Geek CV: Johanna Draper CarlsonMay 21
It’s sort of weird to call someone a “veteran of the internet,” like what does that even mean? That they’ve somehow managed to maintain their damn blog for at least a year? But Johanna Draper Carlson is totally (here it comes, deep breath!) a veteran of the internet. She started her site, Comics Worth Reading, back in ’99 and was hanging out online way before that.
CWR features an array of reviews, commentary and other tidbits, all delivered in Johanna’s distinctive voice — there’s a thoughtfulness to her writing that I greatly admire, a willingness to dig thoroughly into the work she’s discussing. Take, for instance, her review of the Amanda Bynes flick Sydney White. I think a lot of the Snarky O’Bloggertons out there would be pretty quick to couch their liking of this film with all kinds of hipper-than-thou qualifers or merely dismiss it all together because of its teen-y sheen. Johanna looks at it like she’d look at any other review subject and finds that it’s pretty dang charming (and she’s right, you guys! I loved every geek girl minute!).
Anyway, in order to learn more about lovely Johanna, we asked her a few burning nerdly questions…
Please share your Geek CV.
I never thought of myself as a geek, but others would probably term me so from a young age. I went to the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, a residential magnet school for gifted students, for high school, which was the first time I knew other people like me. That’s when I got back into reading comics (after the usual childhood dabbling), because of a wonderful used book/record/comic store nearby called Books Do Furnish a Room.
After college, I switched from math and computer science to getting a master’s degree in Popular Culture, studying electronic fandom and hackers. That’s when I discovered the Legion of Super-Heroes, the comic book that turned me from a reader into a fan. That’s also when I began writing reviews, thanks to encouragement from folks online, especially artist Steve Lieber. After a few years working as a programmer developing user interfaces, I joined DC Comics as their webmaster. That only lasted a year, because my then-boyfriend, now-husband and I were getting closer and wanted to get out of New York City.
We later got married, and I established ComicsWorthReading.com to host my writing, and things have been pretty stable since then. Not a very exciting story, just a girl who liked computers and the internet and comic books and liked talking to people about those things.
How has your comics consumption evolved over the years?
I used to be one of the very few girls in the room, by which I mean readers of superhero comics. Since I started talking publicly about comics in the mid-90s, I’ve seen so many wonderful changes: much more material available for female readers (and as a result, many more female readers), comics available in so many more genres and telling much more diverse stories, room for creators other than the white male fanboy, and the graphic novel bookstore boom.
Most of what I read these days are manga or graphic novels. I’ve almost totally given up on superheroes, because they feel so played out (and with so many decades of dominance, if I want a really good fantasy of that nature, I’ll read a classic, instead of the current, vile, continuity-chasing stuff). When I started reading a lot more manga several years ago, that brought back the excitement I felt when I first discovered comics seriously. It’s important to recapture that feeling every so often, or you become jaded and bitter.
What comics-related part(s) should Amanda Bynes play?
Katie from Halo & Sprocket, one of my most favorite comics. Katie’s a normal girl explaining life to her roommates, a robot and an angel. Bynes would have the down-to-earth quality needed to ground the fantastical elements and the sense of humor faithful to the work.