Technology in Wall Street, Innovative But Dangerous

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Technology in Wall Street, the 1987 Market Crash Causes and Results

by Alex Glonti

“The volume was immense: six hundred million shares, almost double the previous record. In the space of hours, trillions of dollars of market value had vanished; it was, the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange said, “the nearest thing to a meltdown that I ever want to see.” (H.W. Brands, American Dreams, p. 266)

Interview Subject

Thomas Guardino, Age 65, has been working in finances on Wall Street for over 30 years. Was part of the personnel tasked to handle the “Black Monday” market crash on October 19th 1987.


  • Audio Recording, Staten Island, NY, March 25, 2017

Selected Transcript

Q. How did you start of your career on wall street, where did it all start for you?

A. ” Well to make it short, when I came out of high school I made a couple of bucks but I really didn’t have enough money to go to college because my parents were divorced and it would have been hard. So when I got out of school I went to work at an office job for a couple of months… There [Chester-Blackburn and Roder/Atlantic Lines – steam-ship company] gave an IQ test and I ended up with the best mark in the company… They sent me to school and taught me programming, but offices didn’t have any computers most of the time… This was in the beginning 70’s. The companies back then had adding machines, calculators, typewriters. but they wanted to get computers and [Atlantic Lines] wanted me to learn programming so I could set up the accounting systems… at the time I had no idea what the test was for… but later the boss came back to me and said, “you have the best mark here, were taking you to learn the business, to learn the computer, write the software and partner together”. At the time I was 19 years old… I had two private tutors in IBM at the time and that’s how I got into the computer business in the beginning. The interesting thing is… we had an office at Whitehall street which was downtown Manhattan near the ferry and they wanted to put their computer into the world trade center; we were moved there but it was being built then, the building. So my company got special permission to set up a room, there was just one door with no walls set up, just wires everywhere… they wanted to put the computer in there and I was working there by myself, nobody worked in the trade center then… But I got permission to go into the trade center, go to the test floor and to work in a building that wasn’t even fully constructed… I was the first to work there, not counting the port authority people… I worked on the [their] floor for a couple of months before they actually had the office ready; the tutors came there to show me how to work… All the people in the company resented me because they thought that the computers around would take away their jobs at the time, so nobody liked me… what happened actually was the computer was so much work in the beginning that it actually created many jobs – it wasn’t like today… you needed people to run the programs. You needed people for a lot of manual parts, like sorting the cards… so no one really lost their jobs at the time. Anyway, I worked there for about 8 years, since 1970. I worked in [Atlantic Lines] Miami office too… But the work became hard eventually, [Atlantic Lines] kept wanting more programs but they were too cheap to upgrade the computers so I had to constantly rewrite the programs and break them up. It became so hard that I was leaving work in the middle of the night… in 1978 me and my wife were going to have a baby but only the job was on my mind, so I told my wife that I had to get out of there because I couldn’t take it anymore. I was good at it but it was too much work…

So I got an interview for this company called SIAC[Securities Industry Automation Corporation] but I didn’t know that it was related to the stock market, in fact it was owned by two stock market companies and SIAC was the company that did all their computer work. So the New York Stock Exchange and the American Stock Exchange made this company called SIAC, but nobody knew that this company did all the trading and controlled everything that the stock market did on the trading floor…”

Q. What position did you hold?

A. “I took a job as an operator, but even though I worked as a manager at my last job, the benefits here where much better: bonuses, the pay was about the same, all the service stuff… In no time I became the supervisor so that’s how it started, I didn’t even know I was working in the stock exchange at first.”

Q. How were things run at the job?

A. “At first we would come in at 4 AM and leave at 6 or 7, in 3 hours, but as the years went more people came for work and they added another shift… I eventually managed 3 shifts at SIAC. The place grew… A lot of people thought the stock market was wall street… but nobody knew SIAC did a lot of trading work for the companies, it was a part of the stock market… we did a lot of work for the stock market, but did work for big companies that were involved in the industry… we didn’t have a lot of work at the time, but everything was critical because if something didn’t work we had to escalate… the newspapers would actually wait for us to send the information out, we were the only source for the prices of the stocks they could put into their papers.”

Q. How did you make deals, sell/buy stocks and operate?

A. “Well back in the day everything was done by pencil… but in our time we used computers and thought the computers were the greatest thing ever, they weren’t powerful at all compared to today; they took up half the room… The memory, the processing speed was very slow and it cosst $20,000 to $30,000… The computers had all the opening and closing prices, all the trading information of the different stocks, we had to run programs and update the prices on the computers by the end of the day for the following day. There were a lot of print outs, we had to send reports to different trading offices… everything was done through big floppy cards and everything was put onto tape to save the information. But I saw that transition as I was working in the business – when they started eliminating the tapes.”

Q. What position did you hold in 1987?

A. “I was a manager at the American Stock Exchange which was the second biggest exchange in the country, New York was first…”

Q. Could you describe the trading process during that time?

A. “There wasn’t a trading floor, the banks would send their representatives to the trading floor and buy seats there to be able to trade. The prices for the seats were pretty high and there were about a thousand seats, the companies even traded each other for the seats… the trading floor had different levels like balconies, it looked like a movie theater. The big shots were on the higher levels and they had their clerks on the trading floor who they talked to with walkie talkies. They signaled for the people on the trading floor what they wanted to do, to buy or sell a stock… These clerks had cards they would mark up by pen and take them to the card readers on the floor and everything on the cards, the trading decisions and information was sent to SIAC. But these clerks didn’t get paid as the top guys did… in 1970’s they were doing the same thing, but they didn’t have all the computer programs so it had to be done with pen and pencil, but they had what they needed.”

Q. What was the reason the 1987 stock market crashed?

A. “Not too long before the crash, they introduced program trading… It became popular in the 80’s because if the stocks were going down or up the program trading would automatically sell or buy people stocks. This was being done through certain programs and they say these programs caused the market crash. Before that the stock market was doing pretty good… There were rumors the stock market was going to drop so the banks raised the interest rates because of the rumor. Some of the companies’ stocks started to go down because of the higher interest rates, the program traders they had automatically started to trade these stocks, keep selling… Soon program trading started selling stocks of all different companies, it was out of control. Then all the people that wanted to sell the stocks, they couldn’t do anything… nobody wanted to buy… But program trading, if id didn’t get out of control was very helpful, it just needed something to stop it. The market went down 20%… That’s why later they installed circuit breakers on every system. If percentages fell by a certain percent within a specific time, everything would shut down. But this was after the crash.”

Q. Who did the people blame, what were the repercussions?

A. “People that were rich became poor and a lot of people committed suicide, lost all their money. They jumped off buildings, bridges – they had families but committed suicide cause they lost everything they had in one day… They said there were a couple of murders, some brokers got murdered by people in the same industry.

It was the fault of panic and the automatic program trading. That’s what actually caused it.”

Q. What happened to you during the crash?

A. “They called me early that day because the “lion” was too high. The lion’s the number of trades… the amount of trading and selling of stocks was too high and prices went down too much. Everybody was selling. My shift was usually at 3 AM, but I came in at midnight – they called us early to come up with some strategy cause they knew a lot of the programs that ran in the night time that sent the data to the newspapers didn’t work… A lot of programs crashed because they weren’t used to handling such a large lion. The numbers were much higher, the loses were much higher. The programs didn’t work that night… We had to be on the phone all night with people, we stayed there all night because everything had to be done until the next day or the stock market couldn’t open. The press was waiting… This was “black monday”. I don’t think I left home that night… The programs took so long to run, everybody was worried we wouldn’t make the opening for the next day… That whole week programs were crashing, but we had ways to go around it, program substitutions…”

Q. Who did this affect mostly?

A. “The rich people were really affected, but normal people weren’t affected. We didn’t have a 401K and didn’t own stocks and bonds… For the most part rich people were affected and a lot of them committed suicide because of the crash. A lot of people took their money out, but the middle class wasn’t touched. I didn’t take out my money, because I knew things would come around, they always do…”


Calvin and Color

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I was reading through an old old Calvin and Hobbes of mine over the break and noticed a strip that stuck out to me. What stuck out was the fantastic Mr. Waterson’s use of color. Instead of making, for example, the bedspread two different shades of one color when the lights are on or off, the bedspread is instead two completely different colors: red and blue. The colors go from sleepy tones of blue, white and grey to bright yellow and red. I felt like this technique really woke the page up and established an immediate transition from fear to triumph (Calvin and Hobbes conquer the monster that lives beneath their bed). The strip then jumps back into blues once Calvin and Hobbes are sent back to bad – once their father conquers them. Just thought it was kinda cool.


Understanding the Speech Bubble

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As I was writing my fourth assignment essay, I took a look into the use of the speech bubble. What drew me in was McCloud’s point that speech bubbles are used to depict sound in a strictly visual medium. He also says that to describe the non-verbal we look into the speech bubble. He seems to have a very structured way of looking at these two components, as if that is the only way they can be represented. While I would love to disagree with him, as he is very regimented in his views on comics, after a while I could not come up with any counters to what he had to say on speech bubbles. If any one has some point of counter evidence and would like to share, by all means do it.

This section on speech bubbles can be found in Understanding Comics on page 134.

Oshira-sama and other kamis

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Kamis celebrate Chihiro’s work

Why are there bouncing chicks, sumo radishes, and funking masked figures in the bath house? Why are they considered spirits?

Those are the question I had running through my mind as I watched Spirited Away for the 11th (?) time. I never questioned their presence and significance in the film until recently. I was aware that signifiers of Shintoism are embedded in the film, yet I just recently realized how heavily influenced the film is by religious rituals and practices in Japan. I want to look into Shintoism and its role in Japanese culture.

(Personal note: This topic is interesting because I have recently become fascinated with learning more about Mahayana Buddhism and how its practices are embedded in the Vietnamese culture. In the past few years, I become more religious and am learning how to do certain prayers and rituals from my mom.)

Comics Collaborations

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While researching my topic, something along the lines of comics collaborations, I ran into the book I read for our first assignment: The Sandman. This comic book is a collaboration between Neil Gaiman: writer, Sam Keith, Mike Dringenberg, Malcolm Jones III: artists, Daniel Vozzo: colorist, Todd Klein: letterer, and David McKean: covers. The book is the result of many contributions that come together to create an interesting final result. Taking artists who are pros at what they individually do and having them put their skills together ends up working beautifully. Personally, I prefer Gaiman’s writing outside of comics, but the illustration and still interesting story make for a wonderful and psychedelic adventure. I recommend the book to anyone who likes dreams or dark fantasy stories.


(Sorry for the bright spot)

How positive and negative feedback motivate goal pursuit

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I found this source to be particularly useful because for the argument that I am building, this article gives both evidence and counter-evidence to the claim I am making. It presents two cases where positive and negative feedback are both seen as being equally useful, under different circumstances, when it comes to analyzing which yields better results for success in goal pursuit. As I have searched for many sources, this one includes both positive and negative feedback in the most harmonious way, making it one of my, if not my best source available.

Alison Bechdel, “Are You My Mother?”

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While researching my topic, I came across a book review for Alison Bechdel’s, “Are You My Mother?” which is the memoir she wrote about her relationship with her mother as opposed to her father in “Fun Home”.  In this review by Steve Tuber, “Are You My Mother?” by Bechdel is compared to the children’s book which contains the same title. It speaks about the comparison between the tiny bird’s journey and Bechdel’s journey to find their perspective mothers.  The review shows how while she was young, Bechdel had a great relationship with her mother until the father figure interrupts their connection. The mother then fails to be “good enough” after that point then continues to further herself from her daughter. I feel like this article could help me a reasonable amount while I write my essay.


Opinion on the Role of Law in the Aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo Attack

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As one of my sources in my annotated bibliography, I chose to look at an op-ed piece on law in the French newspaper, Les Echos, which is a fairly popular (top 10 newspaper in France) liberal newspaper. In his article, Jean Baret, an established lawyer and journalist, argues that the most effective solution to the free speech debate that we discussed in France is to essentially trust democracy. Because populations in democracies are able to vote and their publications contribute to the public opinion, the laws that they lobby for and vote for will dictate how government regulates freedom of speech. It is up to the voters to shape the way that their government runs and enforces free speech. However, once these laws are in place, it is not up to the people to attempt to circumvent the law in order to get their point across (such as the murder of the Charlie Hebdo staff and the violent protests that ensued afterwards). Populations can vote for and shape the laws in a country, but as long as these laws are in place, they cannot be violated. I think that this is an interesting opinion because I had never considered the Charlie Hebdo attack through a legal lens, and it will be a great additional opinion in my paper. However, Baret, the author, is clearly biased in his opinion and does not discuss how individuals can shape international law that defines and regulates free speech. His argument implies a principle of sovereignty that the laws in each state should be affected by its population, not necessarily the international community.

Here is a link to the article:

Comparing and Contrasting Fun Home the Musical and Fun Home the Memoir

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One of the articles that I read in my research of Fun Home is called “Not So Fun Home” by Juno Parrenas. When I found this source I imagined that it would be a great scholarly article chronicling the differences and similarities between the musical and the graphic narrative from an unbiased point of view. However, this was not the case. This was a very short review/rant of the musical by a very big Alison Bechdel fan. Since the author is such a big fan of Bechdel’s work, she was unimpressed with the way the musical portrayed the various characters and situations, but she doesn’t go into too much detail with it. She brings up some good points regarding some things that the musical missed out on, however there isn’t enough detail and it’s not a scholarly source. It did spark some thinking about how certain areas are lost in translation, but overall this article won’t be too helpful for me, which is a shame because it’s essentially exactly about what I want to write about!

Gender Expression and Clothing

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Part of the focus of my research on Fun Home is on the role (historic and present) of clothing in the LGBT community, so I was looking at LexisNexis, a database that contains summaries of legal cases as well as a lot of other scholarly articles from legal journals. The source that I was really excited to find was “Trans-Phobia and the Relational Production of Gender” by Elaine Craig from the Hastings Women’s Legal Journal. It can be found here:

It’s a really interesting article because it links legal action and problems in the past and uses them to examine the problems we still have in the present. It also has a big focus on why people who wear gender non-conforming clothing can make others uncomfortable, and how this has led to a bias against those people in legislation. It does focus on transgender people, but all the information is stated as applying to anyone who does not necessarily conform to societies expectations for gender expression. I think it will be really interesting to take the information from this article and use it to look at the role of clothing in Fun Home.

The Collboration of Hayao Miyazaki and Joe Hisaishi

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Upon doing research for my paper I discovered the academic journal entitled “The Parts and the Whole: Audiovisual Strategies in the Cinema of Hayao Miyazaki and Joe Hisaishi” by Marco Bellano. This journal focused on the audio-visual techniques in film. I was particularly intrigued by this because my paper topic is on Music and Spirited Away. The specific essay within the animation journal focuses particularly on how music and composition link a film together and displays how music is vital to a film’s success. I was also intrigued by the fact that this essay analyzes the collaboration between the film director Miyazaki and the film composer Hisaishi. Their collaboration is considered “one of the longest in the history of film music”. Miyzaki’s main audio-visual styles displayed within the journal are 1. Short silent audio visual interactions 2. the development of long concert pieces and 3. the interaction between short and long pieces of music through the motifs of the films. This journal analyzes how the interaction of the music changed through the years as well. The journal talks about many of the films Miyazaki and Hisaishi made together and there is particular section on Spirited Away. Bellano then describes a “four note motif” which exemplifies the two narrative themes of responsibility or flight. The journal also analyzes the song entitled “One Summer Day” which is used in the opening scene, when Chihiro is moving with her parents. This is one scene I would like to analyze in my paper. It also analyzes the scene when Chihiro remember’s Haku’s name and includes a positively emotional composition that portray’s Chihiro’s success in helping her friend, Haku. I am especially encouraged that this source analyzes scenes and how music is used has helped to emphasize the scene, which is essential for my paper. For if there was no music at all, the film would be drastically different.

Untitled 2

Bellano, Marco. “The Parts And The Whole: Audiovisual Strategies In The Cinema Of Hayao Miyazaki And Joe Hisaishi.” Animation Journal 18.(2010): 4. Supplemental Index. Web. 13 Nov. 2015.

My Dog

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My dog could be a character for a comic. She eats everything, doesn’t, listen, and expects a treat every time someone comes in the door. When we want to go for a walk she is passed out on the couch on her back like a human being. I really don’t understand her, but she would differently be a great character for a comic. I think it could be the anti Garfield. Here she is when she was a puppy.




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Well my whole family is sick except for me. I hope it stays that way. So today I thought I would put a picture of a sick comic.                                   cool-cartoon-1195810

An update from Myanmar

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The first (relatively) free and fair elections in Myanmar are potentially transforming the country: a developing story as a postscript to Delisle.

Guy Delisle’s Parenting Style

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This evening I decided to do a bit of research on Guy Delisle. While scrolling through the blog on his official website, I learned that he’ll be releasing his next book on January 7th of 2016. What struck me as important to share with our class was the topic of this new book: his bad parenting.



This will be the third book in his series, Le Guide du Mauvais Père. So far Delisle has posted about publishing the book in three different languages: French, Italian, and Spanish. In the meantime, Delisle has been uploading panels from the book to his blog as a sneak peek.



Too Much Talk Begets Violence

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It’s no secret that the french company Charlie Hebdo has been a thorn in Islam extremists’ sides throughout the years. Their work was far too provocative and far too uncensored, raw and forthright, it was only a matter of time until some people with very strong religious outlooks would retaliate in a violent way. This tragedy, though not expected, was bound to happen and it’s occurrence brings forth a question –  should there be boundaries to free speech? I don’t believe there should be, the men and women of Charlie Hebdo knew that they were fighting for a cause, fighting to spread a message that no word or piece of art should be restricted and died valiantly with that belief. Free speech can’t be taken away from the people through fear, it is meant to stay.

Garfield and the weather

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0768dffa16c225ccd6fc8322f41436c2 I just wanted to post this because this is exactly how I think about the weather sometimes. When I want it to be sunny, its raining. When I want it to rain, its sunny. The final panel was my favorite because came back and just pissed him off. Its like the weather is trolling him.

Are You My Mother?

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Are You My Mother

Sharpe, Sam. Mom (excerpt). 2014. The Best American Comics 2014. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014. 146-50. Print.

The pen and the sword

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The saying the pen is mightier than the sword is very true when it comes to Charlie Hebdo’s comics. He is able to confront difficult issues to talk about head on. He writes to help people understand these tough topics instead of picking up a gun and forcing you to do as he says. His drawings can appear racist at a first glance, however he explains why and enables you to come to an understanding of his work. o-100-LASHES-570

Charlie Hebdo

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As i perused through the many responses to the Charlie Hebdo incident, both comics and articles alike, I found many instances implying the old yet well known phrase, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” While not all responses show such a one sided opinion, there were many comics like those shown above that showed how the power of the pen is superior than the power that is unjustly provided for those who wield the automatic weapons. The showing of this belief between both common people and artists goes to show how many people do not believe in the implementation of censorship of art in media.

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Even comics such as those above which were produced in the support of freedom of speech and expression were produced shortly after the Hebdo attack.  This issue soon became more than an issue over one entity insulting another and retaliating, and evolved to the resurfacing of a full debate regarding the ethical application of free speech and expression laws.  Many will believe that speech should be censored, especially when it is in the media, however just as many others will support the opposite end of the spectrum.  There were many responses which portrayed the gunmen who attacked Charlie Hebdo magazine as monsters, such as the responses below.

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The most interesting response I found was an article which interviewed a surviving columnist at Charlie Hebdo magazine, Zineb El Rhazoui, who worked on the newest issue of the time.  During the interview, Rhazoui states, “We don’t feel any hate to them. We know that the struggle is not with them as people, but the struggle is with an ideology.” This struck me as odd because one would expect to feel a certain animosity towards those who harmed them and their colleagues.  Rhazoui proved me wrong as she continued to say how she did not feel any hate towards Chérif and Saϊd Kouachi despite their deadly attack on the magazine.  Rhazoui does urge Muslims to be more acceptive of humor, however that does not seem to be such a easy and smooth change for an entire group of people to perform.

This is definitely a difficult topic to choose a side on, especially for someone who has not been directly affected by the repercussions of provocative publications.  As an American I feel the need to side with freedom of speech and expression, however with consequences such as the Hebdo attack I feel that free speech is not always a benefit to society.  I am not sure if I can choose a side right now without thinking about the topic more.

Link to article which includes segment of interview:


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Apologies, couldn’t fit properly into scanner resulting in sub-par image.surati

Charlie Hebdo

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While scrolling through page after page of reactionary comics to the Charlie Hebdo killing, there was a common theme: the pen against the gun. When I stumbled upon something that was not simply reiterating this theme, I was interested. Joe Sacco’s publication in the Guardian, “On Satire” brought the cartoons of Charlie Hebdo into a very different light. Instead of blindly and boisterously* defending people’s rights to say and publish whatever they want, Sacco thought about the nature of satire, and the way in which it might be hurting us as people.

Be warned before reading this cartoon in its entirety because it does contain racist images towards black people, jewish people, and muslims.



I thought that this piece was important because while Sacco does not say that people don’t have the right to publish the satire that they wish to, he makes it clear that we need to begin analyzing why the satire was created in the first place. In the case of Charlie Hebdo, I believe that the ‘satire’ printed by the magazine often came from a place of hatred, or the was created with the very clear intention of offending (as seen in the response cover the Magazine published in 2012 after their offices were attacked for a different depiction of the prophet Muhammad). Sacco’s piece then asks us to think about why: Why do we have this hatred for this certain group of people? Why do we wish to offend so much?

That’s a difficult question to answer, and I think it’s important when it comes to the way we treat marginalized peoples. Instead of attacking free speech, Sacco attacks the reasons that someone would have to speak in such an offensive, and harmful manner. He makes the case that satire is like holding up the middle finger to the world- which it can be- but that it’s important to understand why we’re doing so.

There is so much controversy involved in the debate over free speech, but I think that this cartoon continues to point me towards the path of self censorship- understanding our own motives and the potential fallout of our work before we publish it.


*I am in no way saying that I am against free speech, simply that the reiteration of the same theme without any new contribution to the conversation locks us in a discourse that is going nowhere.

Was This Really About Free Speech? Or Just a Facade to Continue White Supremacy?

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In this article, Asghar Bukhari discuss’s the western’s world contradictory stance on freedom of speech. To many that live in a euro-centrentic white-washed world, the media often only portrays people of the muslim faith as terrorists. Whenever there is a news story that covers around the Middle East it centers around the idea of continuous violence in there. This reinforces the assumption that Islam promotes violence and destruction, creating a not so accurate depiction of Muslims. Because this assumption is obviously “so true”, when western cartoonist depict images around this topic, they feel that they are depicting the truth or something similar. As Bukhari put it, the Charlie Hebdo Staff are seen as the “crusaders of free speech”…even though they fired a staff member in 2009 for unfair portrayal of Jewish people.

Bukari also talks about how the western world only shows a true interest when they can depict this story from a specific lens. A French rapper, Monsieur R was put on trial and faced up to three years in prison to releasing a song that was demeaning towards the French name and flag. This happened in early 2006, but there was barely any media coverage on this offense. It’s when something as simple and as trivial as a cartoon could cause such a up roar that the media is quick to blame those offended as too sensitive and/or dramatic. Especially when the offended group is a marginalized minority.

I had friends who strongly offended the “#JeSuisCharlie” movement while I was on the fence. Now more than ever, I am opposed to the movement and its core position.

Here’s the article


International Cartoonist Responses

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While I was researching, I came across this article that pulls together the social media response of other cartoonists from around the world.

It’s really interesting to see how each artist not only approached their protest in different ways, but addressed different parts of the problem. Here are three examples that I especially like:

Response 1 Response 2 Response 3

The first one is a response to the perpetrators’ claims that their actions were justifiable on a religious basis, as the armed character in the image seems to be claiming a stance of self defense. At the same time, it is clear that the downed victim is unarmed, except for his “drawing,” the source of the pun and the comparison between potentially offensive art and violence.

The second also draws this comparison between art and weapons. The caption loosely translates as “Partners, take up arms!” (thank you, Google Translate). This functions two ways. First, it is very clear that though the art supplies are arranged in the shape of a gun, they very obviously cannot actually fire bullets or physically hurt anyone. However, the implication is that art can be used to fight in its own way, and the artist here calls for his fellow artists to fight back against the Charlie Hebdo shooters.

This final one focuses more on the response to the comics, which most characterize as extreme. The cartoon suggests that we might take our prophets and religions as well as perceived insults against them too seriously, and that everyone would be better off if they could laugh it off like the prophets are doing in the cartoon.

There are many more examples like this in the article, and I would encourage you guys to go check it out.


About “The Limits of Satire” by Tim Parks

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I read “The Limits of Satire” by Tim Parks in the New York Review of Books.

I liked how Parks started his review by defining a satire and its role. To be a successful satire, he wrote, it should “point toward positive change, or encourage people to think in a more enlightened way”. It can be grotesque and provocative but in a way that produces enlightened perspective on events.

He continues that “the worst case is when satire reinforces the state of mind it purports to undercut, polarizes prejudices, and provokes the very behavior it condemns” which, I believe, is exactly what happened with Charlie Hebdo’s drawings.

When Charlie Hebdo was sued by various Muslim organizations, many politicians defended the cartoonists, particularly by pointing to the ancient French tradition of satire. However, situations have changed a lot from the ancient France. Cultural interaction and globalization of publication through the Internet widened the readership exponentially. It wasn’t problematic for Dante to depict Muhammad grotesquely and obscenely in hell in the Inferno. But now, publications have a much greater influence which also suggests a greater responsibility. As a person who believes that there should be a limit to the extent of free speech, I still have trouble sorting my thoughts about “to-what-extent” question. There’s always a dangerous possibility in the concept of censorship. People’s greatest fear would be that censorship may prevent them from seeing the truth. It’s one of the main reasons people advocate an absolute right of free speech. However, if the right of free speech is exploited in ways that reinforce certain misconceptions and hatred-filled prejudices, doesn’t it go against the reasons why we value free speech?

Parks phrases the discussion in one neat question; “do I make any concessions at all, or do I uphold the ancient tradition of satire at all costs?” I agree with Parks that concessions would be a wiser conclusion. What happened with Carlie Hebdo’s images was full of irony; a satire which should have brought about a change through ridicule fossilized the division between the East and the West and prejudices against Muslims.

If the enlightening point got lost in the cultural offense, should we say that the satire did its intended job? There’s a lot to ask and think about.

Lessons from the Charlie Hebdo Attack

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For this blog post, I would like to attach the article entitled Eight Lessons From the Charlie Hebdo Attack written by Brian Michael Jenkins. Charlie Hebdo is a secular magazine that includes many satirical jokes. The attack on Charlie Hebdo on January 7, 2015 was due to the publishing of controversial Muhammed cartoons in the magazine. There is no doubt that this was a terrible terrorist attack. It was even called the “worst terrorist attack in France in more than 50 years” which is definitely saying something (Jenkins). Below, I will talk about five of the eight lessons. These are the ones I that I thought were more strikingly important to learn.

1. The first lesson states that terrorism effects many people, not just the particular target (Charlie Hebdo Magazine). This attack sparked many people to fight for free speech. The biggest demonstration in France then broke out due to this the attack. This didn’t just effect Paris, France but it influenced a worldwide audience. This is clear to me on a personal level because when I first learned about the Charlie Hebdo attack it was through word of mouth. By chance the day after the attack, I had spoken with my friend from Geneva, Switzlerand where he expressed worry and frustration over the situation. He was also struck by the fact that one of the people was his age, 18. Even people in other countries were in shock and confusion over the attack.

2. Another lesson was that the defenses that the US and France put out after the terrorist attack, created terror among people. With such great defenses in place, the terrorist appeared more threatening. Also, the news stories on the attack were quite negative and acted as a way to terrify the audience.

3. The third lesson is that Al-Qaida is still out there and a threat to the U.S. Al-Qaida even claimed they were the reason for the attack on Charlie Hebdo, which shows they are a threat to France as well. It is an important reminder that while the U.S. is focused on fighting against ISIS, they still need to remember that Al-Qaida is still determined to attack them.

4. Another lesson states that terrorists are determined and persistent. They will not rest until they complete their mission or are killed. This is definitely terrifying and an important reminder to keep defenses up.

5. The last lesson is that intelligence services are quite important. Even though it requires a lot of human resources it is crucial to keep bad terrorists from attacking. This brings up the question of whether, France had the correct intelligence services lined up or is it a reality check? France seemed to respond similar to the US after 9/11 by stacking up their defenses and preparing well for the next attack. This; however, only occurred after the event. Possibly, if France had better protection or better intelligence services in place, this attack may not have happened

Clearly there are many things to learn from this attack and that is the silver lining. Sometimes tragedies can teach countries to protect themselves for any future attacks. Was it worth publishing these cartoons, despite the fact that they would anger Muslims? It is necessary to have a terrorist attack to get the ball rolling on a demonstration for free speech? These are all questions to consider. I personally, do not think that it was necessary for people to die to get the message out that Muslims are being oppressed or to bring about the fight for freedom of expression. Also, maybe if those comics had not been published, the tragedy may never have occurred.

Jenkins, Brian Michael. “Eight Lessons From the Charlie Hebdo Attacks.” Slate. The Slate Group, a Graham Holdings Company, 23 Jan. 2015. Web. 28 Oct. 2015.

9 Months After the Attack: Charlie Hebdo Today (Assignment for Thursday)

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Nine months after the shooting at the Charlie Hebdo headquarters on January 7th, 2015, the magazine is not doing so well. Though the magazine grew from having 8,000 subscribers to 200,000 after the attack and now have millions of euros from donations and sales, the contributors of Charlie Hebdo are struggling to maintain the identity of the magazine. There is disagreement over how to distribute the money and in the past, the shares of the magazine were owned by 3 individuals who worked for Charlie Hebdo. Today, the magazine is debating whether or not it should adopt a system where the shareholders are a group of professional editors. In an article in the magazine, Le Monde, Raphäelle Bacqué writes that one of the writers of Charlie Hebdo, Patrick Pelloux, worries that “‘these millions [of euros], could kill us'” (Bacqué 3).

In addition, many of the current writers of Charlie Hebdo who witnessed the attack have suffered from constant nightmares, anxiety, and paranoia. Though the magazine continues to publish its caricatures, it seems as the though the attacks “killed the carefreeness” (Bacqué 4) and the confident boldness of the magazine. Many of the contributors are still recovering from serious injuries caused by the bullets of the shooters. Many writers have thought of resigning and when the magazine approaches new illustrators, they refuse to join (Bacqué 1). Bacqué states that illustrators prefer to turn towards graphic novels, which are more “lucrative and less constraining” (Bacqué 1). This opinion is debatable, but the point is that Charlie Hebdo is having trouble finding new staff to support the future of the magazine.

Another problem that exists within the magazine today is what I like to call the Charlie Hebdo hypocrisy. After the attack, millions of people protested in the streets, online, and in their communities in support of free speech. Multiple leaders of different nations stood with the French people for free speech and freedom of the press. However, many of those individuals and countries do not advocate for complete freedom of speech. For example, France’s government has control over some aspects of free speech and freedom of the press. Further, though many illustrators and authors condemned the attack on free speech, none of them have offered to draw or write for Charlie Hebdo. Riss, the new director of publication for the magazine states that “all those who beg Charlie Hebdo to keep caricaturing the prophet Muhammad let us go alone to the battle front” (Bacqué 2). If the discussion surrounding freedom of speech ceases, then Charlie Hebdo will be forced to continue fighting for a value that society cannot even define.

Even recently, the magazine has come under fire again for publishing a caricature of the young Syrian boy found dead on the washed up on the shores of Turkey. In the opinion of Jean-Laurent Cassely of, this is a matter of how Charlie Hebdo‘s humor is understood throughout the world (see the second link below the link to the main article). Though I believe that this has more to do with the interpretation of our speech rather than freedom of speech, it is still very important that we consider the two. The world cannot establish or define freedom of speech without discussing the interpretations of speech. Conversely, we cannot talk about interpretation before understanding what we are allowed to say in the first place. If Charlie Hebdo is to survive, the world must extensively discuss both of these issues. Thankfully, we have media like Charlie Hebdo that will spark these discussions for many years to come.


Bacqué, Raphaëlle. “«Charlie Hebdo»: le casse-tête de la reconstruction.” Le Monde. Le Magazine du Monde. 19 February 2015. Web. 28 October 2015.

Cassely, Jean-Laurent. “Huit mois après les attentats, le monde ne comprend toujours l’humour de Charlie Hebdo.” Slate. Slate. 16 September 2015. Web. 28 October 2015.

The Title I Forgot to Add… Charlie Hebdo

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So, I read two articles (plus a Wikipedia) surrounding the Charlie Hebdo massacre. The first I found is one that I think many others will also reference, as it was near the top of the page after a simple google search “Charlie Hebdo”. The article, titled The Dangerous Myths about Charlie Hebdo, was written by “mythbuster” Jeffrey Goldberg. Goldberg shared the ideas of others about the event and then Goldberg shared what those others should instead be thinking. He did also explicitly lay out his opinion on the matter of free speech, “I’m a free-speech absolutist; I would have defended the right of neo-Nazis to march in Skokie.” I admired Goldberg’s decisiveness and willingness to pick a side of the debate and go all of the way with it. In fact, I think I agree with most of his positions despite disliking the article and his self-glorified “mythbusting” which felt to me fairly anti-climactic. Unlike the second author I read, Goldberg had no criticism of the murdered employees of Charlie Hebdo. The author of the second article and also the author of Doonesbury, Garry Trudeau, was Goldberg’s biggest target. After reading Goldberg’s article, I had a notion that Trudeau was a pro censorship, insensitive spokesperson. This is not the case. Though Trudeau’s stance on censorship is perhaps a bit more conservative than Goldberg’s, it’s still on the left end of the spectrum. As a comic’s artist, Trudeau has been the victim of censorship dozens of times; Doonesbury is a fairly political cartoon that’s not afraid to be occasionally vulgar. Trudeau’s article, titled The Abuse of Satire, condemned the cartoons depicting Mohammed and the decision by the Charlie Hebdo staff to republish them.

Traditionally, satire has comforted the afflicted while afflicting the comfortable. Satire punches up, against authority of all kinds, the little guy against the powerful. Great French satirists like Molière and Daumier always punched up, holding up the self-satisfied and hypocritical to ridicule. Ridiculing the non-privileged is almost never funny—it’s just mean. By punching downward, by attacking a powerless, disenfranchised minority with crude, vulgar drawings closer to graffiti than cartoons, Charlie wandered into the realm of hate speech, which in France is only illegal if it directly incites violence. Well, voila—

I disagree that satire has to target a privileged group to be satire, but Trudeau has a point. What’s the point of publishing offensive “satire” just because one can? If Trudeau’s argument is: Anyone should be able to publish whatever they want (if they find someone who will publish it), but that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do, then I agree. It’s a matter of respect, or, lack thereof.



Goldberg, Jeffrey. “The Dangerous Myths About Charlie Hebdo.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 05 May 2015. Web. 28 Oct. 2015.


Trudeau, Garry. “The Abuse of Satire.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 11 Apr. 2015. Web. 28 Oct. 2015.

Writer Ayesha Siddiqi’s tweets re: Charlie Hebdo

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Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 8.13.41 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 8.14.06 PM


I’ve been following the writer Ayesha Siddiqi on Twitter for a while now and when we were talking about Charlie Hebdo in class I immediately thought about her tweets about the whole situation. Twitter always blows up during situations such as these, but conversation especially got heated about Charlie Hebdo because it was about free speech and Twitter is a vehicle of that.

I think that Siddiqi’s tweets stood out to me so much because they were really the first tweets I saw condemning the #JeSuisCharlie movement, which put the situation into perspective for me. Sometimes people who don’t know a lot about a situation can fall into the trap of just automatically agreeing with the majority, which is a potentially dangerous concept. I probably was in danger of that, especially since at that time I wanted to pursue writing as a career (and I still do) so I figured that I should have a strong opinion about freedom of speech.

Siddiqi is a writer, but was against the #JeSuisCharlie movement which was so interesting to me. Reading Siddiqi’s tweets offered me a perspective different from the majority of people I saw tweeting the #JeSuisCharlie hashtag and sharing articles on Facebook.

In the second Ayesha Siddiqi tweet I’m posting, she’s saying that if you’ve just recently heard about Charlie Hebdo in light of the shooting, we don’t need your commentary. This may seem close minded, but people who had just heard of Charlie Hebdo probably didn’t know about its racist/sexist/homophobic tendencies and automatically sided with the publication because in a matter of free speech, it’s taboo and “wrong” to side against that.

I’m thankful that I saw Siddiqi’s tweets during #JeSuisCharlie because it gave me a perspective on the situation that was different from the ones I had been repeatedly seeing all over social media.


Être, ou ne pas être

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I also want to include this piece by The Week which complied 7 articles explaining why some people use alternative slogans (e.g. #JeNeSuisPasCharlie and #JeSuisAhmed) to condem the murders at Charlie Hebdo’s headuarters.

I was one of the millions of people who tacked on the #JeSuisCharlie movement. I bowed my head in mourning, acknowledged tragedy, and condemmed the violence; however, I cannot tolerate Charlie Hebdo’s work.

I was entranced by the massive reception of supporting freedom of expression that I didn’t realize that I actually also supporting Charlie Hebdo. Now that I took a step back from the movement, I see that I was wrong to have supported Charlie Hebdo. Not because I am anti-freedom-of-expression, but because I do not enjoy the publication’s racist, bigoted, sexist, and homophobic images.

I don’t buy the mainstream arguement that the movement was an “us vs. them” conflict. There were other factors that were overlooked when the movement was put in black and white like that. At the time, it was difficult to express the nuances. (Not that it has gotten easier.) But now, more people are more cautious of supporting harmful/hateful material.

Today in JyllandsLaboratorium

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Cartoon Crisis comic response

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Catch-22: Freedom (?) of Expression

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After our discussion on the readings by Spieglman, Klausen, and Peters, I am still struggling to find where I lie on the spectrum of free speech. I do appreciate some of the lessons learned when people publish offensive material, because it sparks discussions about cultural norms, taboos, power structures, and respect for others. There may have been less concern for the well-being of Muslims in Western countries who are marginalized without the cartoon controversies. Prejudices of Jyllands-Posten and Charlie Hebdo may have not been as widely criticized if not for the violence that occurred after their publications. These incidences where publishers abused free speech brought about a conversation regarding the harmfulness of free speech. This where I’m torn…I know these incidences contributed to a greater conversation about prejudice and hate, but I’m not sure if their contribution was worth the total 212 reported lives lost and fuel for extremist propaganda. I wish there was “absolute liberty within absolute responsibility” for free speech (Peters 286), but for all the harm has occured—Is it possible to find a balance instead?

Catch-22: Freedom of Expression

Charlie Hebdo –editorial cartoon (Past, Present, Future)

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This editorial cartoon is one that I found to be particularly powerful. The way I interpret its central message is that, the pencil is mightier than the sword. This powerful image of three pencils conveys the events that happened following the shooting of Charlie Hebdo. The first image a whole pencil when Hebdo’s speech was uninhibited. The next image depicts a broken pencil, which represents the broken bodies of the 12 people who died at the hands of armed gunmen who tried to silence the freedom of speech of Charlie Hebdo. With the bottom image, we see that this attempt to silence freedom of speech was in vain, as the broken pencil gets sharpened on both ends. When both halves of the pencil are sharpened, this means that rather than being defeated, the fight to maintain freedom of speech has been amplified. Lucille Clerc shares this powerful image with the idea that you cannot silence freedom of speech, and if you try, the efforts of people to exercise freedom of speech will be multiplied. More than 82,000 people liked this image on Instagram, showing its powerful yet simple message.


Charlie hebdo image

The Potential of Mediums

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I was surprised to find myself including a blurb on comics in a paper for a history/film class. The paper prompt asked whether or not film could be taken as a serious medium for expressing intellectual thoughts and ideas or whether it was only appropriate for pure entertainment. I took the stance that films could, of course, address serious topics and be substantial because they are, fundamentally, a medium. And a medium is simply a format for expressing artistic thoughts/ideas. All mediums have the potential to be taken very seriously, or not. Take the crayon, for example. Typically, crayons are the choice artistic utensil for toddlers who, it is safe to assume, do not put a great deal of thought into their masterpieces. And on the other hand, a professional artist may decide that the best way to create his/her brain child is with the simplicity of the crayon. Said person may go on to work laboriously for days and nights with nothing but a box of crayons and an enormous canvas (maybe some cups of coffee too)  till he/she has finished their massive crayon work of art filled to the brim with intellectual comments on society and refined artistry. When we think of crayon, “masterpiece” may not be what comes to mind, but there’s no reason a person could not create a masterpiece with a crayon. My argument was that all mediums run a spectrum of artistic value, and that currently we have stereotypes about which ones hold the most value. In my paper I briefly compared Ancient Roman sculptures to the Sunday funnies. They both represent the stereotypes of their respective mediums. To be more specific, I compared Garfield to the Thinker. But these stereotypes don’t define the limits of any one medium. You couldn’t make a convincing argument against film because of the sheer amount of counter evidence. And what I’m trying to say about comics, is that though many instantly think of comics like Garfield when they think “comics” (not that Garfield’s awful),  there are still a great many rich comics with serious tones, many of which we’ve read in this class. It seems that many authors we’ve read so far have written something along the lines of “take us seriously goddammit! We are artists”. And I agree. Comics artists are artists and I’m glad I get to explore this medium and its spectrum.


MOm3RAB                                                                                  article-0-19AC00B7000005DC-789_634x754

Internet Memes

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As many of you know, an internet meme is defined as a concept or idea that spreads “virally” from one person to another via the internet. These memes have become so popular that occasionally they will be seen in dorms to accompany a message about things such as floor meetings. No one knows exactly when memes came into the picture, however there is evidence that they began either before or during the year 1996 with the sensational Baby Cha-Cha. I am not quite sure what value these hold in society other than a good laugh, but they are popular and undeniably a part of of American life, specifically college/high school life. The reason they are specifically a part of college life is because there are a number of apps that heavily rely on memes to entertain a target market of college/high school students, such as ifunny and reddit. If you would like to read more about internet memes, here is a link that might be a wealth of information.


Hagar the Horrible: Life Isn’t Fair

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Today, I’m going to talk about the American comic set in medieval Norway entitled Hagar the Horrible by Dik Browne. Hagar is the protagonist and is depicted as a Norse, overweight viking.



In this particular comic, Hagar’s wife Helga talks about the idea of “children” leaving the nest. This is a common feeling among parents today especially when it comes to college and high school graduations. That emotional time is very hard to deal with, because parents have to let their children “go out on their own”. It is comical at the end that she is merely talking about ducklings and not children, but it does allude to that relatable and emotional time. Even saying “life isn’t fair” is a true and well-known statement. It speaks to many things that can go wrong in life or are just difficult. Even back in medieval times, parents had to let go of their children at some point after spending so much time nurturing them.



This next section is interesting because it lists all terrible things that Hagar has gone through such as “war, plague, poverty, pestilence, flood, earthquakes and dragons!!!” However, he cannot seem to survive christmas shopping and the act of finding the correct gift. He’s “met [his] match”. This is understandable because Christmas shopping or finding the perfect gift for someone can be quite difficult and overwhelming. But it is quite comical that a viking can slay dragons and disease but not pick out a gift. This shows that not everything can be accomplished by strength or bravery, sometimes there needs to be sentimental thought.

Asterix and Obelix: Potions Causing Commotions

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Today, I’m going to instead comment on something different: the popular French comic entitled The Adventures of Asterix and Obelix. This series is interesting to me because it brings my two favorite things together French and Art. I have also learned about this comic series in past French classes and even my current French class.

Asterix, the protagonist and his friend Obelix go on many adventures. They are in a village of Gauls who are under Roman Occupation. They desire to resist the Roman Occupation with the aid of a magic potion that causes the receiver to have extraordinary strength.


However, at the start the potion is unable to do that. In this part of the comic particularly, everything seems to go wrong when Obelix drinks too much of the potion and turns to stone. This alludes to the idea of “everything in moderation” and how it is important to not over indulge, because consequences occur. Too much food and a person will get a stomach ache, too much sleep and someone will be dazed for the rest of the day or too much of a magic potion, in this case, the person will then turn to stone. I also am a fan of puns so I definitely enjoyed the three rock jokes all in a row such as “stoned out of his mind”, “I will now sing a dirge for a rock star” and “watch out… you’re between a rock and a hard place!” It is also quite ironic how at the end, the wizard says “I’m going to attempt the impossible!” because he already did that by turning Obelix to stone with his magic potion. I would not be surprised if he could turn him back.


This next comic section is also interesting, because instead of the potion turning Obelix to stone, he is turned into a young child. It is particularly interesting that he is not happy with the transformation and does not want to be back in his childhood. This is a common thought among children and teens and how they desire to grow up because they want to make their own rules. However, they don’t understand the responsibilities that adults must take on. Now that Obelix has had the chance to be an adult of some sort and a chance to understand the responsibilities and the complexities of the adult life, I would think he would enjoy the chance at being a kid again and enjoy having a simpler life. Instead, he is merely angered by the situation.

Hagar the Horrible

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I grew up reading this comic in the Sunday news paper. Its been around for a while and still leaves an impression on me. I think is has a dry sense of humor and this is one of the only comics I have read about vikings.



Cyanide and Happiness

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I thought I would share this because Halloween is right around the corner. Cyanide and Happiness started out as comics that at first would seem to be poorly drawn. However these poorly drawn comics are now associated with Cyanide and Happiness. They have become very popular on Ifunny, web comic trips, and a series of animated videos on youtube. The humor is vulgar most of the time, however it puts a new twist on comics. skeeelypoo

Sexual Imagery and Violence in Franco-Belgian Graphic Novels

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Of the many problems in the Shinobu Price article, Cartoons from Another Planet, that we read last week, the one that stood out the most to me was her generalization that “from a Western perspective, certainly one of the most shocking features of anime is this frequent depiction of sexual imagery and graphic violence” (Price 159). It is true that generally in American culture, sexual imagery is more frowned upon. However, not only does this vary within America, but it various enormously in other Western societies. In addition, many American and European graphic novels show copious amounts of vivid sexual imagery and graphic violence. I want specifically discuss the tradition of using sexual imagery and violence Franco-Belgian graphic novels.

The French culture has a long history of sexual imagery and violence. From the stories of Louis XIV’s mistresses in his court in Versailles to Renoir’s nudes, the French have accepted nudity and sexual imagery into their culture. In addition, the blood stained guillotine of the French Revolution and La Marseillaise (the French national anthem, which states that the blood France’s enemies shall water French fields) have cemented France’s position in the world as a culture largely founded in violence.

Since the French value their freedom of speech, it isn’t hard to pull a graphic novel off of the shelf in a book store and find it filled with sexual and violent images. Of course, these images may be less shocking to adults, but the French have even incorporated some of these into graphic novels for children.

The children’s graphic novels Titeuf  and Le Petit Spirou (which is supposed to depict the childhood of the iconic graphic novel hero, Spirou) all illustrate the lives of two ordinary French schoolboys who are discovering their interests in women and who are beginning to go through puberty. These are meant to be humorous and are in the format of one to five page long “gags”. Though Americans may say the images drawn in these are too vivid for children, the French view nudity and sexuality as perfectly normal topics that children should learn about.

Le Petit Spirou

Le Petit Spirou

Le Petit Spirou

Le Petit Spirou


Many French children’s graphic novels also depict graphic violence such as Kid Paddle, Game Over, and ChronoKids. Like the depictions of sexual imagery, the scenes of violence in graphic novels such as these are largely humorous. Despite this, they are still quite explicit and this demonstrates how the French are also more comfortable inserting violence in graphic novels intended for children than other cultures would be. However, not all French people condone the depiction of gore and violence in graphic novels. Though French children may be more exposed to these images in comics, certain families do not want their children reading these. Overall, sexual imagery is more accepted as a cultural norm in children’s literature than depictions of violence are.



Game Over

Game Over


Price’s claim that Western societies would be shocked by the violence and sexual imagery present in anime completely lacks evidence and ignores the rich history of graphic novels in France and Belgium. Though I’ve just discussed sexual imagery and violence in children’s Franco-Belgian graphic novels, adult graphic novels are on a completely other level. There are many adult graphic novels that are commonly sold and available in all book stores (or librairies in French) that could be considered as pornographic. The same can be said for violence in adult comics. All of these graphic novels, whether drawn for children or adults, embody freedom of speech and its importance to the French. This freedom of speech allows French graphic novel artists to express themselves however they wish to do so, regardless of how shocking their work may be.

Julien Herpers

Spirited away–The reason behind the heroes journey

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Spirited Away has a few interesting nuances in the opening of the story. The parents are seen as these gluttonous inattentive people who care more about food than their own daughter. This gives me the idea that it is perhaps Chihiro that creates this fantasy world for herself as an attempt to better herself and become more independent from her parents. This is a bold statement and one of many possible interpretations of Spirited Away, so let me know what you all think.

Ca ne va pas, Charlie Brown.

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Yet another unexpected encounter with the world of comics. My french professor sets out a stack of books on test days to occupy students in a productive way once we’ve finished our tests. So I picked up bon vieux Charlie Brown.

FullSizeRender (2)

Sad to say, my elementary french skills severely hindered my interpretations of the genius that is Charlie Brown.  I was proud for the bits and pieces I picked up, but alas, it’s hard to read comics in another language. I do, however, believe that comics have a large amount of potential in learning. In my Spanish class Junior year we watched a telenovela (basically a soap opera). The goal of this was to listen to the Spanish and also be able to follow along with the visual representations. Because we could see facial expressions and tell what was physically happening, it was easier to follow the Spanish. I think comics could accomplish the same feat. I may not remember what POUAH! means, but I can tell it’s probably something along the lines of “Yuck!”. In literature we get context, but in comics we also get visual context, which really helps.

FullSizeRender (1)


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Deadpool is one of my favorite superhero comics. Mostly because this comic gives a twist to your average super hero. Deadpool is an antihero. He is a mercenary with amazing healing powers. His head can be cut clean off and all he has to do is put it back on. He is known as the merc with the mouth. He has a very crude sense of humor and is very talkative. Deadpool knows he is a comic character and constantly breaks the 4th wall joking about his creators during the comic. Few other marvel charters do this. Deadpool is very unique. His orgins and who he really is changes all the time due to creators and back story no one can agree on. Loki Thor’s brother even claimed to be Deadpools father. This unstable sometimes insane character is likeable and I consider him marvel gold. 4f438a724438717ae80ef02d0387f7cf

The walking dead

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Some of you guys may be walking dead fans, I’m posting this because the series starts back up this Sunday at 9 pm. The walking dead actually started out as a comic series. It was written by a man named Robert Kirkman and illustrated by Tony Moore. It started in 2003 and currently has 25 volumes. Many fans of the comic are also fans of the TV adaption on AMC. It has become quite the phenomenon over the past few year and popular throughout the united states. walking-dead


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While I was reading the Price article, I found the section on the changes made to anime when it came to the US the most interesting. I haven’t seen much anime, so all I had to go on was his descriptions of the modifications, but it did remind me about another topic in Japanese film about which I have very strong feelings: Gojira.

Almost anyone you ask has heard of the story of Godzilla. As part of an independent study last year, I watched both the original Japanese Gojira (1954) and the highly Americanized Godzilla (1956) back to back, and what I saw made me very upset.

Gojira     Godzilla

The original story is, at heart, about the terrors of the atomic bomb, the responsibility and and temptation towards militarization withstood by scientists, and the suffering of a country. Gojira’s famous rampage through the city is awe-inspiring for its sheer destructive power rather than thrilling, and the entire movie is filled with shots of crying children, huddling survivors, and hospital patients who are never given names and never seen again. One of the main protagonists Dr. Serizawa even allows himself to be killed by the device that takes down Gojira as well to prevent the secrets of his Oxygen Destroyer (the weapon used to kill the atomic beast) from being used to create a WMD.

In the Americanized version, the dilemma was how to release a movie that very clearly had American actions as the main villain. The answer was to transform the nuanced story of sacrifice, hubris, and the perseverance of the Japanese people into a monster flick with an American reporter as the main character and protagonist. Large sections of the movie were omitted, the strong female Japanese character Emiko develops the voice of a swooning Western maiden in distress, and American reporter Steve Martin (played by Raymond Burr) swans his way into the story by way of a set of new shots that, when absolutely necessary, include body doubles of the main Japanese characters seen from the back only to make it look like Martin was in the original shots all along. The destruction of the city is also seen from Martin’s point of view and becomes that thrilling narration of destruction–the brave journalist who stays behind in danger to bring his readers the full story, nearly dying and becoming the main casualty of focus–rather than the story of Japanese suffering in Gojira.

The most telling change comes right at the end, after Dr. Serizawa has perished and taken his destructive knowledge with him. In the Americanized version, Martin has the last word, saying that while his is sorry for the doctor’s death, he has at least made it so that the world can continue in peace–the world is safe, America is clean, and everyone goes home a little bit scared but not terribly intellectually stimulated. In Gojira, the final thought belongs to the other main male protagonist, who reveals that he is afraid that if the world continues to experiment with atomic testing, another Gojira will arise from the ocean. This ending challenges America’s use of the bomb and also leaves the watcher wondering about the future of atomic testing in the real world.

From what I read in the Price article, I gather that the experience I had watching these two films was similar to the experiences of people examining early Japanese anime and its Americanized versions. Has anyone seen anime like this? If so, was it this sort of thing? Also, this makes me wonder whether other movie remakes today have similar but more well hidden problems. And if anyone has a chance to watch Gojira, I highly recommend it. Just make sure it’s the Japanese version, or you’ll spend the whole movie wanting to punch Steve Martin in the face.


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During the summer of 2013, I attended a summer program where I took a course on popular fiction. This course was where I first took an interest in superheroes. While I’ve never really read a substantial amount of superhero comics, or watched their tv shows, I became heavily invested in Marvel and DC films. Due to my lack of extensive knowledge about the Justice League in particular, I’m unable to comment on how accurately each character is portrayed in one of my favorite web comics- JL8 by Yale Stewart- which I had discovered during this time in my life.

The series of strips is an alternate universe for the Justice League, where they attend elementary school together. Bruce Wayne still enjoys brooding- as pointed out in the opening strip of the series where he does not want to go to school because all he has in terms of clean clothes is his older suit (which was blue and grey instead of black). Clark Kent still behaves in the down-to-earth manner that we’ve come to expect. Barry and Hal befriend J’onn J’onnz when his parents move him to town from Mars.

To me, the most captivating story line is that of Diana. The reader follows as she comes to terms with the fact that her being a princess does not mean that she has to give up her strength and independence. Femininity and power are not mutually exclusive and the explicit message of this is very well done. As well, Diana is unapologetic about her power and intelligence, which is an incredibly important example for younger girls reading strip.

I would definitely recommend that anyone who has the time or will to read all 200 strips do so.

For the Love of Kate Beaton

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Kate Beaton is a history and literature heavy weight. Her first published book, Hark! A Vagrant, felt me laughing at times and feeling like an idiot at other times. All her work is smart, funny, and sometimes even irreverent. I adored her quips at the Brontë sisters, Austen, and their novels.


Most of the comics in this book can be found online for free! I hope you folks check out her work.


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I really love the webcomic xkcd by Randall Munroe. Not only is it great proof that great graphic narratives don’t need great art, but the jokes are always intelligent, nerdy, or a nice combination of the two. One of the things I like best is the variety of the jokes. For example, there are a lot of jokes where he plays with words, like this one:


There are also a lot that don’t make sense unless you know some of the science behind the joke, like the one below that’s a joke about the uncertainty principle. The principle states that you can’t know both the location and the momentum of a particle at any given time. Of course, the character (Megan) isn’t a particle, but that’s part of the joke. It’s the sort of joke that’s really funny if you get it without help and also makes you feel like you’re in some sort of insider Randall-Munroe-science-club for understanding what he was referencing. Half the fun with these types of strips is figuring out what scientific principle he’s referencing.


The other great thing about Randall Munroe is that he’s an even bigger nerd than I am. Without him, I wouldn’t have known about the Martian, and I certainly wouldn’t have had his explanation which perfectly describes the movie and the book and allowed me to sell it to a lot of other people. Thank you, Randall Munroe, for cluing me in to one of my favorite movies and books I’ve experienced this year.


Munroe also makes lots of jokes at the expense of all sorts of different professions, and is also the master of title or hover text. For the comic below, for example, it was “The less common, even worse outcome: “3: [everyone in the financial system] WOW, where did all my money just go?””


On occasion I won’t understand the joke because I don’t know much about programming. Luckily, there are a lot of fans out there who do, and so there are great websites like (which comes with the great page explanation “Explain xkcd: it’s ‘cause you’re dumb) that I can turn to if I don’t get it. All in all, it’s just a great series of mostly stand-alone strips that I look forward to reading and that make really nerdy jokes. Some still make me laugh every time I read them.


I’d be really curious to find out how many of you had heard of this before. Also, part of the reason I enjoy them is that I don’t mind looking up the references I don’t get and I know that some of the jokes are aimed at a group with a much different knowledge base than mine. Do you guys feel the same way? Or does it lessen the enjoyment for you when a joke is obviously directed at a different group of people?

Miyazak vs Tan (Creation)

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Unlike many others of our generation, I first saw “Spirited Away” this past weekend when I saw it for the upcoming class on Monday. Apparently many others viewed the movie before when they were younger, and I figured this out as I watched the movie in the Davidson-Wilson 3rd floor common room. People by the handful would walk by and do a quick glance at what was on the TV, then their faces would light up like it was Christmas. “I love this movie!” many would exclaim. I was honestly confused because, as I have stated, I never saw “Spirited Away” before. So today, I decided to look up some information about the movie just out of curiosity. Surprisingly I found many different sources informing me that Miyazak began creating “Spirited Away” without ever creating a rough script or description of anything about the movie. He just began drawing and writing spontaneously and created it without taking the usual steps of passing the script several times by editors or creating many different variations to see which was better. I thought this was much different than what we talked about in class about Shaun Tan and his advice to us as writers. Tan stated that he would take over a year to create his books, and would change most of the intended material before finishing. This is just a quick insight on different writers and their techniques.

Losing one’s name

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In Spirited Away, a loss of one’s name leads to a loss of one’s identity. That reminded me of a Korean history when it was under Japanese occupation. During 1940-41, as a way to annihilate a Korean identity, the Japanese government forced Korean people to change their family names to Japanese names. People who resisted against the policy were  investigated by the police on a daily basis and their children were banned from going to schools. Korean people lamented, “Japanese took away our country. Now they are trying to take away our identity”. I guess one’s name is an important part of one’s identity, especially in traditional days when people valued their family trees.

스크린샷 2015-10-05 오후 8.09.03


About Doppelgänger and loss and confusion of identity in Miyazaki’s Spirited Away

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When Professor Ball asked the class if they’ve seen the movie Spirited Away before, I didn’t raise my hand because I didn’t recognize the title. Now I found out that it’s the Studio Ghibli’s famous animation that I’ve watched like 4 or 5 times in my life. I was very surprised by the English translation of the title because by the Korean translation, it’s more like “Sen and Chihiro’s Spiriting Away”. Now that I recognize the difference, I started wondering why the title was “Sen AND Chihiro”, not just “Chihiro”. Obviously, Sen and Chihiro are two different names for the same character, but they are separated as if they are names for two different people. So I searched about it a bit and found a very interesting article that focused on the theme of Doppelgänger and the division of ego. When our protagonist is Chihiro, she’s an ordinary girl, sullen about moving away from her former home and easily scared. When she is Sen, she’s a brave girl, working in the bathhouse to save her parents and risking her life to save Haku. Moreover, Yubaba and Zeniba are twin sisters who look exactly alike to one another but have completely different characters; one is a ruthless owner of a bathhouse while the other is an empathetic ‘granny’. Likewise, the theme of animation seems to circle around a question of one’s identity. The one and only condition of signing a work contract with Yubaba is to give away one’s name. A name is the first and foremost representation of a person’s identity. Yubaba takes control of her workers’ name, thereby taking control of their identities. The ones that signed a contract with Yubaba can never leave the bathhouse if they forget their names and their former selves. Beside Chihiro, other characters inside the film also go through so many external and internal changes. Chihiro’s parents turn into pigs, Haku transforms into a dragon, Yubaba transforms into a bird, Yubaba’s big baby turns into a mouse, and Yubaba’s frightening bird turns into a tiny bird. Even one of the characters’ names, ‘No-face’, seems to indicate this loss of identity. It is a very interesting theme to dwell upon. 스크린샷 2015-10-04 오후 9.37.49

Favorite Comic In The Sunday Newspaper

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Bailey comic This was one of my favorite comics growing up. It called beetle bailey and it revolves around the army. It makes fun of the military, but not in a really mean way. It takes a lot of stereotypes and makes comics about it. In this particular comic you see how hard working sarge is, but then he eats just as much to cancel out all the calories he burned. I just like simple jokes like this.

Rated comics

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I was wondering if comics get rated before they are published for the reader? Not rated on a level of stars but on a content level. This would be like ratings for video game content. For example M for mature or R for Restricted. We have read and seen some really graphic content that I wouldn’t show my parents and tell them how much I love this comic. They would probably force me to go to bible school. Anyway I was just wondering if their is a limit to what the author can create and have it be published for certain audiences. Comment if you want.

Mature content     suprise


The World of Garfield

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Today, I’m going to comment on the popular comic entitled Garfield by Jim Davis. In this comic, a orange tabby cat named Garfield is the main protagonist. He lives with his owner, Jon and a dog named Odis. There is no doubt Garfield loves food. In the comic strip below, Garfield is upset when his owner decides to not give him fries for dinner. The owner is trying to encourage Garfield to have a healthy diet. Garfield does not take this well. It is quite comical that Davis portrays the now-on-a-diet Garfield as a skeleton, to show Garfield’s disappointment. It is ironic how eating healthy “kills” Garfield or at least makes him frustrated.

garfield food

Garfield is so about food, that whenever he wants something its pretty clear it relates to food. He doesn’t have to say a word, his stomach will speak for him.


Since Garfield loves food so much, he struggles with obesity. Jon has tried to put him on a diet but as displayed in this comic below, it is a rather difficult and a seemingly impossible task. It is funny how the cartoon starts own with big aspirations and ends with food. Garfield seems to win in the end, at least this time. I also like how the author would add pictures that coincide with the text. For instance as Jon says “let my hair grown long and wavy” Davis literally displays Jon within the scene with wavy hair instead of adding a thought bubble with a picture of him with wavy hair. It was also clever that Davis sequentially made modifications to Jon as he thought of aspirations.


Along with his love for food, Garfield also loves sleep and doing nothing. He clearly despises waking up. This reminds me of myself, since I am definitely not a morning person and it can sometimes be hard to get out of bed after a deep sleep or having a good dream. Even though in this comic a good dream for Garfield is one of him hurting Odis… On another note, it is funny that the author drew Garfield in a box like shape after he is dumped out of the box. In a way, Garfield is acting like an ice cube, which also can reflect his cold and cynical personality.


Besides being cynical and pessimistic, Garfield can also being hypocritical. In this comic below, Garfield comments about humans and society and questions why people hurt each other. This is a valid question. Why do people deal with conflict in such a hurtful way? But then ends his thought process with whacking Odis. There is an interesting parallel between the last panel and the panel above it of both Odis and the man being hit.


The Arrival: Reader Edition

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Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 4.49.49 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 4.50.05 PM


For my comic response, I wanted to talk about the experience of reading The Arrival. A graphic novel without words leaves a lot and then also not so much up to the reader in terms of interpretation. Shaun Tan draws beautifully and quiet realistically to give the reader a more authentic feel while reading it. Therefore isn’t much to interpret. But the lack of dialogue let’s each individual reader feel in the blank spots of the story. My response is that a reader can easily feel very engaged and apart of this world once reading it. Once they’ve arrived in the world, there are questions to be asked and answered but Tan does not allow for very definite answers. I believe he wants the answers to be distinguished by each reader.

Comics Response 2

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Some elaboration:

One of my first questions during my reading of The Arrival was, “what are those black tail things?”. I paused on that page to come up with a couple of possible answers. At the time, I liked to think that the black, monstrous tails where some sort of metaphor for poverty or a weak economic situation, based on the appearance of the home of the protagonist. Above I have depicted just this: the dragon is not literally a flying beast, but an empty wallet.

I don’t believe that the tails in The Arrival are a direct metaphor to anything specific after having finished the book, but I do think they stand to represent “something bad” happening back home. And we leave places where there is something bad for a better beginning. Tan’s book paints a picture of what feels like a nomadic society despite its modernity. And that’s what I’ve tried to draw.

Dis/like Burma Chronicles

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Love-Hate Burma Chronicles - Elaine Hang


Though I did learn a lot about Myanmar in this travelogue, there were many moments in which I wanted to fling it across the room. These instances occurred when Guy turned away from suffering of other. I understand where he’s coming from. He can only do so much as a foreigner and he can’t focus on the bad things happening to the Burmese all the time, or else he’ll go crazy. But it really frustrated me!

Nonetheless, I really want to travel to Myanmar to see what it’s like for myself. I also have been meaning to travel to Cambodia and Laos.

I spoke with my parents about touring Southeast Asia after I read the comic. They’re still thinking about, but I figured we might as well since we need to visit family in Vietnam anyway.


Popeye: A Guide to Healthy Eating and Confidence

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Today, I’m going to talk about the comic entitled Popeye by Hy Eisman. The protagonist in this comic series is a sailor named Popeye who is extremely strong. And where does he get this strength you may ask? From his trusty healthy diet of spinach from a can. This is displayed below in a propaganda-type comic panel.

I yam what I yam

Popeye is known for constantly solving problems and is confident in finding solutions. In this comic below, he allows for his love, Olive to get a “change of scenery” by simply switching spots with her. This is a simple and smart but comical solution for the problem at hand.

Popeye #1

Popeye and Olive have an interesting dynamic and relationship. It is quite funny that what brought them together was “a bed of raw, tender, baby spinach leaves”. Particularly in this comic below, his love for spinach coincides well with his love for Olive.

popeye olive

Popeye’s love for spinach influences how he lives his life, especially in how he eats. He wants that too for his friends. In the comic below, he is confident when he confronts the other man about his eating habits. He even says, “Ya didn’t order any greens”? when the man brilliantly responds with a loophole by ordering green foods (not spinach as Popeye would like).

diet popeye

Along with Popeye’s love for spinach and spreading the idea of healthy eating habits, he creates a “fast-food” franchise for spinach. He entitles it Spinach King. The other man in the comic (who had ordered an unhealthy meal in the previous comic) gives a response of “I didn’t think it was a niche that needed filling”. Clearly, he is not educated in how to eat healthy or does not care enough, so Popeye created this franchise for particularly these people.

spinach king

Again below Popeye is confident in finding a solution and instead of lifted the bolted iron he ends up lifting the entire building with the other characters inside. Eisman uses emanata effectively to portray Olive and the other man’ shock over Popeye’s strength.

strong popeye

Through each panel, Popeye’s strength and confidence as well as his love for spinach and eating healthy is displayed. Hopefully Popeye’s confidence will influence readers to find solutions and to stand up to others. Do you think Eisman hopes Popeye’s love for spinach will influence his readers to eat healthy? Perhaps that is why Eisman has a comic series all about it. That, or Eisman absolutely loves spinach.

Realism and Fantasy in Shaun Tan’s “The Arrival”

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Though “The Arrival” is drawn with light pen or pencil strokes, Tan is able to create clear, beautiful, portraits of the environment in his graphic novel. Looking at any of his drawings from afar, you can’t tell how subtle and precise his strokes are; yet, when you look more closely, the image seems to get cloudier as you can see the small grains of ink or graphite on the page. This style highlights the realism in the world Tan draws, but once the details in the art are inspected closely, this illusion of a real world dissolves and the role of fantasy in Tan’s work becomes apparent.

Another example of this divide between realism and fantasy is in the illustrations themselves. For example, in the drawing above, the geometric, precisely drawn boat advancing towards the ominous darkness underneath the enormous detailed cloud represents and foretells the challenges that the main character has to face in his new environment in the future. The realism in this scene accentuates this sense of danger because its resemblance to the human environment creates a concrete, relatable representation of this danger.


In contrast, once the main character begins assimilating to his new environment, Tan uses more elements of fantasy to draw the new world. Here, the main character has lived in his environment for a fair amount of time and has begun adopting the culture of the new world into his own. Whereas the previous image creates a daunting, dark, realistic portrayal of danger ahead, this scene bursts with movement, strange orbs of light, and birds with two semi circle shapes for wings. However, it also contains lots of geometrical precision. The leaves in the field are all pointed towards the same angle, the wings of the birds, and the background with the hills stay consistent with Tan’s previous use of realism and geometry. The fantasy in this scene lies in the movement in the illustration, such as the birds and beams of light, the shapes of lights themselves, and the ground that the main character and the old man are standing on. These all combine to create a scene that emphasizes the new beautiful new world the main character is admiring that has taken him in.

Tan’s use of realism conveys a darker, grittier, more uncertain world and he contrasts this throughout the graphic novel with scenes of fantasy that illustrate how the character’s worries about his new environment have been replaced with awe for his new world and joy to be a part of it.


Music as a language

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One important thing that people sometimes over look is the fact that music is a language. It can be used to communicate just like any spoken language of the modern day, however when it comes to the theoretical aspects of music, just like math it can be learned more in a style that is more universally understood when compared to most spoken languages. Music is also a great method of communication because unlike the spoken language it makes people feel a sort of groove that is commonplace harmonious to the ear. I know that there are counter arguments to these statements, however I would like who ever reads this to watch this video of someone who might explain things in a way that clicks with you.


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I have been thinking a lot about symbols lately. It seems that the whole world is trying to sell you something or at least suggest a whole array of things to you through a few markings that don’t actually have any meaning unless one gives them meaning. Symbols don’t even mean anything if no one accepts what they stand for. The tricky and almost dangerous thing about symbols is that if everyone believes that a symbol is powerful, it will be, even though it has the potential to mean absolutely nothing. These powerful symbols include the swastika and the marijuana leaf, which hold a lot of power in society today as they have been considered controversial, and given great value over the course of a few decades. Symbols are strange, yet very powerful things.



Also Banned Books

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I was in the library this weekend and stumbled across this student made comic about banned books.



I thought it was a fun coincidence that it happened to feature Persepolis since we’ve just read it. I’ve always thought that book banning was ridiculous so it makes me happy to see that Dickinson acknowledges this silliness. Some of the best books I’ve read are widely banned, which is scary to think. The freedom to read shouldn’t be infringed upon and it’s great that I’m able to read banned books even in my classes.

Banned Books Week and Comics

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Today marks the beginning of Banned Books Week, and perhaps unsurprisingly two of the books we’re reading in this class are on the top 10 list for challenged books in the past year. Given our conversation about the difficulties of cross-cultural understanding on Friday, I’m surprised that Persepolis is the only book on the list not by an American author, although Sherman Alexie’s work certainly talks about cultural differences in an intra-American context. Why do you think this is? Also, why are comics so susceptible to such challenges? Why are they able to so easily give offense? We’ll keep discussing these issues after the break when we turn our attention to the Mohammed cartoon crisis, so stay tuned…


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I wanted to comment on some of Persepolis. I noticed that the book has many backgrounds that are completely black. The author even uses the black to incorporate  her drawings. This was heavy used at the begging of the book when the main charters culture drastically changed. I feel the black backgrounds could symbolize her culture as she knew it is fading to black. Its slowly being cover up and forgotten (Blacked out). persepolis_illustration


Avengers 2.0

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I have been really busy studying for 2 exams this week so I didn’t really have anything comic related. However if anyone is interested the Avengers age of Ultron comes out October 2nd. I posted this because of the comic I read earlier. MARVEL The Avengers 2: Age Of Ultron Movie Poster by ProfessorAdagio

Gunnerkrieg Court

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One of my favorite webcomics is “Gunnerkrieg Court,” which is written and illustrated by Tom Siddell. It’s been going on for a while and so there are a lot of intertwined plot lines involving gods, robots, and the ether of the universe, but the part I wanted to talk about in this post is the art. Because the comic’s been made for such a long time, the author’s personal art style has changed a lot. Below is the first page of the story, which is now in its 54th chapter, and one of the most recent pages.

00000002  00001562

They both portray the main character Antimony (or Annie) who attends school at Gunnerkrieg Court, which seems to be the last attempt at a bridge between the scientific and magical parts of the world. Honestly, no one really knows what the Court is or how it stands in the world, but a little bit more is revealed every couple of chapters.

Annie lives as a warden of the Court because her mother is dead and her father is indefinitely absent, presumably on Court business. Because of this, she grows up as a very independent character and actually accumulates some degree of power within the Court.

However, in one of the most recent chapters, Annie’s father very suddenly returned, and with him came a huge change in her character. Annie is known throughout the story for being very enthusiastic and rarely listening to those in charge. When her father appears, Annie very quickly transforms into the person seen in the most recent of the two pages above. With her cut hair, she is eerily reminiscent of her childhood self when she lived in a hospital. Because this version of Annie very forcefully represses her emotions,


there were few ways for Tom Siddell to show what was actually happening inside her head. However, he found a solution. When Annie’s father first appears, one of the first things he does is send her out in the middle of class to wash the makeup off her face while her classmates wait in silence. Rather than using thoughts or narration to show what Annie is experiencing, Siddell completely changes his art style.


Though Annie herself remains the same, as we can see in the mirror, her perception of herself and her world become increasingly childlike, which matches with her transformation into her childhood lookalike.

Just a few moments later, when she is able to finally talk to her father on her own, the art changes again.


Tom Siddell uses these instances of warped drawing styles to show when we are seeing the story from a different perspective than normal, and allows him to show what Annie is feeling even though Annie herself is showing none of it to those around her.

There are some other interesting things Tom Siddell does with his art as well, such as the stylization of the god characters and how stories within the stories look, and if anyone has an hour or two to spare it’s a really interesting story.


My favorite movie is an adaptation of a Marvel origin story that needs to stop being remade and is a terrible final part to a trilogy that shouldn’t be enjoyed unironically, but has been enjoyed unironically by me.

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I mean, the title is sort of a lie. I love a lot of movies: Dead Poets Society, for one. Barbie movies, which are my unironic faves. But for the sake of this class, I feel like talking about Spider-Man 3 is extremely relevant.

Watching the Spider-Man movies (Tobey Maguire, not Andrew Garfield) was what got me into the Marvel Universe and, ultimately, into comic books. It’s worth noting that Peter Parker is one of my least favorite Spidermen, and Spider-Gwen and Spidergirl (with her killer calves and thick thighs) are probably my favorites. Miles Morales fits somewhere up there, too. But unfortunately, due to Marvel films’ lack of interest in creating movies for heroes that are women or Black-Hispanic and the lack of availability of other Spider-Men comics besides Peter Parker origin stories in most comic stores, I’ve grown to love/hate Peter Parker with all my heart.

Although the Spider-Man movies are absolutely terrible visually and in scripting, I have to love them because I love Spider-Man and I need to be able to see the Spiderverse on the big screen. And plus, Tobey Maguire was my #1 when I was growing up; none of that Andrew Garfield, pretty boy pretending to be a total, unlikable geek. To quote my boyfriend, “Andrew Garfield was too hot to be Spider-Man.” But I’ll leave out the part of him saying that Tobey Maguire was, too. I won’t allow lies here on this blog.

Anyway, enjoy this Drew Gooden vine that, like I’ve said numerous times somewhere in the thousands of shitposts I have on Tumblr, is totally me.

Chatting with Bill K

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So, here’s your invitation to ask Bill questions… fire ’em at me in the comments!

Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 2.33.27 PM

We are all Good Ol’ Charlie Brown

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My next blog post will be on the comic series entitledThe Peanuts by Charles Schulz. The main character, Charlie Brown is known as the character who always seems to loose. Particularly, shown in this comic strip below, Charlie is searching for valentines. Sadly, he gets none of them. So why do people enjoy comics such as these? Because it is relatable. This experience has definitely happened to most people. Their patient is tested when they must wait for something in the mail or for someone to respond to a message. It can be a rather agonizing experience and this is shown well with the series of silent panels. Unfortunately as Charlie discovers, sometimes life will disappoint you and there may not be any valentines or packages to come that day.

Charlie Valentine

Charlie Brown is also relatable since he constantly makes mistakes as all humans do. This is shown a lot in the football comics. In this particular comic, Charlie Brown even refuses to be fooled and tries hard to stand up for himself. But again he is manipulated by Lucy and makes the mistake of trusting her. Even though he has failed many times before, he is still determined to succeed and kick that ball. Charlie Brown certainly has the motto, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” in mind. It’s important for humans to remember this motto especially when humans are faced with disappointments or they make mistakes.

football charlie brown

Lastly, this comic below clearly displays this motto. He even comes to the conclusion that he is “the smartest person in the world” since he constantly fails. However, each time he learns from his failures. Failures and mistakes teach us ways to improve, while winning does not.

Win Charlie Brown

This is what I imagine I sound like in class…

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Bloom County, a comic from my youth (cue: dinosaurs roaming the surface of the planet), was recently rebooted on a digital platform, and distributed mostly through Facebook. Here’s its author, Berkeley Breathed, commenting on the changes:



Differences in the English and French versions of “Persepolis”

Posted by herpersj in Comics Response #2 | 1 Comment

Though the English translated version of Satrapi’s “Persepolis” does not capture the same meaning that the original French version does, no translated book can perfectly pick up on every subtle cultural references or the author’s intended meaning from the original language. So, before reading “Persepolis”, I promised myself that I would not focus on the differences between the two versions of the book.

However, aside from the language differences, I found a pretty big visual difference between the versions. I remembered that in the French book, Satrapi clearly splits “Persepolis” into four parts by literally numbering each section of the graphic narrative. The English complete version of the book only splits it into two parts, with a blank page separating two pages on page 154.

Here are the numbered sections in the French version:

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11998518_10207248428186534_1444331715_nUnfortunately, I don’t have the French version with me; I had to convince my parents to send me pictures of pages from a graphic narrative. This means that I can’t certainly say where the placement of the numbers occur in the book. I can only assume that Part 1 is Satrapi’s childhood, Part 2 begins on page 72 with the chapter titled, “The Trip” (the French version doesn’t have page numbers either, they’re only present in the English version)
12047736_10207248377305262_1028763232_nPart 3 is where the English version splits the book in two on page 154, and Part 4 might be on page 246 with the chapter “The Return”. Either way, what is significant is that there is no noticeable split between these sections in the English version.

It seems that in the original version, Satrapi wanted to explicitly split her life in the book into four parts, and force the reader to physically see this separation between each “chapter” of her life. However, in the English version, the book flows more easily. The only pause is on page 154 with the blank page which is where Satrapi leaves for Europe. When we read the book in four stages it is much easier to split Satrapi’s life into chunks and analyze each part individually. Further, it is simply easier for the reader to understand each transition in her life. However, when the book only pauses in the middle, the events in Satrapi’s life appear to be more continuous and her life can be analyzed on a more holistic level.

Perhaps Satrapi intended to not split up her book into four parts for her English readers, or maybe an editor in New York simply wanted to save a couple of pages. However, the presence of the four clearly marked sections changes the way that the reader experiences the graphic narrative in contrast with those who read it in two parts. This could say something about the cultural differences between how Europeans and Americans read texts. Either way, this seemingly subtle difference showed me that even a small detail like numbered sections in a book can dramatically alter the ways that readers read the book.






Nine Lives

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As if I hadn’t already addressed this in my last post, I spend a lot of time wandering the internet. This past week, during my wanderings, I came across a a series of short comics by Megan Nicole Dong, a Story Artist for DreamWorks Animation. She has several established themes running through some of her uploaded comics- such as sharks, mermaids, and beards- however this series is one about being ‘deceived by makeup’.



For a while on the site Tumblr there was a trend of girls posting pictures of themselves before and after putting on a full face of makeup. It was a way of showing others that the faces of celebrities and models in magazines are rarely ever what the person actually looks like, as well as a way to show that you can be comfortable and confident in any way that you choose to present yourself. The photos sometimes got responses about how women were using makeup to deceive men, and that men should take women on first dates to pools in order to see what they actually look like. This response led to the general counterargument that women who chose to wear makeup don’t necessarily do so for male attention- that often they do so for their own confidence and because it can even be fun for them to apply.


I thought that this comic series was interesting because of the way that they cartoonist drew the panels. Not only is she emphasizing the ridiculous idea that makeup has the ability to deceive people (everyone knows that no person has naturally blue eyelids) through situations in which makeup is successful at doing just that, but the bright colors and freely drawn lines add to the comical nature of the argument.

tumblr_nupdafmWby1s2pegxo5_540 tumblr_nupdafmWby1s2pegxo7_540

Bone Series

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Here’s to another throwback from my childhood (and possibly yours). Those cute little things that ran away from their home town to eventually save the world made my first year as a teenage a little less dry. The series known as “Bone” is the first graphic novel series that I have read entirely. This series incorporates many fantasy creatures with humans and a dark spirit that threatens the entire world. A major theme of this graphic novel series is the theme of courage as ultimately the bravery of the bone creatures and the humans. Bone was a best selling graphic novel series and was named one of the top ten banned books of 2013. Take a look check it out, it revolutionized my thought process as a kid to be brave in situations that seem hopeless.



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Hello Gang! How are we all doing? Some pretty cool discussions happened in Renaissance Europe class earlier this week. My class was discussing the Black Plague and how it affected the people of urban areas this week. Before we continue it was funny because a senior in my class had a side discussion with the professor about whether guinea pigs or rats were more potent in the spread of the plague, I recommend you guys look that up and find out for yourselves. During this period a lot of different people would suffered this pandemic known as the black death where many tumors would appear on the underarms and on the groin. Doctors would most of the time have to break the news to the families who had this virus within them that, there was nothing they could do. At this point one could only make funeral arrangements. The song “Ring around the Rosie” is actually about the black plague. A pocket full of posies is in reference to the flowers people would carry with them to cancel the smell of the rotting flesh that lay everywhere in the streets. Fun stuff right. Doctors from this period would wear long masks to prevent the disease from entering their bodies because they thought that the virus was airborne. In addition to this, from time to time doctors would put herbs and other flowers in the long beaked mask. If everyone gets the chance, definitely checkout the black plague, especially if you are a history major or pre-med major. Please see the panel of a renaissance doctor below.



“Stuck sa Bahay”

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In my young, embarrassing days of high school I read a webcomic called Homestuck. In my young, embarrassing days of high school, I also made a mocklation of the comic because, you know, why the hell not? With my bad language skills and my inability to actually fully translate a page of text, you find a young man standing in his kuwarto, awaiting his pangalan.



I’m sure a lot of you are reading this thinking, “What? What the heck is a pangalan? What is this terrible Taglish?”

I grew up learning a lot of words in Tagalog. My blanket is my kumot. My pangalan is Paulina. My sister is my ate. In my creative writing class, we read a story that had some Spanish words mixed in, symbolic of the narrator’s native language. I like reading stories like that because they help me normalize my thought process, which I rejected most of my life. Throughout middle school and high school I was sort of ashamed to call things as they were in my language rather than say what they are in English, but most of the time I forget what the word should be. If you talk to me, you’ll hear me say “Um, oh, yeah, the, um–” a lot, mostly because I’m stuck on the word and I’m translating it back and forth in my mind. Anyone whose first language isn’t English could relate, I’m sure.

I made “Stuck sa Bahay” as a joke, definitely at the time, but now that I think about it I wish I read comics like this. I mean, I’m not going to ask Andrew Hussie, white male creator of Homestuck to add in some Taglish to his work because that’s kind of, uh, no thanks. But I’m always yearning for more authors who write characters who can’t quite remember the words in their new languages, who struggle to assimilate into English because it’s just so much easier to magsalita “Hindi ko alam” and walk away.

Fun Home: The Musical

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Last Saturday I took a trip with the Women’s and Gender Studies department to NYC to see Fun Home: The Musical on Broadway. As the title suggests, it is the musical adaption of the book we’re reading later this semester.

It was a really great experience, and everyone in the group cried a little at some point. The actors also did a really good job and were able to cleanly portray a narrative that was more than a little confusing at times. The original graphic autobiography is not told in a linear fashion; it jumps around to different points in Alison Bechdel’s life and often revisits key moments. The people who adapted it into a musical made the (correct) choice and preserved this style of storytelling. There are actually three actresses who portray Alison at different points in her life. The youngest is her as a child, the middle one her in college, and the oldest her as she looks back on her life and tells her story.

This introduces what I thought was the most interesting part of the musical’s adaption. Graphic novels don’t always lend themselves terribly well to adaptions in other mediums. This is not universally true (just look at the Marvel movies), but the ones that make successful transitions are often straightforward narratives that don’t rely heavily on an external narrator, uncertain timeline, and several of the other characteristics that makes Fun Home so enjoyable. However, the adapters came up with a neat solution that adds significantly to the overall experience of the musical.

The story is told from the view of the oldest Alison as she writes and draws what will eventually become Fun Home. As she does so, she looks back at important points in her life, reliving them through her younger selves and remembering past details such as the contents of her journals and diaries (a source of constant embarrassment for the older Alison). The scene will often freeze as Alison adds a caption, and towards the end several of the scenes take place with each character or group within their own yellow frame projected onto the floor. In this way, the musical manages to portray a sort of live-action comic.

The oldest Alison takes the same job of narrator as she does in the book, though throughout the musical it becomes increasingly apparent that she is having difficulty pulling herself out of her memories. This culminates in a scene where the oldest Alison finally takes the place of her college age self in her memories and replays in person her final conversation with her father (this is the point where everyone cried, by the way).

Telephone Wire

It was an amazing musical to watch, and I’m sure I will appreciate it even more after studying it in class later this year. There’s plenty more to talk about, too, if anyone wants to hear about some really great songs (like Changing My Major to Joan), and if anyone ever has the opportunity to go and see it themselves, I highly recommend it.

Reminiscing about my first comic experience

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When I was a young lad, not even 10 years old, I came across an old comic at a friend’s oinkhouse.  This comic was John Mueller’s Oink, and I have to admit that the comic may have previously ruined comic books for me.  It was weird and confusing and I did not like it at all.  Oink was the first comic that I had ever read and it confused me to the point where i would question what all the fuss was about regarding comics.  I didn’t come to care much for them until my teenage years when I read a few of the Marvel superhero comics.  When I saw this class as an option for the FYS courses after applying to Dickinson, I knew I had to take it.  There were other comics out there other than the Marvel comics and Oink, and I just wanted to see what they were like. Maybe as I continue to explore the world of comics, I’ll be able to go find another copy of Oink and give it another try.

ScarJo is not Major Motoko

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Section 9/Ghost in the Shell/Masamune Shirow

Ghost in the Shell, based on Masamune Shirow’s manga series of the same name, is set in a futuristic Japanese city and follows protagonist Major Motoko Kusanagi and members of Public Security Section 9, a covert task force within the Japanese National Public Safety Commission specializing in cyber-warfare.

Not being of Asian descent aside, Scarlett Johansson is 5’3″ and lithe while Major Motoko is a 5’6″ and musclar. Heels aren’t going to cut it here, honey.

The casting of Scarlett Johansson as Major Motoko Kusanagi is unfortunate because

  • she lacks the emotion/physical presence of Motoko
  • it takes away an opportunity from an actress of Asian descent
  • it perpetuates a long-standing tradition of whitewashing because of the financial stability in it

I don’t really have anything against Scarlett Johansson. She’s talented, though definitely better in some films than in others. But I just can’t see her as Motoko.

Major Motoko Kusanagi/Ghost in the Shell/Masamune Shirow

Major Motoko Kusanagi of the Japanese Public Safety Commission is both terrifying and alluring. As an elite member of a covert task force, Motoko takes command of a room with nothing more than a look. She is enigmatic and lethal, while simultaneously lonely and even vulnerable. She leads a team of men, who both fear and respect her. While she prefers to be in the body (shell) of a young female, her soul and mind (ghost) are old and wise. The old-soul-trapped-in-a-young-body cliché actually allows her character to alternate between being optimistic and cynical about human nature.

I have yet to see Johansson fulfill a role as complex as Major Motoko. In most movies, I’ve found her a too flirty and a little too infantilized—even as Black Widow. When she’s plays a “badass female,” Johansson always seems like she’s trying to be an underestimated threat, rather than an actual threat who immediately instills fear in others. Her tendency to cover the lethal nature of her characters (let’s throw Lucy in there too) makes her a very bad fit for the role of Major Motoko.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of Asian and Asian American actresses who could have been recruited as the lead role. (Hello! Maggie Q of Nikita, anyone?) This movie could have been an amazing opportunity to enhance diversity in the industry. But those things didn’t happen and it’s a shame!

The whitewashing of Motoko, among other characters of color for live-action adaptations, takes away opportunities for both underrated and aspiring performers of color to boost representation!

USC study examining on-screen diversity found that in 2013, Asian characters accounted for only 4.4% of speaking roles in the top-grossing films. A year later, a follow-up USC study found that Asian characters accounted for 5.3% of speaking or named characters in the 100 top-grossing films of 2014. Yay, 0.9% increase. That should be a good sign right? No, because in the same survey, we see that women accounted for 28.1% of speaking or named characters in the 100 top-grossing films of 2014.

Given these numbers (oooo scary ~ no, more like sad), can you guess how many women of Asian decent are speaking or named character (don’t be scared of this high standard)?

Answer: A pathetically small number.

So why would the American remake star a white actress? Why would the industry continue whitewashing roles from source material that features Asian and Asian American leads? Is it that difficult to find people of Asian descent to play lead roles for these film adaptations? (Especially now that more Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders performers on appearing on TV and on YouTube.) Plenty of white folks have played lead roles, why not give Asian/American actors a crack at it?

Whitewashing, the practice of casting white actors to play characters that should have been people of color, has been a Hollywood staple since the beginning of the film industry. It comes in many forms: changing the identity of characters completely, blackface, brownface, yellowface, etc.

While Major Motoko certainly transcends gender and ethnicity, the story of Ghost in the Shell is heavily intertwined with Japanese culture. It is an unfortunate that DreamWorks made a simple economic decision: Cast Scarlett Johannsson because she’s the safe and conservative choice for a “secret-agent character.”

The gist of the problem is that plenty of complex characters (who could/should have been played by actors of color) were played by white actors, because it was deemed more appropriate/lucrative/superior.

I’m sick of capable and talented performers of color being passed up on roles for characters of color, especially in anime adaptations. My heart is done with being let down when source material featuring characters of Asian descent are whitewashed, while my favorite Asian American performers have few opportunities to break out of type-casted roles.

Tuesday Night Cafe is the oldest still-running Asian American open mic space in the country. TNC maintains a passionate, positive space with a focus on promoting the work of Asian American/Pacific Islander performers.

This American remake will not my American society, which includes Asian Americans. What a sham. Looking forward to hate-watching Ghost in the Shell in 2017.

Eye candy images

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So I hit the add media button to upload a picture of mine. Instead I found this really cool picture already in there. The colors really pop. This gives me the feel of being in space or under the ocean. I don’t know anything about it, but I really do appreciate the time it took to do something like this.

Comic hardships

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So I finished my second assignment today and let me tell you I have no idea what I am doing with this new tech. It took me longer to scan my comic pages in then it was to write the paper. Doing this with a single mouse button was even harder. There is no right click. I didn’t really have anything comic related happen to me so far this week so I thought I would talk about my paper a little bit.


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After learning that I would be taking a class on graphic narratives, I returned to the old bookshelf in the corner of my room to peruse the handful of comic books I had read over the years and decided to hold onto. Unfortunately, my collection was not as complete as I had hoped it would be. So since then I’ve been trying to remember what all my favorite comics have been with some success. Fortunately, Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics jogged my memory when it featured one of my all time favorite comics as an example on page 43. I was so excited when I reached that panel that I did a little dance. McCloud uses Cerebus as an example of a basically drawn protagonist contrasted with an intricately drawn background. 

In case you can’t tell, he’s an Aardvark. Don’t ask me why Dave Sim’s protagonist within a medieval fantasy world is a talking Aardvark.   It is true that Cerebus’ features are simply gray and very cartoonish, but I don’t think that I would personally use Cerebus as an example in McCloud’s instance. Cerebus has a very distinct and dark personality. When reading the comic I feel less like I’m putting myself into his shoes (hooves?), and more like I’m observing the life of a particularly interesting Aardvark… that can talk. He also appears occasionally with more detail, especially if he’s wearing anything.

In fact, Cerebus’ overall appearance has progressed quite a bit since his debut comic book.

Going back to McCloud, Cerebus makes #107 in McCloud’s picture plane.Understanding-Comics


The art and style of the comic are actually one of the reasons Cerebus is one of my favorite comics. The plot becomes more and more intricate and involved and Sim’s art style grows with it. The style reminds me a bit of Film Noir, in an ye olde Europe kind of way. So if you’re looking for an interesting and fun read, check Cerebus out.

Calvin and Hobbes: Blast from the Past

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Today I’m going to discuss the old time famous comic of Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson. This comic series has been a part of my childhood as long as I can remember. This comic is definitely very appealing to young readers due to its use of an imaginary friend. Just like in the comic shown below. Calvin is trying to capture a tiger and ends up capturing his stuffed animal named Hobbes. The father goes along with Calvin’s adventure, but the skepticalness in his voice, when he says “They like tuna fish, huh?”, shows that he doesn’t believe the tiger hunting to be true or as real as Calvin does. This shows that the beauty of imagination in the kid has been lost among the father with age.

Calvin and Hobbes #1

Another interesting concept that is shown in throughout comics is the way the author depicts imaginary and real Hobbes. When the kid talks to Hobbes about not going on vacation with his family in the comic below, the tiger is depicted as a real, living, breathing tiger. However, whenever a family member steps in (like Calvin’s dad), the tiger becomes an ordinary stuffed animal. This again shows the line between the actual world (that the parents continue to see) and imaginary world (that Calvin continues to see). This is also displayed in the comic to the right of it, where his mother, who clearly is far from her childhood life as possible, says “This was a mistake” after she agrees to play a game with Calvin entitled Calvinball.

Calvin and Hobbes #2          Calvin and Hobbes #3

Furthermore, Calvin lives his life throughout the day in a somewhat imaginary world. In simple actions as watching the bully drink water, he is able to depict a very vivid invisible world. In the comic below he takes the bully drinking water and inserts him as a dinosaur, named Ultrasaur, in ancient times drinking water from not a water fountain but a water hole. Calvin then depicts himself as another dinosaur, named Allosaur, who is impatiently waiting for water. Additionally, it is impressive how Bill Watterson strategically chooses to use color is only some of his comics. Color is usually only found within the dinosaur or space adventure comics with Calvin. This may occur because the colors along with the very vivid characters, extreme detail and shading help display Calvin’s imaginary world. This then allows the reader to easily step into it. This also occurs whenever Calvin plays an imaginary game with Hobbes in the comic to the right. The colors add to the creativity of the game and language. The key to the game is that the rules are always changing and that the players continue to rhyme.

Calvin and Hobbes #4      Calvin and Hobbes #5

Along with my brother and me, my Aunt also has a fascination for Calvin and Hobbes. This is intriguing and unique because she still loves them to this day even though she is about 50 years old. Now why is that? Why can a comic be so appealing to young readers and to adult readers? In some ways, every adult still has their childhood spirit inside them and these comics bring the reader back to their youth. That is why parents and adults still love to watch Disney movies or read young reader comics such as this. But there must be more to it. It is likewise thought-provoking to see the contrast between the adults within the comic (who don’t have much imagination) and the adult audience of the comics (the ones who enjoy Calvin’s invisible world). Perhaps adults that are more inclined to work with the humanities and are creative thinkers rather than concrete thinkers (like the adults found in the comic) find it easier to enjoy the imagination within the comic?

#Wearing Colors_1#

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Hi guys! It’s my first blog post ever. Today I want to talk about how color is used in black and white comics. When I read the excerpt from Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault’s Jane, The Fox, and Me, the first thing that came to my mind was a Korean webcomic called Middle School Girl A by Huh5Pa6(Internet pseudonym). “Jane, the Fox, and Me” is a black-and-white comic with some exceptions. Whenever the protagonist, Helene, reads Jane Eyre, bright colors such as red and green fill the panels.

스크린샷 2015-09-14 오전 12.52.11(from “Jane, the Fox, and ME”)


The disparity between Helene’s black-and-white world and colorful world of the book shows the way Helene thinks about those two worlds; one as bleak and the other as beautiful. She finds comfort in the world of Eyre, away from harassment of her former friends. Middle School Girl A works in the same way.스크린샷 2015-09-11 오후 7.24.48(Cover of Middle School Girl A)

But this time, the colored world of our protagonist, Mi-rae, is inside a computer game. Mi-rae is a middle school girl who has a talent in writing. However, she’s shy and quiet and is viewed either as strange or invisible by her classmates. Her background won’t help either. She suffers from domestic violence from her alcoholic father. The only comfort she finds away from her problems is a game called WonderingWorld. As a game character, she feels her presence. She finds happiness. Therefore, the world inside the computer screen is always colorful, compared to the black-and-white world of her own. This is especially noticeable when she says “I think I feel the warmth of the fire beyond the screen” as she watches her game character having a bone fire with other users.

IMG_1762 2




“It’s a strange thing.”














“I’ve certainly locked the door, but fury still flows into my room”











“I’m so happy!!!”










“I feel the warmth of fire beyond the screen”





Readers sympathize with and worry about Mi-rae, especially because of the comic’s title. In Korea, newspapers describe young victims of tragic events as “Miss A”, “Mr.B”, “Middle School Girl A”, etc.. With Mi-rae holding the paper on the cover, readers are worried that tragic events such as suicide will happen to Mi-rae through which she might end up as an anonymous “Middle School A”.

Anyway, that’s something away from the subject. Mi-rae’s black-and-white world slowly changes after she meets someone in her class whom she connects to. Will her world start wearing colors? I’m still waiting for the next week’s release!

Many comic artists use mixture of black-and-white and vivid colors for various reasons. One we saw today was for depicting escapism. Are there any other functions of these color changes that you’ve recognized in comics? I do, and I’ll bring some more of these stuff with other webcomics few days later. See you!



스크린샷 2015-09-11 오후 7.25.37

Moon Knight

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when I reached the ripe age of 11, a kid with an inane dislike for comics was formed. I’ve always enjoyed a good wolverine issue or two, even got into reading Alan Moore. later however I started furthering myself away from comics, maybe they didn’t seem as appealing to me as they once did. Earlier this year however, my friend suggested/pleaded for me to check out a relatively new Marvel comic book – Moon Knight.

To be entirely frank, Moon Knight doesn’t have an original story, the narrative follows a generic anti-hero-ish protagonist who serves up Justice like there’s no tomorrow, being brooding and mysterious at the same time.

moon knight4 - car

If the main protagonist, Moon Knight, isn’t able to get your attention what are you supposed to like about the comic book? you may ask – art. As strange as it may seem, the art direction that the creators took and the slew of colors they incorporated meshed perfectly, producing a feast for the eyes. It’s as if the world was designed while the creators were tripping on acid, and we the viewers get and we the viewers get the privilege to look through their psychedelic minds. That is not a bad thing, it’s actually very pleasing.

The series presents it’s story more through the visuals than the actual written plot. This strategy works perfectly in delivering an interesting experience. Moon Knight offers an interesting take on superhero comics, what they could be if the uninspired explanatory text was taken out, letting the world speak for itself.
Check this gem out at 

The Evolution of My Perception of Graphic Novels

Posted by herpersj in Comics Response #1 | 1 Comment

Graphic novels and comics are hugely popular in France. There is a comic (bande dessinée, or BD for short, in French) for every age, every gender, every race, and every person in general. There can be entire floors of book stores devoted to BDs. You walk in and are immediately surrounded by walls covered from floor to ceiling with the colorful spines of graphic novels. There are kids and adults hunched over comics, completely absorbed in another world.

I grew up in a French family like this, where comics are a tradition passed down from generation to generation, especially on my dad’s side of the family. Jokes from graphic novels such as “Astérix” and “Spirou et Fantasio” have been ingrained in my family’s vocabulary and you can only understand these if you’ve actually read these comics.

For years I read these classic “clear line” syle (McCloud) Franco-Belgian graphic novels that were mainly focused on humor and adventure. These were also the most popular graphic novels read on my dad’s side of the family. My mom on the other hand loved these strange graphic novels with illustrations that I wasn’t used to and text that seemed boring. However, as I grew older I began to realize that comics could be much more than just humor and adventure and I decided to give one of my mom’s graphic novels a try.

So one summer afternoon, I pulled “Le Chat du Rabbin” (The Rabbi’s Cat) by Joann Sfar off of her shelf. What I found was a graphic novel that included wit, thought provoking dialogue between characters, and a beautiful expressionist artistic style with a wide array of colors and bold ink lines to either emphasize characters or contrast with the surrounding colors. At the same time, it discussed Judaism in North Africa during French Colonial rule, the pervading social and cultural norms of the time, and the experiences of North Africans in France.





Le Chat du Rabbin 2


It was so refreshing being able to read a graphic novel that discussed serious topics through the use of humor, complex dialogue, and aesthetic beauty. I realized as I read “Le Chat du Rabbin” that I had been reading comics in only one small part of the comics universe. “Le Chat du Rabbin” really got me interested in actually analyzing the contents of comics and it allowed me to understand the immense impact that graphic novels have on the readers.

I look forward to exploring the world of comics not only in French but also in English. Since I had grown up with exclusively French graphic novels, I had always sort of looked down upon the American “superhero comic” since that was all I thought was out there. I’m eager to prove myself wrong and to continue analyzing comics around the world from a variety of different cultures because there are good quality graphic novels everywhere you look.


On The Topic Of Online Comics…

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So these guys have made online comics for the sake of comedy since 2005, and I have followed their progress since i was in middle school.  They create new comics every day and occasionally even make short videos.  Their use of adult/inappropriate humor is not for all, but I personally love their comics and believe some of them to be hilarious so maybe you can too. Check them out.




Brooklyn Zine Fest

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I contribute to a zine called Pop Culture Puke, and I’ve been doing so for a little over a year now. Zines are basically self-published mini magazines, and they can be about anything and include anything. Pop Culture Puke is a zine about pop culture, and every issue has a theme that the writers have to keep in mind when submitting. Contributors submit photos, essays, reviews, drawings, paintings, and poems.

I discovered Pop Culture Puke on Twitter and saw that they were looking for submissions and decided that I’d take a shot and submit an essay. Eventually, I became a regular contributor and got more involved in learning about zine culture.

Screen Shot 2015-09-12 at 4.38.16 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-12 at 4.38.02 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-12 at 4.37.36 PM

During April of this past year I got to table Pop Culture Puke at Brooklyn Zine Fest with my friend Rachel, who is the founder of Pop Culture Puke. I got to look around at all of the zines and I saw how diverse zines could be. There were zines about heart disease, the Black Lives Matter movement, comics zines, and zines that were more personal to its creator. Zines are very “DIY” and I think that comics perfectly go hand-in-hand with that. There were lots of great comics zines at Brooklyn Zine Fest and it was very cool to see comics so well represented.

Hopefully I’ll get to Brooklyn Zine Fest again this coming year, and I’d definitely recommend checking out zines if you’re interested in comics. If you want to get started, there’s a great store in Carlisle called Harmony Society, which has a huge table full of zines right when you walk in. If you want a list of zines to check out, go to this link which will take you to a list of all of the 2015 Brooklyn Zine Fest exhibitors.

For Baltimore/ high school experience?

Posted by mohacsia in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

So even though I wasn’t the biggest fan of high school, recently I looked back on a music video for the song “For Baltimore” by a group called All Time Low that was introduced to me when I was about thirteen years old. There’s really something quite unique about this music video considering that it is the only music video that I know of that incorporates the structure of a comic.

For baltimore Image 1


As you can see, this opening design for the video is meant to look like a yearbook giving the name of each of these students and their activities. Much like the material created by Chris Ware, this creation brings back a lot of nostalgia, especially for someone like me who went to concerts and experienced many musical performances, including some of my own. In addition to these elements of nostalgia, there is a very childish and child-like vibe to what is displayed throughout the video. Examples of this can be seen from the beginning, if one simply looks at the nicknames and activities of each of the students in the image above.

For Baltimore Image 2


Each stereotyped student labeled in this “yearbook” is somewhat consistent with various students from my high school based on personality. I used to watch this video as a freshman in high school and think, “This is just too cliche, there is no way the kids of Port Jefferson are going to be this immature or typical.” Now that I have revisited this video as a freshman in college, I just look back and laugh about how close some of the material of this video was to my high school experience, and reflect on how much I have changed since the beginning of my four years at Port Jefferson. The one thing that this video did was that it left me with a lasting impression that, sometimes we can’t see clearly in a moment, but when we look back after a considerable amount of time, not thinking about it,  everything falls into place, and we understand our surroundings with a new perspective.

After viewing this video once again my main question to anyone and everyone who has went through a high school system is, “Did you have a similar experience to this, or was it completely different?”

Primary sources

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Today in my history class we talked about primary sources and how to analyze them. We looked at the Author, Content, Language, Audience, Intent, and the Message. We analyzed this from it’s time period to help understand the reason it was written. I wanted to post this because if we need to research comics and authors, I feel that this will help us to dig deeper and consider why they wrote it. It also was relevant to the class.

The Animals That Think Like Us

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At some point in my internet wanderings, I stumbled upon the following strip.


The first thing I did when I read this was message it to a friend whose trademark word was ‘radical’ at the time. The next thing I did was scroll past it and promptly forget it existed. After repeating the second step several times in the span of a year, I decided it was time to investigate.

The cartoonist, Hugh Crawford, posts new comics daily to his tumblr blog: Crimes Against Hugh Manatee’s. He creates his pieces with layered paper, telling his stories- although most are really food for thought instead of stories- through bears, owls, turtles, penguins, and the occasional octopus.


His characters are relatable despite their fur or feathers. I believe that this is in part due to Crawford’s simple design and color palettes, and in part due to the way that they speak. Each character speaks in the way that one would speak to a friend- very directly.

Sometimes his strips leave you with a sense that they’re teaching you something, and you feel the need to take a moment to see yourself in the characters, and to understand why you see yourself in them.


Sometimes his characters offer comfort by presenting their fears.


While other times his characters just leave you chuckling for a few seconds before you move on with your day.


While it’s not an in-depth narration, and the artwork isn’t something that’s pushing boundaries, Crawford’s works are entertaining. His pieces have a unique sense of style and of humor, with memorable ideas (whether they’re serious or not).

CLAMP vs the Genres

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CLAMP: Satsuki Igarashi, Tsubaki Nekoi, Nanase Ohkawa, and Mokona

CLAMP, an all-female team of manga artists and writers from Japan, has left their mark on the comics sphere with their subversion of misogynistic genre tropes. The iconic four-member team (Satsuki Igarashi, Tsubaki Nekoi, Nanase Ohkawa, and Mokona) upends those tropes by publishing works that challenge gender and age stereotypes as well as the conventions of demographic genres. One such work is xxxHolic (pronounced “Holic”) which critiques the misogynistic tendency in anime and manga to villainize older women who are sexual and powerful.

On the surface, xxxHolic conforms to many of the conventions and character tropes common to manga aimed at a male audience. The protagonist of the story, Watanuki, is male. The main female characters of the story, Yūko, has a more passive narrative role. Yūko serves as the somewhat villainous foil for innocent Watanuki. As Yūko is not granted equal screen time or narrative depth to Watanuki, xxxHolic positions men as subjects and women as objects.

Watanuki and Yūko/Chapter 1/xxxHolic/CLAMP

Yūko is first introduced in xxxHolic as an eerie woman surrounded by mysterious smoke. Her narrow eyes make her seem somewhat sinister, and her long black hair is haphazardly spread across her clothing like a spider’s web. The black crescent moons that adorn her seat and the choker around her neck associate her with darkness and magic. In fact, she is the ancient and powerful “Dimensional Witch” (Jigen no Majo), capable of granting any wish for a price equal to the value of the wish (taika). When she agrees to grant protagonist Watanuki’s wish, Yūko is menacing as the shadows seem to engulf her. Therefore, the reader is led to believe that Yūko is a dark and evil witch.

Yūko/Chapter 4/xxxHolic/CLAMP

Yūko’s sexiness (her shapely figure, slender limbs, and exposed skin) is arguably a negative aspect of her character. According to the conventions of shōjo manga, tall and beautiful women who possess sexual maturity are invariably deadly and evil. The overt sexuality of an adult woman is thus contrasted against the virginal innocence of a typical shōjo heroine.

Yūko is a spell-casting witch, a trope familiar to audiences not only from manga such as Sailor Moon but also from Disney movies. The witch is usually seen as an older woman who is either a black-hearted queen, an evil sorceress, or a vindictive stepmother. She is easily identified by the lethal threat she poses to the hero or heroine. She is feared for her female sexuality, for her old age, or for her intelligence and capability.

Yūko, Sakura, and Himawari/xxxHolic/CLAMP

However, Yūko the witch can be seen in a more positive light. She is not the threat that must be killed and overcome, but instead she is an emblem of feminist empowerment who should be celebrated and embraced. Though she looks wicked, Yūko is also a toughloving nurturer. Yūko does business with several troubled yet naïve young women who usually end up more miserable than they were before they met her. But a closer reading of these encounters reveals that the price Yūko asks her clients to pay is often mere self-reflection. She forces them to question their motives and beliefs in an attempt to make them understand what they are really wishing for. The price, which is often mercilessly extracted, is painful self-examination.

Chapter 46/xxxHolic/CLAMP

When she asks a client (seen above) to decide between destroying evidence of a murder she committed and being truthful to herself and the law, Yūko hovers over the woman seductively and guides (instead of manipulating) the young woman to make a difficult decision. When the client continues to avoid responsibility for her actions and insists on erasing the photo from existence, Yūko advises to not use her words lightly and grants the woman’s wish, the unhappy consequences of which she understands only after its fulfilled. The seemingly evil and uncompassionate Yūko tries to advise and protect young women like her aforementioned client from making greater mistakes and facing more terrible consequences.


In some aspects, xxxHolic conforms to many of the genre conventions of shōnen and seinen manga aimed at male audiences. It has a male protagonist through whose point of view readers engage with the fictional world. Nevertheless, Yūko and her position of power is prominently featured on the covers and in the content of the manga. Despite not being a point-of-view character and being a witch, she is the heroine of her hidden story within the story.

The worldwide success of xxxHolic demonstrates that female creators are able to spin gendered tropes in gendered media in a way that overturns sexist notions while still appealing to a broad and diverse audience. CLAMP proves wrong those who claim that media targeted at males has a more general appeal and sells better than media targeted at females. The bestselling manga of CLAMP (all of them) prove that readers of all genders can find great appeal both in stories that subvert demographic genre categories and in critiques of the objectification of female characters.


Shameless plug: This and more can be found on my blog, the verbose bricolage.

Summer Struggles (Spin-off of “This One Summer” by Jillian Tamaki)

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Link to Hand drawn comic Summer StrugglesDOC090915-09092015162016

For this comic, I placed myself in the comic This One Summer and had a conversation with the two main characters about our struggles from the summer. The comic is also colored in blue/gray tones just like the book.

Script (Since it is somewhat difficult to read)

At Rose’s Cottage: Panel 1

(1) Emily: Hey Rose and Windy! Thanks for letting me visit for the day. How have you been?

(2) Rose: Hey, you’re welcome!

(3) Windy: We’re good. You?

(4) Emily: I’m good!

(5) Windy: Do you want to go the beach?

(6) Emily: Sure!

On the way to Awago beach: Panel 2

(1) Emily: This place is beautiful. I haven’t been to the beach in so long. I was at a lake all summer at a Leadership Development camp in New Hampsire. I even had to do a 3-mile swim as one of the physical challenges of the program. I had to swim back from an Island called “Rattlesnake”

(2) Rose: Wow! That’s awesome!

(3) Windy: I don’t think I could ever stand being in open water for that long.

(4) Emily: Well its definitely too deep for standing! But, yes it was rather nerve-wracking. However, we also had people canoe beside us so we weren’t totally alone in the open water. I’m just glad I was able to face my fear and not struggle with it anymore.

(5) Windy: Haha! Nice one.

(6) Rose: Yeah, that’s good.

At Awago Beach: Panel 3

(1) Windy: Rose, knows somewhat about struggle.

(2) Rose: Oh, yeah my parents have been fighting all summer and I don’t feel like I get enough attention from them. There is just so much yelling between them. I also feel like my mom even drove my dad away. He left for the city for a few days this summer and when he came back they purposely didn’t talk.

(3) Emily: Oh no! That doesn’t sound good. At least he came back right? They just need to work through some things. Just remember this fighting has nothing to do with you.

(4) Rose: Yeah I know. It’s just hard.

(5) Windy: Yeah, I’m here for you Rose!

Lying on Awago Beach: Panel 4

(1) Emily: Yeah, I had a somewhat similar issue this summer when I apprenticed a cabin of 11-year-old girls. The counselor struggled with depression, so she would constantly yell at the kids and just not do her job. They wouldn’t get enough attention as you said. So I ended up talking to the unit director because I was worried about the kids. The counselor ended up leaving halfway through the summer.

(2) Rose: Wow, that must have been hard.

(3) Windy: Come on guys, the water is so refreshing!

Sitting on Awago Beach: Panel 5

(1) Emily: Yeah it was, but I learned that there is still hope. Despite all the fighting of your parents, they haven’t officially separated yet, so they could work things out. Just like the counselor who left. Hopefully back home she got help for her depression because she didn’t have the pressure of having to pour herself into other kids.

(2) Rose: Yeah, well they recently started talking again, which is encouraging. We leave tomorrow, so hopefully it will get better as you said. Anyways, let stop talking about these unfortunate events and have some fun. Right?

Running into the Water: Panel 6

(1) Emily: Definitely! Race ya!

(2) Rose: Wait! No fair. You got a head start!

(3) Windy: I beat you both!


A Natural Evolution

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Comic Response #1

In the graphic novel I read this summer, American Born Chinese, the protagonist, Jin Wang wants to appeal to a girl he likes in class. To get her attention he copies this other boy’s hairstyle who seems to have the attention of the girl. Although my story isn’t a complete parallel; they’re similar in the fact that we both changed our hair from its natural form to appeal someone or something. (Also, unsure why it came out so small. If you want to see it larger, click on the image)

A Conversation With My Cat (Inspired By “The Rabbi’s Cat”)

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Over the summer I read “Le Chat du Rabin” (“The Rabbi’s Cat” in English) which is about a talking Jewish cat who asks too many questions. The comic I drew depicts a conversation between my cat and I. Please click on the comic to enlarge it.


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Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 3.18.42 PM

(((you might have to click the comic to enlarge)))

Using Hope by Lena Friedman

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Comic Response 1.5

Please click on the image and then zoom to see at full size–you can read the text then.

It just takes sometime, Elaine

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Comic 1 AutoColor


I decided to hand draw this comic, because I haven’t drawn anything in a long time.

The Complications of Simplicity by Shannon Nolan

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Comic Response #1

Just to point it out: The first panel is the one in the top right corner. “Not Simple” by Natsume Ono was written in the same layout as Mangas, and I made the choice to replicate the layout as well.

My first comic

Posted by rhoadst in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Over the summer I didn’t get a chance to pick up a comic read. So I went to the library at Dickinson and searched for some. I decided to go with Marvel Avengers comic. I saw the first movie and wanted to know how it looked before it was put into film. The story was more in depth than the movie. I read parts that were cut from the feature. Marvel is a wide know american comic company and I love the super hero theme. Lets face it, who wouldn’t want to be a super hero. I watched a lot of spider man growing up and the movies and comics are for all ages. I never get tired of them. That was my first comic I have ever read and I am pleased with it.

The Fun Home controversy I’d mentioned earlier…

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screen_shot_20150824_at_6.51.46_pm.png.CROP.promovar-medium2.51.46_pmOn the first day of class, in the vein of taking all of the texts we read on their own terms despite the difficulties they might present to our worldview, I’d mentioned the simmering controversy over Duke students expressing their desire not to read Fun Home. The original story is here. It is the story that has launched a thousand thinkpieces, but I’m inclined toward the writing of Jacob Brogan, not least because he has a chapter in one of my books. He’s had his say in Slate here and here. The student who started the protest, if that’s the right word for a Facebook post, has had his say here. Curious to hear other reactions to this story…