Quick Frames

Maggie Greene (a UMW History alum, for the gang cheering at home) shared a great post today on Chinese lianhuanhua 连环画, or picture storybooks. In particularly, she shared images — and, with the assistance of the very helpful Brendan O’Kane, a cleaned-up .pdf of the full text — of a 1980 Chinese Star Wars illustrated story book.  Maggie dives nicely into an exploration of Chinese appropriation and improvisation on the story (as well as some of the odder characterizations that seem to appear along the way.)

The images from the text (see Maggie’s post for a link to the full work) struck me, bringing me back to the kinds of Sci-Fi novels I used to read in my younger days. Or which I would still find, until its recent closure, at a favorite used bookstore in my summers visiting family in Sandwich, Mass.

Neuromancer (1984) may not be quite as vintage a title as the others, yet that cover is definitely vintage 80s, rounding out an earlier collection above.

Meanwhile, another very good discussion happened recently at the Columbia Weatherhead East Asian Institute site, with an interview with Gregory Pflugfelder, associate professor of Japanese history and a long-time collector of materials related to Godzilla movies. Pflugfelder shares images and insights, including the ways in which the significance of Godzilla transcends the simple Japan-U.S. dichotomy and history. Monster movies bear much more meaning in their imagery, and carry much more mileage. All with an interest in cinema and global themes should find the discussion quite useful.




4 thoughts on “Quick Frames

  1. Nice, some pop culture blogging going on here, I see. And thanks a ton for the Godzilla link, my son and I are gearing up to watch Godzilla vs Mothra this coming weekend, and it’s a special moment for me. His first Godzilla film, and that is meaningful because it’s through Godzilla that I realized films could be more than just movies. They could actually embody national egos, reflect broader cultural themes, or even intervene within both. Godzilla was kind of a cultural studies awakening for me in high school when I had a history teacher talk about the atomic bomb through the frame of Godzilla films—it blew my mind. And I am not surprised that context as far richer and wider than just a Japan-US dichotomy. Brings me back to the whole Master of the FLying Guillotine film, and the idea of thinking CHina through the lens of South East Asian Nationalism. This is why film remains for me, as much as I love the web, the greatest of all mediums. There is nothing funner for me to do.

    1. Would love to hear what your son thinks — you should get him blogging a movie review. My siblings and I were big fans of Godzilla vs. Mothra, along with Gamera (loved it when those legs withdrew and the spinning flames flew!) We were devoted viewers of the Creature Double Feature matinees that ran on Saturdays on Channel 56 in Boston during the 1970s. Probably could have all kinds of analytic fun now with the imagery of those films running at the same time as an oil crisis, among other kinds of contextualization. Godzilla’s definitely going to make another appearance at UMW before long, btw, as I’m working on some new Japan curriculum. More to come…

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