I Continue To Ask That You Kiss My Ass

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Back in October there were plenty of reviews of The Complete Calvin and Hobbes. Most of them were your garden variety “Watterson is a genius” stuff, and Mark Luce’s review for The Kansas City Star (no longer available online) was no different, other than this quote that really ticked me off…

“Watterson uses the lowest of culture (comics) for decidedly intellectual dialogue.”

So I told Luce to kiss my ass. Done and done. Or so I thought…

Today I received this email from Mr. Luce:

Mr. Anderson,

I came across your dismantling of my review while PDFing my old review to a colleague. While I have no truck with criticism, I do, frankly, not like being told to kiss someone’s ass.

My comment on cartoons being the lowest of culture is not a reflection on my hatred of comics, it is rather a reflection of reality.

When I teach the graphic novel of Kafka’s Metamporphosis (Kuyper), I speak at length about the difference between highbrow and lowbrow. This is not a differentiation that I created, but rather one that exists whatever we feel about comics. Imagine trying to explain to parents who demanded to know why their kids were reading comic books to get an idea of where I am coming from.

My hunch is that if you had actually read my review you would see how much I adore cartoons, cartooning, illustration, whatever you want to call it. The review was about the magic of cartoons and being a kid, my goal not to trash comics but to celebrate them.

I have seen your work before, and I like it. But next time you ask someone to kiss your ass and link to a web site for their job, I ask that you fully read the review.

Thanks and best of luck.

Mark Luce

ps I like your first name.

(You know, I wasn’t going to give this any more blog time, but this is almost too easy.)

Dear Mr. Luce,

To those parent complaining about their children reading comic books, I’d refer them to this article from The Christian Science Monitor. I think it’s a fair look at the genre in education.

I also disagree again with comics being inherently “lowbrow,” or the “lowest of culture”, perceived reality of the book review literati though it may be. What about Lichtenstein? (Personally, I consider “Fear Factor” the cultural bottom.)

OK, I’m biased. I’m tired of cartoons being crapped all over, and this latest Danish thing isn’t helping. But if you’re looking for an apology, you’re not getting it.

Yours in low culture,

Mark Anderson

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Comics’ “Low Culture”

Mark Luce’s review of The Complete Calvin and Hobbes in today’s Kansas City Star is pretty much your standard "huge book" "groundbreaking strip" "timeless classic" blah blah blah that I’m assuming most reviewers are filling their respective papers with lately.

And it’s all true.  I dare you to find a cartoonist who doesn’t adore and admire Watterson’s transcendent achievement.  And I’m thrilled to see the complete collection so lovingly realized.

But what struck me in this particular review was this quote:

"Watterson uses the lowest of culture (comics) for decidedly intellectual dialogue."

Well crap…  Low culture.  Had I known that I’d have never gotten into cartooning!  Someone better tell The New Yorker they’ve been had.

You know I could rant for pages about this, but I’m gonna sum it all up with my own low culture; Hey, Luce!  Kiss my ass!

(BTW, should you agree, drop him a line…)

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