Nearly-mid-October Link Drop

What can I say? The links just pile up sometimes, and they must go somewhere.

On Comics: Chris Ware’s introduction to The Best American Comics 2007 (via the Comics Reporter, I’m pretty sure). I found it interesting because I’ve written quite a bit on comic creators’ fears and concerns about the development of the medium and the industry; Chris Ware has been one of the most outspoken of those I’ve quoted, including a statement in one radio interview years back in which he suggests that the very visual language of comics is better suited to telling jokes than telling more meaningful stories, and so must be reinvented. In the introduction linked here, he’s a little more optimistic about how comics are doing nowadays, and implies that taking a less narrative approach to comics may have succeeded in reinventing that language.

On Webcomics: Also via the Comics Reporter, Tom Spurgeon responds quite ably to an angry letter that his site focuses on comics No One Reads to the exclusion of webcomics which are supposed to be The Future. (The letter-writer insists that he doesn’t just mean gaming comics and manga rip-offs, and the fact that he needs to reassure this speaks pretty well to some of Tom’s points about webcomics.)

On Nerds, by Way of Comics: As long as I’m cannibalizing all my content from Tom today, I should note that he also links to an article in the Edmonton Journal proclaiming that nerds now rule. Many many choice quotes here, including:

In the eyes of many, the comic-book-loving sci-fi fan is a nacho-cheese-scented, bespectacled oddity sporting mismatched socks, greasy hair and pasty skin.

But “nerds” are no longer the stereotypical archetype they once were.

They now walk and live amongst us – doing everything from hanging out at the pub to playing sports, running for political office to designing the gadgets we use and, of course, producing the movies and TV shows we’re most likely to enjoy. […]

Popular culture is playing an important role in legitimizing “nerd culture.” Comic books and sci-fi are now regularly turned into movies (X-Men, Hellboy) or co-opted into TV shows (Lost, Heroes), and the once-nerdly subject matter seems to be gaining popularity.

“Geek is cool now,” says Elizabeth Vail, 21, “lieutenant commander” at the U of A’s Science-Fiction Club: Subspace 6-20. “We’re not persecuted anymore.”

“I think most people who don’t know what we actually do would still label us as nerds,” says “captain” Josh Rehm, 23. “It’s sort of a bubble with holes in it – people can see what we do. But I think there is still a stigma attached to it because ‘sci-fi club’ is in our name. Automatically, sci-fi equals ‘nerds’ or equals ‘geeks.’ “

You get the idea. Mostly I just wanted to make note of it because a reviewer recently told me my paper about geek culture needs more proof that the popular image of geeks/nerds is changing.

On Missed Opportunities: Thanks to Hipster Please for referring me to the site for Geek.kon, a geek convention held last weekend in Madison. The site includes a photo gallery and links to press coverage, including a CNN story. Not that I could’ve gone, really, but I am bummed I didn’t know about it until after.

On Other Opportunities: Following Geek.kon, I will console myself with the hope that I can catch Nerdnite in Boston in November on a “non-science night” by popular demand. (They may still need volunteers to present, so feel free to send an email to nerdnite {at} nerdnite {dot} com if you feel like doing so. Check out here for an earlier post on the event.)

On Gamers and Nerds in the Media: And finally, consider a couple quick links from Kotaku on how NBC uses ‘gamer’ as shorthand for ‘nerd’ and CNN treats games as a danger for kids. Games are defended as being intended for adults by Newsweek‘s N’Gai Croal, who further expounds on this in a post on “The problem (and the danger) of the continued infantilization of video games” (part 1).

On Games as Narrative: Oh, and one more thing, added just after I published the post: The New York Times has an editorial up about how Halo 3—and Bioshock, for that matter—have not delivered gaming to cultural and artistic relevance as much as some gamers seem to believe. Speaking as a lover of narrative games myself, I sadly and wholeheartedly agree. I’ll try to get around to finishing my post on Bioshock sometime to help explain this, and sooner or later I’ll also be finishing up a paper (now submitted to a conference as an abstract) on how death acts as a narrative disruption in games.

2 thoughts on “Nearly-mid-October Link Drop

  1. Interesting article in the UofWI’s paper about the ‘rise’ of the nerd. I think he’s half right here

    His distinction is that ‘nerds’ are just becoming more visible, rather than more accepted. Probably true, as far as that goes. But there’s also elements of nerdiness that are becoming mainstreamed, just because the general public has to deal with things (online facetime, etc) that were once the sole domain of the nerds.

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