Just discovered a hybrid webcomic/blog called Hyperbole and a Half, by Allie Brosh. Funny stuff. Here we have the mythical creature known primarily from high school English papers: the Alot.

Go check it.

The Book Bench‘s Lucy Tang has introduced me to the work of Kate Beaton, who writes/draws “Hark! A Vagrant”: comics based on history, literature, art, and sometimes other things. Absolutely flipping brilliant. (Click to enlarge.)

Be sure to check out the series riffing on Gatsby.

Dryponder publishes a series of great photos on his Flickr page. Here, President Obama remembers his days as a member of The Avengers.

Friend of Panoptiblog and longtime good buddy John Ira Thomas, author of Shades and Angels, Zoo Force, and Lost in the Wash, is the subject of a feature profile in today’s Daily Iowan. It’s pretty cool. You should go read it, then click on the above links and buy some of his books.

…in the Bruno review:

If the subject of the satire is in on the joke, is it still satire?

Another case in point: Should I lose respect for the writers/artists participating in Marvel’s Strange Tales Max series? Or should I see it as something other than satire? Or is it still satire?

Tony Millionaire's Iron Man

Tony Millionaire's Iron Man

H/t: Laughing Squid.

Henry Jenkins has an interview with Mary Borsellino up at Confessions, and comics fans may find it interesting. Borsllino has a book analyzing the Batman-Robin characters out, and Jenkins discusses that with her.stephaniecase

But what’s most interesting to me is that Borsellino was part of a now-defunct campaign called “Project Girl Wonder,” involving the fourth Robin–a girl named Stephanie Brown. As I am a lapsed comic book reader, I didn’t even know there was a fourth Robin, much less about the controversy surrounding her.

Essentially, for those not familiar with the character or with Robin’s larger back story: when the second Robin, a boy named Jason, died, Batman created a memorial out of his costume in the Batcave. Stephanie was the fourth Robin, and her costume was different to the three boys who’d had it before her in that she sewed a red skirt for herself. Just a few months after her first issue as Robin was released, Stephanie was tortured to death with a power drill by a villain, and then died with Batman at her bedside.

The sexualised violence alone was pretty vomitous, but what made it so, so much worse for me was that Batman promptly forgot her. DC’s Editor in Chief had the gall to respond to questions of how her death would affect future stories by saying that her loss would continue to impact the stories of the heroes — how sick is that? Not only is the statement clearly untrue, since the comics were chugging along their merry way with no mention of her or her death, but it was also an example of the ingrained sexism of so much of our culture. Stephanie herself was a hero, and had been a hero for more than a decade’s worth of comics, but the Editor’s statement made it clear that he only thought of male characters as heroes, and the females as catalysts for those stories. It was a very clear example of the Women in Refrigerators trope, which has been a problem with superhero comics for far, far too long.

Read the rest of her explanation. I found DC’s way of handling the issue pretty appalling.

Arlen Spectre (D-Pennsylvania)

The Spectre (D-Pennsylvania)

So Arlen Specter has bailed on the Republican party. I expect he used his cosmic future-gazing powers to foresee that the GOP will soon be a regional party centered in the South and rural Mid- and Mountain West. Not the way I expected the Democrats to hit 60 votes, but so be it.*

John Dickerson seems awfully convinced this is great news for Obama, but I’m probably not the only one who’s unsure about that. Dem #60 won’t be a reliable vote on things like card check (not that I have a problem with that), so while it doesn’t really get them out of any filibusters they couldn’t already get the votes on. Worse, it lets the Republicans go around a year from now when it’s another election year (…sigh…) and say, “the Democrats have a supermajority in the Senate, we need more checks and balances” when little has changed except symbolism.

Still, 60 Democrats is 60 Democrats. And you have to feel for a guy like Specter, who had to feel less and less at home in the party of torture, tax cuts for the wealthy, and hopes for Obama’s failure. I remember driving home from school a couple of years ago with my buddy Hoob, hearing Specter on NPR saying something that sounded reasonable, and us saying, Arlen Specter is now one of the good guys? Arlen Specter? And now it’s official. As Obama said to him on the phone today, “We’re thrilled to have you.”

And what’s left of the decimated moderate GOP (I’m sorry, is Lindsey Fucking Graham now the moderate GOP?) is speaking up, trying to wrest control of their party. I wish them luck. We need two sane parties in this country.

* Assuming that Al Franken continues to win his court battles against Norm Coleman. At this pace, however, Coleman may just try to string it out in the judicial system until the seat is up again in five years.

** Hat tip to Nick at Hide the Elephant for the HTML lesson.


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