Dirt in Lillian E. Smith’s “Strange Fruit”

Lillian E. Smith’s Strange Fruit (1944) has been on my shelf for a few years now. Right now, it sits back in the United States, untouched and locked away in a box in a storage room. When I purchased it, at a book sale, it was one of those books that I had heard about and that looked relevant to my research. I bought it, sat it on the shelf, and always picked something else up when I started to read something new. Here in Norway, I am starting work on a new project that explores interracial intimacy in works by African American authors that appeared around the time of the Loving v. Virginia decision. Even though Smith was white, I felt that I needed to finally read Strange Fruit and see what connections I could make between the 1944 novel and the later works. There are many connections, especially to something like Ernest Gaines’ Of Love and Dust.

Continue reading


As I sat down to write my recent posts on Buck Wild in Milestone Comics` Icon, I did not imagine that it would take four posts to discuss a character that appears in maybe four-five issues. Even with those posts, I did not get a chance to cover every aspect of the character. What arose, though, was an interest in a broader discussion around representation in comics that I started looking at with my first posts on Icon and specifically a focus on Luke Cage. Dwayne McDuffie and M.D. Bright created Buck Wild as a satire on Luke Cage, from his origin story to his costume and speech. After speaking with John Ira Jennings “Afrofuturism and Comics” class last week, I thought now may be the time to think a syllabus which would explore these issues in a broader manner. The result is a continuation of Tara Betts’ the #lukecagesyllabus that she started in 2016 after the first season of Luke Cage dropped on Netflix. Make sure to check out her two syllabi below.

Continue reading

The Unattainable Past in Criminal: The Last of the Innocent

Nostalgia powerfully pulls at us, especially as we get older. Deriving from the Greek words nóstos (homecoming) and álgos (pain), nostalgia relates to a longing for the familiar that has passed away. However, the authenticity of that past is not reality. It exists as a mental construction, one that plays up the feelings of youth and innocence while hiding the realities of the past. This is what Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ Criminal: The Last of the Innocent (2015) addresses. It plays with and satirizes readers’ nostalgic desires.

Continue reading