Frederik Byrn Køhlert: Serial Selves

That is an interesting tension in comics, because it is sort of self-evidently not “the truth.”
Listen on Google Play Music

fk.jpg

Frederik Byrn Køhlert discusses his book Serial Selves: Identity and Representation in Autobiographical Comics with Chris Richardson. Køhlert is Lecturer in Comics Studies and American Studies at the University of East Anglia. He is the author of Serial Selves: Identity and Representation in Autobiographical Comics (Rutgers University Press, 2019) and The Chicago Literary Experience: Writing the City, 1893-1953 (University of Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 2011). He is also the series editor of Routledge Focus on Gender, Sexuality, and Comics Studies, the editor of A History of Chicago Literature (forthcoming from Cambridge University Press), the co-editor of a special issue of the journal SubStance on Comics and the Anarchist Imagination, and the course director for a new Master of Arts program in Comics Studies at the University of East Anglia, launching in September 2020.

 

RECOMMENDED READINGS

Sick
By Gabby Schulz

This is hands-down my favorite comic from the last five years or so, and one I just finished writing an article about. Equal parts memoir about being sick with a mysterious illness and blazing cultural critique that takes aim at everything from US imperialism to the country's morally bankrupt healthcare system, it’s one of the most politically radical books I’ve ever read—and also one of the most beautiful.

 

This is the book that made me want to study comics academically, and still one of my favorites. Despite being from the early 1990s, Doucet’s feminist and semi-autobiographical comics about her various dreams and desires are still resonant today, not least because of their playfully irreverent approach to the subject matter and their highly idiosyncratic visual style. 

 

A recent book about the state of comics studies as an academic discipline, this is probably a little too inside-baseball for most newcomers, but Singer’s critique of what he sees as the field’s tendency to eschew rigorous scholarship in favor of overly simplistic or celebratory readings strikes me as a much-needed corrective to what I have observed too often myself.

 
Wolf in White Van: A Novel
By John Darnielle

Darnielle is the singer and songwriter for the band The Mountain Goats, and this is his first novel. As anyone who listens to the band knows, Darnielle is a masterful storyteller who can suggest vast inner landscapes with a just a few well-chosen words, and this story of a reclusive man living in the aftermath of a horrible event (and the role-playing adventure game he creates) is one of the most powerful recent novels I have read. 

 

Part of Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 series about influential records, this volume takes a different tack by focusing on the Celine Dion album of the title, which is not exactly a critical favorite. But Wilson is interested in taste, and the whole book is a fascinating exploration of why some people love Celine while others—Wilson among them—simply can’t stand her. It’s one of the smartest pieces of cultural criticism I’ve read.