Charles Burns

50 Great Books You’ll Never Read in School

Back-to-school time is upon us, and for many, that means reading for pleasure will give way to burning through that syllabus. Classrooms, especially high school classrooms (college classes are becoming so weird and specific nowadays that you could read just about anything in them), suffer from the “classic effect” — which is exactly what it sounds like. Not that there’s anything wrong with literary classics, and they definitely should be read, but there’s so much more out there. And when you consider the fact that one-third of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives — well, it would be nice if they had a little more to go on than The Great Gatsby. After the jump, find a selection of books you’ll (probably) never read in high school, but should still read, and add your own favorite anti-schoolbooks to the list in the comments. … Read More

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25 Essential Graphic Novels

Long dismissed as a less serious art form, graphic novels have finally started to gain more mainstream credibility over the last 20 years. There are many, many excellent examples out there, but if you’re looking for a place to start, start here! The world of the graphic novel is one that spans a wide range of authors, artists, styles, and subject matter, and this primer covers all the… Read More

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10 Novels to Replace ‘Catcher In The Rye’ as the Perfect Teen Book

Last Friday, Jessica Roake over at Slate lamented the fall of Holden Caulfield in the esteem of modern teenagers — “The problem is that Catcher in the Rye is no longer a book for cool high school students,” she writes. “Catcher in the Rye is a book for cool high school teachers.” A host of factors have added to the books current lack of cool, the most important probably being its ubiquitousness on modern high school syllabi — how can something truly feel underground, transformative, if your teachers are assigning it?

“The perfect teenage book should feel like it’s being passed around secretly, its message too raw and powerful for adults to understand,” Roake explains. “It should inspire highlighting and ponderous margin notes that embarrass you 20 years later. Most of all, it should feel like it’s speaking directly to you, and only you, even if everyone else in your class is working on the same essay question.” We totally concur, and after the jump, we’ve put forward ten novels that we think might just have the chops to replace our beloved Catcher in our collective teenage imaginations. But then again, maybe nothing will ever replace it. Click through to check out our list, and if you don’t see your favorite, add and argue in the comments. … Read More

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10 Great Books That Should Be Movies

Hollywood has always looked to literature for inspiration and adaptation fodder, but these days, it seems more likely than not that any given new film will be based on a book (or be a sequel or a superhero movie, but let’s set that aside). Not that that’s a bad thing — we’re looking forward to Cloud Atlas, On the Road, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower as much as the next guy. Still, we’re baffled at some of the books that, for whatever reason, haven’t yet been snapped up by the Hollywood machine. After the jump, we’ve put together a list of novels that we’d love to see hit the big screen — click through to check out our picks and add your own wish list in the comments! … Read More

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10 Graphic Novels That Would Make Awesome TV Shows

To our delight, we recently found out that one of our favorite graphic novelists, Daniel Clowes, is working on a pilot for HBO. Though Clowes’s new TV show is apparently an original, the news got us thinking about great graphic novels that we think would be absolutely perfect for television. Note: for simplicity’s sake, we’ve excluded graphic novels that have already been made into movies (Clowes’s Ghost World, Persepolis, Watchmen) or are best known as series (Sandman, Tintin). Click through to check out which graphic novels we desperately want to see for six seasons and a movie, and then let us know which ones you’d watch on the small screen in the comments. … Read More

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A Brief Guide to Surviving the Most Frightening Fictional Diseases

Today marks the release of Ben Marcus’s long-awaited fourth novel, The Flame Alphabet, in which language becomes lethal, estranging families, turning children (who are solely immune) into something resembling packs of wild dogs, and requiring everyone’s complicity in a sort of social apocalypse brought on by an inability to communicate. Needless to say, the concept that language may turn toxic and slowly kill off its users is relatively terrifying for us, so we’ve put together a short guide on the most frightening fictional afflictions in literature — and more importantly, how to avoid them. Click through for a quick survival lesson, and let us know if you have any more safety tips in the comments. … Read More

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The Best Clips from MTV’s ‘Liquid Television’ Archive

Children of the ’90s will remember MTV’s animated anthology series Liquid Television for gems like the avant sci-fi Æon Flux, early Beavis and Butthead, or even the show’s theme music composed by Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh. The oddball indie animated showcase was one giant bizarro world blending the strange and amusing works from names like Richard Sala, Charles Burns, and Peter Bagge. It looks like MTV is hosting a giant Liquid Television portal — a virtual treasure trove of these early works which pushed boundaries and in many ways helped revolutionize the art of animation. Check out MTV’s archive and hit the jump for a peek at a few of our faves from this out of print series. Play some “Frog Baseball,” dig into a little 1990’s infomercialism at its weirdest, experience an early live-action/comic book work from Charles Burns, and more below. … Read More

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10 Disturbingly Brilliant Graphic Novels

Art Spiegelman’s MetaMaus: A Look Inside a Modern Classic hits shelves this week, and being huge fans of Spiegelman (and particularly Maus) we couldn’t be more excited. First published twenty-five years ago, Maus has become a modern classic, though it is at times a difficult and disturbing novel. MetaMaus delves into the history of the book with hundreds of pages of answered questions and supporting information and is sure to satiate any fan — at least for a while. If you’re anything like us, you’ll need something to keep your graphic novel kick going when you come up for air, so we’ve put together a list of some of our favorite disturbingly brilliant graphic novels, including the famous Maus. Click through to see our picks, and let us know if we’ve missed any of your favorites in the comments. … Read More

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10 Great Works of Literature for America’s 10 Most Literate Cities

The results are in on Central Connecticut State University’s annual study ranking the most literate cities in the United States. And guess what? Despite the literary mecca that is Brooklyn, New York doesn’t even crack the top 25. In fact, we’re pretty sure the top 10 will surprise you. But don’t worry if you’re not conversant in the literary classics of our most well-read cities. We’ve matched each with a book that’s set there. Take a virtual roadtrip through America’s most literate metropolises after the jump. … Read More

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