Just when I thought I'd read every word written by contemporary literati about their adolescent love for comic books, this comes out. Thanks to Neilalien for the link, which has prompted a new book order and a scream of unending profanity.
I should probably explain. I've been working on an article about novels and novelists that reference comics, springing from my evolving thoughts on metaphor in comics and in the novels that love them. This week, I finished reading just about every essay, column, or interview I could find that provided the novelists' perspectives on their work (save for a couple of pieces in the new McSweeney's, one or more of which may be reprinted in the Sean Howe book anyway) and was looking forward to beginning the writing. So much for that idea.
Actually, it isn't the appearance of a new book on the subject that bothers me; it's the timetable.
Assuming, rather optimistically, that I have a polished final draft ready by the end of the summer, it would still be a minor miracle if this article sees print before 2006. Even the simplest academic articles move in dinosaur time, their migrations tracked by the slow-settling strata of rejection letters and revision notes and galley proofs. By the time this still strictly hypothetical article appears, who knows how many more books and essays will have made it irrelevant? But this fear is itself irrelevant, since the article will be a highly technical examination of metaphor and psychoanalysis and tropology that'll be appearing in the placid backwaters of academic publishing.
Ahh, that's not all it is; I can't imagine literary publishing moves that much more quickly. This is just that common atmospheric distortion by which the grass on the other side of the fence appears immeasurably greener. Aided and abetted, no doubt, by the fact that one of the contributors to this Sean Howe book is a talented novelist and a high-school acquaintance.
Larger audience, more timely publishing, wider cultural relevance, and now the novelists get to do the freaking comics criticism, too. Ever get the feeling you sat down to the wrong card game?