At our recent Comics Studies Reading Group virtual meeting, we asked the question, “What comics are getting you through the pandemic and why?”. Some of the group’s responses are shared below, and reflect a range of genres and tastes, but more interestingly, a range of different needs and reasons for looking to comics during this time.
We’d love to hear from some of you in the comments about what you’re reading these days and why it’s important to you, especially now. Whether its for escapism, contemplation, comfort, provocation, or intellectual gratification, tell us how comics or graphic novels might be meaningful or valuable for you in the time of COVID.
Our next meeting will be Saturday, June 20, 1-2:30 p.m., via Zoom, and we’ll be discussing Gene Luen Yang’s, American Born Chinese, along with an essay recommended by one of our members, to be shared on our email list. If you’d like to be added to that list, contact email@example.com.
What some of our Reading Group members had to say:
“For me, the very *idea* of comics is getting me through Covid-19. Comics are about creators pouring their heart and soul into art for whoever cares enough to appreciate it, knowing they will probably not make much money doing it, and knowing they will never see most of the people whose lives their work touches. To me that feels especially poignant and powerful right now.
I’ve also been catching up on series I was very behind on–Deadly Class, Descender, Lazarus, Ms. Marvel, Paper Girls, Saga, and many more. Getting back into these older titles via the single issues I have stacked up (literally) reminds me that lively conversations about comics will continue, no matter what happens with Covid-19.”
Dave Aftandilian, Associate Professor of Anthropology & Director of the Human-Animal Relationships (HARE) minor at TCU
“I always read Japanese shojo manga when in need of comfort. Even when things are difficult – whether that be a bad breakup or an evil monster attack – everything in those drawn worlds still looks beautiful. And the heroine always wins, despite her personal foibles and silly mistakes along the way. We need that kind of story right now.”
Sarah A. Evans, Assistant. Professor of Youth Librarianships, UNT Dept. of Information Sciences
“It took me a while to get used to Love & Rockets. What the hell is this, I would think, watching dinosaurs tromp across panels that were also filled with spaceships and half written in Spanish. Now I totally love the women who make up the main cast of characters in Jaime Hernandez’s fictional world of Huerta (unless, of course, they are off-world in some other weird place that also has beaches and dinos). Maggie, Hopey, Izzy, Penny, Daffy, Terry and others are literally drawn in all shapes and sizes; they are each unique in character one from the next; they cultivate different sets of desires; they are flawed but lovable; and most exciting of all, their relationships with each other, and with the men in their world, are complex, dynamic, and deliciously messy. Over the course of lockdown I have read Locas in Love and The Girl from HOPPERS, now my hunt begins for Perla la Loca!”
Samantha Langsdale, Senior Lecturer, Dept. of Philosophy & Religion, UNT
“I like to confront my fears and anxieties directly in my reading and viewing—which is one reason I gravitate towards gothic fiction and horror movies. The same is true for comics. My standard reading right now is a pile of horror & dystopian science fiction titles: Monstress, Outcast, Bitter Root, Family Tree, The Plot, Gideon Falls, Trees, and all of the new Hill House titles (my favorites are Plunge and The Low, Low Woods). I also enjoy some of the recent crime noir series like The Fade Out and Ruby Falls. Thinking through how we process fear, uncertainty, danger, and horror in artistic form is important to me, and maybe more relevant now than ever. I’m also working on a paper on Ezra Clayton Daniels’ Upgrade Soul, and recently read his Bttm Fdrs, both of which deal with the potential and dangers of technology in the context of race, age, socioeconomics, and spirituality. They both offer great body horror and urban gothic! You know, if you’re into that sort of thing…”
John Edward Martin, Scholarly Communication Librarian, UNT Libraries
“I have been returning to old favorites and books that influenced me as a form of ‘comic comfort food.’ These include re-reading Evan Dorkin’s Milk and Cheese: Dairy Products Gone Bad, Jaime Hernandez’s original Love and Rockets stories, Carl Barks’ Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge comics, Eisner’s The Spirit, and Keith Giffen’s Ambush Bug…mostly all humorous stuff. I’ve been supplementing that with back issues of The Nib and a huge backlog of digital comics I had not yet gotten around to reading. The latter include the first volume of Elfquest by Wendy Pini and Richard Pini, Mike Carey’s new Barbarella comics, and Pat Mills and Various Artists legendary 2000 A.D. story Judge Dredd: The Cursed Earth.”
Josh Rose, Faculty of Art History, Brookhaven College