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The Blog of Gene Luen Yang
Oh, Brother! 


Just found out about this via the comics blogosphere-- man, I'm excited! Jay Stephens, one of my favorite cartoonists ever, is cartooning once again! He and Bob Weber Jr. are doing an online comics strip called Oh, Brother! There's a lot of hubbub around its launch because King Features has supposedly put a lot of eggs in this basket, but I'm just happy to see ink from Stephens' brush again.

Stephens' late 90's graphic novel The Land of Nod Rockabye Book is, in my opinion, a cartooning masterpiece that never got its due. When Booklist Online asked me for a Printz-worthy book that was published before the Michael L. Printz Award was established in 2000, Rockabye immediately came to mind.

Stephens did several other graphic novels like Atomic City Tales and Jetcat Clubhouse before leaving for animation. I can't blame him -- there's a lot more money in animation and The Secret Saturdays is a really cool cartoon, but part of me wishes that he'd stuck around for the graphic lit boom of the last ten years. I'm sure his writing and drawing prowess would've earned him all sorts of accolades (not that an Emmy is anything to thumb your nose at) and, selfishly, I just want to read more Jay Stephens comics.

So here's to hoping Oh, Brother! is just the beginning!

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Harvey Pekar Died Today. 
I found out this morning during my daily walk through the comics blogosphere. Harvey Pekar's been in the back of my mind all day.

When I was growing up, our local library had a small collection of American Splendors dutifully shelved in the 741's. I tried reading them more than once, but couldn't. Usually, comics drawn like this had at least a couple of panels my mom didn't want me to see, you know? This was just some working shmoe talking about his stupid, boring life.

I didn't develop an appreciation for Harvey Pekar until I was well into my adulthood. It's hard not to when you're a cartoonist. After all, every great autobio comic in the last twenty years finds its roots in him. And he was a part of the generation who spearheaded the merging of the comics market and the book market, a phenomenon that I've personally benefited tremendously from.

More than this, Pekar's comics contained a message that I simply wasn't ready for until I was his fellow working shmoe. Pekar found the art in the mundane. The small, forgettable triumphs and tragedies of the everyman's every day were recorded and offered up for contemplation. Pekar gave them a... a sacredness... by making them into images on paper. This might sound weird, but the animus behind his work reminds me of a certain Catholic mystic famous for finding the divine in the small things of ordinary life.

As someone who struggles with balancing comics, family, and a day job, I deeply admire how Pekar balanced comics, family, and a day job for decades upon decades. He was an artist, but he was also a family man who worried about putting bread on the table. He mixed the creative with the practical. And he made having a day job seem romantic-- I'm reluctant to give up my own day job in part because of his example.

So thank you, Harvey Pekar. I'm going to read one of your comics before I go to sleep tonight.



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Interview at The Millions 
During my trip to Minneapolis, book reporter Paul Morton came to speak with me about comics, religion, and growing up. The Millions just put up our interview here.



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The Last Airbender Opens At Midnight 
Given the avalanche of horrifically bad reviews this movie has already been getting, arguing against its use of yellowface feels a bit like trying to beat a bag of hair at Scrabble. Most people are going to boycott it because of its suckitude rather than its racebending.

I do want to make one point, though. Director M. Night Shyamalan claims that The Last Airbender is "the most diverse tentpole movie ever." Pleeease. Having your Caucasian-playing-Inuit protagonists deliver exposition against a background of actual Inuits does not make your movie diverse. It makes your movie a modern-day equivalent of Charlie Chan.

I have to say, if The Last Airbender weren't the modern-day equivalent of Charlie Chan, I would've gone to see it despite the reviews, if only in the hopes that the sequels would be greenlit. As things stand now, the only hopes I have are for its carcass to serve as a warning against racebending in future American films. After all, nothing says blockbuster like accusations of racism.

All right. In the words of that great philosopher Stan Lee: 'Nuff said!



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Gordon Yamamoto Animated! 
Some web animator friends of mine down in L.A. put together this little clip, based on a scene in Gordon Yamamoto and the King of the Geeks (currently available as part of Animal Crackers):



Their rendition of Gordon is clearly better than mine. Thanks, Squadron B!

They also have a bunch of clips based on the comics of Kate Beaton, who is Wittiness Embodied.

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