Finally: Understanding Comics

Sometimes I can’t decide where to write a post – here is one such. It belongs both places, so now here it is!

Comparative Geeks

Life being what it’s been, it’s taken me a while to finally finish reading Understanding Comics, by Scott McCloud. This had been recommended to me by several reliable sources, like GuestGeekBrian, and KazuKibuishi. And how long it took me to get to and read it should be no comment on this book either for how important it is nor how good it is.

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Because it is quite simply one of the best, most important books I have ever read.

In short, this 1992 book attempts to explore the art form of comics at the very core. What it is about comics that make them comics, and not just drawings, or picture books, or illustrated literature, or really any other medium or thing – they are their own thing, described in the singular and plural as “comics.”

Along the way, he argues against any thought that comics…

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If we were having coffee… Welcome to Night Vale edition

Sometimes, coffee is hot. Sometimes, coffee is cold. Sometimes, it’s a gibbering mass from outside our time and space.

Welcome to Night Vale.

*cue opening music by Disparition*

If we were having coffee, I would definitely tell you that I have spent the week listening to a new podcast – Welcome to Night Vale. This one comes to me highly recommended by a number of sources. The problem before hasn’t been interest, more just that I had not integrated podcasts into my life at all.

I was dubious after just listening to the pilot. The community radio style they’re going for, the NPR style they’re going for, is not something I’ve listened to before. The Lovecraftian subject matter, the Arkham-Horror-card style descriptions and strong sense of genre-awareness, is something I could listen to. So by the second episode, well, there was a line that hooked me…

[tweet https://twitter.com/compgeeksdavid/status/613509266066948096]

I’m not the only one. There’s merch with that on it!

This has me thinking about a short story project I’ve been planning. The Mists of Juneau. What I’ve been needing is not a plot or a feel, but a voice. And while I don’t want to rip off Night Vale’s voice, I do think that level of genre awareness could be just the right thing.

And now, I bring you the weather.

I’ve also been processing a lot more digital files at the library this week – including the university’s literary journal. So I think I have a place I’d like to see if I could get The Mists of Juneau published. Which means I also have a deadline. Which with that, it should be everything I need…

Assuming time continues to exist in such a way that I can make that deadline. There’s no guarantee of that. There’s no guarantee of anything.

How about you – ever listen to Welcome to Night Vale? If not, the librarian in me would recommend the Summer Reading Program. But until next time, good night, Night Vale.

Good Night.

Introducing Flash Fiction Friday!

I mentioned on Monday that I had been thinking about rearranging some of my Features here on DBCII. One that I have been working on is Six Word Story Saturday, which, while fun, is not the easiest thing to write. And, given I wasn’t getting a lot of interaction on these, I feel no problem with shifting that project to a slightly different one: Flash Fiction Friday.

Because blogging Features need alliteration.

So this is this week’s little story. I am, for now, going to keep doing the stories on Twitter, as an interesting forced limit to them. However, working within 140 characters is still a lot more than six words, so it’s some room to breathe. And, as I discussed last week, trying to create any sort of genre story in six words is very difficult – but I think that with 140 characters, there’s a shot!

So it’s a big improvement over a story like this:

Let me know what you think, and if you have any experience with Flash Fiction!

Six Word Saturday 8

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I’m thinking about a bit of a shift in my Six Word Saturday posts. I feel like I’ve played this out as an exercise where I’m learning anything. And I’m not really getting feedback from others to help enhance it any more, so I may be doing something similar and soon. Read more of this post

Discrimination against Science Fiction and Fantasy – The Sunday Re-Blog

Yesterday was my new best day for likes on Comparative Geeks… nice to get WordPress feedback like that, to help you realize that things are growing for the blog, and people are reading and interacting more.

The main reason was this post, which I think is a nice addition to my series on Science Fiction and Fantasy and genre fiction in general, about how they get discriminated against for no good reason. Also got some very encouraging comments, but definitely feel free to weigh in as well!

Comparative Geeks

One of my favorite things I’ve written on the blog is my series on the definition and importance of Science Fiction and Fantasy – of fictions that might be called Speculative, or Romantic. And when asked, I said that one of the things that I would most like to change in the world is people’s opinions about these genres, or maybe about genre fiction in general. However, through all of this, I lacked a solid, concrete example. An example of prejudice against Science Fiction or Fantasy.

There are a lot of things in this world that we shouldn’t discriminate against. Things you can’t control, things that aren’t a choice, things that should have no bearing on life. But then, there are things that are opinions, that are a choice, that I can go right ahead and be upset about. And for me, the one that takes the…

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Realistic vs. Romantic Literature – The Sunday Re-Blog

This post originally appeared on Comparative Geeks, as the end of a series of posts I had done and have shared over here as well. The post is long, so I will keep my intro short – but let me just say this, this is a post I am proud of!

Hello my readers, time again for me to touch on a series of posts I’ve written over the course of the blog so far. It all started out from a definition of science fiction I read in a book, which led into a blog post exploring that. Then, for comparison, I explored a definition of fantasy based on a quote that’s floated around social media. So between the two, I had pitted Frank Herbert against J.R.R. Tolkien. Then, for another look at it, I compared Star Trek and Star Wars. I still really like my genre exploration there.

And then I listened to George R.R. Martin on the Nerdist Podcast, and it got me thinking that all this work of putting things in genres, and holding one over another or pitting them against one another, was wrong; and I was working on coming up with new terms or new ways of thinking about the differences, of trying to really articulate what I was trying to say.

That’s when I got a comment back on that first post, questioning what I meant about science fiction, making me really think about what I was saying. The commenter – who had the opportunity to interview the author, Paolo Bacigalupi – recommended and discussed The Windup Girl. So I felt I needed to read that first and consider it. And to consider what it is I have been trying to articulate, to think of the terms and groupings and ways that we talk about these sorts of stories, and so that is where I am coming from with this post. Let me know in the comments what you think!

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R – Realism

RI recently hit back upon the literary terms Realistic and Romantic literature. It was the topic of what is maybe the best blog post I have written. I thought it would be good to consider them a moment here with the A to Z Challenge.

Realistic fiction is, to me, set here in our real world, or very near to it. Here we see people a little like us, or maybe a little not like us, handling situations we might find ourselves in. For me, reading something like this is kind of like playing a sports video game: something that, if I wanted to experience it myself, I would just go out and do it. However, there are plenty of people who read these sorts of works, who love them, all that.

Romantic fiction, meanwhile, is the sort of fiction full of experiences outside of the ordinary. Be it sword and sorcery, space and aliens, steam and gears, angels and demons… You can do whatever you want in romantic literature. This is the realm where geeks live and thrive, and if my other blog Comparative Geeks didn’t give it away, I would definitely call myself a geek. This is my stuff – this is what I consume, what I hope to create, and what I defend when I write posts like this.

And by defend, I mean that there are often cases where large parts of romantic literature are discounted – in academic scholarship, in the “canon” and what is taught in schools, etc. Some of my main frustration, though, comes when dealing with someone who does not *get* the idea of romantic literature, of fantasy and science fiction and fiction in general. The sort of person who is the opposite of me, who reads only realistic works.

Because while I can wholly understand what realistic literature is, what sorts of experiences it might contain within it, and what sorts of characters, that doesn’t mean I have to read it. However, for the person who doesn’t really touch romantic literature – they may not wholly get the idea of it, or the appeal. They often, in my opinion, miss out on the very idea of imagination and fiction in writing. My favorite example is still probably the Da Vinci Code, which had people up in arms against it, as though it was presenting truth. It’s fiction, everybody.

I guess I technically chose the term Realism, so let me close by saying that realism is important in either type of writing. Realism can be created by following realistic chains of cause and effect, or the laws of physics, or a solid understanding of how people act and react, or any number of other subtle or overt measures. And, by removing elements of the real world, it is often even more important that there are elements which hold down realism – like having internally-consistent rules for how magic works within a fantasy universe.

It stands out when realism is thrown out the window, and if done, should be done on purpose. Whether it’s magical realism or adult animated TV shows (The Simpsons, Family Guy, South Park… realism tells us Kenny is assuredly dead), the lack of realism can stand out, and can be used purposefully to tell a story as well.

Oh, and Romantic Literature need not have a romance in it, though that doesn’t seem to stop it from happening…

I feel like I should have a question and I don’t. What are your thoughts on these two large groupings of literature? Let me know!

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