Some blogs…many blogs…do a year in review post at the end of the year. But figuring that the savvy reader can just go to the archive and read (or not read) whatever they like from has been posted in 2014, I’m not that interested in re-hashing it. Last year, I did a “The Year It Wasn’t” post— where I discussed topics I tried to write about and failed, decided I ultimately didn’t have that much new or interesting to say about, or that I had planned for 2013 and got pushed to 2014—but there wasn’t as much of that this year. Less time to be ambitious. Sure, 2014 had some interesting developments: regular monthly site traffic increased over six-fold (thanks especially to the post on Oglaf (nsfw) being shared on Boing Boing, and Kelly Sue DeConnick tweeting a link to the post about her work on Captain Marvel)—but this is also an indicator of how little traffic we got in 2013—and we had a couple of co-written posts (but I really want to have more regular guest posts—at least quarterly—so, if you have an idea for one drop me a line!). However, I am much more interested in posting about some of the topics I plan to explore in 2015. So instead of a “Year in Review,” this post is “The Year That Could Be.” It may not be possible to actually accomplish everything on this list, or it could be that other ideas will come to me that take the place of some of these, but still it is fun to prognosticate, and perhaps even get some feedback from readers who have a preference of what they might want to read.
Grant Morrison: Having just read (and reviewed) the well-reviewed The Multiversity: Pax Americana, I am in the mood to write a major, perhaps even multi-part critique of Morrison’s work. However, such a project would mean going back to re-visit Doom Patrol and The Invisibles, maybe his run on JLA, on New X-Men, on Batman Incorporated. I don’t know if I have it in me, but his work strikes me as increasingly a form of monotonous play, excavating tropes until they are empty signifiers.
More Guest Posts: I know I mentioned it above, but I want to mention it again, because it is really something I want for The Middle Spaces: more voices. I would love to publish four guest posts a year. I am a very fine editor, just ask C.J. Stephens who wrote last year’s post on the New Teen Titans, and look forward to helping writers develop their ideas about comics or about music. Are you a grad student with a paper you want to trim and submit? Or maybe just an independent scholar? A person with thoughts and a will to write? Let me hear your ideas.
La Lucha Latina: I’ve been collecting data and doing a lot of reading for a Latin@s in superhero comic post for going on two years now (If you’re unfamiliar with the use of “Latin@” read an explanation here). I have written quite a bit about Black superheroes, but if Black superheroes are marginalized, misrepresented, forced to assimilate, then Latin@ superheroes are straight up invisible…nearly non-existent. So what started as an idea for a blog post about the Spider-Man villain Tarantula, has expanded way beyond that, into something that is now transforming into a book length project. That said, I will probably still develop a blog post that introduces some of the ideas to be explored in the book, should it ever get published. At the very least I hope to write something about that awful All-New Ghost Rider series that came out early in 2014, which I reviewed a few times. In the meantime, I challenge you to name even five Latin@ superheroes that have even the second tier notoriety of a character like Luke Cage or Black Panther.
Robocop: A brief post to come sometime early in 2015, about the whiteness of Robocop’s Detroit. It is actually just another illustration of something I pointed out in my post about the Sin-eater story arc from Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man.
More Songs in Conversation: This is a definite. I know I have one in mind to write up, but there will be even more as I seem to have a penchant for putting songs in conversation as part of my listening practice. You can read all the past “Songs in Conversation” posts here.
The Lizard and the Intersection of Masculinity & Disability in Superhero Comics:
I don’t know that much about disability studies, but I do know there has been some work on comics using that lens and I am interested in learning about it. So, as is my usual approach to learning about new social contexts for reading, I’d like to write my way through it. I find it worth exploring how Dr. Curt Conners’ family is a central part of his arc as the Lizard, and how his feelings of paternal masculine inadequacy are tied to his disability. I think of it as central to the character, so was really disappointed that the 2012 Amazing Spider-Man movie that included the Lizard dropped all of that. I wrote about Spider-Man a few times last year, so don’t expect this until the summer at the earliest.
Toys: Well, not toys themselves, but comics based on toy lines. I still have a lot of comic series that I complete this year to go through, but among them is my near complete run of Micronauts. I am just missing the final issue (#59 – they didn’t give the admittedly surprisingly long-lived series a 60th issue). I want to write something about them—just like I want to write something about ROM: Spaceknight, another Bill Mantlo creation based on a toy. There is something about the collision of crass commercialism—the creation of narratives just to advertise a licensed toy line—and art (even if it is commercial art) that I find endlessly fascinating. Maybe I’ll even write about Team America since I can’t seem to get rid of those issues, despite being listed on eBay countless times, to the point where my will is so shattered I am seriously considering getting the whole run instead. Anyway, yeah…expect some Roland Barthes to enter the conversation when I get around to writing this.
That Voodoo You Do: It took me a long time and great deal of trolling eBay, but earlier this year I finally scored all five issues of Strange Tales that introduce one of the most problematic and lesser known Marvel heroes, Brother Voodoo (these days called “Doctor Voodoo”—I mean, when he is not dead, which he currently is. Or, maybe not, he was just listed as a member of the soon to be rebooted Uncanny Avengers). Anyway, I will definitely get to reading these and doing an overview and analysis on the treatment of this Haitian hero as I did for Black Goliath and Black Lightning.
More Comic Mini-Reviews: I started these to a) give readers a view into what is on my weekly pull-list, and b) as a quick and easy way to fill the gap between full posts which take a lot of time to pull together from inception to reading and research to the scanning of art and layout, but quickly found out they take more time than I imagined—maybe not as long as a normal post, but still a long time. Furthermore, they are frequently so far behind the pub date I am not even sure they matter to anyone… still, I plan to continue. I’d love to hear from readers about what they think about the mini-reviews, and the issues they cover, or things they think I should check out. You can read all of 2014’s mini-reviews here.
The Middle Spaces Podcast? This is probably the longest shot here, but this is something I have been considering for a a while—a monthly podcast that supplements the blog. We’ll see if it actually comes to fruition by the end of 2015. I have a friend who offered to help record and mix it (but he just became a dad, so who knows if he actually has the time) and I am looking for a partner in crime, so that the whole thing is not just my voice. Clearly, there are still logistical things to work out before this has a chance of becoming reality, but lord knows I can talk. I wanted to provide a link to my podcast premiere from this past year as a guest on “His Dork World/Her Dork World” back in April (as an example), but it seems the links to the archive of their episodes is gone.
Trapped in a World He Never Made: Howard the Duck. I have the whole run of his original Steve Gerber-penned series. And now that Marvel is planning a new Howard series this spring (by Chip Zdarsky and Joe Quinones) I want to read them all and write something about Gerber’s take on American politics and culture of the 1970s and the series’ general existential bent. As Gerber once said, “life’s most serious moments and most incredibly dumb moments are often distinguishable only by a momentary point of view.” My concern is that the new Howard the Duck series won’t live up to that legacy, making it all the more important to re-examine the original series now.
Okay, that’s just about it for now. We’ll see how 2015 actually turns out, but this is a glimpse of what could be. In theory there will be 25 blog posts in the coming year. Last year (not including the comic reviews) there were 20, so 25 is definitely in the realm of possibility. Wish me luck… and Happy New Year!