Ep. 274 Comics Is a Medium Not a Genre with Joel Christian Gill – Transcript

Cartoonist and educator Joel Christian Gill joins us to talk about his new book Stamped from the Beginning: A Graphic History of Racist Ideas in America, an illustrated adaptation of Ibram X. Kendi’s 2017 release. He gives us a brief history of comics in American culture and discusses the medium as a sneaky way to teach people things. We also get into color theory and black & white versus color graphics.

The Stacks Book Club selection for July is Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. We will discuss the book on July 26th with Joel Christian Gill.


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Traci Thomas 0:08
Welcome to The Stacks, a podcast about books and the people who read them. I’m your host Traci Thomas and today I’m speaking with Joel Christian Gill, who’s an historian and cartoonist and has just released the graphic novel version of Ibram X Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning. The new graphic adaptation contains stunning illustrations from Gill whose memoir fights one boy’s triumph over violence was named as one of the best graphic novels of 2020 by the New York Times. Today, Joel and I talked about adapting books into graphic form comics as a medium and not a genre, and so many books that have changed the way that Joel looks at the world. Reminder. Our July book club pick is Watchmen by Alan Moore with illustrations from Dave Gibbons, which we will discuss on July 26 with Joel Christian Gill, quick reminder, everything we talked about on each episode of the podcast can be found in the link in the show notes. If you want more of the stacks, join the stacks pack, it’s just $5 a month and you get our monthly bonus episodes, our virtual book club meetups and you get to join a phenomenal book community. That is the stacks PAC discord, we have the best time we dig deeper into our book club reads share recommendations. We even talk about reality TV because it is bachelorette season people. So if you want to join the fun or just want to support the stacks and make it possible for me to do this show every single week head to patreon.com/the stacks and join shout out to some of our newest members Heather Highness KB, SaaS, Weber, Nick burka, Dylan flash and Joanna Fletcher. Thank you all so much, and thank you to the entire stacks pack. Alright, now it’s time for my conversation with Joel Christian.

All right, everybody. I’m so excited. I am joined today by author and illustrator and all around great guy, Joel Christian Gill. He’s the author of Fights. And recently he adapted Ibram X Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning into a graphic form. Joel, welcome to the stacks.

Joel Christian Gill 2:12
Thanks for having me. I’m so glad to be here.

Traci Thomas 2:14
I’m so excited to talk to you. I can let me just tell the folks how we met because it’s sort of a fun random thing. And then we’ll dive into you. So Joel and I met at the LA Times Book Prize because we were both presenting awards, I was just asked to present an award because I don’t know I live in LA. But Joel was one of the judges for the graphic category. So Joel is an expert. And he is now my friend. And so I told him, I was like, Oh, you have a book coming out, you will be forced to come on the stacks and talk about graphic books with us because I know nothing about them. And I know that people love them. So I made good. Here we are. Will you just tell folks a little bit about yourself besides that one tiny fraction of your life that I shared with them?

Joel Christian Gill 2:54
Yeah, so I am a professor at Boston University. I am the chair of the MFA in visual narrative. I have been drawing comics for about 15 years, I guess now. I started self publishing, slipped into history and drawing comics about black history. spending lots of time, really spending my time thinking about how, how to tell the stories of disaffected people in America, specifically black people, and eventually started telling more and more of those stories until I turn to telling my own. I speak naturally on the importance of sharing stories. And I believe that comics are the best way to do that, in a lot of ways, because they’re a sneaky way to teach people. So I spent a lot of time really talking about being but I tell people I’m an evangelist for comics, and that comics have the ability to connect to people in ways that we don’t necessarily collect with prose.

Traci Thomas 3:48
So where did you grow up?

Joel Christian Gill 3:51
I grew up in southwestern Virginia. I was born in Martinsville, Virginia, Martinsville is famous for two things, racetracks and racism. It’s it’s just below West Virginia, and just above North Carolina. So like in that curve of Virginia, and I spent the formative time there until I went to grad school at BU, and then we moved to New England. So we were back and forth, up and down until I’ve been in I’m in New Hampshire now, which I call white condo. And I say why condo because when I leave New Hampshire, I significantly decrease the black population by leaving the state. So I always say that, you know, I make I make New Hampshire, blacker.

Traci Thomas 4:33
So yeah, that’s your contribution to the state. You’re a civil servant. Okay, so I read your memoir fights, and I have a lot of questions about that. Okay, first, I just want to ask you about when you discovered that graphic books, was a thing you could do, because so often authors come on the show and they’re like, I had no idea writing books was a job. And I feel like because kids Kids often are introduced to graphic books as like a way to get them into reading. I would imagine that maybe you came across this stuff long before you ever realized that it was something you could do. So I’m curious if my assumption is at all correct?

Joel Christian Gill 5:12
No, I think like most kids, I started drawing just like everybody else did when they were little. And as soon as I discovered comics, I started drawing comics. There was a brief period in my life when I didn’t draw comics, I was trying to be a painter, because I was going to make people cry with my paintings, I was going to be basketball, right. But comics was always in the background, it was always the thing that I really wanted to do. And it wasn’t until I had a friend who in grad school told me that my paintings were trying to tell stories and failing that, I went back to the idea of like, figuring out how comics work, but just to answer your question shortly, like comics was a thing that I like, immediately saw was like, I’m gonna draw comics. That’s that’s the thing.

Traci Thomas 5:56
Right? Right. But did you know it could be a job?

Joel Christian Gill 6:00
As a poor kid in southwestern Virginia? I don’t know. I don’t know if I ever thought about jobs in that way. Do you know what I mean? Like I never really had a job opportunity. And I write that in fights right in the beginning, like people always people ask you what you want to be when you grow up. And I don’t think I ever really thought about it in like a concept of growing up. It was like I was so living from moment to moment at that time in my life. And it wasn’t until I married my wife. And we started like having kids that I actually had thought about a future pass like being a rapper in high school.

Traci Thomas 6:32
Okay, okay, all rapper. So in fights, you know, I read it, I loved it. I think that like, the way that you sort of brought your story to the graphic form was really, I think it really landed like there was a lot of suspense in your story, in a way that was I found interesting, especially knowing having met you, and knowing where you are now. Like, I was like, oh, you know, we’ll see. And I was really like, what’s gonna happen to him? Like, I’m so nervous, you know, I’m like, the colors were so vivid, and like, just like, it’s like very evocative, emotionally, I felt like, like I really felt like connected to as a kid. And then I got to the end, and you have this little piece in the afterword that sort of like, you know, memoir is not biography. And I changed things here. And I’m just curious about that. Because does that change, like just changing your biography to make it memoir, keep it memoir? Or does it then become more like auto fiction?

Joel Christian Gill 7:36
I think auto fiction is, is is an appropriate term for fights. I changed it. Mostly, you know, for liability purposes. I mean, there’s not anything that in fights that I would say, individually, if somebody were to come to me, and I’m like, You depicted me in this way, and you made me an abuser. I’m like, Well, let’s talk about it. You want to go to court? Like, let’s do it. That’s the way I would feel about it. Right, right. I don’t think people don’t want that smoke. And so it doesn’t, but I think autofiction is fine, because like, I can bind people like G money and rook are, like dominantly, two separate people, but are amalgams of a couple of people, right, so like, so for example, when I’m fighting rook at the end, and he hits me with brass knuckles, that that wasn’t him, that was actually somebody else. But it made sense to make him that person. And the same thing with GE money, like connecting with them. And like having a cause like that, what that wasn’t happening, but it was just it made sense to sort of connect them. And so like, just as in terms of forming the in furthering the narrative. And so like, right now, I’m working on a book with Don Lemon. And we’re doing similar things with people in bonds life, like, what one really simple and like, non controversial thing is like when he gets to high school, he’s like, super interested in fashion. And he has this he meets this new girl at the new high school because he goes from public school to public school. And she’s like, all about fashion. And she’s helping him but I’m like, let’s just make that your high school best friend, because it cleans the narrative up as opposed to have an altar, new people. And it’s a small thing, right? Like, it’s his friend is not going to be like, Oh, I didn’t ask him about that. But it’s such a small thing that I don’t think it’ll be a big deal. So like, it just helps clean streamline the narrative to keep you from having to introduce new people every time.

Traci Thomas 9:24
Yeah, totally. And when you So you mentioned before, like you were writing and adapting history and like some of your previous books, and then you switched over to writing your own story. What was that like for you was like, how did you? Did you approach it differently? Did you think about it differently? Was it more challenging or easier to tell your own story versus someone else’s story?

Joel Christian Gill 9:48
I think so. Telling the stories of disaffected black people in history, and shining a light and uncovering their stories helped me figure out how to tell stories. Because initially, when I started drawing comics, I really was failing, right? I was 100% failing and trying to figure out how to tell stories. And I started to draw a version of fights that was called dandy lines. And it was a metaphor for like kids who like you can’t kill them, right? Like these beautiful little flowers that no matter what you do to them are always gonna grow. And it was like they’re like, they always like grew up like one of the original ideas for for for that story was called was to call it cracks in the concrete, like these little places where you could slip through. And because I felt like that’s what I did in my life. And so I drew this thing. It’s like magical realist sort of a thing and it was a hot mess. Like 100%. And a friend of mine who’s a cartoonist, Jesse Lonergan, when I showed him like the 50 pages that I had drawn, and this is like before actually really digging into how comics work. He just flipped through it like he drew like, if it was like this, he like flipped through all the pages, like just leafing through, like 50 pages, he’s like, I’m 50 pages into this, I have no idea what I’m reading. And so like, telling the stories, and adapting the stories of like Henry, Box Brown, and Bass Reeves and all these other people like that the story is there, the narrative is there, right? There’s like they have a beginning, middle and end, they oftentimes have climaxes denouement, they have plot points that like stream through their entire lives. So it was really easy for me to just figure out how to like organize that. And so that gave me the facility to then go back and tell my own story after like having some, like, having some stories under my belt. And so like, it helped me, right. Yeah. And that’s actually the way I teach to so I teach my students to start with nonfiction because I feel like it’s easier to arrange things than to sort of build it from scratch.

Traci Thomas 11:38
That’s so interesting. Okay, when we met, you were talking about comics is not a genre. Right. And I would just, I was very taken by the speech that you give that I know that you probably give a million times to every audience you speak to, but you’re speaking to a new audience, the Sox audience. So will you do your comics is not a genre speech for us?

Joel Christian Gill 12:02
Yeah, so comics, sometimes there’s a difference between medium and genre. And I think because of the way in which we have, we’ve come to think of comics, specifically in pop culture. And this is a this is a history that goes back to the 1940s and 50s. When we start banning comics, like in the early part of the 20th century, they’re these like, in like, 1910 there’s like this thing and Ladies Home Journal, like comics are ruining kids, his kids brains. And so when we get, you know, conservatives often have like, they also often when they run out of ideas, they fight culture war arguments, and so like I’m running, I don’t know. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard that. Now, of course, but at some point in history, and so when, so when the 1950s we start seeing that 1940s We start seeing this again, this after World War Two, we don’t no longer have like a Hitler to fight. It’s like what do we fight now? Like, what do we fight so there? So they start to do this massive thing, this guy named Fred worth them. Dr. Fred Wertham writes this book cost seduction of the innocent. And he basically says that comics are parent tariff, they are causing kids to be juvenile delinquents all like a bunch of bullshit, like, oh, I can say that. But like, so it goes down, right? It goes, this whole thing goes out. And so people start censoring comics, which is one of the reasons why you have the term graphic novel in that comics. Mad Magazine is a magazine because I didn’t want to be connected to comics, because it was starting to censor censor comics, a lot of cartoonists left comics and didn’t want to be separate didn’t want to be connected to the idea of comics. And so we leave it and so we get this like, so comics basically becomes superhero comics. And they become juvenile based. I mean, there’s some great stuff in there, but for the most part, they make them for kids. And so like for almost a generation, that’s what we have until the 1960s. And you get the comic seal in my ex movement. And these people come in, and they’re just like they were influenced by some of these early comics, and then like, hated the sanitized version that comics did. And so like all of this stuff, including the Comics Code Authority, which says that you’d have no sex, no drugs, no violence, and they say all sex, all drugs and violence. And so they start telling stories with like, broader understandings. And then in the mountain, so that and so like, as these things start to start to influence each other. So the underground movement influences the mainstream comics. And so the mainstream comics get much more interesting themes. And so as that starts to happen, with the underground comics movement, people start making stories that with comics that are really about other things. And so Scott McCloud and Understanding Comics says that comics is a medium not a genre, because if you place if you have a picture, and you’re in at a kid’s birthday party and you put read Drake, I’m from the south, you put red Drake in that, in that picture, it’s for everybody, right? But if you’re in Spain and you’re having, you know, you’re having breakfast or whatever lunch is because it’s not you Breakfast a siesta, right? So you have siesta and you want to have sangria and you put it in that same picture. It’s now no longer for kids. And so comics is the picture, and not the thing you put in it. It’s a means of expression. It’s not what is expressed, right?

Traci Thomas 15:14
So it’s just like how nonfiction is a medium for writing other sorts of nonfiction stories or whatever. But like, exactly, they could be a graphic or a comic. The content can be anything.

Joel Christian Gill 15:28
Absolutely. And I think what’s really interesting about that, the way in which to think about that it would be like going up to Stephen King, and asking him, what was his what is his favorite historical fiction thing that he’s ever written? Right? Because he doesn’t write historical fiction. He writes a specific genre within the medium of writing. He writes like horror and fantastic realism. Right? So like, making the connection between him in sort of, who’s the guy that wrote the Lincoln biography, like Obama was reading years ago, but like,

Traci Thomas 16:03
Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Joel Christian Gill 16:04
Or like going to Doris Kearns Goodwin. And when she says, I’m a writer, being like, Oh, tell me about the last horror thing you read. Like, that’s the same thing that happens to us cartoonists that you come people come up to you, and they’re like, so do you draw from Marvel or DC? And I’m like, I don’t really draw superhero. I mean, Angela Davis is a superhero. But I’m like, in a different way.

Traci Thomas 16:23
Right. Right. So we so can, so basically, I know this is like a very remedial question. But I like I said before, this is very new to me. I only started reading I think I read my first like graphic book in 2020. I think it was a good talk by Mira Jacob, because she came on the show. So I read that and another book, I might have read one or two other things, but that’s like the first one I really remember reading. And people talk about graphic books, comics, and then manga what is the difference? Are manga what’s the difference between those things? Is there a difference? Is it just the same different words for the same thing?

Joel Christian Gill 17:03
So manga means comics in Japanese, okay. Because of the because of the disconnect between what floppy the sort of monthly comics and because Americans have a tendency to simplify everything and make it dumb like we’re barbarians and that way, so like, they like they like the people who want it to move away from and not be connected to the comics, which they thought of as like being the monthly superhero comics. That was when the idea of graphic graphic novels came out. And then even further, Hilary Truitt who was, who was a writer, she wrote a book called Women in Comics. And she just wrote she writes about mouse a lot. She’s a brilliant professor at Northeastern and a friend she says that, you know, she says graphic narrative, right? Because like, there should be some kind of a because comics isn’t necessarily like, because people have an idea. It’s kind of like people don’t want to call me a cartoonist because they think they think it seems like less than, like, if you think it’s let you think cartoonist is less than try it. Like to sit down and do a one day just go ahead and try to like, take some like complicated idea and turn it into something simplistic. And so there’s nothing like there’s no difference. It’s all comics, right? It’s just different reasoning behind why we call it comics and manga is just like that. And I wouldn’t even say that manga is a genre in and of itself, because manga is so very specific, that they have books that are made for, for businessmen. A bat Well, there’s books that are made for teenage girls, about gay boys and our French boarding school that’s super popular, like those are super popular. They have cookbooks that are just manga, they have superhero stories or adventure stories. And so there’s a really amazing series that turned into on automate a couple of years ago, called Monster and it was about a surgeon who saves a little boy’s life. And that little boy grows up to be a serial killer, and then starts killing all of the people that are in this surgeon’s way. So he has to go on this quest to find this kid and the long book, like it’s crazy, but it’s not like it’s not a thing that you would think about is like, you know, like a shot like that’s not really genre, right? Like that’s, that’s like suspense and thriller, kind of a thing. So I think so like thinking about manga, or, or comics or graphic novels, they’re all the same thing. Just different words for these. I mean, it was a long answer. But like, as I’m a professor, nobody’s ever accused me of not being able to talk. So there’s that

Traci Thomas 19:28
I have a podcast and all I need is for people to talk to me. So thank you for doing your job. Okay, I want to I could do this for like hours, but I do want to get to stamped from the beginning the new adaptation. So people who listen to the show know that stamped is like one of the books of my life. The original, the first one that he wrote Abrams, like Tom, I read it in 2018 Right before I started the show, and I just I loved it so much. And I have read the majority of the adaptations. I haven’t read the kids one, but I did read Jason Reynolds I’ve read yours Yeah. And I’m wondering sort of like, how you I guess the first question is, how much did you and Abram work together on this and versus how much was it him being like, will you do this and you taking the stuff and like doing your thing?

Joel Christian Gill 20:14
I mean, that’s pretty much like we had like a little back and forth. People asked me once, like, so you get lol text from even candy? And I’m like, yes, because I’ll send him a joke.

Traci Thomas 20:22
He doesn’t do nice try. He came on the show. Everybody knows. He does not allow. He’s never in his life. He’s the most serious person I’ve ever had on this show.

Joel Christian Gill 20:32
He definitely laughs and he finds the humor and he thinks he thinks humor is important and puts it in a in a historical concept about how black people in general dealt with like this terrible oppression. Like it’s a it’s definitely a thing like, black comedians talk about it. Richard Pryor was famous Dick Gregory was famous for it. And so like lots of people were famous for it. But so he basically gave me a list of like, the important things highlighted document that had all of the, you know, like, the things that he thought were important for stamped. So he gave me that list. And then I basically built that list and added to the sections and like added stuff in there. And my and there’s a lot of my commentary in it specifically when the characters are talking, like when Angela Davis is like, I’ve had enough of America’s like hope and like freedom. And, you know, like I’ve had enough of this American version of freedom. And she’s like, I’m off to Africa. And I think there’s a I don’t know if it’s still in there, but I think we might have taken it out. But it was one of my favorite jokes. And it was like WEV. Dubois is like, irritated. He’s like, I’m, I’m trying to pull up a time to pull a Dave Chappelle, right. And he goes to Africa. So like, adding those little things in there was that was mine. And so I would text him like the pictures and stuff because like, he was like, one of the few people I could like, I could like show the laugh. Like, I need somebody to see that this is funny. Right? And so like he gave me free rein and I think that was that’s important for him is to like when he worked with Jason Reynolds, when he’s working with Nick stone, is to let these let people take that take something that he’s done and put their their stamp on it, right. Like Jason Reynolds, this stamp is on the young people next version, Nick stones version is her stamp is on that buy stamp is on this one. And sometimes I literally, and when you’re in a bookstore, I literally stamp them. So

Traci Thomas 22:16
I know I saw you made that stamp. So cool. I want Can you make a stamp of me? I want a stamp of my face. Like a real Leo, just a real crazy person who was like, can you make this about me immediately. Okay, but so I want to ask you about some of the stuff some of the stamps that you put on this book, especially one of the things that I noticed is like you use like some black slang on some of like, the really horrible white racist people. And I was really curious about that. I just find it sort of reminds me of the Hamilton the musical, right, where it’s like, you put like black culture on like, awful racist people. And like, what does that do? What does that do for those people and for the reader?

Joel Christian Gill 22:57
Well, so a V, I think, in my personal opinion, when we talk about American culture, we are talking in a lot of ways about Black culture. That’s a lot and really in like, if you think about it, we’re talking about Southern culture, right? Because when you get above the Mason Dixon Line, you have people who are Armenian, who are Irish, like I always say that there’s this really interesting joke that I always make that I go to a cookout in New England, I never know what I’m gonna get. But if I go to the south, whether I’m going to a white people’s house or black people’s house, I know I’m gonna get fried chicken, it’s just not gonna be my mom was fried chicken, right? So like, it’s like, you always have the same thing. And so when you think about that, and you think about the quintessential ideas of what American is, is like American is black culture. And so like, in like making, making cotton matter, making like colonial, you know, during the Salem witch trials, some like, colonial illness, Puritan say, like, that’s, that’s us. It’s hilarious, or like having, like, you know, a bunch of a crowd of people during colonial times during the smallpox epidemic. So yeah, Miss me with that. You know what I mean? Like, that’s funny. That’s funny to me. Like, it’s just a funny thing. That anachronistic language, I think adds a humor to the book. Because it’s a slog, right, like, like, reading this history. And I, you know, and I say depressing, it’s informative, but it’s, it’s depressing, not because like Ebro wrote this depressing, it’s just that the history of racist ideas is, uh, you can see it coming, right? You can see the cyclical thing, like when I don’t know if you read 12 Years a Slave, but when I first read that book, I had to put it down twice, because I was so angry that this had happened to somebody. And so I didn’t want people to read stamped and feel that same way. I wanted them to laugh out loud. Even when it was funny. Not funny. That makes sense. Yeah.

Traci Thomas 24:44
And who weren’t? Who do you imagine that your audiences for this book?

Joel Christian Gill 24:48
Everybody? I think, like that’s, like, legitimately I wrote it so that every like, I wrote this book so that there are people who are like academics who would read this and be like, Oh, that’s really interesting. And kids would read this and go, Oh, that It’s really funny. And everybody in between who wouldn’t necessarily read a 529 79 page history tome would pick up a graphic novel and read it and sort of like, pour themselves into these ideas. Because what’s interesting about how comics work, and comics are a sneaky way to teach people stuff. And because those simplistic little people we can pour ourselves in. And the more simplistic they are, the more abstract they are, not the less specific they become, the more likely we can pour ourselves into them. Like everybody always wants a brown thumbs up right when they’re like sending an emoji, but nobody asks for a brown smiley face, because it’s weird, that would be a weird thing to get. We resonate with that smiley face. And so I think the closer we get to the smiley face character, the more we can and it, it does build empathy, people do feel those things. And you can tell that people feel those things. And you can tell that they are building empathy, because people keep banding. The people that don’t want us to be empathetic to each other, are banding those books.

Traci Thomas 25:59
Yeah. Can I ask a really practical question about the stamped book? Yeah. Why is it black and white? Is that like, what’s that conversation? Like? With?

Joel Christian Gill 26:11
I think that’s when in terms of the markets like the literary market, like the adult market versus the kids market, I think there’s like a push between, like, sometimes you want black and white for adult market, and sometimes you want color for kids market, I don’t necessarily think that’s still the case anymore. But it also like a production value. And it’s like cheaper and faster to do with black and white. So I think it’s a little bit of like, this is for the adult market. It’s color. It’s black and white. So it goes there. And so I think is a little bit of that involved, I typically just make everything color. But for this one, it was like we’re gonna make this black and white. And I’m like, okay,

Traci Thomas 26:45
Is that more difficult for you? Is it easier? What? What’s that? Like?

Joel Christian Gill 26:49
I had to, like, if you go back through my Instagram, you can see where I’m practicing how to use black and white, because I had done no, I had done about books, and they’re black and white at that point. So it was like me experimenting with tones and textures to try to get this to make it interesting. Like how am I going to this because colors are really important element to like, you know, add emotional cues to things like I did invites. But so I couldn’t do that. So it was like I was experimenting with all of these ways in which to do it, it would have been really fun. I think it would be really fun to do it in color.

Traci Thomas 27:20
Yeah, it’s just interesting. We had Kristen Radke on who wrote seek you. And then she had another graphic novel that I can’t remember the name of, of course, it’s totally escaping me. But that for her first one was black and white. And then when she did seek us, it was in color. And she was saying that she did the first one in black and white because it was too hard for her to do color color was like very distracting and difficult for her because it felt like such a huge indicator to the audience and that she like didn’t feel she had a good grasp on it. So she said she spent so much time on the color in the second book. And it was like, it’s whole a whole other beast. So it’s interesting to hear you say that you always do color and that this was like a thing, just, you know, different ways of doing it.

Joel Christian Gill 28:01
Yeah because you when you think about materials, like it’s like the west the best, I taught color theory for a long time. And I still teach it in aspects to my, to my grad students. But like, if you need to go to the store, like I’m gonna paint, like, I’m gonna learn to paint. Remember, there’s this woman that I knew years ago is like, I’m gonna go paint. So she went to the art supply store. And she bought like $400 worth of like oil paints. And it was like, you know, like all these different rates, all these different blues, all these different greens. And there’s like effortlessness about just picking up the right green and just putting it down, right. But then I went to I went to a grant program, there was a professor named Bill White, who was incredible. And I still keep in touch with him today who taught me color theory. And it was like, You’re gonna do two yellows, two reds and two blues, one warm, one cool for each one, right? And that get like, you would think that that would be limiting, but it actually pushes you to be more creative with how much how you use those colors. So I got much more color facility by doing that. So I’m like really comfortable with it. But some people just really struggle with color. Because of the way in which we see like women, on average, typically see more colors than men do and have better color vision that men do. In lots of men, there’s a lot there’s like a Venn diagram of men and people who are colorblind and then typically fill up that space. Not all people who are colorblind are men, but a lot of them are men. So there’s like a difference in like how people they’re people’s color vision. And so like how you how you understand those things. And it’s really complicated because you’re dealing with and then you add color and emotion and like society, like for example, and in some in some cultures in Africa, red is the color you wear to a funeral. Right? And here we were black and some other places around the world as white you wear to a funeral. So like, you know, like trying to deal with all those color complexities. If you haven’t spent as much time as I have, like digging into the details of how color theory works, and spending time like we used to give our students color theory tests to see where they were on this extra minute teach toward the color theory test how we were doing that good color vision test. Just so we could like figure out like how because if a student had a red green colorblindness we would like have to teach toward that to help them figure out how to use the color. And so like we would do like that’s like, it’s a really complicated thing. And I think when it’s in, it’s intimidating. Sometimes I remember a friend of mine with Taylor, who wrote a book, Ghost, and she wrote, Montana diaries, which is one amazing little like journal comic that she did with her husband, before her first child was born. And they drove through Montana, and she’s black, and he’s white. And she was like, terrified of like, going through these, like, super conservative places. She, we I saw her at the Schomburg a couple of years ago, and she was looking at one of my books, and she was like, I feel like the color in your books is just like, so amazing. And I’m like, I don’t feel like I feel stupid when it comes to color sometimes, right? Because you just don’t know. But yeah, it’s just like levels to this. Okay.

Traci Thomas 30:56
I have to ask another remedial question, what is color theory.

Joel Christian Gill 31:00
So color theory is the idea or how colors relate. In art. So color, how color works. So one of the like, the probably the thing that you’re probably most familiar with is somebody who’s doesn’t make art is probably complementary colors, right? Red, green, purple, yellow, orange, blue, and orange, right. And that’s typically the first thing that people learn. And then they move through that. But there’s nuances behind that. Like there’s like, color vibrations, there’s like the diesel effect. There’s like all of these things where you can make one color look like two colors, two colors look like one. Like you can do all of these things with colors. But it’s all like about how you manipulate them and how your color vision works. And then your practice. And so I used to do this stuff with this stuff called color a paper where you take like these little squares and those pigmented paper, and you take these squares and you caught him. And you cut these two columns that looked they were close, right, but they looked really different like you could anybody with the naked eye could look. And so we would, we would play with like putting colors behind them to make one color move to another one. Whether it’s a warm versus cool color system, like some colors are warm, some colors, it’s cool. Depending on how you play with them, you can push them in the back and pull them front. And you can make things pop. I’m looking at all the books on your shelf, and I can just see what they’re like. It’s certainly I look, you got red, green over your left over your right shoulder. You got, you know, monochromatic in the middle, you’ve got neutral colors. And you’ve arranged that this is called a you’ve arranged the same Pothier you’ve got all colors in different spaces, like you’ve actually arranged things and like neutrals and blues, and saying, Yeah, I do love my house.

Traci Thomas 32:28
Thank you. We’re going to move off of your work and sort of into the books that you love. But before we do, every month, someone writes in asking for a book recommendation, so I’m gonna read to you what they asked and then you’re gonna give them at least one book recommendation and it can be whatever you want for based on this. Okay, this question comes from Sydney and Sydney says, I’m going to Greece for vacation in mid July, and I’m trying to bring only one physical book for the trip. I’m looking for something engrossing, but not too heavy. I’m an easy crier. And that’s not the vibe I’m looking for at the beach. I’m a big fiction reader, but also love memoirs, narrative nonfiction, short stories and essays. Recently, I’ve loved lessons and chemistry, Julie Otsuka, ZZ work anything by Emily St. John Mandel. And there there by Tommy orange. Ideally, I’m looking for something kind of lengthy and currently out in paperback.

Joel Christian Gill 33:30
Oh, that’s great. I was just going to be funny. I’m not going to recommend a comic I’m going to recommend the dead are rising.

Traci Thomas 33:37
Oh my gosh, I put that on my list. And I took it off for her but it was one of my books that I recommend. It’s so good.

Joel Christian Gill 33:45
That’s a such a great book. And like I mostly I think that’s a great book because like not only does it like flesh out Malcolm’s ex’s life, but the I am really fascinated with cults, and like subcultures, and like the building of the Nation of Islam, separate from the traditional orthodox Muslim is really interesting to me and very fascinating and how that’s permeated through pop culture with like the mothership connection and like a lot of stuff and funk and like the Asiatic black man in the early 90s. And like how that all dates back to these, like, the black wars and the black Israelites and like, like, I love all of that stuff. And it’s such an in depth story that it gives a much fuller picture of who Malcolm X was. Yeah, and I think it’s just absolutely brilliant.

Traci Thomas 34:34
Okay, but I will say this, Sydney said she’s an easy crier, and I am not an easy crier, but I will tell you when I read that book, and we got to the assassination of Malcolm X, I cried. I couldn’t believe it. I literally cried. Even though I’ve read. I’ve read, you know, the Manning Marable Malcolm X. I’ve read of course, Malcolm X’s Malcolm X with Alex Haley. I’ve, you know, seen the movie I’ve read like, I read a book about Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali like I know the story. It was not as cries but the way that the book is written is so well done that I literally cried being like, I cannot believe they killed that make like, I was getting emotional right now talking about it. I don’t know that Cindy, I don’t know that you will cry. But for me, I was like, deeply, deeply moved in that moment of the book. It’s a fantastic book. I second that recommendation wholeheartedly.

Joel Christian Gill 35:23
Yeah, it’s so incredible. Like, I read that book and was like telling everybody like, it’s one of those books when you read it. You tell everybody for like weeks? This is the book you should read? Yeah, for sure. Because it like it really positions not like with Malcolm X is such of like a legendary figure. And it really makes him whole, even in the context of the 1960s being friends with James Baldwin and understanding like the understanding about being a queer black man that at that time, and everybody knew it wasn’t like he was hiding it. Right. So like they knew. And you think about mathematics like, oh, he was back then he was a black Muslim probably wasn’t. But yeah, he was really good friends with and they addressed it and all of these people like so like there, it just makes them way more nuanced. And I love that about even like Malcolm X and his his like, because another one of the criticisms people used to give about Malcolm X is that he was he was misogynist because of the Nation of Islam in the way that treated women. But even that is different in the book, right? When you talk when he’s answering those questions. At the end, he’s talking about women’s roles, and he’s saying he’s bringing, like a much broader, even closer to Biblical sense of how women are supposed to be treated. And I think it’s just, it’s just amazing. Like, Malcolm X is like, it’s yeah, like, it’s sad that like, how do you kill somebody? Who is that? Who is? Who loves people that much?

Traci Thomas 36:38
Yeah totally. Okay, Sydney, here are my recommendations for you. I’m gonna give you a recommendation that should surprise exactly zero people. But also, I know everyone hates when I talk about this book, which is gone with the wind. It is the perfect vacation book. I know that you write about it, and stamped Joel just gave me a look. But it is one of my favorite books. I know. Everybody hates me for it. But I love the book. It’s a fantastic book. It’s racist, but it’s also a good book. I’m just gonna throw that out there. It’s paperback. And it’s lengthy, but you can read it quickly. My other recommendation is another book that I love that I recommend a lot. And it’s empire of pain by Patrick Radden, Keefe and it’s about the Sackler family and the opioid crisis. And it’s like about the conspiracy behind that. It’s very compelling. And then the last one I’m going to give you is a book that I have never actually read, but I really want to read on vacation, which is Crazy Rich Asians. I’ve heard it’s just like, it’s a big book. It’s like 400 or 500 pages. I heard it’s a great time. I feel like if you want to beat you read that’s like a fun read with a good story. You could do Crazy Rich Asians and have a great time in Greece. So those are my recommendations. Joel hates me because I recommended Gone With the Wind, but you know what I am who I am.

Joel Christian Gill 37:49
And also I’m gonna be I’m gonna be in July. So if you are reading I’m going to be in Greece in July too. So if I see you on the beach, and you’re reading that book, I’m gonna knock it out of your name.

Traci Thomas 37:57
No, you’re gonna be like, are you Sydney? Also, she might not be the only person reading it just FYI. still popular bike. Anybody else who wants a book recommendation read on air email, ask the sax at the sax podcast.com and we will do another show. Okay, Joel now it’s your turn to recommend a bazillion books. Two books you love one book you hate.

Joel Christian Gill 38:19
Can I just say a book that I love hate? At the same time?

Traci Thomas 38:23
Yeah, no one’s ever done that.

Joel Christian Gill 38:25
Which is Asterios Polyp by David Mazurccelli. I think David motility is like one of the greatest living cartoonists alive right now. He got his like, work in working in DC Comics. He’d like all of the Batman movies are based on his work with Frank Miller like that, man, you’re one and he did amazing stories. He’s an amazing cartoonist. And he wrote he did Paul Auster city of glass. He interpreted that book with Paul Karasik, who is a colleague of mine at BU. And but he wrote a serious pilot and I tell people that Asterios polyp. So there’s a couple of things about Asterios all that I think my students told me and it’s sort of like, it made me think about this in a different way. It’s like it’s a white man going through a midlife crisis. And like how many times have we heard that story? And how tall or how tired we are that story? So that’s the thing that I don’t want that I hate about the book. But the way in which David Miss Celie uses the medium of comic and make you hear someone’s voice, right like between a stereos and his wife, Hannah, when you heat when they the word balloons are different. So when you when he writes a stereos when he writes Hana, you can hear their voices, the way he uses color, a really good example of color theories and look at this book, he uses color to denote past, present and future and use color to denote different moods. And so like their time and the way he draws, he draws like stereos very geometrically at one point at a party. And everybody has all these different like shapes. So think like Picasso people walking around, right? And so then You’ve got a stereos who’s who’s on paper architect, architect who has no hasn’t had any buildings built. But he’s a professor. And he’s like a renowned paper architect. So everything’s on paper, nothing’s built. And so he’s drawn with like, cubes and like, see through cubes and shapes. And Han is drawn with a skeleton, it’s blue and hanus drawn with his pink sketchy like expressive line. And when they’re having a connection at this party, those kinds of concepts and styles merge, which is amazing, right? Because again, he doesn’t have to say they were like that in a way that you would say, they’re vibing. Right, right, right. But, but you don’t have to say that because you just show that they’re actually literally merging, right. And when they have arguments, and it’s an argument where Asterios is out of place, he’s drawn in her world, so everything is pink, all the surroundings are pink, and he’s still in that blue. And when she’s in his world, all the the furniture and everything else is geometric, and she’s pink in that little like skin. So it’s just like an amazing book that I love, hate. For that reason. Another book that I think is just pivotal in the way we think about comics is Understanding Comics. I just think if you are interested in visual culture at all, you really should read Understanding Comics, by Scott McCloud, it was written in 1992. And it basically just explains how comics work. It’s a really about it’s really great. And it’s really about somebody told me recently, like when they read that book, every time they read it, they go to sleep, and they just have dreams of Scott McCloud pointing at stuff in its surrounding area. It’s an amazing book. And I think everybody should read it. Watchmen I think is really fantastic read, especially if you loved or did not love the TV show. Like if you haven’t seen the TV show, you should watch the TV show. It’s the blackest thing I’ve ever seen on television. And it’s like done in such such an unobtrusive way. But when you read the comic, it is the perfect sequel to the comic, to take Rorschach ideology, which Alan Moore was trying to make an argument about how terrible the idea of Batman was, and how Batman was literally a fascist. And that man is a fascist. And Rorschach is a fascist. And you look at the the, the, the natural progression of his ideology is white supremacy. It’s so great like that. Just as an aside, Batman is a terrible superhero. Like if you are a billionaire, if you are a billionaire, right? And you are in a town like if you are a billionaire in Chicago, and you care about Chicago, right? You want to fix Chicago, right? What do you do? Do you like invest? Like, think about like Lebron James? Like, do you invest in a school where you can send 1000s of kids and change the lives dynamically of like, 1000s of people by creating a school and giving parents like Job, Job skills are in the process. That’s how you fix a community, right? But what Batman does is he takes his money is billions of dollars in research and development to beat up poor people to become a cop right?

Traci Thomas 43:11
It’s essentially just a scene of Batman. I’ve never read a superhero novel.

Joel Christian Gill 43:18
which is which is terrible, right? Because I love there’s some superhero stories I love and there are people who have written that man in such amazing ways like Batman Year One is great. Batman, The Killing Joke is amazing. Batman, The Dark Knight Returns is amazing. But at the same time that makes a terrible superhero, like absolutely terrible. Because he’s based like Elon Musk is Batman right now. Right? And he’s not doing anything great for the world.

Traci Thomas 43:41
No, he’s only doing bad things. What’s the last great book you read?

Joel Christian Gill 43:48
Watch the diaries. I think it was great. I love that book. You know, like that book won the Book Prize, which I think is deserved. It’s nominated for an Eisner right now. So this plays before the end of July. And you get a chance to like nominate, go and vote for an eyes and vote for washday diaries, I would argue for that. I think you know, they’re like, the best way to describe why che diaries and the way I talk about this book and why I love this book so much. I read it last year, we were in Martha’s Vineyard, and then I made my entire family read it. It’s a short read. So there are stories that are specifically about for different people, right? Like I get the best example I can give is in college I had to read divine secrets of the ya ya sisterhood. Okay, so who brought this in? You’re laughing because, you know, automatic. Professor brought this book in, and she was like, it was a class on the comic voice and she said, read this book. It’s funny. That book didn’t resonate to me. It was written for like, older white women in their 40s I was a 25 year old black man. These women were in the south they had like, relationship issues with their mothers problems with their husbands who were basically like wallpaper and and but that’s not to say that I need that book to be about All right, let me just be real clear, I don’t need that book to be about me that there’s a certain segment of the population that books like that work for it just to me the same way that paper sticks to a wall without tape. Right? Not at all. So like, I read that book, and it didn’t connect wash day diaries, sounds like it would do the same thing. It’s about these four women of color. And it’s about as a black woman, you know, like about, like washing your hair, and like, the rituals that are around that. And I don’t have hair anymore. I choose to not hair very anymore. But like, I understand that, and I remember that as a as a kid, like my sisters and my mom. But that’s not important. The important thing is, it’s about friendship, and about these women who have a friendship out into that book, that thinking I want friends like that. Right? Like who have me like they’re better that ride or die for me. And I think that that’s the thing that I think you can get out of a book like that, because there’s some books that are written for specific, specific people. And then some books that are written for about specific people, but can be for everybody. And I think what that’s what’s great about washday diaries,

Traci Thomas 46:09
I love that how do you pick what you’re going to read next?

Joel Christian Gill 46:14
Um, randomly, you know, like, if I’m working on a book, and I’m thinking, I listen to audiobooks a lot, so I listen to a lot of like, fantasy and sci fi books, when I like do that. Like I probably because I spend a lot of time drawing I suppose I probably power through like, and are we I don’t know if you really listen to audiobooks, but I always listen to him like, like two times as fast.

Traci Thomas 46:38
So number 152175. And listen to Obama, the Obama has got a full 2.0

Joel Christian Gill 46:43
Yeah, so like a slow everything. I mean, I speed everything up so I can power through it. So I like I flip back and forth between like something that I should have read a long time ago that I’d be like, I just read, Angela Davis is and our prisons, absolutely. Okay. And then I’m reading. Like, I’m reading two other books. I’m reading a book called Reading Franz Fanon, black face white mask, and I’m also reading he who fights monsters, which is a d&d style, like, like a guy goes into a universe. And it’s like, he has d&d powers. And he did, there’s no explanation, he just got to figure out how to roll for 20. So like, I just switched back and forth between like, Am I in the mood to like, be angry at the world and try to figure out what I need to do fix it? Or do I want to just leave? Like, do I just want to leave this place altogether? Is this a time? And so like, I think it’s just like whatever’s happening in the world. I do. I choose, I choose based on that.

Traci Thomas 47:39
What’s a book that you love to recommend to people,

Joel Christian Gill 47:44
I recommended specifically to spend most of my time with artists like the artists way, which is a really short book about just the process of creativity and powering through. To my students, I’d recommend that one and Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, which was my Bible for a while. Mostly just because I think I just think that if you’re not going to go to therapy and spend time in therapy, you need to like figure out how to be a whole person. And I think that that book is a is a way to help you figure that out. With the seven habits because it’s really like cognitive behavioral therapy in a book form, and like seven little bite sized pieces, and the art and the artists way is a little bit like that to teaching you how to how to survive as a creative, like, how do you? How do you decide what materials to use? How do you keep pushing through, like a lot of us become professors? And how do you make art, when you’re no longer professor, it’s like, you just keep working. Like, you have to make this thing that thing that you want to do, and be passionate about it. So those are, those are typically books that and then like, there’s like a book, I can’t remember the guys name, but he wrote a book called children of time. His name is Adrian and his last name is Russia. And then I can’t ever know. But he wrote the science fiction book about this development, this society that’s developed from spiders and it’s so creative. And just like incredible, there’s a really short synopsis, there’s a woman who wants to create her own version of humanity. So she creates a retrovirus as opposed to like evolve Marquis over like a generation that she’s gonna go into, like a cybernetic chamber chamber until she comes out like decades later if she’s going to be their God. And it backfires. And the spiders are the thing that actually get evolved. And so you watch this spider sit like the spiders, like it’s, I cannot inspires my daughter’s the same way. But it is so brilliant. It’s so creative. Like I’m just like the the way in which he just thought about like every single aspect of their society and like how they went from the like Enlightenment period to the Bronze Age to all these. It’s so great. So great. I love that book.

Traci Thomas 49:49
Okay, this is Oh, let me ask you this. Do you have a favorite bookstore?

Joel Christian Gill 49:52
I have a lot of favorite bookstores. My favorite comic store is million year picnic and Cambridge. I’m not just like Your favorite comics, like their favorite comic book store should be like, like cheers, right? You go in and everybody knows your name going in your picnic. And it’s like Joe, you know, like, I love that it’s a small store it smells it still smells like a kind of, like, when I think about comics, I think of like, the basement of somebody’s house, in like wood panels from like the 80s. And so it smells like that. And I think it’s amazing. And so I love I love that store. And then other like other bookstores, I just like, it’s just like, I love bookstores. I go in like lots of bookstores. I live near Brookline booksmith I have an apartment in Boston, in Boston. So I live in Brooklyn booksmith. So I go in there a lot. So like, there’s a lot of like little stores that I like to go. I like and like bookstores but also like a love libraries. And I always tell people that libraries saved my life. So I love going to the libraries to libraries of like bookstores, but you get to take stuff out and not pay for it.

Traci Thomas 50:48
So yeah, it’s a dream. What’s the last book that made you laugh?

Joel Christian Gill 50:54
Oh, you know, I read this little comic on buy more events driver called Mountain View terrace. Like he says it’s a buy. It’s a memoir that he’s writing. And so like, it’s like, we’re about the same age. I think I’m like, I’m probably the age of his brother, like his older brother. And so like his older brother, who’s a mess, like in real life. He’s like, he was part of comics gate like these terrible people. And no is like the opposite of him, which is really and they’re both draw comics. But we like so there was this whole thing kind of like GamerGate and like all this other stuff, where these Cantonese cartoonists who are like super conservative, like right wing trolls, and they’re saying like, comics have to Whoa, can you turn in everything women and like, and they were like, always Women in Comics got their jobs because they were sleeping their way through it. And it’s not, you know, this terrible stuff, right? And so like, No, it’s not that but Evan is. And so, but there’s a point in the book, where he like, sneaks into his brother’s room because he wants to read spawn, which was this like big comic in the early 90s That came out with Todd McFarlane and like, all these creators left but anyway, it was like a pivotal. I actually have one of the first copies over there Frank in the studio. But and so he like goes and sneaks the comic out, and I just like that was like, hilarious to me. Like that would have been something that I would have done like leaking this comic and then going in revering it, like sneaking off into the woods to read this comic. That was that was me, I would have done that. That made me laugh out loud.

Traci Thomas 52:18
What about the last book that made you cry?

Joel Christian Gill 52:21
What made me cry most recently? I can’t think of anything that made me cry. I mean, things make me angry a lot.

Traci Thomas 52:28
Next question, what’s made you angry?

Joel Christian Gill 52:31
Like, our prisons obsolete? Mostly because, like Angela Davis as like, icon, like, it’s got like, I don’t know how, like, how do you like, it’s weird to me to think about being right, but being angry that you’re right. Does that make sense? Like, she predicts these things? Like she said in the 80s, like, Reagan was the worst president for black people since like, reconstruction. Right? And people are like, no, like, black people were enslaved during slavery, you know, like, all these different things and like, and then Reagan increases the prison population by 300%, ignores the AIDS crisis creates like mad, like, greed is good. And this like this whole thing. And like, so she gets to the you get to the end of that decade, and are like now 20 years out, or 30 years out, and you’re like, she was right. And so like, yeah, I was right. But holy shit. I was right.

Traci Thomas 53:27
I mean, yeah, like, it’s funny, right about this.

Joel Christian Gill 53:30
Yeah. And so like, but listening to some of the stuff and like, and reading about some of the like studies about ways in which we like deal with incarcerated people who are sitting in our system impacted, and that we know that there’s a way to do it a different way, but we don’t because of like, late stage capitalism. And that’s a whole I could talk for another hour about capitalism, especially predatory capitalism, but I won’t.

Traci Thomas 53:52
I mean, I could do that. It’s one of my personal passion projects is to talk about this stuff. Um, yeah, we won’t, we won’t. We’re already 56 minutes and people we want. What’s about what about a book, you felt like you learned a lot.

Joel Christian Gill 54:06
I learned a lot about myself. When I read stamp, I’ve probably read stamped 100 times.

Traci Thomas 54:13
And the big stamp the graphic stamped the big stamp. Different names for it. It’s like, I know that there was like, stamped and then stamped Jr. But now that there’s the kids in the graphic. I’m like, I can’t keep it straight. I need different stamped titles. So I call the big stamp the big boy stamp.

Joel Christian Gill 54:29
Yeah. I mean, I read that in it. Like, I think it actually hardened my politics and changed the way I thought about things. Mostly because like, I think I had like we all do, right. And I haven’t read how to be an anti racist, and I probably have a need to and it’s like on my list of things to read. But mostly I didn’t read those books, because they were I was working on the adaptation. And I knew that it was like, I didn’t read Jason Reynolds, his version, and I didn’t read it, because I was afraid that their versions would sneak into what I was doing. And so I didn’t want to do that. But I need to do that. And so reading reading stuff Yeah, it really, like opened my eyes to like, like, I would read that respectability politics bullshit, right? And I would be like, yeah, black people need we need to band together and pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. And then you look at it, and it’s like, but But no, right? Because we’ve done that, right. We’ve done that with with Tulsa. And they burned it down, and then we built it back up. And, you know, we built back then most people will talk about it, we build back up those black businesses and, and things and we don’t, but we still haven’t gotten, we still haven’t gotten the respect we need. So when, when when did we do things? Oh, it was about collective action. It was about recognizing that there’s nothing wrong with black people. And like, you know, like, those things really profoundly affected me and like, probably hard my politics and a different like, it actually pushed me further, further toward. I’m not gonna say communism, or even socialism, because I’m like, I’m wondering if there’s a new way of doing things. But like, holy shit, we need to take care of people. And we don’t, right, and we need to, and we need to stop. And like, you know, poor white people need to understand that these things actually hurt them as well. Not just us, right? Not us brown people, right? Not just people of color, like that intersection of brown people and poor people like these things are affecting them as well.

Traci Thomas 56:13
And even middle class white people and like, white people. I mean, did you read the some of us by Heather McGee?

Joel Christian Gill 56:20
No, but I do you should read that. Like, you should read that. Yeah, yeah.

Traci Thomas 56:25
And also, like when affirmative action was white, and dying of whiteness, like there’s all these books that talk about this stuff. I mean, I had the same experience with stamped when I finished Big Boy stamped, I was literally like, Oh, I’m actually a different person now. Because a lot of things where I was trying to, like, give the benefit of the doubt, or like, you know, pretend like things that I knew were wrong, or maybe not racist. It just changed my understanding of like, what the word racist could and did mean, in a way that like, it wasn’t a personal thing. Like it wasn’t about an individual person being a racist 100% of the time, but about people being and doing and saying racist things and like racist laws being in place, like all like, it just changed, fundamentally, how I thought about racism as like, an idea, you know, like that, like, the worst thing you could say to a white person is you’re racist, even after they like, call you the N word. You know? Like, it just changed the nature of that.

Joel Christian Gill 57:21
Yeah. And it’s not like racism is not a state, right? It’s not like a state of being it is a transient situation that we often all will all of us, right, because we live in a society that inundate us with these things. We often find ourselves in positions to express anti black racism, anti Asian racism, all those things, or misogyny or, you know, homophobia, or queer quote, you know, like transphobia. Like, those are things that like, because we’re inundated, we will hold those ideas. And like, for me to say for somebody to tell me, Joel, that was racist. Does it mean that I’m like, I recoil, right? examine that and go, was it right? Oh, yeah. That was like,

Traci Thomas 58:02
Yeah. To use your like analogy about the container. For comics, it’s the opposite. Racism is not a container. It’s what goes inside the container. So like, exactly like it could be the piece of you sing your song about sangria, it could be like, the piece of apple is the racism, it doesn’t mean everything in the Sangria is racist. It just means like, you do have a piece of apple in there, that is definitely the N word. Like there’s a piece of apple in there that is definitely against affirmative action in a weird way.

Joel Christian Gill 58:35
Remove that piece of that. Exactly right. Because like the container doesn’t mean that it doesn’t mean that you’re calling the container bad. You just like there’s something in there that you need to pull out. That’s, I think that that’s the way we think about it. And like I used to give this lecture called racism is dead. And it wasn’t that racism was dead. And it’s like, it was that the idea of racism is there the way in which we use that word because people call me racist online all the time. Right? And I’m like, I don’t think you know what that word means. It’s just not it’s they don’t people don’t understand it. They think it’s something it means something else. They don’t think it means like a description of what you’re doing.

Traci Thomas 59:09
So right. Okay, we’re so out of time. So I’m gonna ask you my one last question. And then we’re gonna wrap up before next time. If you could require the current president of the United States to read one book, what would it be?

Joel Christian Gill 59:18
Stamped from the Beginning. Definitely.

Traci Thomas 59:21
Yeah, gotta gotta tell Biden to at least read yours, too. I love it. John will be back on the 26th of July. You need to get your copies of fights and stamped from the beginning graphic. And support Joel because Joe’s so great. And thanks for being here, Joel. Thanks for having me. This was so much fun. Everybody else we will see you in the stacks.

All right. Well, that does it for us today. Thank you so much for listening. And thank you again to Joel Christian Gill for joining the show. And thank you to David hawk and Felix Cruz for helping to make this conversation possible. Joel will be back with us on Wednesday, July 26 To discuss this stuff. Next book club pick Watchmen by Alan Moore with illustrations from Dave Gibbons. If you love the show and want insight access to it, head to patreon.com/the stacks and join the stacks pack. Make sure you subscribe to the stacks wherever you get your podcasts and if you’re listening through Apple podcasts or Spotify leave us a rating and a review. For more from the stacks follow us on social media at the stacks pod on Instagram and Tik Tok and at the stackspod underscore on Twitter and check out our website the stacks podcast.com This episode of the stacks was edited by Christian Duenas with production assistance from Lauren Tyree. Our graphic designer is Robin McCreight. The Stacks is created and produced by me Traci Thomas.

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