“The Old Ways”
Writer: Ben Raab
Pencils: Salvador Larocca
Inks: Scott Koblish
Colours: Kevin Tinsely & Graphic Color Works
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Editors: Matt Idelson & Paul Tutrone
Original Publication date: April 1997
The streets are getting punchy and Kitty and Rahne are getting pretty in Excalibur #108, “The Old Ways,” co-starring Spiral and the Dragons of the Crimson Dawn and also Shamrock is there! Molly Fitzgerald is too good for this comic and so is our guest, award-winning comics scholar Dr. Susan Kirtley, who comes bearing tales of rebellious reading and secrets from the serial adventures of Cathy and the transformative talent of Lynda Barry. Plus! Fabulous female friendships in comics and why they matter.
“I was in elementary school, and I was told by some kids on the playground that girls don’t read comics… This made me determined to read all of the comics all of the time.” -Susan
On wasted potential:
“The comic has potential that is crushed by its determination to be a 90s comic.” -Mav
“People will often say to me—oh, you study comics? Aren’t they sexist? And I’m like—yes, isn’t the world? It’s funny that people don’t ask me that question when I say I study classics.” -Susan
On comics histories:
“I have such a strong memory of when I was first starting to read books about comics, and being shocked by how women were so absent within those histories, even though I knew they were there. I was proof they were there.” -Anna
“There were so many female characters introduced during the Claremont era of X-Men that even when you get to an era like this, where the characterization is a bit generic, women and female friendships are still here, because they’ve become the substance of the franchise.” -Anna
“This was a great opening scene—two men are rolling around half naked and loving it… Is the homoeroticism intentional? I don’t know. But it is delightful.” -Susan
On the strange loves of Kitty Pryde:
“I have a hard time believing that Kitty loves Pete Wisdom. But she definitely loves computers, and would never intentionally fry one.” -Anna
You can find Anna and Andrew’s series of Sequential Scholars threads, featuring discussion of the connection between Spiral and Ann Nocenti, right here!
Want more Susan Kirtley?
Dr. Susan Kirtley is a Professor of English and the Director of Comics Studies at Portland State University. Her research interests include visual rhetoric and graphic narratives, and she has published pieces on comics for the popular press and academic journals. She is the author of the Eisner-winning book Lynda Barry: Girlhood Through the Looking Glass (2013), and co-editor of With Great Power Comes Great Pedagogy: Teaching, Learning, and Comics (2020).
Her book, Typical Girls: The Rhetoric of Womanhood in Comic Strips, won the 2022 Charles Hatfield Prize for the best book from the Comics Studies Society. She is currently an Associate Editor of Inks: The Journal of the Comics Studies Society.