Thursday, December 09, 2004

Potpourri: Comic Books; Homer Simpson = King Saul?

Wednesday is New Comics Day, so the The Lad and I went to the comic store and picked up the issues that caught our eye. Yes, I read comics. I started reading back in Marvel's Silver Age, took a pretty long break, and now the Wednesday trek is a regular part of the week. Sniff if you like – some do – but some of today's comic book writers are among the best in the country in any genre. (IMO.) I bet you can't find a better writer of dialogue than Brian Michael Bendis, or a better action writer than Mark Millar. One of the best books I read this year was the complete story of Bone, by Jeff Smith, which combines the humor of Pogo and the epic sweep of Tolkien (seriously; read a page here). A good comic book gives me almost as much visceral satisfaction as a movie combined with the subtlety and wordplay of a play or short story. They can have movies and TV (which are getting worse); I'll take my pop culture between the covers of comics (which are getting better).

One of the small pleasures of my all too short July trip to Holland was the visit to the Leiden Stripshop. I know what you're thinking; but in Holland a stripshop sells comics. I felt right at home and bought several comics there. When I got to Belgium, to visit my Gallicized cousin Lee and her husband Thierry, I found that French-speaking Europe is even more obsessed with comics. There they are called bandes dessinées, or BDs for short. (This is how good my French is: the whole time I was there I thought she was saying bonnes dessinées [well drawn?] instead of bandes dessinées.)

By the way, those of you interested in the cultural contextualization of Scripture could do worse than to pick up Treehouse of Horror #10, one of the comics based on The Simpsons. The last story, "Scareway to Heaven," has a Simpsonian version of the Witch of Endor story from I Samuel 28:7ff. Homer appears as King Saul, Grandpa Simpson as Samuel:
HOMER: I need to speak with Samuel, recently deceased.
WITCH: He's asked not to be disturbed.
HOMER (handing over bag of shekels): Just make it happen.

After giving the bad news, "Samuel" says:
GRANDPA (as SAMUEL): I'll see you up in Heaven tomorrow! Remember, God likes good posture. So when you see him, don't slouch!
HOMER: Well, that's it. We're dead meat.
LENNY and CARL (leaving): Whaddaya mean "we"?

The story was plotted, by the way, by the great biblical scholar Pat Boone. No kidding.

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