We Start The Day Global today in Italy, where the 16th Treviso Comic Book Festival is set for September 26-29

The (auto-translated) press release tells that,

the international illustration and comic event, will bring the great names of the seventh art and guests from all over the world to the chief town of the Marca Trevigiana, from September 26th to 29th. With 15 exhibitions, workshops, conferences, the Cento Vetrine project and the two-day market exhibition (28 and 29 September), TCBF will once again be the popular festival of the city of Treviso.

The seventh art? That’s how comics are seen in some mainland European countries, where graphic art is revered, not dismissed as borderline literature.

Read more about the Treviso Comic Book Festival here.

Find the Treviso Comic Book Festival website here.

Follow the festival on twitter: @TVComicBookFest


Next to Belgium where the Atomium Awards – all sponsored by the French author Catherine Meurisse – were dished out on Friday, with the Wallonia-Brussels Federation Prize in comics and 10,000 euros going to David Vandermeulen.

The Atomium Prize jury said,

The consistency of David Vandermeulen’s career in comics and his investment in the sector deserve to be commended. The Atomium Prize – Wallonia-Brussels Federation is an acknowledgment and encouragement to continue.

 Read more over at Actualitté.


John Vecher describes himself as,

a straight-haired, brown-skinned boy who didn’t talk in any of the ways anyone expected me to talk, didn’t dress in the clothes I was expected to wear.

Who better to write a post titled,

Graphic Novels and Social Justice: A Primer.

Vecher looks at the Marvel comic-book turned film Black Panther as one example to make his point.

Ryan Coogler’s film tackled issues both internal and external to the Black community—the damage done by the ravages of colonialism ran parallel to the notion that an advanced nation would rather keep their existence a secret than provide aid to their brothers and sisters suffering in other parts of the world; that the once-king of Wakanda would murder his own brother, leaving his nephew childless—and thereby radicalizing him to “villainy”—to maintain that subterfuge. Subtle shots were taken at Trump’s vitriol regarding immigration. T’Challa’s kingdom maintained a “Wakanda First” policy to tragic results.

Heady stuff for a superhero movie—and yet the medium of comics has almost always tread this ground, and powerfully.

In many ways, it’s what drew me to comics, first as a child, and again as an adult. Much has been said by those in the know about the X-Men and how the title served as a metaphor for the American civil rights movement, but for a young mixed-race boy growing up in this country, it held an appeal for me that I’m not sure I was fully cognizant of at the time.

I was a straight-haired, brown-skinned boy who didn’t talk in any of the ways anyone expected me to talk, didn’t dress in the clothes I was expected to wear, yet from an early age I was expected to answer that question many like me know far too well: What are you?

Who among us wouldn’t find comfort in super-powered mutants who use what makes them different to fight ignorance, bigotry, and oppression?

Read much more over at Crime Reads.


And we stay with Crime Reads for our final item today, which marks the 50th anniversary of Scooby Doo with a look at the cartoon franchise in a way most of us who watched the series as kids and grew away from with age might not have seen before.

As a one-time English tutor I know how easy it is to attribute to an author or book values, insights and intentions the author may never have actually had, and at first glance it might seem like a kids’ cartoon like Scooby Doo was just ephemeral entertainment.

And yet, I adore (and constantly re-watch) the cartoon series Top Cat, and the more I watch it the more I see.

The Simpsons and its fellow modern-day animations often are praised for their multi-layered storylines and characters, but for me Top Cat is every bit as complex and nuanced.

And after reading Eleni Theodoropoulos’s Crime Reads post “How Scooby Doo Revived Gothic Storytelling for Generations of Kids” I’ll return to this series with fresh eyes.

Here’s a taster.

Fifty years ago, on September 13, 1969, Scooby Doo, Where Are You! premiered on CBS. The premise of the show was always the same: whether it was a ghost, a phantom, a ghoul, or a poltergeist, it was back from the dead and it was out a’haunting. “Meddling kids” Fred, Shaggy, Velma, Daphne, and their talking great dane Scooby Doo tackled the supernatural, followed clues, and uncovered the culprit. The mood of the show made up for its predictability; the mysteries were set in haunted houses, dark forests on full-moon nights, dilapidated ghost towns or deserted museums and circus grounds. Rife with suspense and tinged with horror that was watered down with slapstick comedy, Scooby Doo masqueraded as a cartoon mystery but really was surprisingly gothic.

From its first episode, “What a Night for a Knight,” Scooby Doo establishes the very atmosphere that is integral to the gothic genre. The episode opens onto an empty country road under a full moon when a pickup truck rolls into view. The crate in the back opens. An armored knight rears his head and fixes his glowing eyes on the driver. Danger is imminent. “What a nervous night to be walking home from the movies, Scooby Doo,” says Shaggy, echoing the viewer’s sentiment. Moments later they come across the abandoned pickup truck where the suit of armor sits behind the wheel. Pristine, it shines in the moonlight. Suddenly, the head of the armor rattles and tips over, landing at their feet. Boy and dog chuckle nervously before they run away in what will become their signature manner of dealing with problems. The next two seasons of Scooby Doo, Where Are You! follow in this same vein, resting on a balance between suspense and fear, mystery and horror.

Instrumental to evoking these feelings in the viewer was less the plot itself than the atmosphere framing it. Geared towards children as it was, Scooby Doo made clowns out of Shaggy and Scooby to temper the seriousness of the dangers the gang was exposed to. Unless anyone needed help, Scooby and Shaggy were the first to flee the scene; they were impelled more by their stomachs than their curiosity, which in retrospect made them the least reckless of the gang. Ironically, the light-hearted humor coupled with “easy” mysteries (the suspects always did look the part) augmented the pervasive darkness of the show.

Most of Scooby Doo’s episodes hinge on imagery of death. When the gang is in an urban environment, the buildings are overwhelmingly on the verge of collapse (e.g., “Mine Your Own Business”). Inside, the rooms are steeped in darkness, covered in cobwebs and, we imagine, the walls and floorboards are overrun with rot much like the houses found in the fiction of Edgar Allan Poe. Dark corners where the eye can’t penetrate, spiraling staircases, and endless hallways traditionally, in gothic literature, are terrifying because they alert the imagination, awakening its fears. Meanwhile the mind is suspended between knowing and not knowing: There could be someone hiding behind the curtain or in the corner, but in this darkness it’s hard to know for sure. Encountering a place that was once inhabited and now is in decay is undeniably uncanny—strangely familiar and for that reason, eerie—because it is witnessing a life that’s been extinguished.

Now look me in the eye and tell me you are not going to click here and read the whole thing. Twice.