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The Future of Comics, the Future of Men: Matt Fraction's Casanova Paperback – December 25, 2014
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About the Author
Geoff Klock has a doctorate from Oxford. He wrote How to Read Superhero Comics and Why in 2002 and he wrote another book that no one read cause it was a 100K-word study of seven poems and was only available in a ferociously expensive hardcover. He spoke about Fashion and Superheroes at the Met, got a grant to study Kill Bill, and made a Hamlet super-cut that got like 38,000 views on YouTube, which is a lot for a 15-minute video about Shakespeare. He rides a fixed gear bicycle to the Borough of Manhattan Community College. He teaches composition, old school British literature, and film. His arm has a titanium plate in it. One time he was in the circus, and another time he was in a play with Christopher Lloyd, and once he was in a conga line with Rebekah del Rio. He is pretty good at Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr?
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Geoff Klock writes playfully, even gleefully, in a manner that feels spontaneous, conversational, and immersive. In the span of a couple pages, Future of Comics makes reference to Borges, Tarantino, Virgil, the X-Men, the Bible, and Dave Clark Five. (Though, importantly, such discussions in the book are still didactic rather than radically democratic: the Casanova character who prefers Dave Clark Five to the Beatles is derided as a “culture cretin”. And rightly so.)
For fans of gender politics and its use in the study of pop culture, Geoff Klock also ably - if only briefly - wrestles with some of the contemporary canon of gender and sexuality, anchoring his arguments in the theories of Judith Butler and Eve Sedgwick (and Mrs. Doubtfire and Tina Turner), and in opposition to the masculine deity of John Wayne. Klock’s greatest talent, here, is in his ability to make the politics of gender, which are so often rendered obscure and abstract by theory, into something immediate and familiar. When he explains how a scene between Casanova and Kubark effectively skewers the “reasonable homophobia” upon which contemporary American masculinity is built, the unreasonableness of that foundation is made horrifyingly and absurdly visible and indefensible. You knew that this scene was powerful and gave you the feels. And now you understand exactly what it was doing and how.
If you like the Casanova comic, you'll love this book. If you haven't read Casanova, this book will make you want to. And if you don't like Casanova... well, why are you wasting your time by reading this, anyway? (And, more importantly, wasting my time? ...what? You think I don't have better things to do? Because I do. Lots of things.)
And like its source material, while the style makes this a fun and thrilling read, style never overwhelms the substance of Klock's insights or Fraction's work itself. This study is a clarion call for reevaluating how pop art defines its men, its heroes of whatever gender, and subtly suggests a radical refiguring of the entire comics industry to match the redefinitions occurring in our culture, more broadly speaking. Arguably even more importantly, it makes a compelling case for readers to examine their own habits and modes, perhaps opening a space for books like Casanova to receive more serious attention than they have to this point.
Klock suggests in his introduction that a person ought to go out and read the first three collected editions of CASANOVA before coming back to read his book. And that probably is the ideal way to utilize the various observations, analyses and investigations that Klock has constructed here. However, the irresistible mixture of intricate deconstruction and effervescent celebration of CASANOVA that’s found within these pages makes THE FUTURE OF COMICS, THE FUTURE OF MEN a compelling read even without that context. Any fan of comic-books, or just of pop-cultural artifacts in general, who hasn’t yet experienced the specific joys of CASANOVA would be just as well-served using Klock’s book as a primer, a way to whet the appetite. The comic-book itself can be read afterwards, after you're armed with all the science that Klock has laid on you. (Of course, anyone choosing to read in that sequence is on their own regarding potential “spoiler” hazards.)
Either way, whether you’re a longtime admirer of the graphic novels under discussion, a comics fan with only a passing curiosity, or a Fraction/Ba/Moon fan yet to be, Geoff Klock’s is a piece of critical analysis that will enhance your enjoyment of CASANOVA immeasurably. It’s the book you’ll want to have close at hand for any future reading of its futuristic topic.