September 15th, 2002


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07:38 pm - Maverick's new and improved canon
jacquez had posted a list of banned books that she had read. I recall doing something similar for graffiti years ago, so I decided to make my own list of books that everyone should have to read in order to escape from, ummm... that is... graduate, high school. Some are things they already do make High School students read, and some are things that I just think they should add.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Are You There God, It's Me Margaret by Judy Blume
The Art of War by Sun Tzu
Bulfinch's Mythology by Thomas Bulfinch
The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Theodore Seuess Giesel
Canteberry Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
Catch-22 by Joseph L. Heller
The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
The Dunciad by Alexander Pope
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
God Loves, Man Kills by Chris Claremont
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Hamlet by Francois Bacon
Have a Nice Day! by Mick Foley
Hiroshima by John Hersey
The Holy Bible, King James Version by various
I Know Why the Caged Birds Sing by Maya Angelou
Idylls of the King by Baron Alfred Lord Tennyson
In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
Lolita by Vladimir Nabakov
The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton
A Midsummer Night's Dream by Francois Bacon
Neuromancer by William Gibson
Night by Elie Wiesel
The Odyssey by Homer
The Oedipus Trilogy by Sophocles
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Omaha the Cat Dancer by Reed Waller and Kate Worley
On the Beach by Nevil Shute
Paradise Lost by John Milton
Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
The Raven and Other Favorite Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
The Razor's Edge by W. Sommerset Maughm
Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Romeo and Juliet by Francois Bacon
Roots by Alex Haley
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud
Watchmen by Alan Moore
Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson
Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon

OK, maybe 50 is a bit much, but if you start with the simple ones in 8th grade and only read one in every school month, you'd get through 45 of them... and then could read the last 5 your freshman year of college.

I'm kind of curious how many of these other people have and haven't read. Anyone?

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Comments:


[User Picture]From: jacquez Date: September 15th, 2002 - 09:00 pm (Link)
Hamlet by Francois Bacon

Ah! A rogue Baconite!

[User Picture]From: jacquez Date: September 15th, 2002 - 09:06 pm (Link)

Speaking of rogue Baconites...

Have you read The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde? I think you'd like it.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: September 16th, 2002 - 10:27 am (Link)

Re: Speaking of rogue Baconites...

actually, I don't care about bacon or shakespeare one way or the other... I just like making obscure references... maybe I'll check out the book some day though.
[User Picture]From: jacquez Date: September 15th, 2002 - 09:04 pm (Link)

The ones I've read

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Are You There God, It's Me Margaret by Judy Blume
The Art of War by Sun Tzu
Bulfinch's Mythology by Thomas Bulfinch
The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Theodore Seuess Giesel
Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Hamlet by Francois Bacon^W^WWilliam Shakespeare (muttered imprecations)
The Holy Bible, King James Version by various
Idylls of the King by Baron Alfred Lord Tennyson
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
Lolita by Vladimir Nabakov
A Midsummer Night's Dream by Francois Bacon no comment
Neuromancer by William Gibson
The Odyssey by Homer
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
The Portrait of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
The Raven and Other Favorite Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Romeo and Juliet by Francois Bacon cough
This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Watchmen by Alan Moore
[User Picture]From: nowishere Date: September 16th, 2002 - 02:10 am (Link)

Re: The ones I've read

hrm. i was about to say "about 14?", without listing them, but after this, it seems a little anticlimactic.

and yet i've gone and said it anyway, haven't i?

even worse, i remember maybe half of the ones i have read. *maybe* half. good thing i have nothing else to do for the rest of forever besides read =D
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: September 16th, 2002 - 10:27 am (Link)

Re: The ones I've read

so which ones were they?
[User Picture]From: nowishere Date: September 16th, 2002 - 11:08 am (Link)

Re: The ones I've read

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Are You There God, It's Me Margaret by Judy Blume
Canteberry Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
Catch-22 by Joseph L. Heller
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (?)
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
The Odyssey by Homer
The Oedipus Trilogy by Sophocles
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
The Raven and Other Favorite Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume (?)
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee


and i read all of those shakespeare ones, but i dunno if they were by francis bacon.

and why on earth did you recommend the king james version of the bible? i haven't done the comparison personally, but i've heard (from all my christian friends =P) that NIV is much better. like, MUCH better..
[User Picture]From: nowishere Date: September 16th, 2002 - 11:14 am (Link)

Re: The ones I've read

and i read all of those shakespeare ones, but i dunno if they were by francis bacon.
um. or francois either.
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 16th, 2002 - 11:40 am (Link)
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: September 16th, 2002 - 11:58 am (Link)
Besides that, including 2 Judy Blume books and no Joyce or Kafka is morally wrong.

Yeah, I probably should have dropped Margaret... Blume doesn't need to be there twice... I agonized over Kafka, and for reasons that i explained on comments on someone elses page, I eventually decided against him. (In a nutshell, I felt that it wasn't accessible enough to be a MUST for high shcool students... important if you want to be an in depth literary mind, but not necessary to just be well rounded.) I think I may feel the same way about Joyce, but you're right, having a Joyce book would have been better than having 2 Blume's.

Oh, and you forgot to add books about pro wrestling and bad pop music, to go along with Understanding Comics.

Actually, I picked Understanding Comics more for its stance on the world of Art than its stance on the world of comics. I wanted to have one art appreciation book, and I thought it was a little easier to swallow than some of my other art histroy books.

As far sa Pop Culture appreciation stuff goes, Have a Nice Day by Mick Foley is about pro-wrestling... well sort of anyway... some of it is... and I didn't see the need to show anything more about modern pop culture... like I said... I was going for well rounded. different looks at different parts of culture... not overkill in one part.
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 16th, 2002 - 12:45 pm (Link)
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: September 16th, 2002 - 01:03 pm (Link)
Kafka is more accessible than, say, Paradise Lost.

Hmmm, you think? Maybe... I think we read Paradise Lost in 9th grade, and I don't recall anyone really having a problem with it. Of course, we also read Metamorphosis... so I guess it could go either way.
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 16th, 2002 - 12:40 pm (Link)
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: September 16th, 2002 - 01:17 pm (Link)
The Koran, Tao te Ching, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, or any other religious text outside of your native religion (or lack thereof)

I thought about that, but I ultimately chose against it. I guess because I felt like I couldn't justify study of any of them in specific, so much as I could with Siddhartha. But yeah, I see the point

Paradise Lost, John Milton

Was on my list

The Divine Comedy, Dante (can't remember how to spell last name)

Dante seemed redundant with Milton. Not that they're the same... just that I was trying to come up with 50 musts in order to be well rounded and it didn't seem like it was worth giving up something else to have both. For much the same reason as I told jacquez that we didn't need both Hamlet and MacBeth. Of course, like wooble said, I shouldn't have put two Judy Blume books on either... that was an oversight.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintence and/or Lila, Robert M. Pirsig

For High school? Maybe... those felt like definitive college things... in retrospect, maybe i should have held off on Omaha too.

Wuthering Heights, one of those frickin' Bronte sisters (I regret never actually reading any of them, but the movie was good...)

I should have picked one of them probably.

any collection of T.S. Eliot

I left him off because I already had so many things by Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Twain and other classic canon authors. (Yes, I know I had 2 Fitzgerald's, but that's because I think everyone SHOULD read Gatsby, and as far as alternative classics go, This Side of Paradise was, IMO, a really good choice). If I had included all the classics, I wouldn't have had room for alternative things like Watchmen, On the Beach and Night.

the Federal, State and City tax forms relevant to that year, whether you were working while in HS or not.

Agreed... spoken like someone who grew up in the Lorain City School District and had to take P.O.D.
[User Picture]From: anisodragnfly Date: September 16th, 2002 - 03:40 pm (Link)
i kind of agree with the person who commented on jacquez's post about the worthwhileness of these types of lists, so i'm not gonna join the debate about what books belong on here. also, in some cases i'm betting a good film version would be sufficient.

Here's my list:

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (not sure, but I know it sufficiently that I might as well have read it)
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Are You There God, It's Me Margaret by Judy Blume
The Art of War by Sun Tzu
Bulfinch's Mythology by Thomas Bulfinch
Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Hamlet
The Holy Bible, King James Version by various (post high school)
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling (pre grammar school)
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Neuromancer by William Gibson (post high school, but i would have read it in high school if it had been published then)
The Odyssey by Homer
The Oedipus Trilogy by Sophocles
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Omaha the Cat Dancer by Reed Waller and Kate Worley
Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (when i was 14 or so, stayed up all night reading it and it gave me the creeps, majorly. i don't recommend it for the young.)
The Raven and Other Favorite Poems by Edgar Allan Poe (memorized the Raven at 13)
Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Romeo and Juliet
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud (post college)
Watchmen by Alan Moore

never even heard of this one:
The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Theodore Seuss Giesel

if you really feel it necessary to make such a list, i think you're better off saying one book by Hemingway, one tragedy, one comedy by Backespeare, etc.

on the Austen front (which actually exists elsewhere): anyone who has read a couple of Regency romances can read Austen. any 9 year old can read a Regency romance. therefore, all high school students should read two Regency romances and at least one Austen. ;->

[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: September 16th, 2002 - 04:18 pm (Link)
i kind of agree with the person who commented on jacquez's post about the worthwhileness of these types of lists, so i'm not gonna join the debate about what books belong on here. also, in some cases i'm betting a good film version would be sufficient.

I replied on that person's blog, I think... basically, I used to kinda think that schools shouldn't use such a list, though in recent years I've come to realize that so many books that I consider important so many people haven't read. It astounds me how many people I know who haven't read Gatsby. Granted, I'm not ruler, so my list doesn't matter... but that's the reason that I'm the only one so far who has read Have A Nice Day.

Of course, once I am ruler, reading lists will be the least of the changes in the world. Just wait til you get your princess leia issue steel bikini.

Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (when i was 14 or so, stayed up all night reading it and it gave me the creeps, majorly. i don't recommend it for the young.)

Really? They forced us to read it in I think... 6th grade? mayeb 7th? So I guess I was 12 or 13, and I don't remember anyone complaining.

never even heard of this one:
The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Theodore Seuss Giesel


Is that the only one you had never heard of? I figured people wouldn't know Night, On the Beach and God Loves, Man Kills.

on the Austen front (which actually exists elsewhere): anyone who has read a couple of Regency romances can read Austen. any 9 year old can read a Regency romance. therefore, all high school students should read two Regency romances and at least one Austen. ;->

I never said they couldn't read them... I just said "ewwww" and mostly I was just mocking max1975 and sundaygray.
[User Picture]From: max1975 Date: September 18th, 2002 - 01:20 pm (Link)
how is that mocking me? I can't stand jane austen.
(ducks possible projectiles)

on another note, i just realized you didn't include moby dick. i can't speak to you anymore.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: September 18th, 2002 - 01:28 pm (Link)
how is that mocking me? I can't stand jane austen.

exactly... that was my point... I was saying it because I remember you doing it.

on another note, i just realized you didn't include moby dick. i can't speak to you anymore.

Yeah... that was an oversight, it should be there. My mom noticed that too. I never said I was perfect.
[User Picture]From: max1975 Date: September 18th, 2002 - 01:36 pm (Link)
exactly... that was my point... I was saying it because I remember you doing it.

so you were mimicking me, not mocking me.

oh wait...i forgot, i'm not speaking to you.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: September 18th, 2002 - 01:44 pm (Link)
oh whatever, you wanted everyone to see condorman.... ;-)
[User Picture]From: jeremiahblatz Date: September 16th, 2002 - 07:18 pm (Link)
Read:
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Art of War
The Butter Battle Book
The Dark Knight Returns
The Diary of a Young Girl
Frankenstein
Hamlet
The Jungle Book - Werd
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Neuromancer
The Odyssey
Omaha the Cat Dancer - Perhaps as part of Sex Ed?
The Raven and Other Favorite Poems - Probably
Understanding Comics
Watchmen

Animal Farm - Watched the animated movie, it rawked
Are You There God, It's Me Margaret - Unknown, maybre I read it?
Canteberry Tales - No, but momorized the Prequel (had TEH PLAYG while my English class read it)
God Loves, Man Kills - No, but I like the title
Of Mice and Men - Saw the movie. Was forced to read The Perl by that hack, hated it.
To Kill a Mockingbird - Saw the movie like 8 freaking times!

So I guess I've got some summer school..
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: September 16th, 2002 - 07:57 pm (Link)
Are You There God, It's Me Margaret - Unknown, maybre I read it?

Judy Blume book about the thoughts of a young jewish girl. I already conceded to Geoff that it was probably overkill to include it.

Canteberry Tales - No, but momorized the Prequel (had TEH PLAYG while my English class read it)

Whan that abril with his shourest sote, the drought of marche had perced to the rote.

God Loves, Man Kills - No, but I like the title

Yeah... another comic book (the X-men), might have been overkill to mention it on the list too, in retrospect.

Of Mice and Men - Saw the movie. Was forced to read The Perl by that hack, hated it.
To Kill a Mockingbird - Saw the movie like 8 freaking times!


OK, these are true classics, I think they definitely deserve to be read.
From: yay4pikas Date: September 17th, 2002 - 08:13 am (Link)
I, too, wonder about King James -- it's an archaic, not particularly good translation (unless one buys into the 'God dictated it to the translators so it's right theory'). My understanding is that the NRSV is the best -- it's clear and relatively literal, and it also returns to actual source material for translations.

Also, why include the Bible and not the Qu'ran or the Bhagavad-Gita or the Tao Te Ching or...?

Why use the French spelling of Francis? He was English.

Interesting list, though.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: September 17th, 2002 - 08:40 am (Link)
I, too, wonder about King James -- it's an archaic, not particularly good translation (unless one buys into the 'God dictated it to the translators so it's right theory'). My understanding is that the NRSV is the best -- it's clear and relatively literal, and it also returns to actual source material for translations.

Consensus reality. It is the most popular, and therefore the got the recommendation. With the Bible, it actually doesn't matter all that much which one you read since there isn't that much difference between the different versions, not like the differences between the two versions of Oronooko, for instance. But I simply went with the popular translation.

Also, why include the Bible and not the Qu'ran or the Bhagavad-Gita or the Tao Te Ching or...?

Again, consensus reality. The purpose of the canon is to give you a broad familiarization, but a familiarization based on relevance. This is why the true canon is so full of dead, white, male authors. This is not to say that... I dunno Blake Nelson's "Girl" (just to pick a random book from my bookshelf) isn't as good a book as "Hamlet"... or that it is. It's just to say that it isn't as popularly referenced... it isn't as canonical. In the places where I deviated from the standard High School curriculum(Watchmen, Butter Battle Book, Have a Nice Day, et al.), it was because I wanted to include something that wasn't represented at all in the standard canon and yet is popular enough (the form not the works) to bear exploration. For instance, I could have just as easily chosen "Tuesdays with Morrie" or "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" instead of "Have a Nice Day" but I wanted to add some character so I chose something quirky. In the case of the religious text however, I chose the work that was most often referenced at least in American Literature. If you are going to read a single religious text in the name of bettering your understanding of American literature, the Tao Te Ching is the wrong one. As is the Book of Mormon, or Crowley.

Why use the French spelling of Francis? He was English.

Wow... finally someone called me on that.... ummm... I just did it because I was being pretentious. I thought if I did that, people would realize that I didn't really care whether it was he or Shakespeare and I was just being hoity-toity. As it was, several people yelled at me as if I were serious.

Interesting list, though.

Thank you.
From: yay4pikas Date: September 17th, 2002 - 09:26 am (Link)
Consensus reality. It is the most popular, and therefore the got the recommendation. With the Bible, it actually doesn't matter all that much which one you read since there isn't that much difference between the different versions, not like the differences between the two versions of Oronooko, for instance. But I simply went with the popular translation.

Actually, as far as detailed Biblical analysis goes, if one isn't using the originals (ideal, but not always practical), translations often do differ significantly. I'm also not entirely sure that the King James is the most popular anymore, but admittedly, I came in through the Catholic education end of the spectrum where we used the NRSV because it is one of the most literal modern translation (and includes the Apocrypha) -- which differs from official Catholic liturgy, if I remember correctly, where last I heard they were using the English translation of the Vulgate (which made my religion teacher fume, as a translation of a translation naturally loses accuracy). Maybe I'm nitpicking unduely, but I do think that translations do differ.

Again, consensus reality. [snip]

I can buy that to some extent, but on the other hand, I think part of the value of making such a list would be to encourage people to expose themselves to things outside of the usual dead white Protestant male canon. But that's me, and I don't really believe in lists of books/movies/whathaveyou that everyone should read/watch.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: September 17th, 2002 - 09:40 am (Link)
Oh don't get me wrong. I'm not saying the translations aren't different. I have 3 different bibles sitting right over there on that shlft <---- and on my computer. When i need to look something up, I usually look in all of them. What I meant was that they are more or less the same. Moses always has 10 commandments, never 11. Jesus always dies on a cross, never before a firing squad. That sort of thing. I know this sounds silly, but in translations of some other books, things really do differ that much. I should have picked translations of every book that wasn't initially in English. The Art of War for instance can say entirely different things based on the version you read.

When i say most popular, what I meant wasn't "what are churches using now" what I meant was "which one is alluded to in literature the most." I believe that to be the King James.

I can buy that to some extent, but on the other hand, I think part of the value of making such a list would be to encourage people to expose themselves to things outside of the usual dead white Protestant male canon.

Nope, not at all... that's why I had so many of them still on the list. The purpose of the highschool canon (all the way through English 101 in college) is to give a foundation for study so that everyone has a common base to work with. Then you're cool, you become an LCS major and branch out into whatever advanced area you want, be it religion, youth culture, shakespeare or russian authors.
From: yay4pikas Date: September 17th, 2002 - 10:21 am (Link)
So you're looking at the Bible from a literary standpoint; fine. The theology scholar in me wants everyone to read at least two translations (as literature and as scripture), but I suppose that's not really feasible.

So...wait...everyone should read the dead white Protestant male canon (and mind, some of my favorite authors are dead white Protestant males), and then one just hopes they go out and read other things as well?

Just because the common base has traditionally been what it is doesn't mean that we shouldn't change the base to provide a broader view of society. As our society changes, our literature canon should change with it (and much as I love Scott McCloud, I don't think putting "Understanding Comics" on the list is necessary).

Or am I misinterpreting here?
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: September 17th, 2002 - 10:58 am (Link)
So you're looking at the Bible from a literary standpoint; fine. The theology scholar in me wants everyone to read at least two translations (as literature and as scripture), but I suppose that's not really feasible.

Agreed.... yes, I was talking from a literary standpoint, theologically (or philosophically) it would be different.

So...wait...everyone should read the dead white Protestant male canon (and mind, some of my favorite authors are dead white Protestant males), and then one just hopes they go out and read other things as well?

You want the idealist answer? Yes. You want the pragmatic answer? It doesn't matter. If they do go out and read other stuff, then at least they have a common (and good) foundation to work from. If they don't go out and read other stuff, the hell with them.

Just because the common base has traditionally been what it is doesn't mean that we shouldn't change the base to provide a broader view of society. As our society changes, our literature canon should change with it (and much as I love Scott McCloud, I don't think putting "Understanding Comics" on the list is necessary).

Ahh, but that was one of my challenges. I don't agree with the "throw the canon out" argument that several other people here (and in the world) believe in. I agree with the change it argument. That means keep things that still need to be there (the Twain, the Fitzgerald) and add canonical examples for other things that aren't represented. Now when i made my challenges, I tried to choose relatively modern texts, and I tried to choose fun examples. Understanding Comics is funny because I picked it here for a different reason than I picked it for the comic list. I think its obvious why its there on the comic list, but here it was chosen because it actually is a very decent intro to both art appreciation and more importantly literary and cultural theory without being really heavy handed. I could have chosen some nice piece by Foucault, but I felt that McCloud would be more fun to read. Especially in high school.
From: yay4pikas Date: September 17th, 2002 - 04:23 pm (Link)
You want the idealist answer? Yes. You want the pragmatic answer? It doesn't matter. If they do go out and read other stuff, then at least they have a common (and good) foundation to work from. If they don't go out and read other stuff, the hell with them.

Your idealist answer is that yes, we should read only dead white Protestant males? I would think the idealist answer would be that we read more than that.

I don't agree with the "throw the canon out" argument that several other people here (and in the world) believe in. I agree with the change it argument. That means keep things that still need to be there (the Twain, the Fitzgerald) and add canonical examples for other things that aren't represented.

Right...I'm sort of lost as to what we're debating now (although if I were making a canon list it would likely be quite a bit different).
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: September 17th, 2002 - 04:48 pm (Link)
Your idealist answer is that yes, we should read only dead white Protestant males? I would think the idealist answer would be that we read more than that.

HAHAH... no, my idealist answer is that we would hope that after being exposed to the canon, students would go out and read other stuff or their own. Also keep in mind that the canon is intended to be a staring point. Something for teachers to give their students so there is a common ground to start from, after that the teacher would also assign books that were appropriate to their course of study... either things they think their students would enjoy or things that they think students should read because it happens to be a class on that subject. It's kinda like I was saying with comic books in the other post. Spy Boy is a fine fine book. But its not for everyone... you read Watchman to get into comics, and then once you're in, you find other stuff you'd like.
From: yay4pikas Date: September 17th, 2002 - 05:50 pm (Link)
 

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