Presidential reading

2008 December 15
by Josh Brown
Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli’s emDMZ/em (Vertigo)

Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli’s DMZ (Vertigo)

The Clarion, the publication of the Professional Staff Congress, the City University’s faculty and staff union, recently asked members to contribute a book recommendation for the President-elect. My contribution ended up, justifiably, on the scrap-heap because I couldn’t commit myself to one work and, instead, waxed rhapsodic and otherwise about a genre. In keeping with the notion that the Web is the repository of all ideas—good, bad, and really bad—herewith is my recommendation:

In a variation on the 1992 presidential campaign’s boxers-versus-briefs revelation, a researcher at the British Daily Telegraph recently uncovered candidate Obama’s passion for spandex and loincloths: apparently, he collects Spiderman and Conan the Barbarian comic books.
While there is much to praise in these venerable titles—and much to ponder regarding each character’s appeal for Obama—if his comic book interests haven’t yet ventured farther afield, there are other works he should read.

Indeed, Obama need not venture beyond the Marvel brand to consider one effect of the Bush administration’s abuse of power. The premise behind the recent Civil War miniseries by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven involves passage of the Superhuman Registration Act and the victimization and resistance it provokes. And, in case Obama’s wondering what’s running through Sarah Palin’s head, he might read Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli’s DMZ (Vertigo), where military interventions abroad and rightwing influence at home render Manhattan a last outpost of diversity. Meanwhile, we’ve been spared one aspect of Anthony Lappé and Dan Goldman’s dystopian vision of perpetual war in the Middle East in their Shooting War (Warner): a McCain presidency.

The appeal to the imagination notwithstanding, President Obama should pick up Joe Sacco’s path-breaking graphic journalism, especially his Palestine and Safe Area Gorazde: The War In Eastern Bosnia 1992-1995 (Fantagraphic Books), and more recently his unique coverage of Iraq in The Guardian and Harper’s.

Last 5 posts by Josh Brown

2008 December 18
andrea permalink

Donna and I purchased one of the books in the Socco series on the Bosnian war that Josh mentions. It’s in my office if anyone here wants to read it. And by the way, do we have a category in the library database for graphic books?

2008 December 22

I don’t think the Library database has a category (as of now), which seems odd given that we seem to be such fans of visual media!

I would suggest that Obama read Micheal Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” and Peter Annin’s “The Great Lakes Water Wars.” Food and Water policy I think are going to be two of the most important issues in the next eight years. After all, once of the most underplayed Faux paux’s of the 2008 election season was McCain’s ill advised comments on the Colorado River. ( which may well have cost him any chance of winning the state.

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