HOW I SPENT MY SUMMER VACATION
Okay, so it hasn’t technically been a “vacation” keeping me from posting entries here lately, more like a series of major computer problems and a couple of quick out-of-town trips. But during my absence, a few good things have happened.
*This here blog got a very nice mention in Teresa Ortega’s wonderful comics blog, “In Sequence: Comics, Graphic Arts, Obsessions.” (Come to think of it, those are pretty close to my own interests, only in a slightly different order of priority.) I came across her site a few months ago thanks to its appearance in “QueerFilter,” a list of weblogs by and about queers of various persuasions. At the risk of indulging in what SPY magazine (R.I.P.) used to brand logrolling, I strongly recommend Teresa’s blog to anyone interested in comics of all kinds, because it contains some of the best writing about them I’ve ever seen. Everytime I check it out, I learn about something new I just have to read or a site I need to visit. And it’s not just about comic books, either: I’m equally drawn (pardon the pun) to her critiques of Bush’s foreign policy and related matters.
*Teresa’s link to my site got picked up by ”Journalista!”, a more mainstream comics site I didn’t previously know about but have become instantly hooked on. (When I’m not jerking off to images of a bound Batman, I’ve been known to admire the work of folks like Harvey Pekar, Daniel Clowes, Peter Bagge – you know, the stuff I was supposed to have grown into after abandoning superheroes in adolescence.) I can’t quite tell whether the entry about my blog is entirely favorable or not, but I’m flattered all the same. So, welcome heterosexual comics fans – consider me your Queer Eye for the Tights-Clad Guy.
*Meanwhile – inspired in part by Teresa’s writing about it – I finally got around to reading Michael Chabon’s epic novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. Like Teresa, I was skeptical at first about all the hype, but I must say this is one hell of a book, the kind you can’t put down and don’t want to see end. I’m trying not to spoil the plot’s many surprises, but I have to gush about the way Chabon weaves gayness (along with Jewishness and New York Cityness and even surrealism) into the very fabric of the story, acknowledging it as an integral part of the history and psychology of comics in the process. And there’s just something totally brilliant about a superhero named “The Escapist.” (I’m tempted to spell out the many connotations of “escapism” that the book explores, but maybe I’ll let you discover them for yourself instead.)
The reviews I’d read had led me to assume this was a comic novel, so I was surprised when a friend warned me that it makes an abrupt shift into darkness. I told him I couldn’t see how that was possible, given that it starts in pre-Holocaust Europe, and he replied, “Well, that’s the light part.” And I’ll be damned if he wasn’t right. At the same time, even the saddest turns of fate (I started sobbing as I tried to summarize the plot to my partner) are still accompanied by lines that make you want to laugh out loud. (I hear that he’s writing the screenplay to Spider-Man 2, a promising development if ever there was one.
Folks, if you’ve ever cared about comics – if they’ve shaped your dreams, sparked your imagination, or stimulated your genital of choice — you simply have to read Chabon’s novel. And check out Teresa’s blog while you’re at it—she knows things you need to know about, and she tells you about them in an intelligent and articulate voice. Plus, like Chabon, she’s great with the queer stuff most writers don’t know how to handle.
How’s that for a reciprocal plug?
*Last bit of good news: I finally have a computer that won’t snap, crackle, pop, or tick like a time bomb, so “Heroes and Villains” is back in business. (And I promise I’m on the verge of a major revamp of my “Secret Room” site, too.)