Comics are covered in the Dewey Decimal system under “Graphic arts & decorative arts.” There was little chance that I would read anything else when I got to this part of the Dewey Decimals, but I had originally thought I’d read some collection of newspaper strips. With the wealth of options available, I ended up deciding to instead read some writing about comics and picked up Hilary Chute’s book.
Chute is a scholar of comics (something that is new and still uncommon) and she approaches the subject here on a series of topics beginning with “Why disaster?” before touching on such disparate topics as superheroes, suburbs, illness/disability and LGBT issues. Some of the artists were familiar to me (Chris Ware actually lives a few blocks away from me and I’ve seen him on occasion at our local indie bookstore. He’s much less geometric in person than I would have imagined). Others were new. A few of the books mentioned I ended up seeking out, in one case, with Keiji Nakazawa’s Barefoot Gen, it was a bit of brilliant serendipity as I was working on a chapter in my current novel about the aftermath of the Hiroshima bombing when I read this book and Nakazawa’s book was a great way to help visualize the settings and events that I was writing about.