I was pushing the sash of the window back up yesterday, and the windowshade fell down squarely on the bridge of my nose. I now have an angry red bruise on my nose, and it hurts. I’m just saying.
Now, to the point. This week has drawn together a variety of my interests. I’ll be talking to our Gospel Mission class tomorrow morning about Krazy Kat, I think — we need to talk about culture, purity, contamination, and authenticity, and George Herriman may provide an entree to my efforts to queer the concepts of purity and authenticity.
I was talking to Josiah about the topic last night over dinner, and he pointed me to Scott Kurtz’s recent plea to Bill Amend (“rhymes with ‘Raymond,’ ” Pippa sternly admonished us several times). I reciprocated by pointing him to the speech by Bill Watterson to which Kurtz alludes at the beginning of his post. (And as I type, the Bonzo Dog Doodah Band is playing “Mickey’ Son and Daughter” in the background — it’s that kind of day).
Meanwhile, the most recent issue of the Society of Biblical Literature’s imaginatively-named Forum (to which there’s evidently no distinctive entry-page or archive, alas) features two short essays on the Bible and comics. Greg Garrett writes about allusions to biblical myths in superhero comics, and G. Andrew Tooze cites instances in which a Bible appears in superhero comics. I’m delighted that they’re bringing these topics to scholarly attention, although both tend strongly toward the “Look! There it is!” genre. Of course, there’s a ton more to be said about this general phenomenon; we could start by discussing comics other than superheroes (both articles not only omit mention of other sorts of comics, but treat the superhero subgenre as though it were a privileged representative of the medium — a highly problematic gesture not only for what it neglects, but also for its tendency to play to dismissive observers’inclination to write off comics as a playground for adolescent power fantasies). We should likewise go beyond exercises in Bible-spotting toward a more adventurous analysis of what’s going on when [superhero] comics show us a Bible, or invoke a biblical trope.
All of this is progress, though. People are beginning to think provocative things in public, even in the field of biblical scholarship. Guild disciplinarian Ignatzes may lob bricks at us, but krazy interpreters have begun to claim some off-center discursive terrain from which to renew interpretations with strange fire.