I’ve made a terrible mistake

. . . by not coming up with this idea first.

Graphic artist Matt De Lanoy used Legos to recreate the home (and primary mode of transport) of everyone’s favorite treasonous real estate developers. Looking for a good way to pass the time with the kids this afternoon? How about a Lego seal with a taste for human flesh?

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Dang it, Louisville

Did you have to wait until I had been living 9 hours away for a year to open a comic book exhibit in the university’s rare books room?

As both a historian and a lover of comics, I find collections like the one just donated to UofL’s archives extremely interesting. Most generally, my feelings about them reflect an internal tension stemming from the way I think about comic books. On the one hand, I respect them as pieces of art and culture, and feel that they deserve reverence and preservation, while on the other, I think that part of what makes them (especially the older ones) so amazing is their ephemerality. Before comics became too big for their britches to call themselves comic books anymore (I’m looking at you, Graphic Novel section in Barnes & Noble), they were the ideal representations of disposable art. To preserve them almost ruins them.

But, of course, everything should be preserved (#hoarderlogic). And I get more than a little bit excited thinking about how a historian might use comics as sources. For the past century or so, comics have been an important part of our popular mythology. You could easily trace the development of race relations, the war on drugs, and even American advertising through their pages. Or, you could just make up a research project and go to the archives and read them all day. Me? I don’t think anyone’s written the definitive treatment of the social construction of Hostage snacks yet.

Hand me that copy of Green Lantern.

Parents as Historians, Or; Life is Shit, Kid. Good Luck.

For all of the high-falutin historical study I engage in, I don my historian hat most often as a storyteller to my children. And as intimidating as the seminar room may be sometime, any parent will tell you that it’s a whole hell of a lot easier to navigate than explaining the Holocaust to a nine-year-old. And it doesn’t get any easier as they get older, either. The older a child gets, the less productive it becomes to avoid the ugly bits of the stories. When I’m faced with the task of being my sons’ own personal historian, I find myself always coming back to the same question:

How do you explain how fucking terrible the world can be to such a sweet little face?

Which, of course, is really just cover for the real question:

How do you explain how fucking terrible the world can be to such a sweet little face in a way that molds it into the face of a unyielding, rabid champion for love and justice?

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Apologies and Legends of Korra

So, maybe our blog roll-out wasn’t very well timed. I’ve been in D.C. for the past two weeks doing research for my main gig as a history grad student, so posts haven’t been as voluminous as we would have liked. But, now I’m back, and we’re getting back on it with the trailer for the upcoming Avatar (if you have to ask “which Avatar,” please discontinue reading) sequel The Legend of Korra.

Even if I  a) didn’t trust the creators of the Avatar series wholeheartedly (they can’t be held responsible for random acts of Shylamanity) and b) wasn’t reassured by how good the animation looks, the extremely un-stealth nerd-on I get when I see that giant statue of Ang would have me slobbering for more of this.

In Case You Missed It

In which we direct your attention to what we thought we did best this week.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by for our first week on the blog!

Book It On Down the Road

Please to enjoy our weekly round-up of news about books for kids.

  • E.B. White’s biographer claims to have found the spider that inspired Charlotte in Charlotte’s Web. Not quite as exciting as the recent Faulkner plantation diary discovery, but still pretty cool?
  • Interactive books have come a long way from those annoying “push the button to hear some robotic noises” jobs that I had as a kid. Now you can get them complete with in-book puzzles for your iPad. Not sure they’re any less annoying, though.
  • The University of Southern Mississippi’s de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection is hosting an exhibit of original Maurice Sendak artwork, beginning July 9. After all, there has to be some reason for people to live in Mississippi.