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War Rocket Ajax #131: Comics Scholar Dr. Andrew Kunka On Reading Academically

This week, the War Rocket Ajax podcast returns with our special guest, Dr. Andrew Kunka, college professor and comics scholar. He joins for a discussion of reading comics from an academic perspective, and his research into the history of racism in comics — and you can listen to the whole show right here at ComicsAlliance!War Rocket Ajax #131: Accidental Non-Racism with Dr. Andrew Kunka
(WARNING: Contains NSFW language)

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This week, Chris and Matt are both back from major, life-changing experiences! Matt got married, which he assures us is a big deal, but Chris went to a three-night professional wrestling tournament, so I think we all know who had the real biggest weekend.

Andrew Kunka is an Associate Professor of English at the University of South Carolina, where he teaches British literature, among other topics, and researches subjects including First World War literature, 19th and 20th century British novels, graphic novels, popular culture, and film, especially film noir, war movies, and horror films. When Dr. Kunka joins us, the conversation turns to his research in the history of racism in comics and his pick for the Worst Comic Book Ever:

The full title is Clean Fun Starring Shoogafoots Jones. That was a comic that came out in the 1940s, published by some Christian publishing group, and it’s a crazy, crazy racist comic. And then to make it even worse, it has four panels of the story of how Shoogafoots is too lazy to get a job and how he’s beaten by his wife on a regular basis, and at the bottom of each page, there’s like a Christian Living message.

I was in a discussion with a bunch of other academics about what the worst comic ever was. It was kind of a silly discussion, but I pulled that one out and someone said “I think your objection to this is ideological.” And I said, well, no, if you look at it, it’s also terribly drawn, it’s amateurish in all these different ways, so on top of it, it’s racist. Even if you took your run of the mill racist comic that’s really bad from that time period, this is still worse because it’s also terrible on an aesthetic level.

Find out more in this week’s episode!

Show Notes:

Follow Dr. Kunka and the Comics Alternative on Twitter!

Check out the Comics Alternative podcast!

If you’re curious (and have a high tolerance for insanely offensive imagery), check out Dr. K’s in-depth review of Clean Fun With Shoogafoots Jones.

Chris and Andy’s horrifying trip to South of the Border.

Captain Marvel Shazam’s new boots.

Chris’s Rec: Chikara’s King of Trios 2012

Matt’s Rec: Bernie

Comics Reviewed:

Justice League #0: “Captain Marvel, or Shazam, or whatever we’re going to call him now, is such a great design. It’s so simple, but it has just enough cool stuff. The sash, the gauntlets, the trim on the cape. It’s one of those costumes that almost always looks good no matter who draws it because it’s so simple and well put together. But instead, now we have this. This is a Shazam movie from 1998 that everyone would’ve hated.”

Punisher #16: “I think Alves is a very interesting character. I hope that this isn’t the end of Alves, but I also hope they don’t put her in a box and turn her into the Anti-Punisher in two years. I kinda hope she’s used again, just in an interesting way. It’s a good run.”

The Manhattan Projects v.1: “Clearly, Jonathan Hickman has thought about each of these characters a lot, and they’re all very well fleshed out. Even though the events, the stuff that’s actually happening, is really interesting too, it’s packed with stuff. I don’t want to fault a comic for being loaded with ideas, but there’s a part of me that’s like ‘hey hey hey, let’s slow down and enjoy this!’”

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