Glen Weldon

Glen Weldon is a regular panelist on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. He also reviews books and movies for NPR.org and is a contributor to NPR's pop culture blog Monkey See, where he posts weekly about comics and comics culture.

Over the course of his career, he has spent time as a theater critic, a science writer, an oral historian, a writing teacher, a bookstore clerk, a PR flack, a seriously terrible marine biologist and a slightly better-than-average competitive swimmer.

Weldon is the author of Superman: The Unauthorized Biography, a cultural history of the iconic character. His fiction and criticism have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic, The Atlantic, Slate, Story, McSweeney's, The Dallas Morning News, Washington City Paper and many other publications. He is the recipient of an NEA Arts Journalism Fellowship, a Ragdale Writing Fellowship and a PEW Fellowship in the Arts for Fiction.

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Monkey See
5:49 am
Sun July 12, 2015

French, English, Comics: Proust On Memory, In Any Language

Marcel Proust
Omikron Omikron Photo Researchers RM/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon July 13, 2015 6:04 pm

[Deep breath.]

So there's this new English translation of a French graphic novel adaptation of Swann's Way, the first of seven novels in Marcel Proust's masterwork, In Search of Lost Time.

Got all that? First there was the 1913 novel by Proust (in French!), then a graphic novel adaptation by Stephane Heuet (in French!) that was published in installments between in 1998 and 2013, and now that whole thing has been translated by Arthur Goldhammer (into English!).

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Monkey See
1:35 pm
Tue July 7, 2015

Pop Culture Happy Hour, Small Batch Edition: 'Terminator Genisys'

A Series T-800 Robot in Terminator Genisys.
Melinda Sue Gordon Paramount Pictures/Skydance Productions

Faithful Pop Culture Happy Hour listeners know that contributor Chris Klimek is a lifelong action-movie enthusiast, but they may not know that he is, in particular, a Terminator movie connoisseur. Which is why, for this Small Batch edition, I asked him to Skype in from the Connecticut coastline, where he is estivating while on a prestigious writing fellowship, to talk about the fifth film in the Terminator series, the enervatingly spelled Terminator Genisys.

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Monkey See
10:24 am
Tue June 30, 2015

After 25 Years, A Comics Publisher Pauses To Collect And Reflect

Drawn and Quarterly

Originally published on Tue June 30, 2015 12:56 pm

Drawn and Quarterly, the Montreal-based publisher of comics and graphic novels, began life as a magazine, released in April of 1990. That first issue served as a de facto mission statement, laying out what the company would one day achieve on a grander scale – and what it would strive always to avoid.

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Monkey See
12:03 pm
Tue June 9, 2015

Pop Culture Happy Hour Small Batch: 'Sense8'

Daryl Hannah in Sense8.
Murray Close Netflix

In this Small Batch edition of Pop Culture Happy Hour, I sat down with promising NPR up-and-comer Audie Cornish to discuss the new Netflix streaming science-fiction series, Sense8.

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Monkey See
2:47 pm
Fri June 5, 2015

Floating Eyeballs, Trained Bees: History's Most Cringeworthy Crusaders

Think about superheroes for a minute.

NO THANKS, you say. KIND OF SUPERHEROED OUT, you say. I'M TIRED OF BEING FORCE-FED AN ALL-SUPERHERO DIET IN MOVIES AND TV, SO ACTUALLY IT'D BE GREAT IF I COULD NOT THINK ABOUT THEM, AT ALL, FOR EVEN ONE LOUSY MINUTE, THANK YOU VERY MUCH, you say.

... You are kind of touchy, has anyone told you that?

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Monkey See
12:26 pm
Thu May 21, 2015

Small Batch: 'Mad Max: Fury Road'

Tom Hardy as Max Rockatansky and Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa.
Jasin Boland Warner Bros.

Another sequel, another chance for Hollywood to hurl metal hither and yon and make with the flashy summer blockbuster blow-'em-ups. Yawn, right?

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Monkey See
10:39 am
Fri May 1, 2015

Free Comic Book Day: A Guide To The Heroes, Musicians And Mutants

Help the CBLDF Defend Comics
Diamond Comic Distributors

Another first Saturday in May, another blockbuster superhero movie set to bust our collective blocks, another Free Comic Book Day.

"What's Free Comic Book Day?" you ask, because you've managed to ignore the gallons of virtual ink I've spilled about it on this blog every year since 2009.

(No look it's fine, I get it, but at this point it's starting to look like willful obtuseness on your part, ok?)

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Monkey See
11:06 am
Fri February 20, 2015

The Comedy And Good Conversation Of Harris Wittels

Along with Colton Dunn (L), Harris Wittels (R) played a bumbling member of the Pawnee animal control team on the show he co-executive-produced, Parks And Recreation.
Ben Cohen NBC

Originally published on Fri February 20, 2015 12:24 pm

Harris Wittels died Thursday. He was a stand-up comic, a television writer/producer, a musician, a frequent and dependably hilarious guest on comedy podcasts, and an author who unleashed the concept of the #humblebrag upon the cultural landscape.

He was 30 years old.

When anyone dies, our sadness is tinged with something darker and more selfish; we resent the time we'll never get to spend with that person, the days and months and years that will pile up without their presence.

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Pop Culture
12:00 pm
Sun October 12, 2014

Wolverine's Death: Superheroes And The Cycle Of Eternal Return

Go on, guess what it's about.
Marvel

Originally published on Mon October 13, 2014 4:47 pm

The fourth and final issue of the weekly, four-issue Marvel Comics miniseries Death of Wolverine, written by Charles Soule and drawn by Steve McNiven, will be published Wednesday. This prompted an incredulous text from a friend, Golfrguy, to NPR's nerd-about-town Glen Weldon:

Golfrguy: dude they're killing off wolverine???????

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Wed October 8, 2014

A Hairy, Sardonic Fable In 'The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil'

(For stories are necessary lies.)

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Monkey See
6:19 am
Fri May 2, 2014

Cyborgs, Simpsons And Ticks: All About Free Comic Book Day

The cover of The Tick, one of many --€” 57, in fact --€” comics you may be able to snag at no charge on Saturday, Free Comic Book Day.
Fantagraphics

Originally published on Fri May 2, 2014 1:25 pm

Here's the drill: This Saturday, May 3rd, is Free Comic Book Day. Walk into a comics shop (you can find the one nearest you at www.freecomicbookday.com/storelocator), and they will hand you some free comics.

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Monkey See
2:34 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Dear Zack Snyder, Regarding Wonder Woman

Former Miss Israel and Fast & Furious actor Gal Gadot has been cast as Wonder Woman in the upcoming Batman vs. Superman movie.
Frazer Harrison Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 12:53 pm

TO: Zack Snyder, Big Time Hot Shot Hollywood Director
FROM: Glen Weldon, Nerd
IN RE: Wonder Woman

Dear Zack Snyder:

I see you've cast The Fast and the Furious' Gal Gadot as Diana of the Amazons, aka Wonder Woman.

I see, also, that the Internet has reacted as it can be counted upon to do, when such casting announcements occur. Namely, with fulsome, fulminating nerd rage.

I am here to tell you, Zack Snyder: Keep your head down. Ignore it. Make your movie.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Tue December 3, 2013

Moving Fables Of Gods, Men, Love And Monsters In 'Early Earth'

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 6:56 am

Despite its title, British writer and illustrator Isabel Greenberg's The Encyclopedia of Early Earth is not mere history, with its assiduous accounting of dusty facts, but is instead a compendium of funny, sad and surprisingly moving fables from the pre-history of a world that exists only in Greenberg's febrile imagination β€” one that bristles with capricious gods, feckless shamans, daring quests and, of course, doomed love.

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Monkey See
3:59 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

Alice Munro, The Punchbowl And Everyday Villainy

Short story author Alice Munro, seen here in Dublin in 2009, won the Nobel Prize in Literature today. Her stories often touched on a less obvious form of evil.
Peter Muhly AFP/Getty Images

Alice Munro, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature today, taught me something important and abiding and true about evil.

Specifically, she taught me about that singular species of evil we swim through all our lives. It's the evil to which we petty humans default, even β€” especially β€” as we reassure ourselves that we are blessed creatures, generous of spirit. It's the evil born of thoughtlessness and self-regard, and it crouches, waiting, in every conversation, every appraising look, every single human interaction that fills up our days.

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Monkey See
5:03 am
Sat July 27, 2013

A Comic-Con Diary: The Final Day

A lone, sad stormtrooper descends an escalator.
JC Moya Courtesy Glen Weldon

Originally published on Sun July 28, 2013 3:55 am

Monkey See contributor/longtime nerd Glen Weldon recently attended San Diego Comic-Con. He kept a diary during one of the largest media events in the world.

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Monkey See
11:35 am
Fri July 19, 2013

A Comic-Con Diary, Day One: Faces In The Crowd And A Book In The Middle

Fans crowd the entrance to the San Diego Convention Center on the first day of Comic-Con International 2013 in San Diego.
Robyn Beck AFP/Getty Images

Monkey See contributor/longtime nerd Glen Weldon is headed to San Diego Comic-Con. He's filing periodic updates from one of the largest media events in the world.

Special note: If you're at SDCC, there will be an unofficial Pop Culture Happy Hour meetup in the Marina Bar at the Marriott Marquis and Marina Friday at 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time. (Don't get excited, It'll just be Glen handing out PCHH pins.)

9:02 a.m. (all times PT): I am sitting in a boat between Goth Wonder Woman and an entertainment lawyer.

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Monkey See
11:02 am
Thu July 18, 2013

A Comic-Con Diary, Day Zero, Part II: A Man Waits For A Batmobile On Preview Night

Monkey See contributor/longtime nerd Glen Weldon is headed to San Diego Comic-Con. He's filing periodic updates from one of the largest media events in the world.

I am a 45-year-old man standing in line for a toy Batmobile.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Wed July 17, 2013

Theoretical Physicist Seeks Concrete Answers In 'Genius'

Ted is a theoretical physicist facing a slew of resolutely concrete problems. His son is racing headlong into puberty. His daughter's prodigious intellect causes her to stand out at school β€” the very last thing the girl wants. His elderly father-in-law isn't remembering much, these days, save for the fact that he hates Ted's guts. His wife is sick and getting sicker, just as his employer, a prominent think tank, threatens to fire him for lack of productivity. To keep his job, and its health care coverage, Ted needs an idea.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Thu July 4, 2013

A Tale Of The Estranged And The Just Plain Strange In 'New School'

Dash Shaw is a graphic novelist and animator whose previous books, including Bottomless Belly Button and Bodyworld, seethe with dark, mischievous intent. He sets out to unsettle, using the unique tools the comics medium provides to expose discomfiting truths about relationships both familial and romantic. A proud experimentalist, Shaw often shuns tidy narrative conventions in favor of raw emotion.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Thu June 27, 2013

Globetrotting Cartoonist Heads Home In 'User's Guide'

Originally published on Thu June 27, 2013 10:25 am

It looks like a last-minute gift, like one of those tiny tomes that live near the register on the counter of your favorite bookstore, hoping to catch the attention (or at least the impulse) of shoppers in the check-out line. Given its digest-sized dimensions and jokey title, you'd be forgiven for assuming A User's Guide to Neglectful Parenting is a hastily assembled collection of cornball homilies, like those miniature books about dads, grads and golf that double as greeting cards this time of year. But don't be fooled.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Tue June 25, 2013

Women Find More Than They Bargained For In 'The Property'

Israeli graphic novelist Rutu Modan's deceptively clear and simple line work β€” she can conjure a face in two dots and a single, expressive pen stroke β€” is a deliberate artistic choice. Narratively, Modan's work (including the acclaimed Exit Wounds and her Jamilti and Other Stories) lives in the realm of the indistinct, the undefined and the hotly disputed. In her books, conflicts between family members, lovers and nations all occur in the context of Jewish cultural history.

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Monkey See
10:52 am
Tue June 18, 2013

Death Of A Puppy: An Exclusive Imaginary Excerpt From The 'Man Of Steel' Sequel

Henry Cavill as Clark Kent in Man Of Steel.
Warner Brothers Pictures

NPR has obtained [or invented, whatever] an excerpt of the draft script for Zack Snyder's much-rumored sequel to the hugely successful Man Of Steel. The script, which was found in a booth at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf on La Cienega, suggests that the distinctive tone set by Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy and adopted by Snyder's Man Of Steel will continue to inform the expanding cinematic universe of DC Comics characters.


JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE MOVIE

Screenplay by David S. Goyer

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Movie Reviews
2:50 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

'Steel' Trap: Snyder's Superman, Between Worlds

Henry Cavill plays the title role in Zach Snyder's expensively earnest iteration of our most recognizably American superhero. An "alien" aesthetic β€” which ironically owes plenty to the Industrial Age and to the metallo-organic curves of art nouveau β€” informs everything from the film's palette to its interpretation of Superman's iconic costume.
Clay Enos Warner Bros. Pictures

Originally published on Sat June 15, 2013 5:12 am

Take heart, ye spandex-haters: Zack Snyder's steroidal yet sensitive Man of Steel is not a superhero film.

Full disclosure: Over the past two years, this reviewer has spent a great deal of time thinking about superheroes in general and Superman in particular. Less than some, perhaps, but more β€” it's safe to say β€” than most of you reading these words, as you debate whether or not to duck out of the heat this weekend to take in Snyder's latest summertime smash-em-up.

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Monkey See
10:43 am
Thu May 30, 2013

My Favorite Superman Story: When Jimmy Olsen Created Beatlemania

From the Author's Collection

Hey, Monkey See readers. It's me, your old pal Glen. Look, I know you haven't seen me around these parts very much over the last year or so, but ...

Mm? What's that?

Why, yes, I have "put on a few," as you say. How nice of you to notice. And just ... blurt out. Free as you please. Like that. Gosh I've missed us.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Wed May 8, 2013

Graphic-Novel Gumshoe Rounds Up Unusual Suspects

Matt Kindt is a storyteller so fully in control of his gifts that his graphic novels β€” 3 Story, Revolver and others β€” read like quietly compelling arguments for the comics medium's narrative potential.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Thu May 2, 2013

Niffenegger Lets Fly With An Adult Fairy Tale In 'Raven Girl'

Audrey Niffenegger Abrams ComicArts

In The Time Traveler's Wife, Audrey Niffenegger married her gently wry sensibility to a classic science-fiction conceit, and the result became a literary sensation β€” as much a tried-and-true staple of book-club culture as cheap malbec.

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Monkey See
8:59 am
Wed May 1, 2013

Which Comics Should I Get? Your Free Comic Book Day Cheat Sheet

Mary Ann Shilts takes one of the give away comic books from the display rack at the New Dimensions Comics store in Cranberry, Pa., Butler County, as part of Free Comic Book Day 2012. Free Comic Book Day 2013 is Saturday, May 4.
Keith Srakocic AP

Originally published on Wed May 1, 2013 12:08 pm

This Saturday, May 4th, is Free Comic Book Day, the comics industry's annual attempt to sail out past the shallow, overfished shoals where Nerds Like Me lazily and inexpertly spawn, to instead cast their line into the colder, deeper waters where Normals Like You swim free, blissfully unconcerned about the myriad nettlesome continuity issues surrounding Supergirl's underpants.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Tue April 16, 2013

Stars In His Eyes, Sending Smoke Signals To Mars

ESA Getty Images

In his slim but beguiling novel Equilateral, Ken Kalfus places us inside the heads of his characters with such deftness that the line between what is true and what they believe to be true fades to obscurity. It's no coincidence that the heads in question belong to scientists who pride themselves on their evidence-based worldview; Kalfus delights in having readers continually gauge and recalibrate the distance between the world and his characters' seemingly objective observations of it.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Tue March 12, 2013

The Mundane World Illuminated In 'Hand-Drying In America'

Ben Katchor's syndicated comic strips vary in subject β€” his Julius Knipl: Real Estate Photographer, for example, explores the surreal underside of our urban environment by documenting the inner lives of the spaces and storefronts we walk past every day, while The Cardboard Valise reads like a Fodor's guide to a country that exists only in Franz Kafka's dream journal.

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Books
5:03 am
Wed February 20, 2013

Beyond Visible: LGBT Characters In Graphic Novels

The Heart of Thomas, by Moto Hagio, was one of the first Japanese comics to deal with same-sex relationships.
Fantagraphics

OK, yes: To gay comics fans like me, DC Comics' decision to hire an anti-gay activist like Orson Scott Card to write Superman β€” an iconic character who exists to represent humanity's noblest ideals of justice and compassion β€” is deeply dispiriting.

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