Essay posts

Disaster and distance

Posted by on April 10th, 2011 at 8:07 PM
Hokusai, 1833
Hokusai’s “Great Wave off Kanagawa,” 1833

I was in Oregon when the quake and wave first struck Japan last month. More specifically, I was in a little comfort food eatery called Belly in downtown Eugene, sipping a martini.

Huckleberry Finn, Racism and The Social Order

Posted by on February 17th, 2011 at 1:00 PM

“All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn.” — Ernest Hemingway

Barney Google: Vagabond Extraordinary—Popeyed Pioneer

Posted by on February 11th, 2011 at 12:01 AM

The frisky unrest of Billy De Beck’s style did not prove hospitable, in those early decades of the century, to ingenious plot architecture. The veerings of his inventions often supplanted suspense with the narrative veerings of a Henry Fielding or Tobias Smollett: a little more erotic, and Barney might have been a humorous gallivanter. But balcony scenes, innocuous or otherwise, found no place in Billy De Beck’s celebration of middle-aged buoyancy and enterprise.

Writer Defined

Posted by on February 4th, 2011 at 12:01 AM

The writer-artist controversy still lurks.

THE PANELISTS: Teaching a Superhero Seminar (A Reflection)

Posted by on February 2nd, 2011 at 7:38 AM

Charles started the new week at The Panelists with a reflection on the superhero comics seminar he taught last semester at CSU Northridge (complete with a list of ten realizations).

Smurfing with Peyo

Posted by on February 2nd, 2011 at 12:01 AM

I’m glad to see the Smurfs again: Not only are they charming cartoon confections, they also remind me of gladsome moments in my sea-faring days.

Garth Ennis’s Knights of the Sky, Part Six: Battler Britton and “Archangel”: “The whole truth is unthinkable.”

Posted by on January 26th, 2011 at 12:01 AM

In the conclusion of his six-part essay on aerial combat in Garth Ennis’ works, Williams summarizes: The truth is insane. The trick is to find a way to make the insanity bearable.

Garth Ennis’s Knights of the Sky, Part Five: J for Jenny, The Night Witches, and more Phantom Eagle: “I have made my choice.”

Posted by on January 25th, 2011 at 12:01 AM

In his war stories, Garth Ennis has repeatedly put enemies in dialogue, face to face; or set allies against each other, in debate. He has returned, almost obsessively, to questions of duty and compassion, and to the brutal, arbitrary nature of modern warfare.

Garth Ennis’s Knights of the Sky, Part Four: Finest Hour: “I think I owe you something.”

Posted by on January 24th, 2011 at 12:01 AM

To understand Garth Ennis’s attitude about wars, and the people who fight them, it’s worth looking way back to 1993′s Hellblazer story “Finest Hour” (issue 71).

Garth Ennis’s Knights of the Sky, Part Three: Dan Dare: “We always fight squalid little men like you.”

Posted by on January 21st, 2011 at 12:01 AM

Given the cruel satire of The Phantom Eagle, and the sober drama of “Condors,” it may be surprising to find Ennis idealizing, well, anything.

But he is nevertheless willing to engage in some myth-making of his own. Dan Dare (another resuscitated old-school comics hero) practically embodies the notions of courage, decency, fairness, mercy, moral resolve, and good sense — fortuitously unified with natural leadership, personal charisma, fighting skill, and rugged good looks. Plus, he’s an astronaut — and an Englishman. “He’s a British hero,” Ennis writes, “An English hero, by God, in a time when such characters are few and far between.”

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