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Kristy Valenti's Blog
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The Umpteen Millionaire Club: Discussion Questions for Barack Hussein Obama
Written by Kristy Valenti | Filed under Umpteen Millionaire ClubSteven Weissman 2 Nov 2012 4:25 PM

Barack Hussein Obama by Steven Weissman

[For this installment of The Umpteen Millionaire Club (which perhaps should be renamed The Umpteen 1% Club for the occasion), The Comics Journal interns Kristen Bisson, Aiden Fitzgerald, Tom Graham, Janice Lee & Anna Pederson put together this series of discussion questions about Barack Hussein Obama by Steven Weissman for use in book clubs. – Ed.]


Barack Hussein Obama is a collection of absurdist four-panel gag strips featuring the Head of State, his family and numerous political friends and foes.

Barack Hussein Obama Book Club Questions:

What does this book have to say about Obama’s role as a statesman and/or figurehead?

Is this book making a political statement? If so, what is that statement?

Discuss the significance of characters’ transformations: i.e. head sizes, into birds, into trees.

What effect does showing the characters’ personal lives — even fictionally — have on our view of their political lives?

What picture does the book paint about the future of politics?

How is religion portrayed?

What does the book say about media culture in politics?

Friday Follies
Written by Kristy Valenti | Filed under Robert Crumboffice funinterns 27 Apr 2012 11:37 AM

Interns Anna and Madisen model the latest in temporary tat fashion, courtesy of the desk drawer.


The Umpteen Millionaire Club: Discussion Questions for Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse
Written by Kristy Valenti | Filed under Umpteen Millionaire ClubMickey MouseFloyd GottfredsonDisney 15 Nov 2011 11:03 PM

Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 2: Trapped on Treasure Island (Fantagraphics)

[The Comics Journal interns Ben Horak, Kara Krewer, Janice Lee and Jennifer Williams put together this series of discussion questions about Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 2: Trapped on Treasure Island by Floyd Gottfredson for use in book clubs. As this is intended for those who have read the book and contains spoilers, questions about specific storylines can be found behind the jump. – Ed.]


Find examples of Gottfredson's use of black to navigate the eye through the actions in the comic.

These adventure strips contain some dark subject matter, including lynching, cannibalism, murder and death. How does this reflect the public's state of mind during the Depression era?

How does Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse inform contemporary Mickey? In what ways has Mickey changed or evolved as a character?

[Read more...]

The Umpteen Millionaire Club: Discussion Questions for The Last Rose of Summer
Written by Kristy Valenti | Filed under Umpteen Millionaire ClubMonte Schulz 1 Jun 2011 6:24 PM

The Last Rose of Summer by Monte Schulz

[The Comics Journal intern Brittany Matter put together this series of discussion questions about Monte Schulz's novel The Last Rose of Summer for use in book clubs. As this is intended for those who have read the book and contains spoilers, the questions can be found behind the jump. Monte Schulz appears tomorrow, June 2, 2011, at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco to discuss his work and that of his late father, Charles M. Schulz. – Ed.]


The second book in Monte Schulz’ Jazz Age trilogy (the first, This Side of Jordan, was released in 2009; the last, The Big Town, will be released in 2012), The Last Rose of Summer examines the relationships among three women under the same roof in late 1920s Bellemont, East Texas: Maude, Marie and Rachel. Marie and her two small children, Cissie and Henry, are sent by her husband Harry to live with his mother Maude while he is on business elsewhere. Marie observes her sister-in-law Rachel’s tempestuous love life while trying to abide by Maude’s house rules, keep track of her children and provide for her family. When a boy is found dead in the river, Marie worries that his killer may still be lurking in the shadows. As a Northerner, she is also disturbed by the town’s overt racism, especially that of her in-laws. Meanwhile, she resists the advances of her boss, Jimmy Delahaye.

[Read more...]

The Umpteen Millionaire Club: Discussion Questions for Freeway
Written by Kristy Valenti | Filed under Umpteen Millionaire ClubMark Kalesniko 12 Mar 2011 10:33 AM

Freeway by Mark Kalesniko

[The Comics Journal intern Laura Pieroni put together this series of discussion questions about Mark Kalesniko's Freeway for use in book clubs. As this is intended for those who have read the book and contains spoilers, the conclusion of the synopsis and the questions can be found behind the jump. – Ed.]


Alex, Mark Kalesniko's recurring dog-headed character, has been stuck in Los Angeles traffic for longer than he can remember. In fact, Alex has been stuck in traffic through multiple time periods and alternate lives.

Freeway is a non-linear compilation of various alternate realities centered on Alex and his dream of being an animator at Babbitt Jones Studios. Alex takes readers through his memories as a child dreaming of a career in animation and into his experiences working that same dream job turned nightmare. Through the story Alex also has multiple visions of violently dying, and a fantasy of what it might have been like to work at Babbitt Jones during its Golden Age when the animators were treated like royalty instead of assembly-line workers.

[Read more...]

The Umpteen Millionaire Club: Discussion Questions for Castle Waiting Vol. 2
Written by Kristy Valenti | Filed under Umpteen Millionaire ClubLinda Medley 28 Jan 2011 9:14 AM

Castle Waiting Vol. 2 by Linda Medley

[The Comics Journal interns Laura Pieroni and Chi-Wen Lee put together a series of discussion questions about Linda Medley's Castle Waiting Vol. 2 for use in book clubs. As these questions are intended for those who have read the book, please be warned that they may contain mild spoilers. – Ed.]


Linda Medley's fairy-tale misfits are back in the second volume of Castle Waiting. While some of Castle Waiting's residents reminisce, a Hammerling pair ventures to the castle for assistance in putting together a woman's wardrobe. In return for Lady Jain's help with the clothes, the Hammerlings assist in the unearthing of a secret passageway. Castle inhabitants' pasts are revealed through flashbacks: Dr. Fell's dark history with the plague, Lady Jain's childhood experiences with her betrothed and evil half-sisters, and the story of Simon's father are brought to light.

Discussion Questions:

Genre and History

What are some of the ways that Linda Medley stays faithful to the "fantasy" genre, and in what ways does she break from it?

The second volume reveals Dr. Fell's past as a doctor during the Black Plague; what effect does incorporating historical events/facts into the story have?

What part does Christianity play in the series?

How does Sister Peace interpret the role of the nun? How is she the same or different from a traditional nun?


What is the relationship between Leeds and Sister Peace?

How has Pindar affected those living in the castle?

What can the reader infer from Jain's relationships with Tylo and Pindar's father?

What is the relationship between the Hammerlings and humans?

What is the relationship between Jain and her (half?) sisters?


At one point in the story, Flora is trapped in the armory pen to keep her from chewing out of the wooden one; how does this reflect Jain's situation in the castle?

Sister Peace, Simon and Mr. Rackham exhibit traits that are atypical of traditional gender roles. What are these characteristics, and how does this affect their interactions with the other members in the castle?

What does this say about the author's view on traditional roles?

The Umpteen Millionaire Club: Discussion Questions for Lucky in Love
Written by Kristy Valenti | Filed under Umpteen Millionaire ClubStephen DeStefano 30 Nov 2010 4:30 PM

Lucky in Love Book 1: A Poor Man's History by George Chieffet & Stephen DeStefano

[The Comics Journal interns Andrew Davis and Chi-Wen Lee put together a series of discussion questions about Stephen DeStefano & George Chieffet's Lucky in Love Book 1: A Poor Man's History for use in book clubs. As these questions are intended for those who have read the book, please be warned that they may contain mild spoilers. – Ed.]


At age 15, the only things on Lucky's mind are women, sex, movies, and, to some degree, the war. He fantasizes about being a hero, much like in the Tex Stengler films his friends and he watch. When he does enlist, however, it appears his "heroic" adventures consist of nothing more than removing guns from warplanes and failed attempts to get a girl. But the war has still changed Lucky in some way; whether he is conscious of it or not, he becomes more aware of social and racial perceptions.

Discussion Questions:

What function does the book's disclaimer about characters' usage of racial slurs serve? Did the characters' usage of these terms affect your perception of the story?

How racially accepting is Lucky? Does he grow more fair-minded throughout the book?

In the story, has Lucky actually been "lucky" in any sense of the word?

Is Lucky ever "in love"?

Can you detect influences in Stephen DeStefano's artwork?

How is Lucky's encounter with the prostitute significant beyond being his first sexual experience?

Is Lucky a hero for serving in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II?

Why is the third chapter entitled "Lucky Triumphant"?

Since the war had ended, Lucky's life in "Lucky Triumphant" takes a different tone compared to the first two chapters. Does the third chapter continue any threads begun earlier?

Did Lucky accomplish anything during his early years (the course of this book)? Does it matter?

The Fantagraphics Map/Staff Field Guide
Written by Kristy Valenti | Filed under staffinternsbehind the scene 1 Nov 2010 4:51 PM

Fantagraphics Map / Staff Field Guide
(Click to enlarge)

This "Handy Fantagraphics Map/Staff Field Guide" was created by Chi-Wen Lee and Andrew Davis to help future interns: it dates roughly back to the third week of October, where it originated over a bubble tea-fueled discussion about Lucky in Love, how awesome the Fantagraphics people are, the awesomeness of Seattle, the mysterious stairway that leads to the upstairs apartment, how hard it is to remember everyone's names, and Pinocchio with a gun. Yes, in that order. 

The Umpteen Millionaire Club: discussion questions for Wally Gropius
Written by Kristy Valenti | Filed under Umpteen Millionaire ClubTim Hensley 27 Aug 2010 12:03 PM

Wally Gropius by Tim Hensley

Summer 2010 interns Ian Burns, Melissa Gray, Jamie Hibdon, Kailyn Kent, Michael Litven and Christina Texeira put together a series of discussion questions about Tim Hensley's Wally Gropius for use in book clubs. As these questions are intended for those who have read the book, please be warned that contain spoilers [We've placed any spoilers behind the jump – Ed.].

How the Story is Told

Wally Gropius is broken up into a collection of small episodes that end with punch lines. How did this affect your reading experience, i.e. your engagement with the story and feelings for the characters?

What affect does solid color instead of detailed backgrounds have on the story? Did they affect the sense of "reality" in the comic?

Do all the visual and textual puns create their own narrative, or do they just exist for humor's sake? Do they add complexity to narrative?

Compare and contrast the punning in the sound effects of Wally Gropius with how other creators use onomatopoeia. How did you respond to that?

[Read more...]

Fanta's Own Burns and Allen
Written by Kristy Valenti | Filed under interns 28 Apr 2010 12:34 PM

Interns Ian Burns and Jenna Allen en route to Stumptown Comics Fest:


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