Out and about

Springtime is here, or so I thought. That final pre-summer gust of winter chill pushed across the Mississippi River and right into Jackson. It’s been in the mid-40s for four days, which is balmy compared to the temperatures by our northern readers. For those of us who are used to a decided lack of snow and sleet, however, this has put a damper on the sundresses-and-shorty-shorts lovers.

So, if you’re sitting by the fireplace with a cat in your lap, here’s some cold-weather reading to keep you inside.

Panels & Pixels continues his excellent series of interviews with cartoonists with a new one, with Aline Kominsky-Crumb.

Derik Badman examines a single page of one of my favorite comics stories of all time—Jaime Hernandez’s “Flies on the Ceiling” (from Love & Rockets, vol. 1, #29). It’s much more revealing and insightful than I’m making it sound, and is a useful primer on comics grammar and form.

This one’s for Brünhilde, who loves Frank King’s Gasoline Alley as much as I do. Roger Clark has collected, scanned at high-resolution, and generously posted online a large sample of the newspaper comic’s autumn walk Sunday strips. For King’s fans (and I’m one), the annual autumn walk that Walt and Skeezix shared—with its rich and subtle colors, gentle pacing, whimsical character drawing, and quietly surreal storytelling—is a comics highlight to be compared to the annual Peanuts baseball game and the Boondocks’s Thanksgiving dinner. Go, and be bedazzled.

Two words: Ukrainian graffiti. Awesome.

Girish has lots of thoughts on Abbas Kiarostami’s early movies, and even includes (via YouTube) one of the Iranian filmmaker’s shorts. He also gives a primer on Quebecois cinema.

A long PopMatters essay on Elaine May’s filmmaking.

Matthew Price doesn’t quite love Arnold Rampersad’s new bio of Ralph Ellison, but it’s an interesting appraisal nonetheless.

And, finally, to sober things up, Don DeLillo’s got a new story (probably an excerpt from his forthcoming novel Falling Man) at the New Yorker. If anything can tackle 9/11, it’s the spooky genius from the Bronx. It opens with an eerie set images that put me right back into that day. You’ve been warned but it’s worth reading:

When he appeared at the door, it was not possible, a man come out of an ash storm, all blood and slag, reeking of burned matter, with pinpoint glints of slivered glass in his face. He looked immense, in the doorway, with a gaze that had no distance in it. He carried a briefcase and stood slowly nodding. She thought he might be in shock but didn’t know what this meant in precise terms, medical terms. He walked past her toward the kitchen and she tried calling her doctor, then 911, then the nearest hospital, but all she heard was the drone of overloaded lines. She turned off the TV set, not sure why, protecting him from the news he’d just walked out of, that’s why, and then went into the kitchen. He was sitting at the table, and she poured him a glass of water and told him that Justin was with his grandmother, released early from school and also being protected from the news, at least as it concerned his father.

He said, “Everybody’s giving me water.”

She thought he could not have traveled all this distance or even climbed the stairs if he’d suffered serious injury, grievous blood loss.

Then he said something else. His briefcase sat beside the table like something yanked out of a landfill. He said there was a shirt coming down out of the sky.

She poured water on a dishcloth and wiped dust and ash from his hands, face, and head, careful not to disturb the glass fragments. There was more blood than she’d realized at first, and then she began to realize something else—that his cuts and abrasions were not severe or numerous enough to account for all this blood. It was not his blood. Most of it came from somebody else.

That is all.

About Walter Biggins

Walter Biggins is a writer based in Athens, GA. His work has been published in RogerEbert.com, Bookslut, The Comics Journal, Salon, The Baseball Chronicle, Jackson Free Press, and Valley Voices: A Literary Review. Follow him on Twitter (@walter_biggins), and check out his bimonthly newsletter (https://tinyletter.com/Walter_Biggins).
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