It’s been over a month since I’ve posted because life has been busy in the best way possible. I started a new job-which keeps me very busy-and our son turned one in July. His endless curiosity paired with a passion for tearing and tasting paper makes it difficult to read physical comics around him. But, I’m still keeping up with my favorites and have also been enjoying, Comics and the U.S. South by Qiana J. Whitted and Brannon Costello. More on that anthology after this cool illustration by John Gholson!
You probably recognizeJohn Gholson’s name from Holland Files. He has contributed to every issue. He is a huge Swamp Thing fan and is extremely talented. Earlier this week, John tagged me on Twitter with this illustration. I’m so grateful and touched by his words.
As if this week couldn’t get more Swamptastic, a Swamp Thing sticker arrived in the mail yesterday.
The 4” x 5” sticker was released in the early 90s, in conjunction with the short lived Swamp Thing animated series. I’m assuming the stickers would have been available in sticker vending machines. I was fan of the quarter slot sticker dispensers when I was a kid in the 80s. I loved the thick cardboard that sandwiched the sticker.
Another Swamp Thing related book that I’ve been enjoying lately is, Comics and the U.S. South (2012) by Qiana J. Whitted and Brannon Costello. Comics and the U.S. South provides an insightful exploration into how life and culture in the South is represented in comics. The book is filled with scholarly essays that are beautifully crafted. Whitted and Costello wield a vocabulary that sent me thumbing through the dictionary a couple times-which I find exciting.
Whitted‘s essay, “Of Slaves and Other Swamp Things” is inspiring, thorough and thoughtful. Her writing elevates Swamp Thing, making the character feel like an icon of literature. It’s a rare and special moment to have Swamp Thing analyzed and written about in such a way.
“The results of Moore’s research are vividly manifested through the artistic style of Stephen Bissette… John Totleben, Alfredo Alcala, and Ron Randall brought a darker, more intricate realism to the series. It is through these collaborative efforts to convey the regional “atmospheres” of Swamp Thing that we see a more focused engagement with United States southern history and its landscape of horrors, including storylines that grapple with the region’s legacy of slavery.”
Whitted used Swamp Thing #41 & #42 (1985) as the foundation for her essay. As most Swamp Thing fans know, Swamp Thing #41 ”Southern Change” and #42 “Strange Fruit” are part of Alan Moore’s American Gothic story arc.
“This essay takes a closer look at Moore’s depiction of the South and the manner in which Swamp Thing comments upon social and cultural histories of racial oppression. My analysis will focus, in particular, on two issues from the “American Gothic” story arc that employ well-known comic book horror tropes to illustrate a tale of vengeful slaves and unrepentant masters: “Southern Change” (#41) and “Strange Fruit” (#42)… my reading also connects the ideological thrust of Swamp Thing’s zombie tale with the post-civil rights era development of the “postmodern slave narrative”—a literary sub-genre similarly concerned with issues of historical recovery, cultural rebirth, and identity formation.”
“My reading of Swamp Thing seeks to contribute to emerging conversations in African American cultural and literary studies about racial representation in modern American comics. The last decade has seen a preponderance of critically acclaimed comics that explore African American history and legend in an effort to demystify—to expose misconceptions and reveal new dimensions of black subjectivity… The push toward realism is understandable given the way black people and other ethnic groups have often fared on the comics page. From indecipherable buffoons and minstrels to the infantilized primitives of jungle comics, black comic book characters have been utilized as projections of white fears and fantasies since the Depression Era. Comics that seek to represent the inner lives of black men and women in a more nuanced and visually complex manner help to counter prevailing racial stereotypes while depicting a view of the past that will set the record straight.”
My post is full of Qiana J. Whitted quotes because I cant recommend this book enough. Whitted‘s essay is one of many great essays within, Comics and the U.S. South.