A Public Service Announcement! ;)

A Public Service Announcement! ;)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Support the Hernandez Brothers Collection and Get an Exclusive Jaime Hernandez Print!

You can own an exclusive, frame-quality print from Jaime Hernandez and support a good cause at the same time! A little while ago, Jaime gave me permission to print an extremely limited run of an 8.5x11 black and white ink drawing of  his beloved character Maggie Chascarillo. Only 50 of these exist, 25 on cotton and 25 on textured linen. They're going for $50 each, and they're going fast!

Two of the exclusive prints rest of a music stand, awaiting your order!

What's more, your purchase not only gives you or the Love and Rockets fan in your life an amazing print from one of the world's foremost comics art masters, but will help support the Hernandez Brothers Collection of Hispanic Comics and Cartoon Art, housed at the University of Texas at El Paso Library (see the post below for information on this collection). That means that your purchase may be tax-deductible!

Above is a low-resolution photo of two of the prints, the left on cotton and the right on linen. The text reads, in Jaime's distinctive script, from top to bottom, "Thanks For Supporting the Hernandez Brothers Collection! Love & Kisses -- Maggie and Xaime 2011."

If you'd like to own a print, contact me, James Bucky Carter, at jbcarter777@gmail.com for directions on how to fill out a check and where to send it. Once I get your check, I will number your print and get it out to you within a few days. In time, you should also receive a "thank you" note from the University of Texas at El Paso regarding your gift. The first fifty checks received get the print. Act now before they're all gone!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

About the Hernandez Brothers Collection of Hispanic Comics and Cartoon Art

On February 23, 2010, James Bucky Carter, an Assistant Professor of English Education  in the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) English Department, organized the second installment of an event series entitled "El Paso in the Comics" (EPIC).

With generous donations from the English Department, the Dean's Office in the College of Liberal Arts, the Center for Inter-American Border Studies, the Art Department, and the Sam Donaldson Center in the Department of Communication, Carter was able to bring together local comics creators and publishers from El Paso and Juarez to discuss and share their work with the Border community.

The keynote speaker for the second EPIC was Jaime Hernandez, a modern American master of the comics form. Hernandez crafts stories featuring Hispanic and Chicano/Chicana characters trying to find meaning in their lives and cultures. His  work and the work of his brother Gilbert and Mario on Love and Rockets and its connected series of books is considered some of the finest comics storytelling of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Gilbert (Beto), Jaime, and Mario Hernandez at Comic Con International, 2012

In talking with Jaime, Carter learned that his mother and grandmother had ties to the Borderland and discussed the idea of creating a space that would honor the Hernandez Brothers' connection to this region.

A little while later, with help from UTEP librarians Claudia Rivers, Nancy Hill,  and Luke Jastrzebski, English Department Chair David Ruiter and English Department Library Liaison Kate Mangelsdorf, the brothers' blessing, and a generous donation from their publisher, Fantagraphics, the Hernandez Brothers Collection of Hispanic Comics and Cartoon Art was founded.

The collection, comprised mostly of pamphlet-style comics and graphic novels, is housed primarily  with the UTEP library's Chicano Collection, though various other artifacts are housed where they are best preserved.

Some of the founding donation from Fantagraphics
The Hernandez Brothers Collection of Hispanic Comics and Cartoon Art has three goals:

PRIMARY GOAL: To collect, spotlight, preserve, and make available to the UTEP community and other scholars resources from Hispanic/Latino/a/Chicano/a comics artists and writers, with “resources” defined as comics, graphic novels, and related artifacts (original art, scripts, associated publications and scholarship), and to collect, spotlight and make available to the UTEP community comics and graphic novels that explore issues related to the Hispanic/Latino/a/Chicano/a experience. An emphasis is placed on comics and associated materials emanating from the Borderland.

SECONDARY GOAL: To collect, spotlight, preserve, and make available to the UTEP community and other scholars resources from comics artists and writers of other Spanish traditions, with “resources” defined as comics, graphic novels, and related artifacts (original art, scripts, associated publications and scholarship).

TERTIARY GOAL: To collect, spotlight, preserve, and make available to the UTEP community and other scholars Spanish-language comics and comics-related resources.

The mission of the Hernandez Brother Collection is to meet the goals set forth above in the long term, and in the short term the mission is to work with companies, corporations, granting entities, artists, and the personnel at other libraries to procure items for the collection, make space for them in the UTEP library, preserve and protect items as necessary, and to display them in the proper manner.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A. David Lewis Talks Shakespeare and Comics

Listen to this podcast that explores connections between comics and Willy D. Shakes. Ol' Shaggstaff himself! I'm talkin' 'bout Shakespeare.

I LOVE IT when folks discuss comics and Shakespeare because sometimes  elitists hold Billy Shaggy up as the apex while shitting on the concepts of comics in the classroom, visual literacies or multimodal literacies. While, of course, the reality is that Shakespeare is, perhaps, the most visual of our canonical figures. His work can be read but is best understood by reading and viewing it. Ahem... like with comics.

I'm gonna talk about this a little bit at my speaking gig at the Denver Comic and Literacy Convention in June. This online conversation over at "The Mousetrap" makes me so eager!

Plus, this is a good source to share with you after yesterday's sharing of the English Journal article on reading comics and Bill Shacklestick.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

May 2012 English Journal Boasts *TWO* Articles on GN's

The May 2012 issue of the NCTE publication English Journal  features two articles on graphic novels. Mary Rice's "Using Graphic Texts in Secondary Classrooms: A Tale of Endurance" is a bit of a rehash of previously and continuously made points, which is doubly frustrating considering the lack of citations for certain figures' work (including mine). But, everyone's at a different point along the comics-and-literacy spectrum, it seems.

It does seem a little odd for NCTE not to take an opportunity to hock its products, though, and I know my edited collection published with them still sells. To be fair, I read the copies via PDF, so maybe there was mention of it somewhere in the journal.  But, I remain frustrated at the political nature of education's "ethos" when it comes to citing previous relevant work.

Paula Wolfe and Danille Kleijwegt's "Interpreting Graphic Version of Shakespearean Plays" is the more intriguing and relevant of the two and features a dose of semiotics and Thierry Groensteen. Folks seem to be getting the picture that Groensteen and Kress  match exceptionally well, and that's a good thing. This article would pair well with one I recently published with Theory Into Practice, in which I discuss psycho-social semiotics and comics-across-platforms. It would not have been available for citing in time for publication, so I'm not implying it should have been.  But, I do like that others are going in directions I think the area of comics-and-literacy should go.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Artifacts from Jack Kirby's Design for Shakespeare Play

Click here to read an article about a California college, Julius Caesar, and the King of Comics! A blast from the groovy past!

Two Awesome Comics Conferences This Weekend!

Sequential SmArt, a conference on comics and education, is taking place at Juniata College this weekend. (Where's the love, organizers??) So, if you're in the Huntingdon, PA, area this weekend, check it out.

Also, the University of Chicago is hosting a Comics and Philosophy Conference at the Gray Center.

Friday, May 04, 2012

2012: Cinco de Mayo is Free Comic Book Day

Looking for a literacy event for you and the kids and teens in your life? Try the annual Free Comic book Day, which is always the first Saturday of May. Say? Aye! Feigh? Nay! Going? Yay! 

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Monday, April 30, 2012

TIME Shows Comics Some Love in May 7 Issue

This week, TIME has articles on Alison Bechdel's latest graphic novel, Are You My Mother? and also features a write-up on Joss Whedon due to his role in the Avengers movie.

Here's a great quote from Whedon: "For genre to be ghettoized in the minds of the big thinkers means that they're not thinking big enough."

I heart Joss.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Please Support The Graphic Textbook Project

Reading With Pictures has launched its second major Kickstarter campaign, this time to support The Graphic Textbook:

"Aimed at grades 3-6, The Graphic Textbook features a dozen short stories (both fiction and non-fiction) that address topics in a variety of disciplines (Social Studies, Math, Language Arts, Science) drawn from the list of Common Core Standards used in classrooms countrywide. The accompanying Teacher’s Guide will include Standards-correlated lesson plans customized to each story, research-based justifications for using comics in the classroom, a guide to establishing best classroom practices and a comprehensive listing of additional educational resources."

To learn more, click here:

Disclaimer: I am associated with Reading With Pictures now. Happy to be so associated, in fact.

Comics Get Political in Malaysia

From an April 13, 2012 story in Malaysia Chronicle:

"KUALA LUMPUR,— Copies of a political comic book extolling the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) government have been circulating among teachers in recent weeks ahead of the 13th general elections, purportedly distributed by state education departments."

Big Questions wins 2012 Lynd Ward GN Prize

"Sponsored by Penn State University Libraries and administered by the Pennsylvania Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress, the Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize is presented annually to the best graphic novel, fiction or non-fiction, published in the previous calendar year by a living U.S. citizen or resident."

Click the link embedded in this post's title for more information and more honorees.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Color of Earth Makes ALA's "Frequently Challenged" Books List for 2012

Kim Dong Hwa's graphic novel trilogy is the only comics work on the list this year, which is not as strange to me as the fact that I never read any stories about this book being challenged, and I'm sort of on the lookout for those things.

To read the rest of the list, click here. It may have been posted in 2012, but it is based in information from 2011, of course.

White, Mixed-Race Spider-Men to Meet this Summer!

Some of you may recall the uproar that stemmed from Marvel's decision to make the new Ultimate version of Spider-Man a teen of mixed ethnic heritage. Miles Morales is half African American and half Latino, but he's all-fan when it comes to Peter Parker, the white teen who was the original Ultimate Spider-Man and who remains the eponymous web slinger in Marvel's 656 universe (albeit no longer a teen). Morales only knows the Ultimate version, though, who was killed last year.

Despite the fact that Morales is a great character and respectful of the Spidey legacy, some will never be happy with him simply because he's "of color."

So, it makes me very happy to see that Marvel is going to let the "original original" Spider-Man meet the latest. It's going to be a little subversive slap in the face to the haters when these two hit it off. :)

Wildcat Comic Con Brings Together Comics Lovers and Educators, April 13-14

The two-day "celebration of comics in the classroom to be held this weekend, April 13-14, at the Pennsylvania College of Technology." Our buddy John Shableski seems to be a key organizer. Bet it will be a fun event!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Teacher Says No Comics; Student Replies With Research

When Sam, a third-grader in Alaska, was told by his teacher that comics weren't allowed in the classroom, he decided to do something about it. He researched the benefits of reading comics and presented his findings at the Science Fair. His project ended up winning a prize at the state finals!

Action research, folks. What's not good about this story? By the way, you can get more details by clicking the link embedded in this post's title.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

YA Graphic Novel Goodness w/ Dr. Carter Come Summer Session 2012

I've already mentioned all the graphic novel's we're going to be covering in ENG 5340, but my YA Lit class is also going to feature several comics. Raina Telgemeier's Smile will be the book with which we open the course. Jeremy Love's Bayou is also on the reading list, as is Faith Erin Hicks' recent Friends with Boys.

That's 3 of 13 texts in the comics format, 4 if we count the cartoon hybrid text in Sherman Alexie's Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

Several other books will make us of imagetext dynamics as well, such as Jay Asher's 13 Reasons Why and Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

The course will be offered throughout the month of June as one of UTEP's "Summer Session I" classes.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Nich Sousanis' Comics Dissertation Gets Love from The Chronicle of Higher Education

Great to see this high-profile resource spotlighting what is apparently going to be a major work on learning and comics, crafted in the comics form. Go, Nick!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

High School GN Reader Speaks Out

Typically the comics-and-literacy line has been held by teachers, librarians, and professors, but this Op-Ed from Graphic Novel Reporter takes a decidedly different and refreshing spin: It's written by a high schooler!

Elizabeth Heyman, a senior at Watching Hills Regional HS in Warren, New Jersey, talks about how satisfying she finds reading comics for pleasure and for study.

You go, girl!

GNR Publishes Study Guides for Teen-Centric GN's

California Librarians Jack Baur and Jessica Lee have guides up at Graphic Novel Reporter for the following titles:

All Star Superman,American Born Chinese, One Hundred Demons, Persepolis, Ultimate Spider-Man, Vol. 1: Power and Responsibility, Runaways, Vol. 1: Pride and Joy, Scott Pilgrim, and Smile. Link

Click here to access them.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

TONIGHT!: Harvard Hosts Discussion on Zahra's Paradise

Harvard University's Center for Middle Eastern Studies is hosting a web discussion on how to consider and use Zahra's Paradise in educational settings. The event starts at 7:00 this afternoon. If you think you might want to register for the event, contact the center via this email: cmesoc@fas.harvard.edu and log in around 6:45.

I hate that I'm going to miss it, especially since I'll be using this new graphic novel in a graduate-level class I'm teaching next semester. Hopefully the recording will be archived, but if you've got the hour available, you might want to listen in -- and participate too!

"Comic New York" Symposium Scheduled at Columbia University THIS WEEKEND!

Karen Green is kicking ass and taking names up there in the big NYC. I loves me some Chris Claremont too. So glad to know his papers are now safely archived.

Comics Goodness at Northern Illinois University, March 22-May 25, 2012

It pleases me to see this, as I've gotten mixed reactions about comics scholarship from folks at various Illinois universities. Today, NIU starts a show entitled "Graphic Novel Realism: Backstage at the Comics." Artists such as Joyce Farmer, Jaime Hernandez, Jason Lutes, Mark Newgarden, Megan Montague Cash, Seth, and James Sturm will have work on display. Comics scholar Paul Karasik will be giving a talk tonight. So, if you're in Dekalb, head on over to the NIU Museum of Art.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Friday, March 09, 2012

Glyph Award Nominations Out for 2012

View Scholastic's Recent Webcast to Schools Across America

Kazu Kibuiski, Jeff Smith, and Raina Telgemeier were guests on the broadcast that was aired across the nation to school children. Click this post's title to view it! I'm watching it now! :)

Monday, March 05, 2012

Coming Fall 2012: ENGL 5340: Literature for Youth

ENGLISH 5340: Literature for Youth is described as "the study of literature written for young people." When I teach it in fall 2012, the focus of the course will be the intersections of adolescence, secondary education, literary analysis and graphic novels.

Students in UTEP's English MAT program will be the bulk of enrollment. We'll be reading comics featuring young people in schooling and social situations. In addition to a core textbook on adolescence and education and articles on comics and literacy, students will be asked to read from among the following graphic novels:

American Born Chinese
Any Empire
Anya's Ghost
The Arrival
Black Hole
Blue Beetle: Boundaries
Fun Home
Girl from H.O.P.P.E.R.S.
La Perdida
Level Up
Refresh Refresh
Stuck Rubber Baby
White Tiger: A Hero's Compulsion
Young Allies
Zahra's Paradise

I've just put in my book order and am gathering secondary reading resources now. I'm also working out assignments. But, I'm excited about this course!

Friday, March 02, 2012

Comics News from "Bedford Bits": Big Things Coming!

Elizabeth Losh and Jonathan Alexander have posted a blog entry about using comics as historical primary sources, detailing Losh's work in a first-year college course, Media Seductions: Influence Theory from Plato to Battlefield 2. Read more about it here.

What is more exciting to me, though, is that Losh and Alexander are now going public with the news that their upcoming freshman composition textbook, Understanding Rhetoric, will soon be published by Bedford/St. Martin's. I was asked to provide feedback on this project waaaaay back when it was in script form, and did so with much interest.

It's been one of those "it's coming!" points of excitement that I've had to keep on the downlow for a couple of years now, but I'm happy to see that soon the world will know about this text, which should be a major contribution to the comics-and-education movement and to the lives and learning of many students.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Archie's Keven Keller Makes Media Waves with Gay Marriage

Life With Archie
#16, the issue in which gay character Kevin Keller gets married, has sold out. Not in the bad way, but in the very good way of having all the first printing exchanged for cash. :)

If you missed it at the newsstand, you can download it here.

Also, see the publisher's reaction to that Million Moms effort to boycott Toys R Us stores selling the book.

Daaaaaamn! Archie Comics got some balls! And a big "Hell yeah!" for it, too.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"School of Comic" Presentations from 2011 Miami Book Fair are Now Available!

Click here to access the presentations! For free!!

Bill Zimmerman's MakeBeliefsComix Adds Content!

The Graphic Classroom's Chris Wilson covers the news. It looks like many of the new additions are characters who are disabled. Bill has been striving for inclusivity with his comics-making site, so this is a welcomed but not surprising development.

Katie Monnin Talks about ESL on FL Fox News Affiliate

It's Katie's Corner on TV! She mentions several TOON Books as good for ESL early readers.

Some Nice Lynd Ward Images

Thanks to The Spurge for the link!

iTunes Bookstore Now Has Comics/GN Section

"One Million Moms" Organization to Boycott Toys R' Us Over Gay Marriage Archie Comic

See the details here.

The Huffington Post Talks about GN Adaptation of The Constitution

and mentions Katie Monnin, who wrote a study guide for the text published by Round Table Companies.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Oprah.com Calls Craig Thomspon's _Blankets_ One of Best Love Stories of All Tme


That's high praise. I was late to the Blankets train, never really liking it enough to purchase it and not believing the hype until I finally sat down and read the entire thing rather than what I saw in previews, etc. Not sure if this endorsement will do anything to help get high school teachers to put the books in their shelves, though it's a clear example of Young Adult lit, but the power of Oprah works in mysterious ways.

And for what it's worth, I'm a total Blankets fan now. Anything Craig Thompson, really.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Maureen Bakis talks about her Book and Comics in the Classroom

In the article with a link embedded in this post's title, high school teacher and current doctoral student Maureen Bakis talks about teaching a course full of graphic novels and what she hopes teachers can gain from her book The Graphic Novel Classroom.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Belgian Court Makes Weird Legal Decision; TinTin Not Banned

While I'm happy to know that a court has decided on the legal hubbub surrounding TinTin's place in its home country of Belgium (someone had filed a case against TinTin in the Congo to get it outlawed due to racist content), how the court has handled this seems a little strange.

The books will not be banned, as was the complainant's desire, but the court essentially ruled that the volumes could remain widely available because it, and Herge's intent, was not inherently racist.

Had the court felt otherwise, the decision might have not been the same, so while this is not exactly a victory for free speech, it is a victory for proponents of the notion that anyone should be able to read whatever they like from the past, when "historical context" regarding what is racist and what is not was different from what it is today.

Yeah, it's a muddied situation. Read more about it here.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

GNR Publishes discussion Guides for 3 Graphic Novels

See librarian Jack Baur and middle school teacher Jessica Lee's discussion guides for Persepolis, Smile, and American Born Chinese here.

The guides are born out of work done with their Comix Club over the last three years. Link

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Literacy Expert Stephen Krashen: " For Me It Was Comic Books"

Click here to listen to USC professor, literacy expert, and, oddly, current rabble-rouser Stephen Krashen talk about language acquisition , pleasure reading (or narrow reading), and academic discourse. Right before the 21 minute mark, he begins talking about his love for comics and respect for their importance in his own literacy development:

"For me... it was comic books, and I gotta confess, it's still comic books.... Batman, Superman....What a wonderful foundation that gave us for higher levels of literacy, and we treated it as literature...."

He then talks about having Stan Lee taking him to lunch -- and paying! :)

Continuing on, he says, "I've never gotten over comic books. There's nothing like a new graphic novel."

LinkHis basic thesis is that language acquisition, especially academic language acquisition, is best facilitated by lots of reading in the forms and genres that you love best.

Krashen's synthesis on many studies and writings on comics and reading in The Power of Reading should be among the first things comics-and-literacy scholars read, in my opinion.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

YALSA's "Great Graphic Novels" for 2012

See YALSA's list of exemplary graphic novels here. And since they made finding their top ten a little difficult (what is it with folks this year? Is it suddenly not hip, or is that not hipster [librarians were the original svelte, black-glasses-wearing, know-it-all hotties, afterall], to make top ten lists?), here's a link to it too.

Among the top ten, there's an interesting mix of genres. Even the capes got a nod or two.

University of Chicago Hosting Comics Mega-Event!

The University of Chicago's Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry is hosting a conference this May. "Comics: Philosophy & Practice Conference" will run from May 18-20 and feature an amazing line-up of top-tier comics talent. Visit the link in this post's title for more information, and be sure to click the "Conference Participants" link too.

Go Maroons!

Monday, January 23, 2012

See My "Comics" Entry in the Massive *Encyclopedia of Adolescence*

Edited by Roger J.R. Levesque of the University of Indiana, this impressive tome (3363 pages!) covers a range of topics pertinent to the development of adolescents and features my "Comics" entry on pages 460-468. What makes this encyclopedia unique is that not only were experts invited to talk about their areas of interest, as with many such texts, but were asked to highlight their own work in the area.

I'm honored to be included in such a worthy, if not expensive ($2050.00) project that will make a great resource for educators and researchers everywhere. It's a library purchase, to be sure, but a great contribution to adolescent literacy studies and all other areas of interest to those who study young people and their habits and behaviors. It just published and is available online as well. Get on the phone with those campus librarians, people! ;)

Check Out These Great High-Low Covers from Marvel

Click here to see the bulk of them. Or is that the "Hulk" of them? :) Here's my very favoritest:

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Rationales Project Gets Attention in Education Review

Rationales for Teaching Graphic Novels, a project I edited with around twenty other teachers and teacher educators last year, has been reviewed for Education Review/Resenas Educativas, a multi-lingual journal of book reviews.

Available as a CD-ROM, an Ebook, and in chunks through publisher Maupin House's a la carte feature, Rationales offers reviews, lesson ideas, and advice for integrating 108 graphic novels into the classroom.

Reviewer Tiffany A. Flowers calls the project "practical and useful" and "a great resource." Read her full review here.

Thanks for the kind words, Tiffany! :)

Friday, January 20, 2012

*The Comics Journal* Recaps 2011: "A Year of Comic Ambition"

TCJ has come up with a cleaver way to avoid posting a "best of" list. ;)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

FOX News Worries About Comics and Kids

CBR has great coverage of a recent news short that ran on FOX stations regarding comics, sex, and kids. CBR says everything I would have said about it, plus offers video of the story, so click here to access the link. Hopefully this is an isolated story and we're not going to see another Seduction of the Innocent type of backlash against comics. Afterall, FOX does have a psychiatrist as an expert in this story....

On the other hand, as CBR notes, the comics in mention are bad and not good for kids to read or anyone to read due to being so crappy. Not that FOX really has a leg to stand on hen it comes to issues of morality. On the other hand, that's never stopped them before.

Super Ladies Illustrate Breast Exams

If this story is to be believed, Marvel and DC characters are featured in several ads in Mozambique aimed at helping women learn how to give themselves breast exams. Seriously, see them here.

Blue Beetle & DC's New 52: Out of El Chuco and Into the World

It has been several months since DC relaunched its universe with 52 new comics titles. As we speak, several books have been cancelled and several others, less than 6 issues old, are undergoing creative changes. I've only been reading two of the new books, Swamp Thing and Blue Beetle, though I hear great things about Animal Man.

My interest in Blue Beetle stems from my fascination with Watchmen (Night Owl is the analogue for Charlton Comics' Steve Ditko-era Blue Beetle) but intensified when I came to UTEP at right around the same time as the most-recent Blue Beetle, featuring 16 year old Hispanic El Pasoan Jaime Reyes as the eponymous hero, was coming into his own. Alas, Jaime's first series was cancelled after less than 50 issues, but the character was revisited in 2011 in a new Blue Beetle series that is ongoing and not bad.

One of the things that made Jaime's first series so interesting -- and which made it a liability to DC, most likely -- was that it dealt with issues of the Borderland, immigration, and Mexican American life in the American Southwest. Jaime found himself becoming the regional hero for both El Paso and Juarez, MX. One editor has said that DC overestimated the amount of attention Americans were putting on immigration issues at the time and has stated that the first Reyes series was a "gimmick."

I don't buy it. While I do think DC tried to appeal to new, younger, browner demographics with the character, I don't think he is a gimmick, as evidenced by the fact that DC sees him as important enough to keep him around now and in how they built him up as a character on the cartoon Batman: The Brave and The Bold. They know they've created an important property.

Interesting, then, that the series' writer wants to take Jaime away from El Paso and place him in the larger, more "traditionally Euro-Anglo" world of the DCU. Frankly, I think they had to do it because keeping him in El Paso would have meant revisiting the violence in Juarez,MX. A fictional hero has no clout when he's saving lives in funny books while 8 murders a day are taking place in the real world territory he's claiming to protect. And who knows who might have protested the previous Reyes series and for what reasons.

At any rate, CBR has an interview with current Blue Beetle writer Tony Bedard in which he explains plans to move Jaime out of the Sun City and into the world at large. Read it here. Whether DC is asking him to do so to move him further away from real-world local problems and closer to global and galactic fake ones remains unknown.

Image: Are real-world issues boxing in the potential of DC's Hispanic Superhero?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

African American Classics Anthology Published

Poems and short stories are given the comics treatment by important comics artists of our day in this must-have collection. Click the link embedded in this post's title to see some preview art.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

"Son Testing" 4 TOON Books

One thing I love about being alive at this precise moment is that I have children growing up at the exact same time as the folks at Toon Books have established a line of comics/graphic novels for emergent readers. When I get review copies of their books, I know I have a perfect focus group waiting for me at home. I have a 4 year old and a six year old, and recently the wife bathed and pajama-ed them up, the beginning ritual for a good half hour or more of book reading.

Based on my eavesdropping and the wife’s feedback (my wife is a veteran teacher with over 12 years of experience at the k-12 level and has worked with kindergarteners on up to special needs high school students. She currently works with special needs pre-k/kindergarteners and holds multiple certifications in elementary education and special education and has a Masters degree in Reading with a focus on Special Education which qualifies her for IRA-approved Literacy Coaching), here are what the boys thought of a quartet of TOON titles:

Silly Lilly in What Will I Wear Today? by Agnes Rosenstiehl held little appeal for my kids. Described by wifey as a “girl power” book in which Lily tries on certain roles or future occupations during playtime sessions, this text was tolerated but not exactly enjoyed. But, it’s not a “boy’s book,” really. It is good for helping young readers know that their imagination is important and that anyone can be anything they put their mind to, but I think my boys already get that. I hope so, anyway. They have been making pretty interesting statements about boys and girls lately, and sometimes they do need to be reminded that girls and boys are equally cool. Silly Lilly might have seemed didactic to them in that regard, though. Still, if I had a daughter, I’d be sure to have the book.

Nina in That Makes Me Mad! by Hilary Knight was received with a little more aplomb. “They can relate to it,” my wife said in which the eponymous main character shares her pet peeves about her young life, like “”When you get made at me and I didn’t do it…. I get mad” and “When I try and it doesn’t work… I get mad.” To be frank, I think anyone can relate to Nina’s perturbances (instances of being perturbed). Therein may be the rub for these first two titles and my boys’ reactions to them, though: they’re important books for reasons adults might get but that some kids might not care for.

Of course, TALKING THROUGH things with your children as you read is essential, and I can see this text’s utility in helping the boys feel connected to others. While it is a strange aspect of human nature, it really does seem to help us, old or young, to know that other people suffer frustration and aggravation and failure just like we do. So, Nina is another one of those books to keep in reserve for when the times are right for it.

Patrick in A Teddy Bear’s Picnic and Other Stories, another Geoffrey Hayes offering from the publisher (see the Benny and Penny books), was one of the two big winners with my kids. How do I know for sure? Because they asked for my wife to read them again the night after their first exposure to the titles. “Read that one with the bear and the one with the bear and other animals” was how my oldest put it (my youngest is sort of the Chester to the oldest’s Spike at this point, mostly saying, “Yeah, yeah!” when he wants the same thing). Perhaps they take after me in that I’ve always liked anthologies and collections, but it seemed to be the multiple stories in one book that appealed to them most about this one. They liked seeing an involved daddy character, a streaking Patrick, and a bully get his comeuppance. I was intrigued to see an explanation for TOON Book’s leveling system at the back of this text (it is also in the other titles, save for Silly Lilly). That’s a welcomed and needed addition for the line. I appreciate transparency and feel like most other parents do too.

Benjamin Bear in Fuzzy Thinking by Philippe Coudray was the runaway favorite, though. My boys have been devouring the Mo Willems books lately, and the mix of humor and meta-narrative seem to be what gets them chuckling. In both Willems’ Elephant and Piggie books and Fuzzy Thinking, for example, the characters know they are in a book and discuss it and make use of the tropes and limitations of being bound in paper and pressed between cardstock to great effect. “I am a bear in a comic!” starts one adventure.

As well, both my boys enjoy visual and verbal puns, which makes me happy for two reasons: 1. That’s a sign of high intelligence in little kids. 2. It gives me more evidence that they are my kids after all! :) This little gem of book is full of them through a series of self-contained minis. My kids love how rabbit escapes a snow storm, for instance, and how bear one-ups him in a fishing contest. They haven’t laughed so hard since reading the aforementioned Willems books and, of course, Walter the Farting Dog. What can I say?: They love highbrow and lowbrow funny.

My wife says this one was good for kids who like “filling in the gaps” between what the words and images provide, which is where many of the puns develop in this book. Furthermore, if what she says is true, then Benjamin Bear in Fuzzy Thinking might be a perfect primer for more advanced comics reading.

Archie's Gay Character Kevin Enrages Some on Religious Right

Or, in other words, "Duh." Read Rob Boston's coverage of the outrage here.

Whatever happened to live and let live? Maybe there's a caveat because no one ever dies or stays dead in comics? Link

Must-Read Book on Government Comics

Richard Graham, librarian at the University of Nebraska, has done some great work digitizing old comics with a political and educational flair. Now available is his new book Government Issue: Comics for the People 1940-2000s. It's some collection, some commentary.

I can't wait to read it!

Friday, January 13, 2012

12 to Watch in 2012

Comic Book Resources has a neat preview of comics they think will make a big impact in the coming year.

Edutopia Spotlights Comics and Education...

....through spotlighting Andrew Miller of the Buck Institute of Education. Buck, eh? Maybe I am in the right field. ;)

So cool that when I was a middle school AIG teacher, we did a lot of problem based learning stuff, which is a focus of the Buck Institute focuses. Gotta love kizmet.

Constitution Gets GN Treatment!

Round Table is realesing a comics version of the United States Constitution, complete with a reader's guide from our friend Katie Monnin. To read more about the project, click here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Stuck in the Middle Survives Censorship Scare, But Not Unscathed

Comics news sites like Comic Book Resources (CBR) are reporting that the comics anthology Stuck in the Middle has survived a challenge to be removed from middle school libraries in some of Maine's public schools. A parent had complained that the book, which is subtitles "Seventeen Comics from an Unpleasant Age" and does deal with some of the "dirty underbellies" of adolescent life and identity.

The Comic Book Legal Defense fund offered support for the books' continued inclusion, and I would have as well had I known of the story! How this one escaped my notice I have no idea. The book will remain on the shelves of schools like Buckfield Junior-Senior High, but a 2009 challenge in South Dakota had less fortunate results for the text and its potential readers. The Souix Falls, SD, school board voted to remove the book from shelves for "foul language, sexual references and depictions of teen smoking."

Still, a student will need special permission to read the book in Maine's Region 10. It's not a complete victory, but it's not a total defeat either. Kudos to CBLDF for its support of the text, and a "good enough" to the special committee formed to decide the fate of the book.

You can read more about the local coverage of the story here.

I can't help but remember the work that I and many other teacher educators and k-12 teachers did last year in creating the CD-ROM and E-book versions of Rationales for Teaching Graphic Novels, which offers statements of summary, use, reputation, and value for 108 different graphic novels. Stuck in the Middle wasn't one of them, but I wonder if troubles could have been avoided if a rationale for the text had been available. Of course, the challenge for this book regarded its place in a library rather than a classroom.

This case reminds us that comics need our help and our vigilance regarding their inclusion in schools and libraries and that we need to fight for students' rights to read them,

Monday, January 09, 2012

NCTE journal _Language Arts_ Provides Podcast with Jerome C. Harste and Gunther Kress

Gottsta love an opportunity to listen to my homeboy Gunther Kress! The audio is a little rough and the conversation a little bit rambling, but if you've got about 40 minutes to spare, this is a neat offering from the editors of Language Arts, an NCTE journal with the theme of "Writing the image, Writing the World" for its January 2012 issue. Sooo, soooo interesting to me how close the conversation mirrors many of the aspects of Miles Myers' Changing Our Minds, which is why I use that text and some Kress when I teach courses that focus on multimodal literacies.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Katie Monnin Offers Up Batch of Reviews for Diamond Bookshelf

Visit Katie's Korner here.

General Electric's Educational Comics

There's been some chat within the Interwebs regarding General Electric's old educational comics. The Washington Post mentioned them in conjunction with an article on teaching STEM. That article, available here, features a slide show of old covers and comics.

Also, UNL librarian Richard Graham has virtually all of those GE comics archived at Nebraska's impressive online Educational Comics Collection here.

Ohio State's Project Narrative Summer Institute to have a Comics and Film Spin

If only I had $1200 and the time to apply! Anyway, click here for information on OSU's Project Narrative Summer Institute, which is exploring comics and film in a big way June 11-22 of this year.

Application deadlines are early March, and one has to be a faculty member or graduate student to apply.

Frederick Aldama and Sean O'Sullivan are core instructors.

You may recognize Dr. Aldama's name from this blog, as he has written 2 books on comics and multiculturalism with a strong emphasis on Latino characters.

The Daily Beast/ Newsweek Cover "Graphic Novel Renaissance"

Thank to Mark L. for sending the link embedded in this post's title!