robertogreco + fiction + comics   20

“On a Sunbeam,” the Sci-Fi Comic That Reimagines Utopia | The New Yorker
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"Tillie Walden is an almost shockingly young (born in 1996) comics creator who received wide attention last year for “Spinning,” a beautiful, melancholy graphic memoir about her years as a pre-teen and then teen figure skater. That book excelled in its tactful line work and use of white space; it looked neither superhero-ish nor ugly-on-purpose nor nearly realist but utterly sympathetic, with vast cold rinks and faces whose expressions you could share. “Spinning” was also a coming-out story, and a school story, and what scholars call a Künstlerroman, the story of how a young person becomes an artist—although, like most Künstlerromanen, it left unresolved the question of what she’d make next.

“On a Sunbeam” is the magnificent, sweeping, science-fictional answer. The big, densely plotted volume has all the virtues of “Spinning,” plus the scale, the sense of wonder, and the optimism intrinsic to what’s called space opera or science fantasy. (Think “Star Trek” and Starfleet Academy.) As with “Spinning,” it can be hard to equal in prose the comic’s inviting, spare line work, use of black-and-white, and expressive qualities. (Walden can make one pen stroke on one character’s face equal two pages of dialogue.) “On a Sunbeam” is at once a queer coming-of-age story, a story about how to salvage lost love and youth, and a multigenerational story about how to thrive in a society that does not understand who you are or what you can do. It is the kind of story that adults can and should give to queer teens, and to autistic teens, and to teens who care for space exploration, or civil engineering, or cross-cultural communication. It is also a story for adults who were once like those teens, and the kind of story (like the Aeneid, but happier) whose devotees might occasionally return to it, hoping for divine advice from a randomly chosen line, or panel, or page.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. “On a Sunbeam”—whose five hundred and thirty-eight pages, rendered in three colors, first appeared serially, online, where it can still be read for free—begins, like some Victorian novels, with two separate plots and settings, years apart. In the A plot, we meet three adult engineers and construction workers who fly their own fish-shaped spaceship from job to job, rebuilding and restoring architecture from their past (which is our distant future). The charismatic, impulsive Alma reports to Charlotte, their cautious commander; Elliot, “our very own mechanical genius,” is nonbinary (taking they/them pronouns) and non-speaking, like many autistic adults in our day. Formerly a trio “together for ages,” the team now has two younger employees: Jules, Alma’s voluble niece, and the anxious newbie Mia, fresh out of her space-based boarding school.

We see through Mia’s eyes, and through Walden’s pen, the comforting intimacy of their sleeping quarters, with its Teddy bears and bunk beds; the sublime ruined space cathedral and the other flying buildings they restore; and the realistic tasks that Mia and Jules slog through—hauling rubble, sharing sandwiches, and trying to “get through a whole day without turning into jelly” from overwork. We worry when Mia worries, and we have fun when she has fun. Jules puts into words the way Mia feels: “We don’t actually do this job to fix things,” she says. “We do it ’cause we get to climb and jump off stuff.”

Before she joined this close-knit crew, Mia attended an élite boarding school. This is where Walden sets her B plot, a place of crushes, mean girls, shifting rivalries, vast halls, anti-gravity stations, and a school-wide, slightly Quidditch-like sport called Lux, whose fish-shaped flight craft race and dodge through tunnels and in midair. Almost as soon as we meet Mia, she falls hard for a new and far more academically talented student named Grace, who reciprocates. Grace convinces a forbidding coach to let Mia chase her dream of playing Lux. The sport is normally off limits to first-years, but our couple won’t let that rule stop them. “We may be freshmen,” Grace declares, “but you can’t put an age limit on passion and dedication.”

“On a Sunbeam” is less like any other American comic, page by page, than it is like a film by Hayao Miyazaki. For Walden, faces and bodies are not types or dummies for action scenes but ways to convey emotion and expression, even as the backdrops—speleological, astronomical, aquatic, or forested—flourish and shine. Walden’s dialogue—never talky, but never too sparse to follow—complements her characters’ body language; it also brings out the feeling of ninth and tenth grade, when every impediment seems like an apocalypse, and every kind word like an angel’s violin. But that dialogue is also a clue to a set of cosmic mysteries that connect younger and older characters, present and backstory, A plot and B plot. Why does Charlotte’s employer distrust her? What does Elliott fear, and why can’t they go home? Can Mia and Jules adjust to life with this tightly knit, and apparently romantic, triad? Will Mia find love?

Mia has already found it, with Grace, and then lost it. Just as in “Spinning”—and in several other comics by Walden, short and long—our point-of-view character fell hard for a smart, dark-skinned girl when both were in their teens, and then that girl left, suddenly, and without much explanation. In “Spinning,” the real Walden goes on with her heartbroken life. In this much longer but equally heartbreaking epic, the school-age couple of Mia and Grace break up for far more complex reasons, and a mission to a secluded planet of volcanic tunnels and warriors with Amish hats (really) is required to rescue Grace, who may not want to be rescued.

It’s probably no coincidence that this comic, so sensitive to its characters’ feelings, is also uncommonly sensitive to newly visible identities: non-speaking autistics, people in triads, people trying to make queer romance work under pressure and across a racial divide. One identity Walden doesn’t draw: men. There are none here, and no one asks why, which means—as in earlier utopias—that all romantic love in this universe would read as queer, or gay, in ours. (Since there are no men, there are no gay men or trans men; perhaps they live on other planets, or in other books.)

Like all science-fictional utopias, “On a Sunbeam” feels imperfect, even (to quote Ursula K. Le Guin) “ambiguous.” But it also feels magnificent: it’s a world in which many readers would want to live, and a way to envision solutions to real-life problems that seem intractable now. It’s a queer love story in a universe where benevolent authorities still get things wrong; it’s also, for all its spacecraft and planets and xenogeology and (eventually) aliens, a story that purists might label not as science fiction but as science fantasy. But such genre labels—though inevitable—seem beside the point. As always for Walden, even when she is writing and drawing pilots and engineers, the point is not how things work but how people feel, and what choices they help one another make.

Comics critics and would-be comics sophisticates—especially the kind who spurn superheroes—may think we have to choose between realistic characters who experience permanent loss and change, on the one hand, and escape, sublimity, and sheer wonder, on the other. Those sophisticates are wrong. “On a Sunbeam” is not the first American science-fiction comic to say so (consider “Finder,” or “Saga”), but it may be the most consistently beautiful, the most self-assured, the one with the best love story, and the one most vaultingly effective in its transitions between small-scale and large, between the deadly caverns under an exoplanet’s mountain and the look on a hopeful girl’s face."
comics  toread  stephanieburt  tilliewalden  2018  illustration  storytelling  utopia  queer  autism  sciencefiction  scifi  hayaomiyazaki  emotions  expression  nonbinary  künstlerroman  comingofage  teens  youngadult  fiction  srg  emotion  bodylanguage  howwewrite  ambiguous  ursulaleguin 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
Matt Jones: Jumping to the End -- Practical Design Fiction on Vimeo
[Matt says ( ):

"This talk summarizes a lot of the approaches that we used in the studio at BERG, and some of those that have carried on in my work with the gang at Google Creative Lab in NYC.

Unfortunately, I can’t show a lot of that work in public, so many of the examples are from BERG days…

Many thanks to Catherine Nygaard and Ben Fullerton for inviting me (and especially to Catherine for putting up with me clowning around behind here while she was introducing me…)"]

[At ~35:00:
“[(Copy)Writers] are the fastest designers in the world. They are amazing… They are just amazing at that kind of boiling down of incredibly abstract concepts into tiny packages of cognition, language. Working with writers has been my favorite thing of the last two years.”
mattjones  berg  berglondon  google  googlecreativelab  interactiondesign  scifi  sciencefiction  designfiction  futurism  speculativefiction  julianbleecker  howwework  1970s  comics  marvel  marvelcomics  2001aspaceodyssey  fiction  speculation  technology  history  umbertoeco  design  wernerherzog  dansaffer  storytelling  stories  microinteractions  signaturemoments  worldbuilding  stanleykubrick  details  grain  grammars  computervision  ai  artificialintelligence  ui  personofinterest  culture  popculture  surveillance  networks  productdesign  canon  communication  johnthackara  macroscopes  howethink  thinking  context  patternsensing  systemsthinking  systems  mattrolandson  objects  buckminsterfuller  normanfoster  brianarthur  advertising  experiencedesign  ux  copywriting  writing  film  filmmaking  prototyping  posters  video  howwewrite  cognition  language  ara  openstudioproject  transdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  interdisciplinary  sketching  time  change  seams  seamlessness 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Marvel Developer Portal
"The Marvel Comics API allows developers everywhere to access information about Marvel's vast library of comics—from what's coming up, to 70 years ago."
api  comics  fiction  marvel  universe  via:robinsloan 
december 2014 by robertogreco
A Cinematic Novel: ‘Historias extraordinarias’ | Hydra Magazine
"The pleasure of watching Historias extraordinarias derives in large part from the sheer magnitude of the multiple narratives that propel the film forward.

…One such episode recounts a brutal robbery and mass killing using only photographs for visualization, creating suspense and terror from a deft sequencing of photo stills, a technique reminiscent of Chris Marker’s canonical masterwork, La jetée (1962). Another memorable section ingeniously weaves the actual work and biography of obscure Argentine architect, Francisco Salamone, into one of the central plot threads. To Llinás, fiction and nonfiction are perpetually on level terms.

The graphic textuality of Historias extraordinarias owes much also to the comic book and graphic novel medium. In an interview with Argentine novelist Alan Pauls, Llinás explains that one of the chief inspirations for the scenario was Hergé’s classic comic-strip series, Les Aventures de Tintin…"
intertextuality  narrative  literature  alanpauls  franciscosalamone  narration  fiction  nonfiction  towatch  argentina  borges  2011  film  tintin  hergé  marianollinás  historiasextraordinarias  andrébazin  storytelling  comics  chrismarker  lajetée  from delicious
january 2012 by robertogreco
The Nerdy Teacher: Stranger Than Fiction?
"took me 2 years & tons of leg work to create a Graphic Novel Class. (officially Pictorial Lit because community might be bothered by class w/ word graphic in it.) I saw a hole in curriculum for certain group of students & thought a class that had different offerings would appeal to them.<br />
<br />
I teach Bone by Jeff Smith as an Epic Novel comparing it to The Odyssey, The Lord of the Rings & Star Wars. I also teach Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, Maus by Art Spiegelman & graphic versions of Poe & Twain Short Stories. I also do a cool Dystopian Novel Unit using Watchmen, Dark Knight, V for Vendetta & Kingdom Come. Our textbook is Scott McLoud's Understanding Comics. It's been an an exciting class that is run no differently than any other literature based class. I'm constantly tweaking it & is better this year than it was last. It's time for curricula to change around the country. No longer are classics of my youth (high school in 90s) the classics of today's classroom."
fiction  teaching  classideas  graphicnovels  comics  literature  tcslj  reading  education  engagement  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
Reboot (fiction) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"The term reboot, in media dealing with serial fiction, means to discard much or even all previous continuity in the series and start anew with fresh ideas. Effectively, all established fictive history is declared by the writer(s) to be null and void, or at least irrelevant to the new storyline, and the series starts over as if brand-new.<br />
<br />
Through reboots, film franchises are revamped and reinvigorated to attract new fans and stimulate economic revenue. Therefore, reboots can be seen as attempts to rescue franchises which have grown "stale". They can also be a "safe" project for a studio, as a reboot with an established fan base is less risky (in terms of expected profit) than an original work."
comics  culture  film  reboot  fiction  serialfiction  classideas  writing  from delicious
october 2010 by robertogreco
Ask the Author Live: Dana Goodyear with Neil Gaiman: Ask the Author : The New Yorker
"Authors like Michael Chabon have been cru­sad­ing for awhile to break down the bar­ri­ers between so-called ‘lit­er­ary fic­tion’ and ‘genre fic­tion’. Do you have any idea why lit­er­a­ture remains so com­part­men­tal­ized? Is there any end in sight?
neilgaiman  writing  interviews  michaelchabon  confluence  comics  lowbrow  glvo  cv  literature  fiction  barriers  compartmentalization  art  culture 
january 2010 by robertogreco
The City Is A Battlesuit For Surviving The Future - Future metro - io9
"If you'll excuse the spoiler, the zenith of Hawksmoor's adventures with cities come when he finds the purpose behind the modifications - he was not altered by aliens but by future humans in order to defend the early 21st century against a time-travelling 73rd century Cleveland gone berserk. Hawksmoor defeats the giant, monstrous sentient city by wrapping himself in Tokyo to form a massive concrete battlesuit.

Cities are the best battlesuits we have.

It seem to me that as we better learn how to design, use and live in cities - we all have a future."
design  mattjones  technology  urbanplanning  architecture  urbanism  scifi  postarchitectural  psychology  cities  archigram  comics  urban  future  danhill  adamgreenfield  janejacobs  warrenellis  christopherwren  psychogeography  kevinslavin  detroit  nyc  dubai  mumbai  masdrcity  fiction  film  spacesuits  battlesuits 
september 2009 by robertogreco
Sub Diego - Wikipedia
"Sub Diego debuts in part one of the "American Tidal" storyline from Aquaman vol. 6 #15. The citizens were transformed and stranded when part of the city of San Diego was submerged by an artificially generated earthquake, the result of a plan which changed part of the surviving population into subaquatic beings. It is the home city of Lorena Marquez, the second Aquagirl, and led by Mayor Cal Durham an old ally of Aquaman. The city was recently used as a base of operations by Arthur Curry (Aquaman)."

[via: ]
sandiego  subdiego  comics  fiction  cities 
august 2009 by robertogreco
How it turned out
"And I can't bring myself to do much more this time around, except to note that there's usually only one way that change ever comes to the eternal childhood immortality of a comic strip, and that's by the strip being cancelled--and sometimes not even then
comics  peanuts  charlesshultz  humor  fiction  nostalgia  childhood  via:migurski 
july 2008 by robertogreco
Philip Pullman unveils his own new weekly comic serial, The Adventures Of John Blake | By genre | Books
"Philip Pullman spent childhood in thrall to weekly delivery of Eagle, Wizard and Beano. Now he unveils his own new weekly comic serial, The Adventures Of John Blake...story of a boy on a sailing ship somewhere in the Pacific. It's an adventure story, pla
books  children  comics  fiction  storytelling  philippullman  via:foe 
may 2008 by robertogreco
Retroactive continuity - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"Retroactive continuity (or informally retcon) is the deliberate changing of previously established facts in a work of serial fiction. The change itself is informally referred to as a "retcon", and the act of writing and publishing a retcon is called "ret
fiction  writing  comics  television  tv  narrative  popculture  rhetoric 
march 2008 by robertogreco
Good As Lily -- ass-kicking girl-positive graphic novel for young readers - Boing Boing
"story of Grace Kwon, a young Korean-American girl who, on her 18th birthday, finds herself in the company of her six-year-old self, her 29-year-old self and her 70-year-old self, three women who become a part of her life as she finishes out her last seme
books  fiction  reading  comics  girls 
january 2008 by robertogreco
University of Delaware Library: Special Collections - From Verne to Vonnegut
"A Century of Science Fiction An Exhibition in Special Collections curated by Iris Snyder."
scifi  sciencefiction  science  exhibits  fiction  history  literature  comics  archives  books 
october 2007 by robertogreco
La Jetée - Wikipedia
"La Jetée (1962) (literally "The Jetty") 28-minute science fiction film in black and white by Chris Marker."
film  scifi  science  fiction  france  french  photography  comics  sciencefiction  chrismarker  lajetée 
december 2006 by robertogreco
Ballardian: The World of JG Ballard » Retrospecto: La Jetee
"It highlights why we are attracted to SF in the first place: not for bug-eyed aliens or galaxy-hopping spaceships, but for the way in which the form can twist our most cherished versions of reality inside out."
film  scifi  science  fiction  france  french  photography  comics  jgballard  sciencefiction  chrismarker  lajetée 
december 2006 by robertogreco
Wired News: Picture This: A Novel Approach
"My students are used to reading documents made up of words and images, sound files and movies. They aren't disturbed when these elements bleed into each other -- when words use visual devices to enhance what they're communicating, when images are made up
criticism  literature  reading  education  learning  graphics  novels  comics  illustration  fiction 
november 2006 by robertogreco

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