Some Thoughts on Comics and Mixed-Media Literature

As we enter the sauna that is summertime (in Florida, at least!), and as the world searches for great Beach Reads (if you live in Middle America, are they called “Beach Reads” still?), I figured I’d share some thoughts on a few recent books I’ve tackled. Because I’ve been immersed in comic creation over the last few months, I decided to write an essay round-up of all graphic novels and mixed-media books.

Check out the following link to get to “Reading Books While Burping My Baby,” my ongoing column at the Burrow Press Review. In this edition, I discuss Adam Mansbach’s Go the Fuck to Sleep, the old ’90s fantasy comic Warriors of Plasm, Nate Powell’s Swallow Me Whole, and The Best American Comics 2011. And if you still need graphic novel recommendations after all of that, I have a few suggestions for you (which aren’t mentioned in the essay, but should be!): check out Eddie Campbell’s The Playwright, a fantastic comic/novella that starts breezy and humorous and winds up becoming deeply affecting. It truly feels like something out of Best American Short Stories, but the artwork adds an extra layer of depth to the book, complementing and building upon the text perfectly. Also, I recently finished Charles Burns’ Black Hole. It was too massive to qualify as a beach read, but it’s definitely a great summer read, and especially works well on those stormy Florida afternoons when it feels like the world is coming to an end.

And if you want to see what I’ve been up to lately, in the world of comics and mixed-media literature (and really, you should want to see what I’m up to, right?), here are a few links for access on your Kindle or iPad or whatever other techno-device you probably shouldn’t be taking to the beach:

My second installment in the graphic narrative adaptation of Alex Kudera’s Fight For Your Long Day is up at Atticus Review. This has been a true pleasure to draw, and I hope it’s going well. Please leave a comment at the site to let me know how I did!

The latest edition of Palooka is finally out, which features my graphic narrative, “On Seeing Yourself…” (really long title…I won’t re-type it, thus forcing you to click the link and see what the full title is!). This is definitely a journal worth supporting, and worth subscribing to. Some great work by a lot of interesting and varied writers; if you’ve never seen Palooka, I’d compare it to Hobart or Annalemma in execution. Striking, and creative. There’s an excerpt of my comic at the following link, but you’ve got to pick up the magazine to get the full story!

You can also read my graphic essay, “My Life in Gadgets: MySpace, Blogger, Facebook,” in the new edition of Fiction Fix. This is a journal that’s been around for almost a decade now, but I really think that their conversion from print to online has helped them to carve out a true identity. The journal is based at the University of North Florida, and for this edition, they’ve created a graphic literature issue. Some great stuff, including a novel-in-woodcuts, and a comic by the always-entertaining Jonathan Bayliss (author of “So…Buttons,” which was featured on AMC’s Comic Book Men). Go here to download the issue, and read my strange essay on the evolution of my old “Diet Coke Chronicles” blog.

Also, an interesting project called “Story A Day” recently reviewed my short story “Peeling” at Necessary Fiction. It’s a cool project (title is self-explanatory), and for writers, the idea of one story a day (with discussion) is a pretty good goal. Too often, I have student-writers who don’t think that they need to read at all…they think that they’re just naturally good writers. Then: they learn that they need to read, because they really don’t understand what’s out there. If that’s you, you should check out Story A Day, and set that goal for yourself! (Start by reading my story, of course, right?)

That’s all for this morning. I’ll write another post soon, but wanted to make sure to share those links and wish everyone a happy post-Memorial Day Week!

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