Us Loser City folk sometimes take trips outside the city limits, so this week we’re rounding up some of the places you might have seen Loser City citizens.
It’s been a couple weeks since we checked in, but only because things have been crazy. As you may remember, Shea Hennum made his debut at Paste earlier this month with a piece on Scott McCloud’s The Sculptor with sparked a debate over respecting “the canon” in comics and whether works by legends deserve to be appreciated just because of the status of the creator or if they should be even more closely examined. That all culminated today in an epic online debate over whether worthy comics criticism even exists or if it’s all just “Reviewing” these days.
Obviously, as a gang of unhinged critics we believe pretty strongly in criticism, but we’re as aware as anyone about how hopeless things can seem when a debate over the color of a dress gets literally a million times more attention than even the most popular think piece. But frankly, the tunnel vision that a significant chunk of comics critics have is alarming. There is a much larger world out there than the handful of comic sites that sort of run as a business, to the extent that they can afford to rent boats at SDCC or ditch their ships altogether to become marketing directors at large indies. We don’t believe in circling drains, we believe in aiding our team in finding the best possible gigs at the most prominent publications in a very serious albeit tongue-in-cheek desire to infiltrate culture writing on a grand scale.
So on that note, holy cow did Shea Hennum have a good month. After his debut at Paste, Shea reviewed Fantagraphics’ reissue of Jacques Tardi and Jean-Patrick Manchette’s Run Like Crazy Run Like Hell, explored the underappreciated, newish Mark Millar work Starlight and how diversity has made it a standout in Millar’s catalog, and wrote an essay on Fantagraphics’ adventurous new manga adaptations (which he initially covered for us in Fluid Exchange with a look at the gay manga collection Massive), remarking that Fantagraphics translations show a complete change in Fantagraphics’ previous apathy towards the world of manga:
“These are not the kinds of comics that pigeonhole easily, nor are they the kinds of comics a mainstream publisher would take a risk on. In many ways, they’re kin to Fantagraphics’ originals, but in others, they represent a significant territorial expansion.”
Elsewhere, MATX did a profile on relatively new Loser City contributor Francesca Lyn, who is a PhD candidate in their program, working on a dissertation tentatively titled Graphic Intimacies: Identity, Humor, and Trauma in Autobiographical Comics by Women of Color. Asked why she has taken this focus, Francesca says:
“I thought it would be interesting to look at other people’s experiences and how they portray themselves. I’m interested in ideas of race and representation, so that’s where the starting point was for that. A lot of the work that I do is autobiographical as well.”
We’re excited for Francesca and the work she is doing, and we love this sketch MATX posted of her:
In the last round up of Loser City activity, Jake Muncy’s piece on Gravity Ghost just barely missed the date for inclusion, so we’re bringing it over here because it’s pretty moving. Jake bookends the piece with two quotes, one from developmental psychologist Mary Ainsworth, the other from Charles Simic in order to show the game’s focus on safety and comfort. At the start of the essay Jake has this to say about the game’s aims:
“The planets and other heavenly bodies of Ghost’s cosmos stand in for the safety its main character’s home life lacks, and their literal gravity affords her the security needed to play and search, knowing that whatever happens, she’ll always orbit back around.”
To bring this full circle, we think that particular remark also fits in with what we’re trying to do in culture writing. Maybe the critical internet isn’t the safest place, and the last two year’s of battles between fandom and critics and even critics and critics has made that even more believable. But we like to think our small gravitation pull is enabling our writers the security to play and search and also give them a home to orbit back around to whenever they need it. And who knows, maybe that gravitational pull will eventually get strong enough to not just draw in more explorers, but also balance out some of that overwhelming negativity and uselessness.