Jacob says be nice and read comics


035) Jacob: A Brief Theological Introduction by Deidre Nicole Green, finished March 24

A couple of Deidre's most important observations about Jacob that I hadn't seen as thoroughly as she explain them in this book:

• salvation is social
• we should learn from those we look down upon
• or, in other words, despising those we despise prevents us from receiving the revelations God would give us through them
• "...life is full of ambiguity, and...human existence, even for the faithful, is [often] characterized by the uncertainty and sorrow of Holy Saturday rather than the reassurance and rejoicing of Easter Sunday"
• "failure to take at face value the overarching theme of equality and justice in scripture in order to justify selfish whims is destructive not only to one's individual soul but also to an entire society"
• "while men can take away women's sexual agency, no one can take away another person's chastity because it is determined by consent"
• salvation is consensual; Christ will never force you

Anyway, terrific book.

a month

036) Starter Villain by John Scalzi, finished March 27

I've read one Scalzi book before and quite enjoyed it. This too was pure potato chips, but what potato ships! A guy inherits his uncle's supervillain business and is thrown right into a mess of villainy. There are superintelligent cats and powerful lasers (inadvertently paid for by the USDA) and more more more.

One thing I found interesting is that our first-person protag is a lot like the pov protags from comedic invisible-man novels like The Invisible Saint and Memoirs of an Invisible Man. A hapless but likable fellow put into impossible circumstances that come weighted with a lot of moral uncertainty. The first thid of the book felt like it was making more or less the same comedic beats. I'm happy to say that the protag develops into more of a Saint than a Memoirs sort of fellow. In other words, you won't mind spending 262 pages with him.

By no means Great Literature, but a certain entry into Fun Literature. Maybe I'll check out Kaiju Preservation Society next.


037) Mister Invincible: Local Hero by Pascal Jousselin, finished March 30

I love this book so much! I love the way it plays with the comics form to reimagine the superhero genre.

Here's an example:

Best recommendation I've ever gotten from a first-grader and his younger brothers!

Mostly the translation is terrific, but there are a couple moments that are confused, particularly when Mister Invincible visits America and half the characters are supposed to be speaking English.

But that's a minor complains about an utter joy.

two or three nonsequential days

038) The Toon Treasury of Classic Children's Comics, edited by Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly, finished March 30

When this book was released a decade and a half ago, I deeply wanted to read it. But it was a little trickier to find than anticipated and I eventually forgot. Until recently when I heard a replay of the editors' interview promoting it and when on the hunt again (it's the most recent episode—and may always be so, alas). It's still hard to find, but I managed.

And it was worth the journey. Lovingly reproduced in all their dotty glory, it's a mix of pagelong gag strips and longer stories and packed full of favorite artists known from comics and elsewhere like P. D. Eastman, Jack Cole, Harvey Kurtzman, Carl Banks and more more more.

I'm not just disappointed this huge (expensive) book wasn't a giant bestseller. Because that disappointment gets to why we haven't see another dozen volumes by now. Alas, alas, alas.

a few weeks

039) Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass by Mariko Tamaki and Steve Pugh, finished April 1

Look. I'm just going to be spoiling things left and right, mkay?


I saw this book recently at my local used-book store (and I don't think I made the connection to a book I'd recently read). I decided not to buy it (but don't feel bad; I spent $20 bucks there that trip and $20 more the next day) but to get it at the library.

It played a few games I found irritating. I'm kinda over the DC CHARACTER BUT THEY'RE A KID phenomenon, and Harley does come off as too quirky for this attempt at adjacent-to-realism, but she's still a charming character and she works.

What also works is making Joker a high-school student. I mean—of course someone who spews that nonsense is going to be a self-important high-school boy. Of course.

And I like that by the end, Joker isn't Harley's love interest but her arch-rival. That shows promise.

And while I hate Jokers with known backstories, the great thing about a catalogue like DC's is you can do anything with it. It's sorta like working in the public domain except the suits can shut you down whenever they feel like it. But they're bright enough to usually know that flexibility of mythos is a big part of what makes this stuff work.

I like the characters. The drag queens are real. Ivy is real. The Joker design is terrific. Harley is almost unpleasantly cute. It's fun! And it sets things up for a new version of Gotham and Batman, etc. As far as I can tell, no sequel has appeared in the last five years (alas).

My only real complaint is that this Harley has no education. But I guess no reason to give notes if there's no chance for more. C'est la DC.

saturday and monday

040) The Super Hero's Journey by Patrick McDonnell, finished April 5

What a strange book this is. Original pages and panels from 1960s Marvel comics shuffled with McDonnell's idiosyncratic art. It's a cool experiment. I didn't really love it, but I'm glad it exists. And I'd love to see more experiments along the same lines.

two days




 2024 × 10 = Bette Davis being Bette Davis

001) Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke, finished January 1
002) The Complete Peanuts: 1977 – 1978 by Charles M. Schulz , finished January 6
003) The Sandman: The Kindly Ones by Neil Gaiman et al, finished January 10
004) Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke, finished January 17
005) Touched by Walter Mosley, finished January 19
006) Opposable Thumbs: How Siskel & Ebert Changed Movies Forever by Matt Singer, finished January 20
007) Evergreen Ape: The Story of Bigfoot by David Norman Lewis, finished January 24
008) What Falls Away by Karin Anderson, finished February 1
009) Peanuts Jubilee: My Life and Art with Charlie Brown and Others by Charles M. Schulz, finished February 3
010) Legends of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke, finished February 3

 A few of my favorite things

011) Roaming by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki, finished February 3
012) The Return of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke, February 9
013) Things in the Basement by Ben Hatke, February 10
014) A Charlie Brown Religion: Exploring the Spiritual Life and Work of Charles M. Schulz by Stephen J. Lind, finished February 10
015) 1st Nephi: A Brief Theological Introduction by Joseph M. Spencer, finished February 10
016) Dendo by Brittany Long Olsen, finished February 11
017) The Ten Winners of the 2023 Whiting Awards, finished February 12
018) The Peanuts Papers: Writers and Cartoonists on Charlie Brown, Snoopy & the Gang, and the Meaning of Life edited by Andrew Blaune, finished February 17
019) Do Not Disturb Any Further by John Callahan, finished February 17
020) Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke, finished circa February 19
021) 2nd Nephi: A Brief Theological Introduction by Terryl Givens, February 24


Let's start with the untimely deaths

022) The Life and Death of King John by William Shakespeare, finished February 28
022) Might Jack and the Goblin King by Ben Hatke, finished February 29
023) Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel García Márquez, finished March 4
024) Millay by Edna St. Vincent Millay, finished March
6025, 026) The Life and Death of King John by William Shakespeare, finished March 6, 8
027) Murder Book by Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell, finished March 11
028) A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.
029) The Last Hero by Terry Pratchett and Paul Kidby, finished March 15
030) Karen's Roller Skates by Ann M. Martin and Katy Farina, finished March 18


Four comics could hardly be more different

031) The Sandman: The Wake by Neil Gaiman et al, finished March 18
032) The World of Edena by Mœbius, finished March 23
033) Three Rocks: The Story of Ernie Bushmiller, the Man Who Created Nancy by Bill Griffith, finished March 23
034) Mighty Jack and Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke, finished March 23




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