Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
By the time you see this, Julie and I will be away on our first road trip of 2014; we are off to the north for a long weekend of bookscouting and goofing off. So in the meantime, here are various items that struck me as interesting enough to give a little space here, but not worth a column on their own.
“Sam Wilson is the First Black Captain America!” is a news item that blew up all over the comics internet this week. Except, many smug comics nerds are sneering in reply, you all are forgetting Isaiah Bradley!
I’ll see that sneer and raise it– because Mark Waid already did a story with Sam Wilson as “the first black Captain America,” and it happened five years before anyone had thought of Isaiah Bradley. It came out in 1998, a nice little two-parter in Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #8 and #9.
I wonder if Mark Waid is gritting his teeth and muttering, “Sure, NOW it’s a news story. Where was all this press when we were kicking ass on Captain America Sentinel of Liberty and no one was buying the book? We could have really used some of that slow-news-day, mainstream-press-freaking-out-over-a-non-story publicity.”
In any case, it was a cool story. In fact, Sentinel of Liberty was a cool series, a nice throwback to the days when you could pick up a monthly book and get a full reading experience– most of them were one or two-parters set during different periods of Captain America’s career, written by Waid or Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by a variety of artists.
The entire run is collected in a lovely oversized hardcover that is, of course, out of print, but you can still find it online if you look. For considerably less than I paid for mine, in point of fact. Well worth it.
Parenting: Watching news footage of a screaming mob of protestors at the border yelling at a busload of refugee children, I wondered, who the hell raised those people that they could be so cruel to a bunch of scared kids?
Then I was reminded of who raised ME. It wasn’t my largely-incompetent parents. I got my moral code from these guys.
I grew up immersed in superheroes saying stuff like this.
Corny? Maybe. But I still think it’s good advice. I had ideas like that so ingrained into my psyche from reading comics that it never would even occur to me that it was somehow okay to go terrorize a busload of already-scared kids in the name of patriotism. Or something.
I’ve said it before– as ridiculous as it may seem, when I was growing up I learned more of my values and got better advice from fictional guys like Captain America and Superman than I ever did from my real-life parents. I enjoy ‘realistic’ superheroes as much as anyone but I occasionally wonder if maybe we’ve traded away something important in our mad stampede to get away from superheroes being dismissed as kid stuff.
There’s a new Radio Vs. The Martians! podcast up! Link is here. This one’s all about the films of Hayao Miyazaki.
I had absolutely nothing to do with this particular episode, but it’s still always an entertaining show and worth a listen. My Cartooning students, old and new, all worship at the altar of Miyazaki and it was a fun way for me to find out a little more about his work. Check it out.
Also, Mike and Casey are looking for people to weigh in on the current Radio Vs. the Mailbag! question of “fantasy vs. science fiction,” a perennial fan wrangle with details that change every decade or so — the last time I remember getting into it was an argument at a con dinner a couple of years back over whether Star Wars was SF or fantasy, and if midichlorians were the fig leaf Lucas was using to try to restore his science-fiction cred, or something. It was uber-nerdy. Anyway, you can post your two cents on that, here.
Speaking of Fantasy… the one upside of so many books on my pull list getting canceled is that it frees up some cash in my comics budget. So when Erin down at Zanadu Comics pressed this book into my hands giggling, “You HAVE to see this, it’s AWESOME,” I was willing to risk a fin on it.
And Erin was right. Princess Ugg is indeed awesome. And hilarious. And completely adorable.
It’s from Courtney Crumrin‘s Ted Naifeh, and only two issues in I am swooningly in love with it.
It’s the story of a Viking Princess, Ülga, who is forced to leave her mountain tribe and come to the city… to attend finishing school. Here’s the blurb: Within the fairy-tale kingdom of Atraesca lies the prestigious Princess Academy, where young royals from all the five kingdoms come to get their education. But they’ve never before seen the like of Princess Ülga of Grimmeria. Armed with axe and sword, riding her war mammoth through the city gates, Ülga has come in search of schooling. But this barbarian princess might just end up schooling the people of Atraesca before that happens!
Ülga soon learns that her idea of ‘proper’ is quite a bit different than that of her fellow princesses, and hilarity ensues.
Naifeh takes what should have been a really tired idea– country bumpkin girl has to deal with a bunch of snooty rich bitches– and makes it endlessly entertaining, mostly because Ülga’s go-to response in any difficult situation is Conan-the-barbarian levels of mayhem.
I can count the number of times a comic book has made me laugh out loud in the last decade on one hand… and both issues of Princess Ugg have made that short list. I have no idea if this is meant as a mini-series or an ongoing or what but I hope it runs for YEARS. All those bloggers who’ve been grumping about how there’s no good all-ages comics out there, or nothing with a good female lead, or how there aren’t any heroines who aren’t drawn like porn stars, or how humor comics are dying– my friends, I’m telling you, Princess Ugg is the answer to all your prayers. Go get those first two issues now. Especially if you have a smart daughter looking for something fun to read, but it’s perfectly okay for you to buy it for yourself, too.
And that’s all I’ve got, this time out. With that, my bride and I are off to Canada in search of cool books and other odd out-of-the-way thrift-store finds… and possibly even comics. Which I probably will talk about here next week. See you then.
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