A Public Service Announcement! ;)

A Public Service Announcement! ;)

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Cost of Prison

The Comics Reporter has posted a link to The Real Cost of Prison Project. The organization offers 3 different comic books about prison life and its large, scary reach beyond the facility walls. PDF's of their titles are available for download, but the comics can be obtained for free with a quick e-mail or letter to their home office. I'm not sure everyone's politics will match well with their message, but their work is interesting, one has to admit.

"You Gotta See This!": Tom Spurgeon's "50 Things That Every Great Comics Collection Needs to Have"

Tom Spurgeon has an extensive and fascinating list of must-have items for the comics collector over on his website The Comics Reporter. My somewhat-nearby-neighbor has some great items listed too. Here's the text for item 38:

38. A Stack of Comics You Can Hand To Anybody's Kid

If I were President, I would mandate that every household in America must have a white wicker basket holding an approximately 24-inch tall pile of beat up old comic books for kids to read. So certainly someone with a sizable comics collection should be able to offer a stack of old funnybooks to their sister's kids -- or their neighbor's, or their employer's and so on. I don't think the comics have to be rigorously excellent when they're aimed at this audience, because the repetition that signifies such comics as uninspired might be lost on fresh eyes. That being said, really bad comics might not have what it takes to capture anyone's attention, let alone a kid soaked in today's visually-saturated media offerings.

I'm happy to say I've got a little of many of the things I should have according to Spurgeon (and am excited to rise to the challenge to get the other things!), and I'm not afraid to prove it. My entry for "Item 22: A Selection of Comics That Interest You That You Can't Explain To Anyone Else:"? A Pearl Jam comic book that I am proud to own. PJ fans understand, but anyone else? And how can I defend my stack of Defenders comics?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

"I Will Be Buying This:" Breakdowns

I love Art Spiegelman (perhaps you saw that I ranked him as the most important contemporary graphic novelist in an earlier post? It's not like that's a revolutionary statement to make, or anything, though he may not like the term "graphic novelist.") and have been reading selections of his newest autobiographical book Breakdowns since my UVa days (the shorts appeared in VQR, or Virginia Quarterly Review).

Here's some information on the book from the Pantheon newsletter "Notes from Hillary." Thanks, Hillary, for adding me to your distribution list! :)

You'll have to wait until October 7 to get your copy of Breakdowns but, as those of you who saw the excerpt in the September 15 issue of The New Yorker know, it's well worth it. Breakdowns is the chronicle of Art Spiegelman's story, told in three ways—in 20 pages of new comix that give us the story of his evolution from a MAD–comics obsessed boy to a neurotic adult examining the effect of his parents' memories in Auschwitz on his own son, in a section on the work that he did in the 1970s as an underground comix artist, and in an illustrated essay that looks back at the sixties as Art pushes sixty and explains the obsessions that brought his works into being. Funny, complex, inventive and poignant, Breakdowns is everything you've come to expect from Art Spiegelman. You won't want to miss it. And, you don't want to miss the opportunity to hear Art speak, either. Starting on October 7, he'll be crisscrossing the country and making appearances in Austin, New York, California, Philadelphia, and everywhere in between. If you're in the New York area, you can also catch Art at this year's New Yorker Festival. He'll be giving a talk called "Breakdowns: Comix 101" on Saturday, October 4 at 4:30 pm. Purchase your tickets here.

DC Knows the Future --- almost.....

The "big event" of DC comics' super-hero universe stories for the last year (though it seems like it has been going on forever) has been entitled "Final Crisis." Looks like they were only a "anci" away from being prophets. Ozymandias would have gotten it exactly right.....

Pictured here: Supergirl wonders if her assets in the global marketplace will be enough to overcome the economic downturn of domestic economies and if she should diversify her portfolio while rolling over her 401K into a Swiss-Kryptonian off-planet holding firm account. "And then there's social security to worry about......" she mutters.

"Looks Good to Me": Alan's War

Tom Spurgeon reveals this new title from :01. Looks like a good one: a story about a WWII soldier's "past-present."

No More Minx

DC's fledgling imprint Minx Comics, a graphic novel line designed to target the YA literature/female readership, has failed to garner enough interest to continue production. So, it has been axed. The Beat covers the story pretty well, as does Comic Book Resources.

But let's face it, this is probably the first time you've ever heard of Minx, right? I have a few of the samplers, and while the stories weren't terrible, they weren't exactly earth-shattering either. But, then again, they weren't being marketed to me. But, then again, apparently they weren't too popular among those to whom they were being marketed, either.....

It is worth noting that the imprint marked a strong effort from a major comics publisher to offer multiple graphic novel titles to young female readers. Though there are plenty of women who enjoy super-hero comics and plenty of strong super-heroines out there, the perception is prevalent that the form -- or at least the super-hero genre of it -- is a man's domain.

But there are some excellent female graphic novelists out there. I don't care for Alison Bechdel's writing style, but I do respect her work. Jessica Abel is a rising star, and Marjane Satrapi makes my top 4 most important current graphic novelists list (the others are men: Art Spiegelman, James Sterm, and Chris Ware). Lynda Barry also has a growing opus of interesting sequential art. They tend to focus on the same sorts of genres all great graphic novelists seem drawn to -- autobiography, memoir, autobiographical fiction, coming of age in turmoil - rather than capes and tights, of course.

The market is out there, but it looks like it'll take future efforts to solidify it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

It Worked for YA Lit

Eisner award winning graphic novels and nominees can now place an informative medal on their covers. Well, the people who sell them can, anyway. ICV2 has the details here.
Many YA titles benefit from the placement of a National Book award or Printz award or King award label on their covers. This is a smart way to help legitimize graphic novels in the eyes of hesitant but curious readers, in my opinion. Might it also contribute to canon formation? Probably, but that's not a new phenomena among any form of media, graphic novels included.

Friday, September 19, 2008

"Looks Good to Me": La Perdida

This looks like a great book that might have some local interest for my students at UTEP. Here's how Pantheon starts its press release on this latest work from growing super-start Jessica Abel:

"From the Harvey and Lulu award–winning creator of Artbabe comes this riveting story of a young woman’s misadventures in Mexico City. Carla, an American estranged from her Mexican father, heads to Mexico City to “find herself.” She crashes with a former fling, Harry, who has been drinking his way through the capital in the great tradition of his heroes, William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac. Harry is good—humored about Carla’s reappearance on his doorstep—until he realizes that Carla, who spends her days soaking in the city, exploring Frida Kahlo’s house, and learning Spanish, has no intention of leaving."

"Looks Good To Me": Chiggers

Ah, real Southerners know what chiggers are. Well, there are probably multiple definitions. The one I know is "tiny little things that get under your skin and itch like crazy." Maybe that's what is going on as the female lead in this new graphic novel deals with changes in friendship and identity at a summer camp in my home state of North Carolina. For more on Old North Stater Hope Larson's graphic novel Chiggers, visit Comic Book Resources.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dark Horse Donates Collection to Portland State

As some one wanting to build a comcis collection at his own university, I was very happy to see this press release:

News: Dark Horse Comics, Inc., Donates Complete Collection to Portland State University Library

Author: Office of University Communications, 503-725-3711 (PSU)

Posted: September 17, 2008

Portland State University alumni Mike Richardson, founder and president of Dark Horse Comics, Inc., and Neil Hankerson, executive vice president, have donated copies of all publications generated by Dark Horse over the years to Portland State, and will continue to provide copies of all future items produced by the company. This generous gift will result in a complete collection of the Dark Horse corpus to be preserved in the Portland State University Library Special Collections.

"As a Portland State University alumnus, I am elated to be part of this monumental Dark Horse archive event," said Neil Hankerson. "Being able to bring this locally grown publishing company together with PSU exemplifies the unifying nature of Oregon and demonstrates the amazing advantages of having comics in schools. This archival program solidifies Dark Horse Comics' legacy, not only as a company dedicated to organic growth, but also as one of the world's foremost comic book publishing companies, committed to contributing quality works to the comic literary canon."

This valuable collection will be a destination resource for researchers in American studies, popular culture, art, sociology, gender studies, English literature and many other fields. So far, more than 2,000 Dark Horse comics, manga and books have been received, catalogued and made available for students and faculty to check out at the Millar Library. Dark Horse publications in more than 15 different languages are already being used as a resource by students studying foreign languages, and by international students enjoying material in their own languages.

"Neil Hankerson and Mike Richardson are stellar examples of engaged Portland State University alumni who give back to their community and to their university," said Helen H. Spalding, PSU's university librarian. "Their generous gift of the corpus of the Dark Horse Comics, Inc., is a significant destination collection for those researching the history of comics, popular culture, sequential art and many more facets of inquiry. Because of the reputation and size of the Dark Horse collection, the Library hopes to attract additional comic collections from other publishers and collectors, creating one of the largest research collections of its kind."

One copy of each available title or product given to the Portland State University Library will be catalogued, preserved and housed in Special Collections with supervised access. An additional copy will be added to the general Library collection, where they will be available to more than 207,000 students and faculty in Oregon and Washington through the Orbis Cascade Alliance, and internationally through the Library's interlibrary loan services.

Coinciding with PSU Weekend, Portland State will recognize and celebrate the gift with a special event on October 16, 2008, at 7 p.m. in the Smith Memorial Student Union ballroom. The event is free and open to the public, and will feature Dark Horse materials and a keynote by Mike Richardson. Media inquiries should be directed to Scott Gallagher at (503) 725-8789 or svg@pdx.edu.

Dark Horse Comics, Inc.
Founded in 1986 by Mike Richardson, who sought to establish an ideal atmosphere for creative professionals, Dark Horse Comics has grown to become the third-largest comics publisher in the United States and is acclaimed internationally for the quality and diversity of its line. By attracting the top talent in the comics field, Dark Horse continues to change the shape of the industry and grow its brand throughout the world. In conjunction with its sister company Dark Horse Entertainment, Dark Horse Comics has more than 350 properties currently represented under the Dark Horse banner, serving as the jumping-off point for comics, books, films, television, electronic games, toys and collectibles. In 2008, Dark Horse distributed its characters and concepts to more than 50 countries, continuing its mission of content creation and distribution in all of its forms throughout the world.

Portland State University Library
At the heart of an engaged university, the Portland State University Library supports the information, research, teaching and learning needs for more than 1,800 faculty members and 27,000 students at Portland State, covering 125 undergraduate, master's and doctoral degrees as well as graduate certificates and continuing education programs. The Portland State Library has over 1.4 million volumes, subscribes to almost 19,000 journals with access to over 45,600 electronic journals and over 32,000 electronic books. In addition, Portland State Library is a collaborative regional depository for federal documents and a member of the Portals and Orbis/Cascade Alliance library consortia, collaborating with other libraries to serve the region and scholarly community at large.

Image Comics Gets into the All-Ages Comics Game

New Shadowline imprint to exclusively feature all-ages graphic novels and books!

16 September, 2008 (Berkeley, CA) - This October, Image Comics’ Shadowline will debut Image’s first ever all-ages graphic novel and books imprint, Silverline Books.

“Silverline Books is dedicated to publishing quality all-ages books that bridge the gap between traditional storybooks and comics,” said Publisher Jim Valentino. “We believe that there’s a strong need to reach out to younger readers and introduce them to comics with uplifting, non-violent stories in a format they’re familiar with.”

Silverline Books officially begins October 29th with its first all-new release, DEAR DRACULA by Joshua Williamson and Vicente Navarrete; a Halloween-themed story about a boy who gets visited by his hero, the king of all vampires. It continues in November with BRUCE, THE LITTLE BLUE SPRUCE by Shadowline editor Kristen Simon and Image co-founder Jim Valentino, in which the titular tree wants nothing more than a family to take him in on Christmas.

The year ends with two more Silverline titles, including December’s MISSING THE BOAT by Justin Shady (aka Wayne Chinsang) and Dwellephant, about two lazy animals who are too late for Noah’s Ark, and the softcover follow-up to last years double Eisner award nominee PX! BOOK TWO: IN THE SERVICE OF THE QUEEN by Eric A. Anderson and Manny Trembley.

For more about Silverline Books, including five page previews, SRP, page count, format and ISBNs, please visit www.shadowlinecomics.com/silverline.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Image Comics' Silverline, Kristen Koerner Simon and Jim Valentino tell the tale of a blue spruce searching for a home!

13 August 2008 (Berkeley, CA) - This holiday season Silverline Books, the all-ages book division of Image Comics' Shadowline, presents Kristen Koerner Simon and Jim Valentino's all-ages story of a little blue tree without a home, but not without hope; BRUCE: THE LITTLE BLUE SPRUCE.

"One of my unattained career goals was to do a children's book and when Kris brought BRUCE: THE LITTLE BLUE SPRUCE to me, I instantly knew this would be it," said Valentino. "Not only did I love the gentle message of accepting the differences in ourselves and others but the challenge of drawing a story where the principal character was a tree was too much to pass up!"

Just in time for the Holidays comes BRUCE: THE LITTLE BLUE SPRUCE, a heartwarming tale of Bruce, a blue spruce who wants nothing more than to be chosen by a special family as their Christmas tree. Engagingly written by Kristen Koerner Simon, illustrated by Image Comics co-founder and award-winning artist Jim Valentino and featuring painted color by THE SURREAL ADVENTURES OF EDGAR ALLAN POO's Avery Butterworth, BRUCE: THE LITTLE BLUE SPRUCE will charm even the most cynical of Scrooge's all year long.

BRUCE: THE LITTLE BLUE SPRUCE (ISBN: 978-1-60706-008-6), a 32-page square-sized hardcover for $9.99, will be in stores November 5, 2008.

(cover image courtesy of the Beat)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

They Start so Young!

Doug Fisher draws our attention to this video from Youtube in which a young creator asks for help in getting his graphic novel project off the ground:

Monday, September 15, 2008

Comic Artist Kyle Baker's X-Spoofs

It's a sign that a form has been established and has its own canons when those involved in its continued creation start to trope and spoof it. Here's an excellent example circa 1989-1999 from Kyle Baker in which a collection of his cartoons poke fun of the by-then mega-popular X-Men characters. This is super-hero comics genre-specific, so if you don't get the in-jokes, you probably have too much back reading to do and should probably just find a geek to explain them to you.

My Web Seminar Coming Up!: September 23,

Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey will be joining me in an NCTE-sponsored web seminar in which we'll discuss ways we use comics to get kids considering the writing process. It's gonna be a cool, so join up today. Heck, bring your entire class along!

Need Help Explaining that Super-Collider To Your Students?

The particle-accelerator/ super-collider that was supposed to suck the earth into a giant worm hole hasn't done so -- yet. So, you may be interested in sharing a little info about it with your students -- before it sucks us all into a giant worm hole. "But physics is hard!" you proclaim, like a politically incorrect Barbie doll. The folks at PhD comics have tried to resolve your lack of clarity before you're pulled particle by particle into the abyss (which has cheap gas and great hotel rates, by the way). Visit the link embedded in the post's title and see if PhD's take on this amazing experiment which will surely doom us all represents yet another example of sequential art narrative's ability to inform and teach.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Gutierrez on a Roll!

A single story in the Diamond Bookshelf section? Feh! Single entries are for weaklings. See Peter Gutierrez follow up on the story I described below with an interview detailing comics' connections to the New Literacies and media studies! He's a Hulk of a sequential art narrative in education advocate, I tell you! And a good interview, too!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Gutierrez Sees Comics as Preferable Medium For Teaching Media Literacy

Montclair, New Jersey media specialist and comics creator Peter Gutierrez has gained my attention and the notice of the NCTE Inbox for his words about using comics to teach media literacy. Posted on the Diamond Bookshelf website in the "School Articles" section, the piece "make[s] the argument for revisiting comics as an inherently effective teaching gateway to a variety of media as well as a means to address broader issues of process and the role of media in society."

Compelling, and completely agreeable to the views of EN/SANE world, it may be read in full here.

OK, I'm off to send Mr. G an e-mail about my SANE SIG idea....

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Review Material and Press Releases Wanted

So I recently asked a more established comics blogger about how he gets books sent to him for review. He replied that he didn't do anything special; he just put some contact info on his page. Well, my profile has been updated with my work address.

If you publish comics or graphic novels that you think are appropriate for k-12 students and you'd like to send me copies for review, I'll certainly try to review them or mention them in appropriate articles or even write lesson plans/articles about them.

As well, if you have comics-and-education-related press releases, I'll be happy to consider posting them to the blog and/or commenting on them here as well.

EN/SANE world covers a very specific niche in the comics blogging community, the education community, and the English language arts community. No other site that I know of focuses as exclusively on sequential art narrative's intersections with literacy and education issues as does this one. As of yet, no academic journal exists that focuses exclusively on SANE issues either, so the site can do a real service for those interested in comics and pedagogy.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

UF Conference on Comics and Graphic Novels 09

Thanks to Aaron Kashtan for sending the press release below. I attended the first-ever UF CCGN but haven't made it back since. It's a fun conference if you can get on the schedule. North Florida is a neat place, and the UF campus is worth the visit alone. They got real live gators on campus! And in a little lake right beside freshman housing. How many a drunken newbie has stumbled back to his or her dorm, only to end up wrasslin' a reptile? I don't know, but the University of Florida is a great place for comics studies, and the conference, if you can involved, is a good one. Here's Aaron's press release.

The University of Florida's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is pleased to announce the 2008 UF Conference on Comics and Graphic Novels: "Convergences: Comics, Culture and Globalization," which will be held in Gainesville, Florida, on March 21-22, 2009.

This seventh annual conference on comics will focus on issues of globalization and reception. Comics are, now more than ever, an international phenomenon, but scholarly accounts of comics are often limited by an exclusive focus on examples from a single national or continental comics industry. This problem is exacerbated by the scarcity of translations. Furthermore, one of the many obstacles facing the emergent discipline of comics studies is the difficulty of communication between scholars working in different national and cultural contexts. This conference is intended as a small step toward meeting these challenges.

The goal of this conference, therefore, is to consider the history and reception of comics on a global level. We are interested in papers that focus on international comics and animation markets, cross-cultural reception of comics, and the differential status of comics in different cultures (e.g. as a children’s/mass medium or as a mainstream form of literature). Here we are using "comics" in its broadest sense, embracing animation, manga, anime, graphic novels, webcomics, political cartoons, and even some "fine art." In addition to theoretically grounded work, we encourage submission of archival and historical research.

Special guests will include Susan Napier (From Impressionism to Anime: Japan as Fantasy and Fan Cult in the Mind of the West), Jessica Abel (La Perdida), Matt Madden (99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style) and Sara Cooper (Founder, MLA Discussion Group on Cuban and Cuban Diaspora Cultural Production).

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

The reception of comics outside their original cultural context, both by fans (e.g. manga fandom in the United States) and by creators (e.g. American comics’ influence on the development of manga and BD, the “nouvelle manga” movement).

Connections between comics form and cultural status. How have views of the cultural position of comics (e.g. as a children’s versus an adult medium or as a mass-cultural versus a literary medium) evolved differently in various cultures? What does this have to do with the formal properties of the medium, such as sequentiality and hybrid image-textuality?

Comics as a global market: migrations of talent between multiple comics industries (e.g. the Spanish and Filipino “invasions” of British and American comics in the 1960s and 1970s, the Korean influence on U.S. animation) and cross-national collaborations (e.g. mangakas working for Marvel and DC).

Comics studies as a global discipline. What barriers exist to the study of comics from a global perspective and to collaborations between comics scholars from different cultures? How might such barriers be removed?

The impact of the internet on the global comics market. How have scanlations and filesharing helped or hindered global comics industries?

Canon formation and expansion. What happens when works from unfamiliar cultural contexts (e.g. Persepolis and Epileptic) enter a national comics canon?

Comics and travel/tourism, e.g. in Craig Thompson’s Carnet de Voyage.

Comics and issues of postcolonial identity, e.g. in Abouet & Oubrerie’s Aya, Baru’s Road to America, Horrocks’s Hicksville.

Translations of comics, both official and unofficial, e.g. scanlation. What are the unique difficulties and advantages of comics translation as opposed to prose translation? What are the unique difficulties and approaches to translating comics from different cultures? How, if at all, do “official” and “unofficial” translators approach comics translations differently?

Abstract submissions should be approximately 250-500 words in length. Presentations will be 15 minutes with 5 minutes of question and answer.

The deadline for abstract submissions is December 1, 2008. Abstracts or questions should be submitted to Aaron Kashtan at akashtan@english.ufl.edu or Tania Darlington at tdarlington1@ufl.edu. See the conference website for schedules and additional information: http://global.comic-studies.org/.

Google Teaches About Chrome via Scott McCloud Sequential Art

Thanks to Dr. Brunk-Chavez for sending me the link to this dandy little web comic from a company you may have heard of. According to The Beat, the comic, designed to introduce the world to Google Chrome, an apparently better and more efficient way to surf the web, was leaked before it was supposed to go public, but now that it is out there, Google doesn't seem to mind.

The layout is typical Scott McCloud too. Informative, fun, and full of graphs. And people drawn to explain them to you. ;)

So comics have been used to educate the military, protect the innocent, inform about safety and health issues, and now, to launch a new web browser. That's pedagogical diversity from an formidable form, I tell you!

Early Hernandez Bros Art

I was excited to see Heidi at the Beat cover this bevvy of barely-viewed old treasures from the Hernandez Bros. I recently read Locas and have a few Penny Centuries lying around, have read Sloth and have enjoyed their anthologized work, and now that I'm at UTEP, I'm trying to learn more about Hispanic comic artists.

It's a dream of mine to get Jaime and Gilbert to visit campus, so if you're reading, fellows, drop me a line!