Archive for Reading Group News

MARCH Discussion Recap


On Valentine’s Day, we gathered to discuss March: Book 1, John Lewis’s memoir as adapted by Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell. We originally meant to meet on the 7th, but this wacky winter hit Eugene with its second big snow storm of the year just in time to get in the CRG’s way.

We all enjoyed March, and could all imagine ourselves teaching it at some point. Considering its general marketing as a “children’s version” of the Lewis story, several of us admitted we did not expect the text to be so nuanced and formally innovative as it was. Below I will list the points of discussion and questions we raised:

  • Formal innovation of the text: extreme close ups on faces, varied and interesting panel transitions, complex page layouts–one particular topic of discussion was the image (on pg 27) of  Bible verse written onto young John Lewis’s body
  • We took note of John Lewis’s picture wall and were reminded of a similar picture wall in Isaiah Bradley’s home in Truth: Red, White, and Black. The picture wall is interesting both as a way to capture history, claim legitimacy, and in the way it mimics a comics page
  • MLK, Jr. presented in a very human light (first image, kind of tubby, in shirtsleeves, working at a desk–not the saintlike iconography we usually see)
  • Lewis has said that March was largely inspired by the 1957 comic book Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story. We discussed the relationship between the two texts, with particular interest in the choice of medium/audience (comic books) and the use of framing narrative
  • Besides March, we also read the introduction to Howard and Johnson’s Black Comics. A large part of our discussion revolved around the question of what counts as black comics…this is particularly messy because Aydin and Powell are white men telling John Lewis’s story in a new format. Though it’s not connected to our group, this post by Qiana Whitted at the Hooded Utilitarian, along with its comments, presents the questions and concerns we discussed in a clear and concise way.
  • Though we did not have much time to discuss it before we had to disperse, we discussed the ways in which a comic text, and March in particular, formally reflects or undermines the nonviolent resistance espoused by King and Lewis. Josh argued that the encounter with the image is inherently violent in nature, and we are left to mull over how that may affect the text.

We look forward to seeing you next time. Our next text is slated to be Sowena’s Marzi, though we haven’t settled on a date yet.



New Year means New Meeting!

Our next meeting will be on February 7th; the exact time has yet to be determined, but will likely be later in the afternoon (4:00). Please let me know if this time is generally convenient.

We will be reading John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell’s March. In addition to the slim(ish) volume, we will read and discuss Sheena C. Howard and Ronald Johnson II’s introduction to Black Comics: Politics of Race and Representation (the whole book is available through the UO library and Summit, but we will be providing a PDF through the email list later this week).


Do the Gods Wear Capes?

Another set of congratulations are in order: this summer Ben Saunders’ book, Do the Gods Wear Capes? Spirituality, Fantasy, and Superheroes was published in the UK and US by Continuum BooksSaunders is Associate Professor of English here at UO, curator of the Understanding Superheroes exhibit at the Schnitzer and the accompanying academic conference, the major figure behind the forthcoming Comics Minor here at UO, and an all-around swell guy.

The book itself is academically rigorous and imminently readable (not a common combination). It also has a kickin’ original Mike Allred cover. You can get the book through Amazon, but it is likely available through the campus Duck Store and several local bookshops. Congratulations to Professor Saunders on the new book!


A warm and hearty congratulations to our very own Kom Kunyosying!

On August 11, 2011, our own Kom successfully defended his dissertation “The Interrelation of Ethnicity, Iconicity and Form in American Comics.” The several of us who made it to the defense are sure to agree with me that Kom wasn’t just pass, he did so with style and grace. His presentation worked through a thoughtful and thorough  reading of Gene Yang’s American Born Chinese (which we will be reading for our pre-school September meeting; more details to follow).

Congrats, Kom! When you’re a famous comics scholar, we’ll use your name on all of our literature: UO Comics Reading Group: Dr. Kom Kunyosying was here!


(as a) GROUP!

We will be meeting to discuss Morales and Baker’s Truth: Red, White, and Black and Johnson and Pleece’s Incognegro this coming Friday, April 29th, from 2:30-4:30PM in 448 PLC. Feel free to drop by, even if you can’t make it right or 2:30 or stay the whole time.

Don’t forget Mat Johnson (who wrote Incognegro) will be visiting campus to discuss his novel Pym later this term!

Although, if we were really on the ball, we’d be reading the graphic adaptation of Kate and Wills’ romance in honor of the wedding. I think we missed the boat on that one.

It's a national holiday in the UK. A reading group is the least we could do.

Spring Fling


Last week we had a lovely meeting. Veronica, Shaun, Kom, Robert, and I discussed two postcolonial French works–Aya by Margeurite Abouet and Clément Oubrerie and The Zabime Sisters by Aristophane. They are lovely graphic novels and I highly recommend you check them out, even if you couldn’t make it the meeting.

While I’m sorry for the lack of notification for the last meeting, Veronica and I are proud to announce our next meeting!

Thursday, April 28th from 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM

Incognegro by Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece
Truth: Red, White, and Black by Robert Morales and Kyle Baker

In honor of Mat Johnson’s upcoming visit to the U of O, we decided to focus a few meetings on African American comics creators. We figured it would be great to read one of Johnson’s works, and thought Morales and Baker’s re-imagining of the Captain American origin story was a great pairing.  By telling the stories of two black men in the 1930s and 1940s, these graphic novels address issues of  justice, power, and race in America that unfortunately still plague our culture.

So much for Resolutions

I’m very bad at them, obviously. Well, I was good about posting for a few weeks and then whammo! I’m tempted to blame the vagaries of school schedules, but that would just be copping out. New post planned soon.