Mormons as Normal People:
a brief look at the Mormon
elements in Anthony Holden’s
Precious Rascals

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I wasn’t aware of Anthony Holden until only just recently when a mutual friend pointed me in the direction of his new book, Precious Rascals. I just finished reading a pdf of the book, which I concluded then immediately ordered a hard copy to share with my own family.

Precious Rascals is half comics diary, half memoir. Holden is sharing with comics he made first for himself and perhaps his wife, then for his children—sort of a large plates in funny-pictures form. The comics are charming and funny, and the accompanying prose is charismatic even when it risks becoming self-indulgent (which isn’t often; largely it’s as fun as the pictures).

I’m writing about his book here because the way he deals with his family’s LDSness is interesting. Interesting largely because it is utterly matter-of-fact. He doesn’t feel the need to make it a big deal; he doesn’t feel the need to secretize their Mormon identity.

It is, in other words, a healthily unapologetic way of being publically Mormon. So if you need a theory-centric reason to buy a book that will make you laugh, let that be it.

Here are a couple more little bits to show the range of Signifying Mormon seen in the collection:

Reading The Devil Is Due in Dreary as a Mormon text

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David Parkin gave me a copy of The Devil Is Due in Dreary after my Comic-Con presentation. He’s a friend of a friend and we all ate dinner together, discussing the nature of being a Mormon and an artist and/or a Mormon artist. Also, I’m sad to share, I heard some unpleasant stories about bias against Mormons in Tinseltown. So there’s that.

Anyway, The Devil Is Due in Dreary shares some surface traits with Pariah Missouri—terrifyingly authoritarian religious orders in a Western setting tinged with the supernatural. But Dreary is either modern or near-modern and thus Dreary the town isn’t merely frontier (as is Pariah), but isolated—a pocket of the past trapped in the modern world. Continue reading “Reading The Devil Is Due in Dreary as a Mormon text”

Mormon Easter Eggs and
Mormon Veins of Gold
in Pariah Missouri

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As this post appears, you have less than one day to get into the Pariah Missouri Kickstarter, so open that in a new tab now, so’s you don’t forget.

You may recall that I’ve mentioned this comic before, but that was before I’d read it. Now I have and I’m ready to talk about its Mormon elements.

pariahmissouri01The first thing to know is that all I can discuss at present of the story’s first two volumes as the third and presumably final volume is the Kickstarter’s raison d’être. Therefore I will not be attempting any sort of Meaning of the Work as a Whole or analyzing its Mormon elements with that sort of goal in mind. Rather, my interest today is comparing the Mormon aspects of the two books available now. After all—that’s what the author challenged me to do!

(The author, Andres Salazar, sent me review copies gratis.) Continue reading “Mormon Easter Eggs and
Mormon Veins of Gold
in Pariah Missouri

SDCC and Pariah Missouri

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Trevor Alvord and I gave presentations at the recently completed San Diego Comic-Con International. I may get around to connecting the subpar audio to the slideshow, but if you’re interested you can look at the pictures sans commentary now. If you have questions, please ask.

One of the first and most worth discussions questions we took during our Q&A came from Andres Salazar, a writer/artist I’d never heard of before and creator of Pariah Missouri, an indirectly Mormon-themed Western.

The gist of the question was this:

How do we decide, as Mormon creators, how much Mormon to stick into our works?

We should have hosted a panel with creators just to address that question. It’s a good one, and later that evening at dinner with some Mormon filmmakers, we rehashed it.

My answer at the time, basically, was that more specific works are more universal, and we can trust audiences to keep up with fully Mormon works. I made the Maus comparison and should have mentioned American Born Chinese—two widely beloved comics that make the point.

Anyway. That’s it for this minireport. I have some books that were given to me that I’ll write up here on AMV in the near future.

Until then, join me in checking out Pariah Missouri. But don’t dawdle! It has an active Kickstarter and now’s the time to get in. Third volume’s the last volume, so if you want a supernatural western with a Mormony aftertaste, act now.

Theric at
San Diego Comic-Con International

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As part of this ongoing hoax of me being expert, I will be presenting on Mormons in Comics with Trevor Alvord (BYU librarian and the man who has unquestionably outraced me in expertise).

 

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People discussed in my presentation will also be present including Tyler Kirkham (on at least one panel), Ryan Ottley (booth 4601), Mike and Laura Allred (Eisner Awards), Jed Henry (not in my presentation but in the Nucleus booth). There are some other Mormon or Mormon-adjacent folk there as well. Noah Van Sciver is also nominated for an Eisner but, ah, I neglected to ask if he’ll be there.

There and back again—
then onward ever onward
a chat with Dendo‘s Brittany Long Olsen

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I try to keep up on the what’s-what in Mormon comics, but I didn’t even hear about Brittany Long Olsen until she was getting interviewed by Andrew Hall, followed by her book getting serious attention from the AML.

Which book, by the way, deserves that attention. Dendo is the erstwhile Sister Long’s day-by-day comics record of her mission in Japan. By its gradual accumulation of small moments, both highs and lows—by relentlessly capturing the mundanity of mission life, she accomplishes the truly epic event that is a proselyting mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I’m not a huge reader of the missionary-memoir genre, but for my money, Dendo is the best out there.

(And, I should note, for your money as well.)

This is an interview I conducted with Brittany on March 2, 2016 (with slight edits to make us both look better).

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Hello, this is Brittany.

Hey Brittany, this is Theric Jepson.

Hello.

How are you?

Good, I’m good. How are you?

I’m great. Shall we start?

Yeah.

Okay, so the first question I wanna ask you is: Dendo seems to capture missionary experience a lot more universally than you seemed to expect. Is that—

Oh yeah? Continue reading “There and back again—
then onward ever onward
a chat with Dendo‘s Brittany Long Olsen

Newish stuff from Van Sciver and Hales

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vanhales

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Two interesting (and short) Mormon comics out in the last little while (or midsized while, if you consider their original appearances online). Scott’s book just dropped. Noah’s arrived last July. Noah’s is about a Mormon kid whose connection to that aspect of his identity has largely lost its definition. Scott’s is the ultimate in insider humor.

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MY HOT DATE by Noah Van Sciver

I was pretty much the perfect Mormon teen, I suppose. I didn’t swear, I showed up on time to Church, I went to seminary. Because I was a teenager, I imagined that was because I did these things myself. Of course, that’s nonsense. What if I had been thrust into young Noah’s circumstances? Continue reading “Newish stuff from Van Sciver and Hales”