Over at Public Books, Jared Gardner explores the theme of pain and illness at the heart of many graphic narratives. As he explains it, “Illness, mental and physical, is arguably comics’ invisible master theme, deeply woven into their genome and shaping the stories they tell, from the earliest newspaper strips (chronic allergies in Winsor McCay’s Little Sammy Sneeze) through the rise of superhero comics (from Batman’s PTSD in 1939 through the Fantastic Four’s radiation poisoning in 1961).” Pair with Paul Morton’s Millions piece on the history of Marvel Comics.
New this week is a debut collection of loosely linked stories that’s been getting some attention. Military families are the common theme in Siobhan Fallon’s You Know When the Men Are Gone. Another newly released debut is Eleanor Brown’s The Weird Sisters about a Shakespeare scholar’s three daughters, all named after characters from the Bard’s plays. Also new this week, a tome dedicated to the “hot” condiment of the moment, The Sriracha Cookbook.
The recent opening of the Jeff Koons retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art has occasioned a number of rave reviews. They’re so good, in fact, that they’ve inspired Los Angeles Times writer Carolina A. Miranda to comb the write-ups for “evocative turn[s] of phrase, political metaphor[s], and references to lady parts” in order to assemble a standalone poem. Or, rather, it was standalone until artist William Powhida made a drawing out of it. (Full size drawing here.)