In 1994, a group of teachers and community leaders in Missouri, led by high school teacher Rodney Wilson, sought to designate a month for the celebration and teaching of gay and lesbian history (per http://lgbthistorymonth.com/background).
With endorsements from GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, and other national organizations, October has since been recognized as LGBT History Month, coinciding with traditions like Coming Out Day on the 11th.
As the Lawrence Public Library is committed to articulating the diversity of the Lawrence and the country, there are a number of resources on our shelves that expound the history of the LGBT community. Here are five recent titles in the library’s collection that celebrate and explore the lives and influence of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals of the past and present:
"Queer, There, and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World" by Sarah Prager
An LGBT history book for young adults, "Queer, There, and Everywhere" features stories of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals who have made history around the world and throughout time. Prager profiles well-known figures like Eleanor Roosevelt and George Takei as well as some more obscure individuals, and she shines light on these inventors and trailblazers in a humorous and informative way. The book also features beautiful illustrations by Zoë More O'Ferrall and a helpful glossary of terms.
"Trans/portraits: Voices From Transgender Communities" by Jackson Wright Shultz
"Trans/portraits" is an important and informative oral history of the transgender experience in America. Shultz records the personal accounts from more than 30 transgender individuals from different age groups and backgrounds to provide a look at their lives. A beneficial read for transgender individuals or anyone questioning or exploring their gender identity.
"Stand by Me: The Forgotten History of Gay Liberation" by Jim Downs
The start of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s brought negative connotations to the gay liberation movement of the decade prior. "Stand by Me" takes a deeper look at the 1970s, beyond the gay liberation movement as just being about sex and protests. Downs shares the stories of the people who didn’t fit in with the American mainstream and who came together as a community through religion, journalism, literature, and theater.
"Homintern: How Gay Culture Liberated the Modern World" by Gregory Woods
Through well-researched stories and historical characters, Gregory Woods examines how homosexuality shaped Western culture in this enlightening and informative study of the 20th century. The book focuses on the Homintern, the gay and lesbian creative network of actors, writers, and other artists that influenced major cultural changes during this time period.
"Gay Lives" by Robert Aldrich
From ancient times to the modern era, "Gay Lives" covers more than 70 queer men and women throughout history and around the world. Aldrich profiles the rulers, artists, philosophers, politicians, activists and other key figures who have helped shape modern society’s attitude toward same-sex attraction and intimacy.
— William Ottens is the cataloging and collection development coordinator at the Lawrence Public Library.
Look Play Listen is the library’s brand new media team.
Each month we’ll round up some of our favorite music, film/TV, and video game reviews from our staff and put them in one easy-to-read, easy-to-locate blog post.
Keep an eye out.
This modern horror/suspense film comes with more than a few laughs and a healthy dose of timely social commentary. Writer/director Jordan Peele impresses in this debut that is as mind-bending as it is thought-provoking.
–Adam from Materials Handling
It’s crazy, raunchy, and the show might be a little hard to get into at the start, but hang in there, because Abbi and Ilana will grow on you like mold. They have the best friendship — not always perfect, but they pull through for each other eventually. Their hijinks are hilarious, and I'm so excited for season 4!
–William from Collection Development
The best Donkey Kong game. PERIOD. The Kongs and their surroundings have never looked, sounded — thanks to David Wise for a fantastic soundtrack — or played better. Best of all, not only do you get to play as Kong stalwarts DK, Diddy, and Dixie, DKCTF lets you play as Cranky Kong.
The dream I never knew I had has come true.
–Ian from Info Services
Acid rap may be the hip hop subgenre du jour, but Shabazz Palaces is content to dabble in what could be called, I don't even know, cyberpunk jazz rap? Neuromancer-core?
"Quazarz vs. the Jealous Machines," sporting a fittingly "Ziggy Stardust"-esque title, proves the group can sustain its new take on the craft, with its rolling, spacey beats and hypnotic verses.
–Eli from Readers’ Services
One of Trent Reznor's finest pieces of work. Anything he does with Nine Inch Nails will forever be compared to "The Downward Spiral" and "Pretty Hate Machine;" however, for a new era of his career, this album is the flagship.
There are intricate, interesting grooves, catchy hooks and visceral sound design. This album took me from being a casual NIN listener to a massive fan.
–Joel from Tech Services
Kesha is a pretty misunderstood musical artist and a total guilty pleasure of mine. I was a huge fan of her last release, Warrior, yet a bit unsure how the media ballyhoo of her lawsuit with Dr. Luke was going to affect this new album, Rainbow. My worries were all for naught.
Kesha's recent plight has indeed made a mark on her, yet only for the better. She has gleaned some serious lessons from her ordeal, come out with a seemingly healthier mindset, and used her musical talents as a conduit in the only way she can.
–Ilka from Readers’ Services
So that’s it from us for September! What media did you love this month?
Although I am, in many ways, a Luddite at heart, I’ve become aware recently that I spend altogether too much time hopscotching across the internet, searching for news. I am also a news junkie, you see, and the interesting times we live in have had me riveted to my screen.
However, I’ve also noticed that too much screen time makes me feel grumpy and my brain feel sluggish and scattered. So, I’ve been making a concerted effort lately to set aside the tablet and pick up a book, to spend more time wandering in the place of deeper contemplation that opens up for me when I am really reading.
And perhaps it is no coincidence that the common thread of solitude (the antidote to a clickbait crazy world?) has run through several of the books I’ve picked up lately. Michael Finkel’s "The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit," which chronicles Christopher Knight’s 27-year sojourn with solitude in the Maine woods, pushed this thread to its furthest extreme.
(Sidenote: I inadvertently placed my hold on the large print edition, and found the reading experience surprisingly pleasant. Fellow Gen-Xers, I’m here to tell you that there is no shame in loving large print.)
Finkel provides a fascinating look not only at Knight, but also at the various hermit traditions that have speckled human history.
While Christopher Knight withdrew from society to escape it completely, Cheryl Strayed’s search for solitude, chronicled in "Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail," sprang from her desire to reconfigure her relationships, with herself and with others. Strayed’s desolation over her mother’s death, and the subsequent unraveling of her family and her marriage, had made her desperate for a reboot. Strayed’s account offers the wilderness as crucible, and as solace, and while she meets and befriends other hikers on the trail, it is by facing hardship in solitude that she earns her redemption.
Lynn Darling’s "Out of the Woods: A Memoir of Wayfinding" takes the art of navigation as its device. Darling, long widowed and recent empty-nester, leaves New York City for the solitude of a timeworn house deep in the woods of Vermont. In the spirit of getting lost and finding your way, Darling’s book, which chronicles her battle with cancer in the midst of her midlife crossroads, points out the humility and frank self-assessment-- both possible side effects of time spent lost in the woods--required to successfully navigate the tricky bits.
Concerning the lure of solitude and the search for self: as Finkel writes in "The Stranger in the Woods," “Silence...it appears, is not the opposite of sound. It is another world altogether, literally offering a deeper level of thought, a journey to the bedrock of the self.”
— Melissa Fisher Isaacs is the information services coordinator at the Lawrence Public Library.
“Today we’re introducing three revolutionary products … The first is a wide-screen iPod with touch control. The second is a revolutionary mobile phone. And the third is a breakthrough internet communications device.”
It’s 2007, only ten years ago. On stage, Steve Jobs continues: “Are you getting it? These are not three separate devices. This is one device.” And so the smartphone revolution started.
The “one device” wasn’t brand new. It borrowed many technologies and ideas that already existed, but it also introduced new ones, and combined everything with patented Apple smoothness.
Watching Jobs unveil the iPhone is fun, mostly because it already seems so quaint (his talk is on YouTube). The user interface, Multi-Touch, was perhaps the most miraculous tech that the iPhone gave us, and when Jobs nonchalantly scrolled through his phone’s music library with a swipe of his finger in front of that crowd ten years ago, it drew the biggest gasp of the evening.
Jobs’ first public iPhone call was to audience member Jony Ive, who answered on a flip phone. Bantering with his boss, the Apple designer now known as Sir Jony says, “It’s not too shabby, is it?”
Today, even as I finish up this review, Tim Cook is about to wow us with yet another iPhone with not too shabby features. As if to prove their importance, there have been fifteen different iPhones already, their progeny are global and seemingly without number, and here comes the new generation.
These days, the iPhone routinely accompanies astronauts in space, but it wasn’t that long ago that a library staffer wowed us by showing off an early iPhone at a staff day “technology petting zoo.” I was curious about how many of my coworkers use which phones, so I conducted an informal survey. The iPhone (in at least seven permutations) won handily. Samsung came in a very distant second, and there were some others, including four flip-phones.
Brian Merchant has written a “secret history” of the one that started it all, entitled "The One Device." What’s notable, and to me most interesting, is that it’s not just another book on Steve Jobs or Silicon Valley. In fact, it takes an ecological (iCological?) perspective of Apple’s most important product. Early reviews didn’t seem to get it, or if they did, they saw it as a distraction, but this approach sets the book apart in important ways.
Why is Merchant’s book important? Because something that has changed the world as profoundly as the iPhone demands a social and ecological perspective. By using different facets of the phone as windows to different components of its ecosystem, Merchant unearths the world in your pocket — for better or worse.
You’ve heard the suicide stories of the Chinese iPhone manufacturer, Foxconn. Have you also heard of the hellish mines of the Congo, where the ghost of Joseph Conrad may still be writing? What about the Bolivian tin mines? And what happens to those billions of old phones when new versions are announced?
Read "The One Device." You can do so on your phone, of course.
— Jake Vail is an information services assistant at the Lawrence Public Library.
I’m lucky enough to do storytime here at the Lawrence Public Library, and while there are some challenging days of herding toddlers, it is a joy and a privilege to introduce children to literature and catch a small slice of their innocence and wonder.
When we started up storytime again this fall, I wanted to try something different: Read a handful of random books, held together only by the fact that they were published in 2017. (Weirdly, most of them are from February; who knew that was such a hot picture book publishing month?)
Here are a few of my favorites. My only disclaimer is that I chose these for a Toddler Storytime audience; I think all of these would work well for older and younger kids — I mean, they utterly delight me — but keep in mind they were picked to work for toddlers especially.
"A Perfect Day" by Lane Smith (February 2017)
The twist at the end of this book had me giggling in delight. Imagine your perfect day … then add a bear. The illustrations are full of life and are just as engaging as the text. Lane Smith is well known for his work with Jon Scieszka in "The Stinky Cheese Man" and "The True Story of the Three Little Pigs." While there is echo of the same style, the illustrations are much dreamier and less dark. I could stare at them all day.
"Stack the Cats" by Susie Ghahremani (May 2017)
What do cats do? Stack! A cute counting book full of adorable kittens who, for some reason, are going to stack themselves. A silly premise with equally quirky and colorful illustrations, this book subtly introduces math concepts in the form of stacking cats. What’s not to like?
"A Good Day for a Hat" by T. Nat Fuller, Illustrated by Rob Hodgson (March 2017)
Mr. Brown has a hat for every occasion. Raining? He’s got a hat for that. Cooking? Chef’s hat engaged. Fire-breathing dragon? Helmet acquired! With increasingly ridiculous situations and hats for specific needs, the repetitiveness of the book has you smiling as you await the next wacky situation. Boldly colored and hilarious.
"Ribbit" by Jorey Hurley (February 2017)
Gorgeous. That was my immediate thought when I flipped through "Ribbit" for the first time. I was a little worried to read this for toddler storytime because of the sparse text, with one word per two-page spread. But the illustrations are so beautiful and engaging, mesmerizing the kids as well as myself. In the picture-book world, which is sometimes full of busy illustrations with tons of text, "Ribbit" is a calm break in the clamor that reminds you less is more.
"Not Quite Narwhal" by Jessie Sima (Feb 2017)
A book with narwhals and unicorns? Sign me up! Kelp the "Narwhal" is just trying to find his place in the world. He knows he doesn’t fit in with his narwhal buddies, but when he views a strange creature on land, he realizes he might not be the narwhal he thinks he is. With swoon-worthy illustrations and an excellent message, I highly suggest this adorable book.
What’s your favorite picture book from 2017 so far? Luckily, we’ve still got three months to go. Sound off below!
— Lauren Taylor is a youth services assistant at the Lawrence Public Library.
Zora Neale Hurston wrote during the height of the Harlem Renaissance, contributing novels and short stories, as well as literary anthropology. She was a bold woman surrounded by male peers and unparalleled in both talent and ideas.
She died alone and impoverished, buried in an unmarked grave, without having received the recognition or recompense she so strongly deserved.
"Their Eyes Were Watching God" was written over a period of seven weeks when Hurston was 46. Using both poetic prose and rich, palatable patois, it tells the story of Janie Crawford as she journeys from one unpleasant marriage into another, until finally finding the love of her life in the rambunctious and unexpected Vergible “Tea Cake” Woods. She faced scrutiny and ostracization from her male literary peers for not being political enough.
In a forward to "Their Eyes" by Mary Helen Washington, Richard Wright is quoted to say the novel “carries no theme, no message, no thought.” Was the lack of politics the problem, or perhaps was it that Hurston chose to focus on the theme, message, and thought of a black woman rather than a man?
In the decades since her death, Hurston’s legacy has been carried on by her literary daughters and sons who saw what her peers had missed: a brilliant mind poetically communicating the complexities of the human condition. In other words, a Harlem Renaissance-Woman.
In the early 1970s, Alice Walker went in search for Hurston’s unmarked grave, laying a stone and writing a personal essay for "Ms." magazine called “Looking for Zora.” This passion and dedication helped to launch a revival for Hurston’s work that continues today.
Full conferences have been dedicated to Hurston’s legacy, including one that is happening in Lawrence this week. Black Love: A Symposium celebrates the 80th anniversary of "Their Eyes" on and around KU campus this week (Sept 11th – 18th 2017) with esteemed panelists, cultural events, movie screenings, and a marathon reading of the honored novel.
“Zora Neale Hurston’s Radical Black Love” by Ayesha Hardison (KU) and Randal Maurice Jelks (KU)
Films on Black Love, available online or at local video sources (LPL included!)
“Finding Zora” — University of Florida Dept. of Anthropology page on Hurston’s anthropological contributions
"Zora Neale Hurston: A Literary Biography" by Robert Hemenway
"Glorious" by Bernice McFadden — a novel paralleling and partially inspired by Hurston’s life
-Kate Gramlich is a readers’ services assistant at the Lawrence Public Library.
I live within a mile of the Kansas River. In spite of the Bowersock Dam and other infrastructure, this is a good place to connect with wildness. Walking on the levee beside the river offers a chance to watch birds soaring and fishing — great blue herons are frequently present at the river, and in winter, bald eagles are, too.
Frequently people are making use of the water via kayak, canoe or fishing boat. In spite of the nearby development, the river is a relatively wild place.
At the other side of the broad continuum of local wild spaces are the richly diverse Haskell-Baker Wetlands and also the expansive Clinton Lake Wildlife Area, yet there is value in every degree of wilderness.
My reflections are inspired from reading the book "Wildness: Relations of People and Place." This new anthology includes creative and provocative essays, stories and poetry—it represents diverse understandings of our natural world by many highly regarded writers.
I was driven to the book "Wildness" when I read a review by author J. Drew Lanham. I reviewed Lanham’s book earlier; "The Home Place: Memoirs of A Colored Man's Love Affair With Nature" is a book of elegantly-written prose connecting his commitment to land ethics with social justice with a great deal of inspired optimism.
Lanham wrote this about "Wildness":
This amazing amalgam goes at the issue of nature, wildness, and our relationships to it via personal story, lyrical verse, and reflection. It is storytelling and word-singing at its best...and a book I simply want on my bookshelf to pull down and read words that flow like water but have the lasting impact of fire.
The book is filled with deep, thoughtful explorations of human connections to the idea of wildness. Each writer shares their response to these questions: What defines our ecology, and how are the natural and the human communities interdependent? What keeps the whole community in harmony and helps it sustain and thrive? —In other words, what is the process of persistent wildness?
"Wildness" was created by the Center for Humans and Nature, an organization associated with the University of Chicago. Their website, www.humansandnature.org, is an interactive forum of socially and ecologically focused tools to advocate, reach out, and explore. Here is how they describe their organization:
The Center for Humans and Nature partners with some of the brightest minds to explore human responsibilities to each other and the more-than-human world. We bring together philosophers, ecologists, artists, political scientists, anthropologists, poets and economists, among others, to think creatively about a resilient future for the whole community of life.
Several short videos related to the essays in "Wildness" are highlighted on their website at www.humansandnature.org/wildness. Each video features an author from the book and adds depth to the themes of environmental and social justice. One of the most compelling of these videos is presented by Mistinguette Smith.
She discusses African American understandings of wildness and her work with the Black / Land Project, a community garden in Cleveland. Wildness and relationships to land are defined differently, based on cultural experiences and historical injustices. For Smith, wild connections are made in a community garden where you can grow your own food.
By exploring the book "Wildness,"I have reinforced my resolve to connect environmental and social justice. And I am compelled to echo the message in my review of J. Drew Lanham’s "The Home Place." I hope you will also be inspired to reach out to be more inclusive — to engage more kids and adults from diverse communities to explore and connect with relatively wild places. I am envisioning exponentially greater advocates for our community’s wildness.
It seems appropriate to note, in relation to eco-justice, recommended assistance to survivors of Hurricane Harvey may start with the helpful resources at the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, disasterphilanthropy.org.
— Shirley Braunlich is a readers’ services assistant at the Lawrence Public Library.
I’ll be honest, until this year I had never participated in a book club. In theory, they’re right up my alley. I work at a library. I’ve always worked in bookstores. Reading = good. Discussions = good. But joining a book club can be a little intimidating.
Apart from leaving the comfort of my home, which as a rule I only leave to work or shop for groceries, it’s a time commitment. There are only 24 hours in a day, and when eight of those are spent playing video games, time just gets away from you. Who knew?
For those of you in a similar time crunch — legitimate or self-imposed — the Lawrence Public Library is launching its first documentary club, Doc Discussions. It’s as easy as “book” clubs get. Step one: an hour and a half (more or less) commitment to watch one of the best documentaries around. Step two: Come talk about it for an hour at the library. Doesn’t get more efficient than that.
Or does it?
Thanks to Kanopy it does. Kanopy is a wonderful (relatively) new addition to LPL’s online streaming services that brings thousands of documentaries right to you. It’s a curated collection of over 30,000 films that comes with free 24-hour access to some fantastic documentaries, foreign films, and Criterion Collection classics.
How do I access all this bounty, you ask?
On Aug. 2, Doc Discussions had its unofficial kick-off with our screening of the acclaimed documentary "I Am Not Your Negro" and the amazing panel discussion that followed.
For our first official screening and chat, we’ll be watching "To Be Takei" on Saturday, September 16. It’s a delightful look at the life of Star Trek’s George Takei and a very entertaining yet poignant exploration of race, gay rights, celebrity and the power of positivity. So watch with us. Can’t make the screening? No problem; remember, you can access Kanopy at home 24/7. Either way, come to Doc Discussions' inaugural meeting right after the film. See you there!
"To Be Takei" will screen from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Saturday, September 16. The Doc Discussion meeting will take place directly afterwards from 5 to 6 p.m.
-Ian Stepp is an information services assistant at the Lawrence Public Library.
Just in case you’ve been living under a rock rather than reading our phenomenal blog posts, I’m obligated to tell you that my colleague Sarah Mathews is a freaking rockstar.
She reads things, she writes about them, she spreads generally wonderful vibes and every Sunday morning throughout Summer Reading 2017 she’s asked you: What are you reading?
After finding one of her favorite books of all time ("The Shadow of the Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafón) in a comment on these Facebook posts years ago, Sarah decided to don her superhero cape and resurrect the tradition.
There are a million books you’ve never heard of. Many people won’t even pick a book up if they don’t like the cover — a practice that, as you can imagine, is very controversial among librarians.
For three months, we’ve collected these crowdsourced reading recommendations from our community of bookish folks. Every Facebook post got responses from 20–50 people, which combined represent months of dedication and creative energy that has transformed my idea of reading as a solo endeavor into a space for cohesion, collaboration, and community.
Of the 283 total books mentioned that we currently hold in our collection, there were a handful that were spotted multiple times. So, without further ado, welcome to the Entirely Unofficial Lawrence Community Book Club! This summer, in no particular order, many of us read:
- James Patterson, "16th Seduction"
- John Grisham, "The Whistler"
- Neil Gaiman, "American Gods"
- David Sedaris, "Theft by Finding"
- Eddie Izzard, "Believe Me"
- Frank Herbert, "Dune"
- B.A. Paris, "The Breakdown"
- Paula Hawkins, "Into the Water"
- Stephen King, "The Dark Tower"
- Angie Thomas, "The Hate U Give"
- Colson Whitehead, "Underground Railroad"
- Kate Quinn, "The Alice Network"
- Kristin Hannah, "The Nightingale"
- Nora Roberts, "Come Sundown"
- Randy Shilts, "And the Band Played On"
- Anthony Doerr, "All the Light We Cannot See"
- J.D. Vance, "Hillbilly Elegy"
- Ann Patchett, "Commonwealth"
The complete list of reading recommendations is available in our catalog.
— Logan Isaman is the community assessment coordinator at the Lawrence Public Library.
We’ve now entered into what I’ve deemed the “weird phase” of Marvel.
With the commercial and critical success of the previously unknown property "Guardians of the Galaxy," director James Gunn and co-writer Nicole Perlman have paved the way for indie creators to work on blockbuster titles while bringing their own unique visions and perspectives to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Yes, it has to fit within the overall Disney/Marvel branding aesthetic, but early trailers for "Thor: Ragnarok," directed by the mastermind behind "What We Do in the Shadows" Taika Waititi, and "Black Panther," directed by Ryan Coogler, look as if Marvel’s team have decided to shake things up a bit.
As someone who is typically in a state of comic book movie fatigue, this infusion of creative vitality helps keeps the superhero formula from becoming stale and pastiche while introducing a much more diverse and eclectic vision of superheroes to an already expansive world.
However, I feel that there are two beloved characters in particular who have been overlooked and deserve to make their onscreen debut either as part of a Netflix series or the new Marvel Phase: both She Hulk and Howard the Duck.
"She Hulk" by Charles Soule
"She Hulk" stars Jennifer Walters, attorney at large. She’s just your average Jane Doe, except she happens to have green skin and superhuman strength combined with a lack of anger management skills.This story treatment by Charles Soule in particular opens with Jennifer losing her job at a law firm because she failed to bring in high-spending superhero clients. In a quest for self-discovery, she decides to open up her own legal agency while taking odd jobs to pay the bills, even if it means representing the children of supervillains in immigration law cases or patent violations filed against Iron Man himself.
Charles Soule has perfected the art of superhero writing, as much of Jennifer’s story focuses on her daily life and social interactions rather than building up to an epic showdown or cosmic conquest. In many ways, this approach makes Jennifer’s story even more relatable, as she goes to the bar after a hard day, struggles to find work in a tough job market, and faces discrimination because of her appearance. For instance, nobody will rent to her because they’re afraid she’ll hulk out and destroy the premises. And you think your insurance premium is outrageous.
The dialogue is heartwarming, and Jennifer’s struggles serve as an allegorical message that speak volumes about our current economic and political climate. She Hulk will become one of your new favorite super heroes by the end of the story, and it would be a perfect series to adapt for Netflix’s Marvel Universe. Even Jessica Jones’ BFF Hellcat makes an appearance as She Hulk’s trusty sidekick, so we can only hope that Jennifer will show up at some point as part of "The Defenders." Fingers crossed.
"Howard the Duck" by Chip Zdarsky
The most recent "Howard the Duck" manifestation by Chip Zdarsky is a whole lot of weird, self-referential, fun. The story opens in a "Secret Wars" Volume 0 title called "What the Duck?" (I know it’s confusing) that follows the life of private investigator Howard the Duck. Like She Hulk, he is down on his luck and looking for work. He can’t even afford to hire a secretary and instead uses a papier-mache creation with a face drawn on it to greet his nearly nonexistent clientele.
Howard’s luck changes when a mysterious gentleman asks him to retrieve a stolen necklace, a job that has him speeding across the galaxy in true "Doctor Who" fashion and solving cases while meeting plenty of extraterrestrial creatures. The story continues in serialized format, as it was one of the more popular "Secret Wars" publications, and is one of my favorite titles done by Marvel as of late.
"Howard the Duck" is a unique reading experience with zany characterizations and plenty of laugh-out-loud scenarios. The story has a little bit of everything: She Hulk listening to Taylor Swift while watching cat videos? Check. Rocket Raccoon shaving a map of a spaceship into his chest hair? Check. An '80s workout montage complete with a tank top that says “No Harm No Fowl?” Check. In particular, I’m a massive fan of the many film noir references sprinkled throughout the dialogue, art style, and overall tone that balances beautifully with the more humorous elements to hit all the right notes.
What makes "Howard the Duck" so refreshing is that Chip Zdarsky uses the graphic novel medium to make fun of running gags and cliches within Marvel in the same way that "Enchanted" pokes fun at Disney's princess stereotypes. I think that we need more lighthearted superhero fare that moves us farther away from the brooding, Christopher Nolan "Batman" type of hero.
"Howard the Duck" proves you don’t need an impending apocalypse or a serious personality to tell a good story. Howard would be an excellent addition for new adventures in cosmic Marvel. Who wouldn’t say no to a film noir space adventure? I sure wouldn’t.
What lesser-known Marvel titles would you like to see adapted next? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Until then, I’ll just keep hoping that I’ll get to see some of my comic book favorites on the silver screen.
-Fisher Adwell is an information services assistant at the Lawrence Public Library.