Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
The Cricket, self-described as "A periodical of culture and reefinement" with the epigraph "You plays cricket, drinks tea, and lifs the pinky when you holds the cup" (a Walt Kelly quote from Animal Comics), was a fanzine published by my mom and dad and edited by Betsy Curtis (aka Mom) "at their editorial offices, mimeograph salon, studio, dishwashing and ironing parlors, nursery and residence." Circulation of the mimeographed newsletter (judging from the published list of recipients) was 36, only 4 copies of which went to relatives. In the midst of book, magazine, and music recommendations is the following essay by Mom. (I shall not italicize it or put it in quotes; suffice to say the rest of this post is by her.):
So many friends have asked me in grim or pathetic tones, "Do you approve of comic books?" that I feel I must make some public statement which I can hand out to such gals and run for cover while they are reading it. The question, of course, makes about as much sense as "Do you approve of books?" but it is hard to say this without being thought impertinent or irrelevant by the questioners.
Comic books are naturally appealing. Pictures, like stage drama, are more interesting than mere print. The rapid action of most of the plots and the excitement of adventure hold a child's attention in comics as they do in western movies. Passages of slow moving description are not necessary when the action is presented in pictures.
Many objections to comic books have to do with their subject matter. It is certainly not surprising that the children of avid whodunit readers should like detective comics and that children who are offered few fairy tales should satisfy their craving for fantasy with Superman and the Green Lantern (whose doings are in their way more moral than "Big Claus and Little Claus" and most of the contents of the Red, Violet, and Blue Fairy Books. And comics are cheaper than "good" fantasy - the Oz books are still retailing at $2. I wish I could afford to supply Judy [my nickname in 1949] with books which she would enjoy more (and there are plenty) than comics.
Some mothers object that their children bury themselves in comics and no longer spend time in active "fantasy play" with their friends. Cops and robbers are supposed to have given way to afternoons in the corners of the sofa with piles of comics. Comics are also supposed to have replaced "real literature" in the lives of our young. I can see no reason why there should not be a "real literature" in comic form. It is slow in taking shape, but the work of such artists as [Morris] Gollub, [Dan] Noonan, and Kelly give promise that comics can be good reading for children. Certainly these stories have been acted out by children - I've seen and heard it.
Comic art is a young art. When better comics are printed, kids will read them. I have considerable faith in the taste of children - they like good fiction better than bad; but as long as they are offered only mediocre, bad, and worse, in a form that is more appealing and cheaper than good stories, they will continue to read mediocre, etc.
I don't know how to get good comics on the market any more than I know how to encourage the writing and publishing of other good books for children - but I am hopeful that artists and publishers will come across in time for our grandchildren to have lots of fun at a very moderate cost.
The largest number of periodicals in our household seems, in spite of culture and reefinement, to be made up of comic books. Most of our collection are really intended to be comic - that is, funny. Most of them are published by the Dell Publishing Company and portray the doings of urban children (Little Lulu, Henry) or urban animal child-substitutes (Walter Lantz, Merrie Melodies, Walt Disney, Tom and Jerry, etc.) The cream of the crop were, in the recent past, Our Gang, Raggedy Ann, and Fairy Tale Parade (still Dell) with the excellent drawing, interesting stories and amusing dialogue of Walt Kelly, Dan Noonan, and Morris Gollub; but these three gentlemen seem to be deserting the comic book business and two of the publications are no longer in existence. The least painful comics still on the market other than the ones I have just mentioned seem to be the Disney ones. I should recommend a recent special, still on the stands in Canton - "Donald Duck in the Treasure of the Andes" [Dell Four Color #223, actually "Lost in the Andes" by Carl Barks] - as the best of the recent dime publications for the four-to-eight year old. We do seem to have accumulated a number of Superboy, Wonder Woman, and Bat Man opera, but these do not hold the attention of our six-year-old for more than five or six readings. Even Raggedy Ann can beat that.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
I love my pad.
No, not my home.
And my dear dad
Had no such tome.
My pad's an "i."
It goes with me
Where'er I go.
The apps I buy
All let me see
What's there to know.
Hot diggity! Let's trot out the reference material to see whether I followed the form correctly. Or - no - let's skip it. In any case, I've found my iPad (purchased in late October) a constant boon and problem-solver - rather than the "toy" many have called it. Those who already have iPads will find the following natter redundant - though I hope that some among them may have suggestions to resolve the few annoyances I've accumulated. In any case, among the uses: Given that I often end up in a variety of unfamiliar locations, a ready (readable) variety of maps have let me travel with increased confidence. (Also, given the fun of travel, it's been downright necessary at times to determine potential weather problems - so the forecasts and radar from the free Weather Channel app have been a boon.) Given that I enjoy having an entertaining book with me at all times, I do. Given that I often need a calendar, I have it. Given that I seem to need to refer to iMDb virtually daily, I can. Given that there's ongoing discussion of comic books available for download, I've downloaded a few so that I can know what the heck people are talking about. Given that I like to keep tabs on my email, I can do that - and follow Twitter, too.
I've paid for almost no apps. The books I've loaded so far (and they're far more readable on the iPad than on the Kindle, which I used to use) have been free. (I'm now reading James Branch Cabell's Jurgen, though to do so I have to saddle up a lot more vocabulary than I've been used to using recently. And that was fun, too. In any case, that novel was free, as were several books by Saki, Mark Twain, Jerome K. Jerome, and P.G. Wodehouse.) Note: I have paid for Office2 HD and Star Walk - the first, for work; the second, for fun.
And so far, at least, the iPad holds a charge long enough to last between my opportunities to charge it.
Annoyances: It's not easy to use for professional writing or editing. It lacks direction arrows on the three on-screen keyboards. It lacks a cents sign on the ditto. It lacks a USB port (which, I suspect, is deliberate). It lacks a quick copy-paste function (maybe the "copy" function will pop up, as my finger lingers over a word; maybe it won't; in any case, it takes far longer to copy-paste than the simple clicks on even my tiny, cheap notebook computer). That's about it for gripes. [Looking for a solution, by the way, I've studied the Brookstone iPad holder with its built-in keyboard (complete with direction arrows) but am not about to plunk down $100 for what looks as if it would let me touch-type except that it seems not to have been designed by anyone who actually touch-types. (Hint: Touch-typists need a shift key on both sides of the keyboard. Check it out, Brookstone. And watch out, keyboard-lovers, if you've only been able to judge from small online images of the holder.)]
What are your favorite apps? I'm still experimenting with "Flipboard," following the recommendation of #PCHH's Glen Weldon. How about you?