a cry from hell.

Somewhere between life and academia lies a sinkhole comparable to what is, in Internet parlance, produced when you divide by zero. That is where I have been. Qualifying exams are looming; conferences are impending; creative pieces are demanding to be sent out; and I am simultaneously on the hunt for a teaching position to get me through my dissertation year. Despite the chaos, there have been some bright spots. My paper analyzing the logic underpinning misogynistic practices on 4chan’s Random – /b/ board was recently published in Fibreculture. That Joker chapter is going to press. And I have creative work forthcoming this spring in Consequence literary journal, and, with a slightly longer wait, in DIAGRAM. I’ll be teaching two classes this summer and am thrilled at the prospect of being back in the classroom. It’s been three long years and I miss FYW more than I can say. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a Composition & Rhetoric position for at least 2014-15 AY.

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illustration, comics, animation

I haven’t been back to my alma mater since graduating, so presenting at the Illustration, Comics, and Animation conference at Dartmouth was wonderful for many reasons. Comics and animation isn’t my area of expertise, but I love presenting at these conferences, as I always find them enlightening and enjoyable, even if I experience a twinge of regret that I didn’t pursue it as a career. Geeking out about comics over drinks, and realizing I’m not the nerdiest person in the room, never fails to be an amazing feeling.

I presented a paper titled “Mobius double reacharound: The convergence of comics, animation, and gaming in Homestuck,” the online MSPaint webcomic that complicates notions of authorship, participatory culture, readership and ways of reading, and fandom. The Q&A was unexpected but illuminating, as the question I got stuck on concerned why Homestuck was interesting to readers, and (perhaps) why scholars should look at the text. I think I was stumped because I gravitate to difficult texts that ask me to look outside the text and learn, but maybe ultimately it comes down to that: a self-selecting readership that values difficulty and continually ups the ante.

Like Love and Rockets, Homestuck has a sprawling cast of characters, requires an immense time commitment to fully unpack its universe; it’s different, maybe, in that it requires readers to engage with or at least be aware of the values and quirks of other subcultures, particularly gaming and general Internet culture. Admittedly, I lost interest at the end of Act 5 when new characters are introduced, but I’m always like that—I had trouble making the shift from The Golden Compass to The Subtle Knife because I harbored resentment toward Will for displacing Lyra, and I had a hard time wading through Season 2 of The Wire (my all-time favorite TV show) because of the shifted focus on different characters. But I also know once I get over myself, I can continue reading because I appreciate being tacitly asked to be a smart reader and figure things out for myself if I’m unfamiliar with the material, be it ways of reading, memes, or other pop culture references I don’t immediately recognize.

quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

I offer this disclaimer: I acknowledge that I have a reputation for being a bit of a purist, and mildly inclined to hate almost everything; however, I did my best to dispel my preformed assumptions and, two weeks after Minutemen #1 was released, I began purchasing and perusing with an open mind. I just finished Ozymandias #1. And I find myself as angry as I was 2009. I may have been unable to argue with Snyder’s (albeit ineptly executed) passion for Watchmen and his adaptation of it, but—as was anticipated by a community of fans—Before Watchmen indeed reeks of the attempt to capitalize on the success of Moore’s graphic novel and the (questionable) success of Snyder’s 2009 film.

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