Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Adventures in New Yorklyn

Warning: Rant Alert.

I love hating New York City.

Last night I went to see David Hajdu read from and talk about his book The Ten-Cent Plague at the Russian Samovar. It was part of the Farrar Straus Girous Reading Series.
(Links will be provided at bottom of posting)

I rarely go to readings uninitiated and come out really excited about the book-of-honor, but this one's a buy, y'all. The book-object itself is a beautiful thing, and if the excerpts are any indication, it's at least as good as its reviews.

Ten-cent Plague, from what I gathered, is about the localized blackballing of renegade comic books. A phobia that eventually became institutionalized during our Eisenhower eden of 1950's U.S.A.

My friend and I both noticed a shockingly disproportionate number of the Anthropologie crowd. Women with long tussled hair, tulip-shaped dresses, kitten heels, abundant pearls. Viz: Gossip Girl at Bard College.

During Hajdu's q&a, one such Anthropologiest (sic) asked:
What do you think of graphic novels today? Because I mean, does anyone even read comics anymore?

At this point I turned my head as slowly as possible to my friend. We made eye contact and a gregacious sneer. Silently I said, "who the fuck is this cunt?" I want to answer her question with, "more people than read your McSweeney's or n+1."

Hajdu answered with musings on nostalgia and "post-comics," about movie adaptations and Superman's obsolescence. After the reading, my friend and I talked about all the people we know who didn't/don't read comics -- all two of them.

I decide at this point I am biased. An FSG reading isn't exactly fair territory for a comics v. graphic novel dogfight.

Then, I hear aforementioned member of the audience saying to her friend as if in apology:

I mean, I LOVE graphic novels. Like, there's this one artist named Craig Thompson. Have you heard of him? He wrote this graphic novel called Blankets, and it's the most beautiful thing I've ever read!

(Anne takes a deep breath and orders more vodka)
At this point, I started fantasizing about a ring-match between Craig Thompson and Frank Miller. [I saw the latter almost go ballistic at a speaking engagement when someone uttered the words "serious art, you know, not like superhero comics."]

Fast-forward to friend and I leaving the Samovar and heading back to Brooklyn. We walk past a typical midtown skyscraper. It's about 9pm. This is what we see in the lobby:
In case you can't tell what's going on -- all of these people are food deliverers.

This image stopped my friend and I dead in our tracks. Amazing.

Ten-Cent Plague, by David Hajdu
Blankets by Craig Thompson
About the Farrar Straus Girous Reading Series

1 comment:

Jared said...

When that "BARD Grad" individual uttered that question, I pulled the same slow motion side glance to my cohort. Props to Mr. Hadju for answering so eloquently, I guess.