Over at the Morning News, my new essay “Fanboy” is up. The artwork here is a beautiful illustration commissioned from an artist by the name of Katie Turner. This is an essay that began about a year ago in a comic book store in New York, when I did a doubletake and noticed that the comics I was reading had an overwhelming common them: white superheroes on black ops teams, working for the United States government.

As the essay details, I’ve long had a theory about comics, that they have an uncanny ability to reflect our dreams and our unconscious projections, and Freud did too—he used a comic to illustrate his groundbreaking work on dreams, in fact, and used it without comment. Which is to say, even Freud unconsciously saw the ability of comics to communicate or illustrate dreams. The essay I wrote then turned into something about two comic book moments separated by 35 years—the first, when I was a child, the second, last year, as an adult. And tells the story of how I survived growing up mixed-race with the help of the X-Men, the racial unconscious of the United States, as Colorlines puts it, and the whitewashing of superheroes, per the New Yorker magazine’s Bookbench blog. I’m grateful to them for linking and commenting on the essay, and also to The Morning News, where I’ve just been made a Contributing Writer. It’s been my homepage for over a year now, as I find it a funny, smart place to start my day—I don’t freak out as easily about the bad news when I start there—so, I’m thrilled to join up with them. I look forward to seeing my pencil sketch profile portrait on that masthead.

My days are for now starting at Civitella Ranieri, in Umbertide, Italy, for the next month, where, after a hectic and sad goodbye to my friends and students in Iowa at the Writers’ Workshop, I’ve come here as a fellow, to write, and, apparently, live in a castle and be fed very delicious Italian food, which is easing a little of the pain of being away from my boyfriend. If you are ever given the chance to apply, do apply. Did I ever mention as a kid I always wanted to live in a castle? Anyway, for one month now, I do.


  1. I’ve had this post bookmarked for a while, and I finally had a chance to read it! When I see the word “fanboy,” I can’t help thinking of coordinating conjunctions (FANBOYS).

    I did my undergraduate thesis on graphic novels and loved spending hours at Green Apple in LA perusing the shelves, but I didn’t read comics books as a kid.

    Your fellowship sounds amazing! Live in a castle and eat Italian food! Heavenly. I hope you’re taking lots of pictures.

    Looking forward to reading your essay.

  2. Dear Alex —
    You have gone to live in a castle. I hope it’s magical (the food for sure will be — it’s Italy). “Fanboy” is an absolutely gorgeous essay. Thanks for giving it to the world.
    Buon viaggio.
    Take care

    1. Thank you, Sue! Just another 9 days left. I’m so homesick it’s crazy. But I have gotten a big thing done, which is create a solution to a problem in my new novel that is so ancient. And it was, I think, the last big stumbling block to this draft. So, off it goes next week. Fingers crossed.

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