Saturday, September 30, 2006

Busy reading books about funnybooks

The lack of activity at Superheroes, etc. does not mean I've again given up blogging, but that I'm just really damn busy.

This is my senior year. Last year, I successfully applied to my school English Honors program specifically for the chance to write an undergraduate thesis while being closely advised by a professor. When I first heard of the program, I didn't consider it to be very valuable, particularly since I have no immediate ambitions for grad school. I haven't completely dismissed grad school as a possibility, but if I ever do apply, it will be at least a few years after I graduate, maybe even when I can make enough money that working towards a Master and/or Doctorate wouldn't dig me even deeper into debt.

The idea of writing a thesis itself is what eventually turned me on to the Honors program. As a writer, the idea of having a professor as a captive audience seemed too valuable to pass up, and - unless I ever go to grad school - it will be the only such opportunity I ever get.

I originally planned to write something very critical and very smart and probably very incoherent about superheroes, but when I was accepted into the program I learned that the department was offering a relatively new option: the creative thesis.

For about a year and a half, the creative thesis is what I've been waiting for. It made the "captive professor" opportunity that much more attractive. Unfortunately, the fact that the creative thesis option is relatively new made me a victim of a harsh wake-up call last week when I finally got to talk to my adviser about the project.

The problem with the creative thesis option, you see, is that no one seems to have any fucking clue what the fuck a creative thesis is. It involves creative writing, and it has a "critical component," and that's about as far as most professors go when you ask them about it. To my adviser, a creative thesis meant experimenting specifically with the form of the medium in which you're working. Me? I just wanted to write a story. I didn't want to experiment with the form. The story I wanted to write complicated things, because I wanted to write a prose novella about superheroes, which complicates questions of genre and medium. Plus, while my adviser is pretty much THE person to go to in the department about superheroes and graphic novels, but she's not a creative writer. Finally, I'm a transfer student, haven't had the chance to take many creative writing classes, so if I chose to switch advisers I wouldn't know who the hell to go to. I've had three creative writing classes since attending my current school. The instructor of the first two were adjuncts, and the adviser has to be a full professor. The instructor of the third would make a great adviser, but she's going on sabbatical in the Spring. And while I could always seek out other creative writng professors, considering the usual tastes of English academia, I don't think many would respond with "Oooo!!!! Superheroes! Pick me! Pick me!"

So, I switched to a critical thesis, about, yes, superheroes. The good news is that because of the nebulous "critical component" of the creative thesis, I'd already done a lot of research. The only thing I'm in a big rush to do right now is narrow in on my topic. Last night, I e-mailed my adviser with three brief, convoluted project ideas: The Hulk (I could expand, but I want to sleep), Superhero comics Post-9/11, and the superhero in relation to the Übermensch. Right now, I'm leaning towards Übermensch. Yesterday, I was leaning towards the Hulk. Before that, Post-9/11. Tomorrow, I'll probably be back to Hulk. After that, I may consider switching my major to Hotel Management.

I briefly considered discarding superheroes and doing something about Lone Wolf and Cub, but I've got a backlog of superhero research from other classes, as well as from the first month of this semester, so I'd rather utilize that than derail myself.

The fact that I e-mailed my adviser with those ideas is the only reason I'm giving myself this brief time to blog, because I've decided that until I hear back from her, I'm in a research holding pattern. I need to narrow my scope before I go any further. I have a 5-minute presentation due Tuesday about my progress, and I'd like to be able to say something other than "It's about superguys!" I don't want to read yet another article about "Superman as Christ" or "The Postmodern Narrative of Marvel Comics" until I have a better idea about whether or not it's relevant to my thesis.

So, yeah, that's why I haven't been blogging. It's ironic because on the face of things, I should be more relaxed than in previous semesters. I only have 3 classes. All three are one-day, three hour classes, and the two non-thesis-related courses are pretty low stress (in one, Digital Media Workshop, all we've done so far is learn things about html and photoshop that I've already learned by blogging). I just want to make things as easy for myself next semester (when I actually have to write the thesis) as I can. I've probably read more in the first month of this semester than the entirety of most semesters. I learned about the magic of Interlibrary Loan at the end of last term, and at this point I'm sure whoever is in charge of it at my school's library has a picture of me on their dartboard.

So yeah, that's why I haven't been blogging lately. Mick Busy. Until the thesis ends, blogging will be sporadic.

Though, I have been trying to keep up on my funnybook reading, and along those lines...

(SPOILER ALERT, though you probably know it already)

...MARK! Good job with Civil War #4. If there's one thing that's been bugging me lately, it's the throng of African American superheroes choking the respective cooperative universes of Marvel and DC. The fact that the guy was nothing but a distant memory from the 70's until Civil War promos were plastered all over the Net wasn't a big hint either. Thank God you did it before his updated costume and the wise choice of lopping the word "Black" off the front of his name threatened to make him yet another addition to the incalcuable horde of African American superheroes whose solo titles dominate the marketplace.

(Dude, seriously, I knew you needed to kill someone, but - and I say this as a diehard Defenders fan - couldn't you have killed Nighthawk instead? Kill a rich, white guy every once in a while. It'll make you feel good. It worked for the French.)

1 comment:

johandson said...

hello,i am from brazil and i like your blog! if you want, download my comic book "mea culpa" in:
there are 48 pages of nonsense, psichedelics, cartoons comics.