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In Any Rational Week, I Would Have Talked About This Yesterday

But a week in which The Nib finds its existence is in upheaval-slash-transition is anything but rational. That being said, better late than never with the news: Gene Yang’s next book has a release date. We’ve known about the title (Dragon Hoops) and the elevator pitch (the story of the basketball team from the high school where Yang used to teach in Oakland) for years — he shared them when we spoke back in Aught-Sixteen.

But now we get the full launch announcement, in Entertainment Weekly¹ no less, with quotes from Yang and a set of preview pages. Yang’s art has lost no steps in the years that he’s let others do the drawing (Sonny Liew on The Shadow Hero, Mike Holmes on the Secret Coders series, Gurihiru on the Avatar: The Last Airbender series, various artists on Superman and New Super-Man), and the story …

The story’s different. It’s not just the story of the basketball team at the Oakland high school where he used to teach, their history, and their run for a state championship. It’s a story about his relationship to comics and creativity, to teaching, and to sports. It’s treading into Raina Telgemeier territory and that is terrific news. Yang put a lot of himself into the stories in American Born Chinese but this time he’s literally on the page, captions talking to the reader about what’s going through his mind as he acts out his life on the page.

It’s particularly an interesting tack to take, making Dragon Hoops not just about the team, but also his struggles to find a story — then finding a story just across campus in the gym — while simultaneously admitting that he’s never been a sports guy and actively shies away from the culture of captial-S Sports. I think it’s not coincidence that Yang breaking out of his comfort zone would have coincided with his term as the fifth National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, where his efforts were summarized in his Reading Without Walls Challenge:

  • Read a book about a character who doesn’t look or live like you.
  • Read a book in a format you don’t typically read — graphic novels, poetry, audiobooks, plays.
  • Read a book about a new subject you don’t know much about.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see this theme in Dragon Hoops; we’ll all find out together on 17 March 2020, when 448 pages (!) of comics wisdom drops from :01 Books.

Spam of the day:

Thank you for registering at Hotel Tino – Ohrid

Blah, blah, click the link, set up your account, blah. Ordinarily, I’d chalk this up to a clumsy attempt to get me to go to a virus-ridden hellsite, but it appears to be a legit business. Looks like one of the other Garies Tyrrell has forgotten again that my email is not their email. Hope they get their reservation honored.

¹ Remember when a new graphic novel announcement would trickle out with maybe a small mention in Publishers Weekly or at The Beat? Now it’s the Los Angeles Review Of Books, or EW, or Premiere, or some other mainstream culture publication, if it’s not Washington Post or New York Times. Don’t ever tel me that comics as a medium is dying.

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