Teague von Bohlen is an Associate Professor of Fiction at the University of Colorado Denver, where he runs the student newspaper The Sentry and serves as Fiction Editor for the literary magazine Copper Nickel. He works the literary, pop-culture, and social/political commentary beats for the alt-weekly Westword, and his short fiction has been seen nationwide. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the Colorado Book Award, and he’s the co-author of the student-strategy textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success. His first collection of stories, a flash fiction/photography mash-up called Flatland, was named a finalist for the Colorado Book Award in 2020. He’s currently shopping a completed ghost-story novel called The Normal Home, also set in the Midwest heartland, working on an ultra-nerdy LitRPG book with an old friend, and has started his next literary novel as well, this one set in both Tucson and Denver.
He makes a home in Colorado now and grew an abiding love for the desert in his time in Arizona. But his corn-fed heart never left Illinois.
Join us in congratulating past SR fiction contributor Teague von Bohlen on the publication of his newest book, Flatland. It’s available on amazon and from Bronze Man Books. Heavy Feather Review recently posted an interview with Teague on Flatland where they discussed Flatland‘s inspiration and Teague’s delve into flash fiction.
Flatland is filled with stories and photos of Midwest small-town life. Documenting this ever changing, yet always familiar landscape in short fiction pieces.
To learn more about Teague and his work you can visit his website. You can also read his three flash fiction pieces featured in Issue 10 of Superstition Review.
Professor Teague Bohlen recently visited ASU in partnership with Superstition Review and Project Humanities to discuss the evolution of the superhero in narrative. Along with providing a closer look at spandex tights and masks, Teague presented the history of comics as it relates to the rise, fall and comeback of the narrative. It was fascinating to learn how such seemingly small stories have affected the development of narrative structure over the last several decades.
Teague began his talk by explaining that comic superheroes were not always the same virtuous characters they are today. In fact, he pointed out several instances where the early Superman and Batman figures instigated violence and actually killed people out of rage. Hollywood’s version of Clark Kent would never commit such an offense, so how did this change in character come about?
At first, comics served a wide audience of children and adults with edgy story lines. In fact, comics were so popular in their early years that they became a strong force of advertising and propaganda during WWII. Who can resist the pressure when even “Captain Marvel joins the Navy”? However, after the war, comics returned to stories involving monsters, crime and homeland violence.
In the 1950’s there was a shift in the content of comics with the adoption of the CCA—Comic Code Authority. While some people viewed the reduced violence and “criminal content” in comics as a benefit to society, Teague discussed the devastating effect these restrictions had on the narrative plots within comic books. As he put it, “Imagine if everything on television had to be appropriate for a 5 year-old.” Suddenly comic storylines became surface-level and simplistic, and a few publishers replaced the dialogue almost entirely with comic art. Fortunately, over the last decade comics have made an impressive comeback as publishers have bypassed the CCA and returned to a more creative approach to storytelling.
Overall Teague’s talk left us with countless nerdy facts and a much greater appreciation for the role comics have played in the history of storytelling. I can speak for everyone present when I say it was a delight—and the superhero cookies weren’t half bad either. Thank you for a wonderful presentation, Teague. We do hope you come again.