Category Archives: Vermont

Vermont in the Comics

Finally going public with a project a group of friends and I here in VT have been casually working on for a while now: a comprehensive list of appearances of the state of Vermont in comic books.

Awesome two-page spread from Batman 237. Admittedly I’m a little distracted by the tight crotch pants. Art by Neal Adams. Whole shebang copyright DC.

But Andy, you ask, how is this relevant to ethnography and the comics?

Well if it has to be, lets just say that as an ethnographer of Vermont I’m really interested in seeing how the state has been represented in comic books. That work?

Check it all out over at our Parent Entity, Devil’s Dream: Vermont in the Comics.

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Filed under Comics and Culture, Vermont

When I Returned – new collection of veterans’ stories from CCS

White River Junction’s Center for Cartoon Studies (CCS) made the Boston Globe recently with their new publication, When I Returned.

When I Returned cover

I haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, but I have finally gotten around to ordering a copy and I will post a review when I manage to get it together.

Through my day job I get to visit CCS from time to time to talk about ethnography and comics, and the first trip my colleague Greg Sharrow and I made over there several years ago was connected to this particular effort.

Not that this is an ethnographic project, mind you. When I last talked about it with CCS folks the orientation was really around journalism and oral history – with emphasis on the authorial voice of the cartoonists rather than on the collaborative construction of narrative/meaning with the storytellers.

Nothing wrong with this, of course, there are plenty of valid ways to go about telling other people’s stories. I’m really curious to see how it all turned out.

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Filed under Comrades and Fellow Travelers, Cool Shit, Vermont

A Graphic Documentary of Tropical Storm Irene


Today marks the fifth anniversary of Tropical Storm Irene striking the state of Vermont. Like most people around here, I remember August 28, 2011 beginning as a beautiful, clear Vermont morning and turning uglier as the day progressed. Although large swaths of the state experienced little more than a solid – if not overly threatening – tropical storm, many other parts of Vermont were devastated by resultant flooding. Most of Chittenden county, where I live, got through it with minimal impact, but in other parts of the state, in towns such as Rochester, Wilmington, Mendon and others, the storm did extensive and horrific damage.

Map of Burlilngton's Interval

Map of Burlington’s Intervale from Iona Fox’s “Irene.”

In Chittenden county one site that did suffer intensely was Burlington’s Intervale, a 900 acre 1  flood plain 2 bounded in part by the Winooski river in the city of Burlington, VT. The Intervale has been used in a variety of ways going all the way back to the native Abenaki, and currently it houses many small organic farms, homeless encampments, the non-profit Intervale Center, and probably its most famous occupant, Gardener’s Supply. Down in the Intervale (as we say around here) rain from the storm caused the Winooski to rise rapidly above its banks, flooding the farms, destroying crops, and damaging buildings and equipment.

In the weeks following the storm the staff at my day job began to organize a response, so at the time I was thinking a lot about documenting experiences of the storm and the recovery, as well as paying attention to other activities directed toward the same end. Somewhere in there I came across Iona Fox’s little comic, Irene.


From Iona Fox’s “Irene.”

Although I had already been thinking casually about comics and ethnography – and more broadly, the use of comics as a documentary medium, Iona’s work was one of two important things to serve as a real catalyst for refining my thought and getting my ass in gear. 3

Iona is an artist/farmer and graduate of the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, VT. Iona completed Irene prior to attending CCS, and in regard to it and her other comics work up to that point, Iona says:

I did lots of short comics beforehand but they were mostly written in terrible academic jibberish – just another 20-something saying “take me seriously, world!” Irene was the first comic I just wrote for my friends, and, surprise! the first comic that was actually fun to make.4

At the time of the storm Iona was working with her partner at Pitchfork Farm, and Irene presents the experience of the storm from the perspectives of the Intervale farmers themselves – Iona included.

I was really excited to see a local cartoonist documenting local experience, and I immediately fell in love with Iona’s drawing style, storytelling, and her treatment of the events. I’ll dedicate a future post to exploring Irene in detail – with Iona’s input.

And so, with the anniversary of the storm on my mind, let me point you all toward Iona Fox’s Irene.

From Iona Fox's "Irene."

From Iona Fox’s “Irene.”

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Filed under Comrades and Fellow Travelers, Cool Shit, El viaje mas caro, Vermont