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The Patron Saint of Superheroes

Chris Gavaler Explores the Multiverse of Comics, Pop Culture, and Politics

I became comics editor of Shenandoah in fall 2018, and except for happily stepping back for a guest editor last spring, I’ve had the privilege of selecting works for what is now six issues. The first couple of issues were all solicited, but the journal has garnered enough of a reputation for publishing literary comics that I find my job is more about being introduced to new names from our increasingly impressive submissions than seeking out names I already know. That’s a happy change. Better, the range of styles and narrative approaches I keep meeting are eclectically eccentric. One of the works in our new issue (which went live Friday!) was originally a poetry submission (you’ll have to guess which one), so ‘narrative’ isn’t even the right word. I spend an improbable amount of my scholarly life debating the definitions of ‘comics’ (at least two definitions are necessary, one for form, one for medium), but ‘literary comics’ (and its sibling ‘poetry comics’) poses an even greater riddle. But here’s the simplest approach: when defined by medium, a literary comic is a comic published by a literary journal or press, and since Shenandoah is most definitely a literary journal (we just entered our 71st year), the six news works linked below are most definitely literary comics. Though the category ‘Shenandoah literary comics’ is self-explanatory, I also wonder if that category is developing its own recognizable aesthetic. I both hope so and hope not. You can judge for yourself:

Aidan Daniel’s “How to Do the Scorpion”

Maggie Queeney’s “A Ghost Story (Women)”

Coyote Shook’s “The Gospel According to Opal Foxx”

Kristen Emanuel’s “Mothra x Godzilla”

Taku Ward’s “A Cheeseburger Sushi’s Experience”

G.H. Yamauchi’s “Decoding”

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