on the aftermath and how it effects individuals. Of course, losing so many people mysteriously is a tragedy and the author plays the effects of the event out well… but people still need to go to work, right? The trains need to run on time and bills need to be paid.

Essentially, the Sudden Depature ravages the communal aspect of the world and the four members of the Garvey family work to restablish community in their own ways- father Kevin becomes mayor of their town, his wife Laurie and son Tom find themselves involved in religions newly created after the departure, and daughter Jill is at loose ends, disconnected from her previous personality. It’s worth reading, folks.

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2 Responses to “odds and ends”

  1. Sounds like a really good read. I had a sample sent to my kindle. Thanks!

    • Christopher Pearce Says:

      I think you’ll like it- I wonder if Perotta knew people would be sampling his book via Kindle, because the first twenty or so pages are excellent set-up for the rest of the novel. Let me know what you think if you have a chance!

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