5.3 It’s on The Illabus: A Discussion with Jean-Christophe Cloutier and John Jennings (SW)

John Jennings—Hugo Award winner, New York Times bestselling author, curator, scholar, and Artist—is keenly aware that in adapting novels for the graphic format, his decisions turn what has only been imagined into facts drawn on the page. In this conversation with critic, translator, and teacher of a creative course on the art of making comics, Jean-Christophe Cloutier, Jennings explores how he makes those decisions that range from the design of endpapers to selecting a character’s skin tone with the ultimate aim of championing Black culture and Black comics. Given that Jennings has just entered the Marvel Universe with the debut of Silver Surfer: Ghost Light, the timing is right to reflect on the pressures and pleasures of adapting beloved stories for a contemporary audience. Jennings is both teacher and student of comics’ powerful lessons, and lucky for listeners, his course comes with an illustrated syllabus, aka illabus. In the podcast’s first ever episode about graphic novels, Jennings and Cloutier talk comic book history, the power of collaboration, and the importance of long showers.

Mentioned in this Episode:

By John Jennings:

Black Kirby: In Search of the MotherBoxx Connection, John Jennings and Stacey Robinson (2015)

The Blacker the Ink: Constructions of Black Identity in Comics and Sequential Art, Edited by Frances Gateward and John Jennings (2016)

Kindred, Octavia Butler, Adapted byDamian Duffy and John Jennings (2018)

Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler, Adapted byDamian Duffy and John Jennings (2021)

After the Rain, Nnedi Okorafor, Adapted by John Jennings and David Brame (2021)

Box of Bones: Book One, Ayize Jama Everett and John Jennings (2021)

Silver Surfer: Ghost Light, John Jennings and Valentine De Landro (2023)

Also mentioned:

Megascope, Curated by John Jennings

Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art, Scott McCloud (1993)

Comics, Comix & Graphic Novels: A History of Comic Art, Roger Sabin (1996)

Outside the Box: Interviews with Contemporary Cartoonists, Hillary L. Chute (2014)

Maus, Art Spiegelman (1980-1991; complete version 1996)

Unveiling Visions: The Alchemy of the Black Imagination, The Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture (2015-2016)

Barry Lyndon, Dir. Stanley Kubrick (1975)

The Silver Surfer: And Who Shall Mourn for Him? Stan Lee, Howard Purcell, et al. (1969)

Kitty Pryde and Wolverine, Chris Claremont and Al Milgrom (1984-1985)

The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction, Istvan Csicsery-Ronay (2011)

“Red Dirt Witch,” in How Long ‘til Black Future Month? N.K. Jemisen (2018)

To learn more about the comic artists Jennings discusses, including Will Eisner, Jack Kirby, Winsor McCay, Frank Miller, and Charles Schulz, see Jeremy Dauber’s American Comics: A History (2021) and Thierry Smolderen’s The Origins of Comics (2014).

Listen and Read:

Audio: It’s on the Illabus

Transcript: 5.3 It’s on the Illabus

5.5 They’re Not Metaphorical Demons: Mariana Enriquez and Magalí Armillas-Tiseyra Novel Dialogue

Booker Prize shortlister Mariana Enriquez, author of Things We Lost in the Fire and The Dangers of Smoking in Bed, joins Penn State professor Magalí Armillas-Tiseyra and host Chris Holmes to talk about her most recent novel, Our Share of Night, her first to be translated into English. Our Share of Night follows a spiritual medium, Juan, who can commune with the dead and with the world of demons, and his son, Gaspar, as they go on a road trip to outrun a secretive occult society called The Order that hopes to use Juan and Gaspar in their unholy quest for immortality.  Publishers Weekly called it “A masterpiece of literary horror.” In a wide-ranging conversation, Mariana reflects on being a horror writer in Argentina, a country that obsesses over its traumatic past. Indeed, Mariana’s interest in writing fiction in the horror genre was prompted by hearing her first horror stories, the terrors of torture and disappearances under the Argentine Junta government. The three discuss Mariana’s use of violence, especially when it involves children; the various afterlives of the translations of Mariana’s award-winning fiction; and the arborescence of the novel form. Humor and dry wit cut through these weighty topics to make for a lively conversation with one of Latin America’s most important contemporary writers. Mentions:  Silvina Ocampo Mariana Enriquez,  La Hermana Menor -The Things We Lost in the Fire -The Dirty Kid Ray Bradbury, The October Country José Donoso Juan Carlos Onetti Ernesto Sabato Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights Ingmar Bergman, The Hour of the Wolf A Nightmare on Elm Street (film) Titane (film) Pope John Paul II The Oulipo Movement Aleister Crowley Chris Holmes is Chair of Literatures in English and Associate Professor at Ithaca College. He writes criticism on contemporary global literatures. His book, Kazuo Ishiguro as World Literature, is under contract with Bloomsbury Publishing. He is the co-director of The New Voices Festival, a celebration of work in poetry, prose, and playwriting by up-and-coming young writers. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
  1. 5.5 They’re Not Metaphorical Demons: Mariana Enriquez and Magalí Armillas-Tiseyra
  2. 5.4 The Meat and Bones of Life
  3. 5.3 “It’s on the Illabus”
  4. 5.2 Writing the Counter-Book: Joshua Cohen with Eugene Sheppard (JP)
  5. 5.1 We Have This-ness, Y’all!
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