Our next Summer Reading List is courtesy of historian and comics critic Jeet Heer. Jeet contributes to the Sans Everything blog and has just started to consort with the dandified wildmen of Comics Comics. Please send us your list.
Jeet Heer’s Summer Reading List
I have essays in the following books coming out in the next little while: “Walt and Skeezix,” in Ben Schwartz, ed., Best American Comics Criticism of the 21st Century (Fantagraphics, forthcoming 2009); a revised and expanded version of the introduction to the first Walt and Skeezix volume; “Inventing Cartoon Ancestors: Ware and the Comics Canon,” in Martha Kuhlman and Dave Ball, editors, Chris Ware: The Cult of Difficulty (University Press of Mississippi, forthcoming 2010); “Crane’s Lifelong Adventure,” in Rick Norwood, editor, Roy Crane’s Captain Easy, Soldier of Fortune: The Complete Sunday Newspaper Strips Vol 1 (Fantagraphics, forthcoming 2009); “Verbeek and Japan,” in Peter Maresca, The Upside-Down World of Gustave Verbeek, 1903-1913 (Sunday Press Book, forthcoming 2009); introduction to Dean Mullaney, ed. Harold Gray’s Little Orphan Annie, volume 4 (IDW, forthcoming 2009/2010; and volume 4 of the Walt and Skeezix series (Drawn and Quarterly).
Books I’m reading:
The Mind-Body Problem: Poems by Katha Pollitt. Pollitt is America’s best political essayist and also a very strong poet, wry and sad and honest.
Once (Stories) by Rebecca Rosenblum (Biblioasis). This is Rosenblum’s first book of stories. A bit bumpy at spots but very powerful at evoking working class lives.
The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb (Norton). The world’s greatest cartoonist illustrating the foundational text of Western civilization. What’s there not to like?
Genesis by (depending on what you believe) God or many anonymous Hebrew scribes, translated by Robert Alter (Norton). This is the translation Crumb mostly used and Alter’s version has many useful annotations to help understand this bizarre book.
Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli (Random House). A book requiring deserving of many readings. I’ve read it twice now and plan to spend many more hours on it. My initial response is that the domestic drama (the relationship between husband and wife) is the strongest part of the book; less successful it seems to me is the use of Greek mythology which seems forced and heavy-handed.
Little Lulu series by John Stanley and Irving Tripp (many volumes from Dark Horse). Stanley was the greatest writer ever to work in mainstream comic books; about the only problem with the Lulu series is that it’s so consistently good it’s hard to chart out any evolution. I’m also looking forward to the subsequent volumes of the John Stanley library that Seth is designing for Drawn and Quartelry. The Melvin Monster book was perfect, the first book to present Stanley’s work in the format he deserves.