Things 1 & 2: library blogs and blogging.

I’ve been blogging for a few years now, initially writng mostly reviews and mini-essays about subjects I’m interested in, and for the last six months or so about library stuff too, my experiences being a graduate trainee and so on. I mostly blog for myself, I like being able to organise my thoughts in writing, so my style of blogging seems perfect for a CPD23 blog, I’ve already made a start on the reflective practise sides of things.

I’m taking part in CPD23 because I’m passionate about forwarding my career and expanding my abilities. As a graduate trainee but unable to move on to a degree this year I feel like I need every advantage I can get entering a job market where I will be competing for jobs against people with more experience and possible more qualifications. I want to be as well-rounded as possible, and personal development is important to me even without wanting a get a really good job. I feel like I’ve been lucky with my graduate traineeship, it’s been brilliant, but I haven’t been resting on my laurels, just in case I don’t luck out again. Also, and probably more importantly, I love working in a library and want to be as good as it as I can. Simple, but I think a good reason.

Thing 1 was easy, my blog is already well-established, though I do want to write more and be more dedicated to it, Thing 2 is pretty easy to as I already regularly read quite a few library blogs, along with others, on my google reader. One of the blogs I really like actually covers mostly my other big area of interest, comics. The author of Bad Librarianship Now! is a librarian but mostly posts about comics, especially comics art and British comics. I’ve been reading comics since I was a child, starting with that stalwart of the British comics scene – 2000AD. It’s nice to know I’m not the only library person interested in comics, in fact I can thing of at least three others, maybe one day there’ll be enough in one place for a special interest group or something.

I off to read some more blogs now, and maybe even leave some comments. I tend to be a lurker when it comes to blogs so I think being more obviously engaged is what I should be taking from this Thing, not a bad thing online or offline.


I’ve been reading a lot of blogs in the last few days, and a couple have caught my eye. I’m intrigued by SoldierMumLibby because I know very little about school librarianship, reading it over the next year or so should be a good way of learning more.  I really like The Victorian Librarian‘s blog because she seems to like a lot of the same things I do, anyone who gives out I Capture the Castle on World Book Night is obviously to be greatly admired. I’d like to find a good solo librarian blog because I can’t comprehend running a library on my own, knowing more about that would be really interesting, and prison librarianship too.


Search results

I love seeing what people searched for to get to my blog, but I have found my favourite one of all time today – ‘Renee Montoya butch’. Awesome. I have no idea how that led to my blog, though yes she is a bit and yes I love her for it, glad other people are too. I expect the entry is they found is probably just me rambling on about how I love her, and Batwoman, and possibly Greg Rucka too.
Still, this has helped restore my faith after seeing this little heartwarming story. Ugh Bill Willingham, I try so hard to not dislike him, basically because of Fables, but this is too much. The two sort of balance out to not making me especially annoyed or happy, a lot of the time that is the best I feel I can expect from DC.

Mini Reviews – horror, heroes and angst

Self Made Man by Poppy Z Brite – I’ve tried to read Popy Z Brite’s work in the past, because I know her reputation as an amazing and controversial writer, but it didn’t really work, I didn’t even get the whole way through Swamp Foetus, I think I found it too brutal. This time was totally different, yes, several of the stories in Self Made Man are very brutal, especially basically the whole of the title story, heavily influenced by Jeffery Dahmer, but with a bit of a cult horror twist that was unexpected but really interesting. In some ways Brite’s writing reminds me of the feeling Angela Carter’s stories in The Bloody Chamber have, though more overtly erotic, in some cases pornographic, there is the same dark beauty among the grusomeness, it’s just that for Brite the ratios are reversed so that the violence is more explicit than in Carter’s fairy stories. Brite’s own fairy story is of course the one where the similarities are most obvious, King of Cats works as a homosexual reimagining of a classic story because it doesn’t present the homosexual relationship as deviant or even really worth commenting on, it simply is. The only problem I have with Self Made Man is that several of the stories are about recurring characters from Brite’s novels, which I have not read. Much as I appreciate the stories on their own there is none of the pleased recognition of a character which I could have had, but the fact that the stories do work on their own with no previous knowledge being needed is a compliment to the accessibility of Brite’s writing, if not always of her sometimes rather unsubtle scenarios.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by John Chobsky, is in some ways the opposite of Poppy Z Brite’s short stories, the actions that drive most of the plot are subtle, not emerging until the very end, and even then there is a understatedness to the reveal, there is a climax but it feels more as if the whole novel has been one long denouement. I had always known of Wallflower without actually really knowing what it was about, only knowing it has a reputation for having a really good ‘soundtrack’, and it does, reading it made me want to listen to The Smiths, to Nirvana, bands that were important for me at the same age as they are important to the protagonist Charlie, even if I was that age nearly 10 years later, perhaps there is a universality of being an awkward teenager. I found the whole novel very easy to read, I read it in a day, reluctant to do anything else, and very affecting, the epistolary nature of the novel means that the ‘dear friend’ letters are addressed directly to the reader, making it very personal, I did end up in tears a couple of times. Despite that it is a very happy novel, when the group of friends are having fun it seems unselfconscious, they seem the type of people you could really be friends with, by no means perfect or even always nice, and it’s full of little recurring in-jokes, for example about celebrity interviews which create the feeling of belonging between Charlie and the reader that has strives for throughout the novel.

Soon I Will Be Invincible, by Austin Grossman, is also obsessed with the theme of inclusion and belonging, or lack of it. This is not surprising as the narrators are a literal mad scientist and a cyborg with no memory of her previous life, struggling to adapt to life on a superhero team. The novel contains so many parallels with classic DC and Marvel comics that it is almost a game of “spot the parallel hero”, as well as containing many superhero tropes, I only found this distracting when it came to Fatale, the cyborg who could be Justina Robson’s Lila Black character taken from Keeping It Real and given a new name. Despite this found Invincible to be an incredibly fun read, the way the best comics should be, but also it is though-provoking, I found Doctor Impossible an utterly tragic character, in the classic sense, he is so bound by the tropes of the evil genius, even while he is aware of them he is almost totally unable to avoid them, constantly nearly telling other characters his cunning plan. However, the most interesting character by far was Lilly, villain turned hero and the only really morally ambiguous character, by the end of the novel I felt I was as unknowing about her motivations as at the start, but not in an annoying way, it was pure mystery rather than bad writing. Despite the novel’s awareness of the grim-and-gritty direction comics have taken, acknowledging it in places, Invincible was a fun read in a way that the frustrating love/hate relationship I have with DC cannot compare, a loving homage to a genre as well as a good standalone novel.

Writers Block 1

‘Which character from any film, television show, or book would you most like to take on a date and why?’

We got asked this question in my very first English Lit lesson at college, then I said Dorian Gray, to the confusion of many people, especially my teacher. I still totally would go out with him, it would be an amazing night, even if the aftermath was all kinds of horrible.

Now, I’d love to go to a gig with Dr Alison Mann from Y: The Last Man, but when she was a young punk girl rebelling against everything and every one, while still being inceredibly intelligent. She’s amazing as an older woman, but far too intimidating, but she’d be great fun when she was my age, and so sweet. The other one, also far too intelligent for me, Dr Spencer Reed from Criminal Minds (apparently I have a thing for doctors).  He’s actually a genius, has really nice hair, is a total geek and we could have fun conversations about gruesome things, awesome.

A delay

My Big D and the Kid’s Table essay has been delayed, because I found out the other day that they’ve just released a new album, which it doesn’t seem right not to include. So, it’s on its way to my house, and I’ll edit what I’ve done so far accordingly, after I’ve listened to it. I’m incredibly pleased about a new album because it means something else – touring! Last time Big D came to England I saw them twice, hopefully I’ll be doing so again, they’re an amazing live band so I’ve very excited. I just hope I don’t have to wait till some time next year for them to come over, I’m not even considering the possibility that they won’t.

To stop this being a bit of a nothing post, have some links. Scans_daily, previously a LiveJournal community, is now over at InsaneJournal,with slightly modified rules but the same mix of new and old comic scans, it’s one of the sites that I check every day. I’ve also been spending a lot of time reading The New Gay, amagazine site with a rather different take on queer culture, it seems geared towards people not in the ‘scene’ so to speak, and is really interesting, including articles about indie music, ballet and of course ‘ask a straight guy’. To pair that is Autosaddle, also a magazine format, but aimed at gay girls, with a definate feminist bent, a possibly rather obsessive love for The L Word and lots of photo galleries.

Endless Reflections

So, I’ve had writer’s block for this blog for a while, balanced out partially by the fact that my zine has been going pretty well, I’ve been really busy with it, and I think all of my inspiration has been going into that rather than here. That’s not a bad thing at all, since I’m hoping to get it done by July 1st, not that far away at all.

However, I just saw this. I don’t know what to think. I’m sure it is new, it’s not something I’ve seen before, but searching Yahoo I found this,so I guess that must be what it is, I can’t believe I hadn’t heard about it. I wonder if it will come to the UK or if that was it, I guess since it’s 2009 now that was it, which is lame.

Still, that has confirmed one thing for me, I thought I was totally sick of The Sandman after writing my dissertation on it, but the excitement when I stumbled on that teaser page proves I’m obviously not, which is nice. It also reminded me I was going to post my dissertation on here, so, sometime after 19th June when Iget my results, I’ll post my dissertation up here for you all to read.

Political Correctness

I’ve just seen this post from The F Word, good timing as I’ve also just been reading the comments here, about the new Black Panther solicitations. I don’t really read Marvel, and it was definatly the comments more then the content of the post that got me, this one especially:

That whole magic spider eater guy thing was really gay and stupid. (and no, dont tell me not to say “gay”, im not   hearing it.) Has it been retconned back to Spidey’s original origin yet?”

The poster is obviously aware that their comment is going to be found offensive, and it is, I hate the use of ‘gay’ to mean rubbish, stupid, bad, incorrect, anything pejorative, it’s just homophobic, there is no other way to spin it. The comments of course reflect this, so we get this:

“I think someone who thinks someone is a douchebag for using the word “gay” is probably the real douchebag, so go ahead, knock yourself out. Usually the type of people who get upset by that thing are pc douchebags”
So yes, the homophobia is ‘a statement against political correctness’ just as the inappropriate calender is. Neither of them are big things, but that’s the point, that is what political correctness is there for and why it is so important, if the little things are made unacceptable then hopefully the big things will be as well. I wish these two examples made me a little bit angry at least, they don’t, they just make me feel tired.

I love Scans_Daily, it is eternally entertaining, and it is one of the most accepting places on the internet, as comics discussion goes it has an incredibly mixed, intelligent, funny set of contributors, and the response to the comments was what I would expect, a Mod gets involves, it all fizzles out. After all, ‘The golden rule: All posts and comments are to maintain a respectful tone towards fellow members’, and this is kept to strictly. That makes it worse, because I might expect to see it in other places, but not there.

Why I love Wet Moon

This is Cleo and Trilby from Ross Campbell’s series Wet Moon:


I love this series, at first I’d look at the covers when I was at work and think “Wow, those are some hot girls”, then I read one. Istill thought “Wow, those are some hot girls”, but I also realised that Campbell’s girls sound, to me, like real girls. They bitch and squabble, and talk about nothing important at all for pages at a time, and they just hang out, they gossip. It feels like watching a reality show about a load of sort of goth girls, I’ve always had a hard time remembering that characters are just that, they are constructs, and Cleo, Trilby, Mara and the rest feel like real people to me. My face at the cliff-hanger at the end of volume two must have been amazing, I bought volume three just a few days later and volume 4 is on the way.

Much of the appeal is the art, the simple fact that Ross Campbell does draw hot girls, but not just that, they’re hot girls that have different body shapes, ethnicities, and most important – different faces! It’s sad that I’m used to telling who a girl is by her hair and costume, Campbell’s girls don’t need that, the only two I get momentarily confused by are sisters anyway.  However, this is not without controversy, as this thread shows Campbell raising the question of whetherone of his characters is racist or offensive.

Having read three of the volumes I have only just come to a realisation that Wet Moon, certainly fictional, is also really rather surreal, but in such a way that it is only after stepping back from the book I even considered it. But what town is about 25% goths? It seems a small university town, but it has a goth club, a coffee shop called ‘Burial Grounds’, and two cemetaries, and nobody seems to think a one-armed girl taking photos of herself on the floor covered in dirt and rubbish is unusual.  It’s a goths dream, which I think is rather the point. I know that at 15, when I actually looked a little bit like Cleo, I would have fallen in love with the town. As it is I think I want it to be real.

It feels bizarre being so obsessed with a book, it hasn’t happened in a while, Wet Moon really has filled my life for the last few weeks, and the way the girls, especially Cleo, are so obviously awkward about their bodies and themselves but then so amazing in their tiny shorts and little tops has made me think showing a bit of flesh now and then isn’t a big deal. Wet Moon is drawn by a man, it would be easy for me to talk about sexualisation, all Campbell’s girls are very sexy, and the male gaze, and so on, but it doesn’t feel that way to me, because the reader sees Cleo worrying about her hair or her weight and dressed up for a club, and just hanging out with her friends, so much of what is presented does not seem to be be through the male gaze at all, and I find myself wanting to the sometimes revealing outfits to be a sign of the character’s ownerships of their bodies. So, maybe I should prove I really am comfortable in my body, maybe wearing shorts in the summer instead of boiling in jeans won’t be such an issue this year. Maybe I’ll admit that, coveted by society as my body-type may be, I’ve not always been as confident about it as I should be.

I wish I had found Wet Moon earlier, I would have loved it, but I’ll settle for loving it now, and though this was really a bit too gushy it had a point, I love comics because they really do change the way I see the world, all books do, and this one helped me change the way I see myself a little, which is nice, and bizarely self-help-like.

Course Choices

Since last posting I have been working on more stuff for this blog, but what I thought would be a quick entry has taken on a life of its own, and is not ready at all, in fact I have no idea where it’s going, unfortunately. However, I have had my course choices for third year, and the reading lists for most of them as well, so I’ve begun buying and reading books, which is exciting.

One of my units is called Contemporary Writing, we study books published only in 2008, none of which I have heard of which is awful, it shows how out of touch with literature I am, as I’m sure if it were comics I’d know them all and have read a proportion of them. With literature I get a bit stuck if it’s after about 1935 and not sci fi or Neil Gaiman. However, this is kind of good, I need to widen what I read, and both previous years I’ve discovered new people because of uni (Katherine Mansfield <3)

Also good is the fact that the last three weeks are student choice, we have to persuade the lecturer’s what books are worth studying. Last year Alison Bechdal’s Fun Home was part of the same course, but this year there aren’t any graphic novels, so I’m going to try to get us to study one, they’re a perfectly respectable medium after all. The question is now – what? So far the only idea I’ve had is Brian K Vaughan and Nico Henrichon’s Pride of Baghdad, but that was published in 2006, so it’s not recent enough. I think this is definitely the sort of question I should be asking the internet.


The idea with this blog is that, once a week or so, I post something informative, interesting, or witty about comics, books or music. For some reason I find writing essays fun, but I don’t really know what to do with them once they’re written, so here is where they’ll go, along with other, shorter pieces of writing.

Some stuff will be university work that I think will be interesting to more than the people marking it, probably lots of it will be prompted by my dissertation research but not actually relevant enough for me to use it in the dissertation itself. There will also probably be reviews of gigs I’ve been to, and links to things I find interesting or infuriating.

I guess much of what I write will have a very feminist bent, as I’m a feminist, and the music stuff will almost totally be about ska, psychobilly, rockabilly and punk, since that’s what I listen to. I’ll try to keep the areas I’m writing about consistant, but there is also likely to be posts of me ranting about general things that have annoyed me recently.