A Public Service Announcement! ;)

A Public Service Announcement! ;)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Just Read: _Cancer Vixen_

Comics and graphic novels have a penchant for being excellent vehicles through which to tell difficult stories or through which to handle delicate topics.

Certainly this holds true when it comes to disease, and cancer seems to be a particularly notable source of inspiration for graphic novelists. Consider Pekar's Our Cancer Year, Fies' Mom's Cancer, Engelberg's Cancer Made Me a Shallower Person: A Memoir in Comics.

I even considered chronicling my own experience dealing with cancer via comics form. As a new member of the "missing lefty" tribe in 2004 (by which I reference the fact that a few months prior to entering my doctoral program I had a testicle removed because it was cancerous), I was in talks with the American Cancer Society about doing an information comic book on the subject. I even IM-ed with Marvel's Joe Quesada about putting a small informational comic about self-examination in Marvel's comics on month, my rationale being that the age ranges for comic book readers and those who are most likely to be diagnosed with testicular cancer overlap greatly (it didn't go over well).
So, when I saw Marisa Acocella Marchetto's graphic novel Cancer Vixen at an excellent airport bookstore in Dallas, I had to add it to my collection. Pink and purple cover be damned; Big "V" in "Cancer Vixen" right where the vagina of the skinny girl on the cover should be? No problem. I proudly made my purchase and began reading immediately.

The book, which started out as a serial, details the author's experience with breast cancer, which she discovers right before her marriage to a dreamy, well-off Italian restaurateur. Marchetto, a high-society type caught up in the glamor and glitz of New York fashion and "in" society, suddenly comes to terms with mortality and modern medicine while examining spirituality, a reality without children, and anxiety about her worth as a woman and mate with an intensity and range she never knew she had.

While my cancer was less aggressive than Marchetto's, I could easily relate to scenes where she visualizes what she thought would be the spirit forms of her future children dissipating, never to be realities. I also revisited my own psychoses regarding my gendered identity as she did the same. I knew her pain when she considered how in the world she'd pay all those bills.

I was not, however, able to relate to Marchetto's "Sex and the City meets Carsinoma" vibe, though my hunch is that many readers, especially female readers, could and would. I left the text thinking that it could possibly be considered, among other things, "a graphic novel for girls that don't usually read graphic novels," an accessible and "hip" book that could help other cancer patients and their young relatives or friends understand what might be coming once they or someone they know is diagnosed. Sort of "what if Elle Woods was a cartoonist and wanted to talk about breast cancer?" In a good way.

I should also say that Marchetto's cancer was much more aggresive than my own, so when I mention being able to connect with the text, there are caveats. Caveats exist with the elements that distanced me as well. Though she's depicted as a struggling cartoonist, Marchetto's base of family and friends come through for her such that she never really seems threatened with bankruptcy (medical exigencies being a major reason many Americans go broke) or too far removed from her previous lifestyle. She adds depth to what she comes to see as shallow aspects of herself, but she never really has to give up the rides in great European cars, the nice shoes, the vacations permanently. There is a lot of anxiety that these things and even more important things will be lost, but in the end, Marchetto retains almost everything she had before, including her breasts.

That's not to envy her, just to say that the book illustrates that every cancer case has similarities and differences in regards to every other. I had to sell my Pontiac GTO, a present from my dad for being the first in our family to graduate college, to offset medical bills (and this was with insurance!), but I've sired two healthy boys since my operation. I didn't do any chemo; Marchetto goes through that gruel and acknowledges that not everyone in the patients waiting rooms she visited handled it as well as she was able to -- or even survived it.

So, for me, the book is one rife with text-to-self connections while also constituting a study in contrasts. Overall, I'm glad to have read the book and recommend it to others. I hope that educators or school councilors might consider it as a book to recommend to those who are experiencing cancer or those young people who might have relatives who are. In the end it is a survivor's story, which means some readers will experience different endgames in their own cancer experiences, but the text is informative, emotional, feminine, and, dare I say it, tres chique.

p.s. I totally prefer this image to the right, which I assume is an alternate or previous cover for the book (?). This one has more attitude and is taken from a scene where the author/character is kicking death in the face! From "Sex and the City" to "You go, girl!" :)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Chris Wilson Talks Research, Standards, and Comics

The Graphic Classroom has a pretty good piece regarding an article citing a "study" by a University of Illinois professor that made the rounds on the blogs about a month ago. The "study" is actually another advocacy/informative-type piece on comics and learning. I know because I hunted down the original article, printed it out for my records, and even contacted the author, who was herself a little worried about how the media had been interpreting her writing.

TGC's Chris Wilson does a good job of articulating some of the points and counter-points of comics in education in his reaction, though, so click this post's title and enjoy!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Hernandez Wins Rasmuson Grant, Named USA Fellow

Gilbert Hernandez wins $50,000 and recognition of his amazing talents. Read more by clicking the title to this post. Thanks to Comics Reporter for breaking the news.

Oh, and did I mention that Gilbert's brother Jaime Hernandez will be speaking at UTEP on February 23, 2010? :)

Visit MSU's Comics Collection Via Youtube

Thanks to Ryan Claytor for the great link to a story -- with video -- on Michigan State University's Comic Book Library Collection. Can you say, "travel grant here I come!"? :)

Other universities that I know of with comics book collections: Stanford, Duke, Ohio State, Bowling Green State, Nebraska.

That's a pretty impressive list, eh?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Announcing High-Level Plans: SANE journal

Because I am beginning to talk to corporate and other organizational entities about it, and it is always good to have a record of these things, I find it as necessary as it is exciting to inform you that I am currently trying to create an on-line, open-access, peer-reviewed journal that focuses specifically on issues related to sequential art and education. So far, I've been talking with High Wire Press, out of Stanford University, to make this dream a reality.

Pulling from the "fiestiness" behind the naming of this blog (EN/SANE world: "some people might say it is crazy to use comics in the classroom. I'm here to tell you it is quite sane!:), I'm calling it SANE journal: Sequential Art Narratives in Education. My hope is that the journal will publish twice a year and be available to anyone with Internet access, free-of-charge.

The journal would accept research-based articles, practitioner-based articles, reviews of book and articles associated with comics-and-literacy, reviews by way of rationales for teaching graphic novels, and would also list outside resources.

As I've noticed a trend of "appropriation" and redistribution of voices in the growing field of comics-and-education studies, manuscripts will not be stripped of author's names in review. If a writer is an established presence in the field who seeks to move the argument in one direction or another, the editorial/review teams wants to know the article came from someone who has already proven him/herself an influential voice. No more of this having your arguments blocked by reviewers who ask you to give hints at your identity while also working under a journal that requires all author-identification be stripped away. No more noticing authors with established reputations in other fields publishing articles that reinvent the wheel while possibly using their sudden interest in comics along with their name recognition to stifle what might be your more informed thoughts on the subject. No more worrying that a journal might not even be amenable to work on comics and education as trends change and new buzz words develop and new irons get hot. No more worrying that you can't find a place for your work because gatekeepers have worries predicated on sales or saving face or being seen as an outlet that accepts comics in the classroom.

I seek for SANE journal to become the central academic source for articles and thought on sequential art in education, whether it be pre-school, middle school, or graduate school.

The review board will pull from folks in the social sciences/education studies, the humanities, and comics scholarship. Due to my connections in the field, I already have a list of possible review board members. I hope to get the journal associated with Reading with Pictures, Institute for Comics Studies, NACAE, The Center for Cartoon Studies -- heck, maybe even ICAF, NCTE, and NAMLE eventually. I am also hoping to make connections with corporate entities dedicated to producing comics with educational/literacy value.

If you know anyone who might be a good review board member, feel free to e-mail me his or her name, as I'm happy to add to my list. I'm not at the "contact individuals for invites" yet, as I want to have as much information available to them before I ask them to join up with a nebulous construct.

Also, if you are associated with or know of an agency that might be a good source of funding, please let me know. I'll be spending some time writing grants for the project and working with my institution's Development Office in the coming months, but any and all leads are welcome.

At the very least, wish me well in this endeavor, which I feel is needed, necessary, important, and timely.

(*draft. may be expanded later. already expanded several times)

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Documentary on Jeff Smith on PBS

The Beat has the scoop on a television show featuring Bone creator Jeff Smith. Looks awesome!

School Library Journal's GN Picks for Kids 2009

Link courtesy of The Beat.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Teacher Uses Mobile Apps to Teach Smith's _Bone_

"Teacher Eric Federspiel earned a grant that allowed him to bring 15 iPod Touches into the classroom. Here’s how he loaded them with comics-related learning opportunities." -- Comic Book Reporter.

Sounds pretty awesome! Bone is great enough to use in the classroom on its own. Add some tech, and wow!

Want To Publish A Comic?

Jason Thibault has a rather comprehensive list of submission policies for comics and manga publishers the world over. Click this post's title, and thanks, Comics Reporter, for the lead!

DC Reboots of Supes, Bats to be GN's Only!

The Beat reports that DC will offer "Earth One" origin reboots for Superman and Batman. Reboots in comics are used as brand new jumping on points for new readers or established readers wanting a clean slate approach to their favorite characters. While the characters will continue to appear in other comics, does this mark THE moment in comics history when the move to graphic novels/trades paperbacks took over the biz? We'll see. The Beat covers the story nicely if you'd like more details.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Fightin' Fallacies: Mythbusting w/ Bucky on Pop Culture and Appropriation

While at NRC this weekend, I heard an argument/precept about teaching comics that I've heard before but have never directly commented on herein, so I thought I might finally do so.

The idea is that teachers need to be careful about how they teach comics because doing so overtly and directly in a way that might fully explicate the text might be a way of subsuming students' popular culture. The assumptions underlying the directive, as I understand them, are that youth culture shouldn't be appropriated by adults and that more children read comics than adult teachers.

There are a number of fallacies at work in such a statement, though careful teaching is always a good thing, of course. One myth is that kids read more comics than adults. American comics seem to have a history directly tied to youth culture. This is undeniable. But, since the 1930s, there have been moments when the reading market was comprised mostly of children and moments when the reading market was more diverse. For example, the crime and horror and romance comics of the 1950s were supposedly not marketed directly to child readers (but sort of the same way that Joe Camel wasn't marketed to children) but to older readers.

In the contemporary moment, the average comic book reader is believed to be an adult male in his mid-thirties. Many industry leaders are at this exact moment bemoaning the lack of child-centered comics, and companies like TOON BOOKS have sprung up to fill the void left by aging super-hero comics readers, more intellectual, graphic novel reader, and those who have always preferred the indy, not-for-kids stuff in the first place.

So, it may not be true that more kids are reading comics than adults. And if comics readership is no longer the cultural domain of children, then teaching them isn't appropriating their culture and thinking that it is can be viewed as misinformed thinking pulling on schema from a bygone era.

Another fallacy that I see as inherent in the argument is that popular culture = youth culture. While it may be true that youth culture is often, if not always, intertwined with the popular culture, that relation can not always be reversed. When Ray Browne pioneered the study of popular culture (and let us remember that there are scholars beyond education professors who study popular culture. It is its own field), he was focusing more on the elements of society that academics and others found to be "mundane," not exclusively on elements of youth and childrens' culture. Bumper stickers, advertisements, housing floor plans, wallpaper -- these are elements of popular culture that have been studied that may or may not have connections to youth culture.

I'd also like to point out that another way of viewing a teacher who integrates the study of popular culture and/or youth culture is to see the teacher as acknowledging kids' interests. Overt, direct analysis of those texts can be a way to show respect for their interests and to show how "their" texts are just as valid and important as older, more traditional texts, each of which was at one time part of the popular culture as well. As well, since adults consume youth culture too, "their" culture can be said to be "our" culture anyway.

So, I think direct, overt instruction on comics and high-level literary/artistic analysis of them in the classroom should be approached with the same care as anything else that gets taught, but I wouldn't worry too much about anyone's culture being subsumed or taking anything away from students. Sure, I've had a student tell me "You can even make a comic book boring!" during an analysis of metaphor and symbols between a comics text and a traditional text, but some students are going to balk at anything that examines things seriously. That student held the minority opinion in his class, by the way. All the other students were excited to be reading a form of literature that they viewed as valid but had never thought would be considered valued in the school setting.

Ah, when the school world and the real world mesh, it can be a wonderful thing!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

My En/SANE Christmas Wish!

Hi, readers. Recently EN/SANE received so many hits that the clustermap program decided I needed a new map. That's a very good thing, and neat too! Instead of seeing blended-together red blobs, I get to see the hits stack up in terms of country, region, etc. one at a time. Depending on how long I've known some of you and where the dots pop up, I can almost bet on who some of my exact readers are, which is even cooler for me, as I love it when my colleagues use my site for their own information or with their students.

I do have a request, though: En/SANE world has been in existance since late 2006 and has been trying to synthesize the best comics-and-literacy information available on the web while also providing comments and analysis based in my own understanding of the sub-field. If you use my blog for information, especially in writing your academic papers, please cite the blog.

It is easy for me to cite via hyperlink where I get most of my information for my posts. Even if you use EN/SANE world as a starting point to other sites, it would still give me great pleasure if you'd offer a mention via a sidebar or in the works cited. Again, it'd really mean a lot to me and to the growing readership/reputation of the blog.

Announcing 2 Projects Under Development!

I am pleased to inform my readership that I have two projects in the works with Maupin House Press, which just published Katie Monnin's great new book on teaching graphic novels.

While I can't say much, I can say that one project is under contract and combines word study, language exploration, and comics to further students' curiosity in language and vocabulary development.

The second project has a contract in the works and involves me and a group of teacher educators and practicing classroom teachers in a collaborative effort to help teachers do something to protect against the recent and on-going rash of censorship cases concerning comics in the classroom.

Both projects have tentative release dates of Fall 2010. I'll keep you informed of more as more develops!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

My First NRC

Tomorrow I'm off to Albuquerque, NM, for my first-ever National Reading Conference presentation. I'll be presenting with professors from Hunter College-CUNY and the University of Tennessee. I'm sort of playing this one by ear a bit, but hopefully it will be another success. I'll be talking more about comics in the contact zone, which has been a major focus of my work for the last few years. Wish me well!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Trailer/Review for _Infestacion: The Mythology_

I hate zombies like Indiana Jones hates snakes. They're just not my thing. Marvel zombies, Kirkman zombies. Zombie movies with Woody Harrelson or cheeky Brits. Doesn't matter. I hate'em.

However, I do respect that the zombie mythos has had a resurrection in popularity over the last ten years or so, and I also acknowledge that often zombie-related media projects are laced with allegory. This is certainly the case with the graphic novel Infestacion: The Mythology, by 656 Comics, which features insidious ticks infecting living beings, killing them, and then reanimating them into flesh-eating undead.

Worse yet, these undead are Mexican undead, and they're "dead set" on crossing the American border! It's Lou Dobbs' Halloween nightmare come to life as citizens of Ciudad Juarez try to escape dangerous living/undying conditions by fleeing to El Paso, a city in a nation that may or may not see them as worthwhile living beings even if they're not infected.

While some of the nuances of its allegory may be lost to those who do not reside in the Borderland, what makes Infestacion: The Mythology scary, and thereby an intriguing read, is the same thing that makes all great zombie thrillers scary: the fact that with some minor tweaks to the plot here and some slight alterations of the setting there, what is a work of regional horror fiction about the walking dead reveals sometimes unpleasant global truths about the walking living.

Infestacion: The Mythology is available now via 656 Comics. Here's a trailer (for mature audiences) to further whet your appetite:

_The Comics Journal_ Now Online

One of the best magazines to successfully play in the fruitful cavern of the popular-scholarly divide is now upgrading its online content, favoring the web over print. This looks to be an exciting development, if not a little sad in that the paper issues won't be be printed as often as they once were. I'm most curious about costs and subscription services. So, I'll spend more time on the TCJ site. I recommend you spend some time there too!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

12.31.09: MLA Debuts _Teaching the Graphic Novel_

Yep, that's yours truly in the orange highlighter there. (I know, this is a bad scan). This image is from a recent MLA publications booklet. Comics is a growing area of interest within MLA, and I'm very honored to have made it in this collection. I've got an essay on teaching Watchmen in there. Sorry, it was in press before the movie came out. So, if you find yourself with some Christmas cash, feel free to order this beauty. I can't wait to get my copy!

Monday, November 30, 2009

2010 Texas Library Association Maverick Graphic Novel List

It's nice to see librarians in my current home state of Texas giving graphic novels some good attention.

Video on 24 Hour Comic Book Day

According to Kim Munson, this was "filmed in San Francisco at the Comic Outpost and Mission Comics and Art by Gary Buechler (co-owner of Comic Outpost)."

New York Times' Graphic Novel Gift Guide for Holiday Season 2009

Saturday, November 28, 2009

"Good Neighbor" Graphic Novel Idea

I'm currently watching the State Farm Bayou Classic, which is pitting HBCU footballers from Southern (Baton Rouge, LA) and Grambling State (Grambling, LA). Apparently, State Farm has sponsored the event since 1996.

The sad laugher here is that State Farm screwed thousands of African Americans and other citizens who experienced loss and damage from Hurricane Katrina, etc. The company is still passing off its costs to citizens in the Deep South through crazy-high insurance premiums. When I moved to Mississippi from Virginia, for example, our car insurance premiums from State Farm went up over 200%. We'd been with the company since I was 15. We ended up switching companies, and we'll never go back.

So, here's an idea for you, graphic novelists: Do some Michael Moore-type research and publish a graphic novel called "Good Neighbor" in which you detail how State Farm is bending over their neighbors in the South and how state politicians are happy to let it happen.

Throw in the Bayou Classic for some irony. Hell, let it be your jumping off point.

Monday, November 23, 2009

New Jersey Libraries Get Grants for Graphic Novels!

Graphic Novel Reporter has the scoop in its recent update!

Friday, November 20, 2009

My NCTE Session Went Well

Thanks to all the participants and audience members of today's 9:30 "Comics in the Contact Zone" roundtable. We had a very respectable crowd and lots of good conversation going on. If only publishers had been present to see the deep interest from practicing teachers. And a special thanks to Dr. B from the land of a thousand lakes for stopping by.

I look forward to our future conversations. Now, some down time to try to let my sinuses drain before a busy evening of comics-related presentation watching, publication talking, and general hobnobbing.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

With a Rebel Yell!: Moore, Moore, Moore!

The Black Dossier censorship case in Kentucky heats up. Evangelical involved! Porn invoked! Evangelical's relative warns of dangers of censorship!

It's Blue Grass, Dumb Ass, and a Text that's Crass (depending on your p.o.v.)! Grab your peanuts (no, I said "peanuts," gutter-head!) and enjoy!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Get Your "Philly" of Graphic Novels at NCTE 2009!

Having barely squeezed myself onto the programming this year, I'm just about to embark to Philadelphia, PA, for NCTE 2009. I'll be hosting a roundtable and presenting at said roundtable as well. I'll be joined by SUNY-Fredonia Professor Susan Spangler, Fordham University Doctoral student Brian Kelley, University of Windsor Professor Dale Jacobs, Gallaudet Professor and former UVa colleague Sharon Padjka-West, and Hugh Davis, who teaches at an all-girls school in my home state of North Carolina.

We'll be discussing "comics in the contact zone," which relates to Mary Louise Pratt's ideas on teaching and more generally refers to talk about how comics and conflict go hand-in-hand -- and how that isn't a bad thing!

Search NCTE's online program with key word "Graphic Novel" to see the rest of the exciting GN-centric sessions!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bridging Ideas using Big Fat Little Lit, Best American Comics, Smithsonian Collection

This semester's crop of bridging activities from my English 3349: "Dramatic Modes of English Language Arts" class are perhaps some of the most intriguing I've ever seen.

The skinny: Students have to take a story they read from Big Fat Little Lit, The Smithsonian Book of Comic-Book Stories, or one of the Best American Comics anthologies and think of a way they could use the story as a thematic bridge to set up instruction of a more canonical text.

Regarding bridges stemming from the Little Lit collection:

April felt that Barbara McClintock's interpretation of "The Princess and the Pea" could be used as a bridge to Shakespeare's Pericles, since both deal with fate and coincidence in one way or another. Jonathan also wrote on the same fairy tale but bridged it to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight since both deal with the concept of questioning one's authenticity.

Kenneth saw connections between Milton's Paradise Lost and "The Baker's Daughter" since characters in both experience a sort of fall from grace and a transformation of kinds based on their behavior.

Brenda kept the British Lit mojo alive by suggesting bridging to Shakespeare's "Sonnet 130" -- you know, the one about the mistress who is lovely to the speaker but not necessarily to anyone else -- and "Pretty Ugly."

Rita found the theme of destiny vs. free will in "The Enchanted Pumpkin" and felt it could be used to build prior knowledge of the theme as it is represented in Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist.

Sandra saw connections between Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter and "The Several Selves of Selby Sheldrake." She'd use the comic to discuss multiple identities, especially as they relate to Arthur Dimmesdale, who is many things to many people.

"Broken promises" comprise a theme that can bridge "The Fisherman and the Sea Princess" to Marie de France's Lanval, says Angela.

Thomas found Kaz's "The Hungry Horse" a perfect companion for Crane's "The Open Boat" since both deal with forms of irony. Irony isn't a theme, of course, but there are all sorts of connections regarding depravity and choices in these two texts, which Thomas pointed out when we discussed our bridges in class.

Vanessa chose a selection from the Smithsonian collection. She saw connections between Will Eisner's "Izzy the Cockroach" and Kafka's Metamorphosis, and not just because the two feature bugs as main characters. Gregor and Jacob also have many similarities in how they deal with life's angsts. I was very impressed.

Hilda also had a very intriguing thematic bridge. She pulled hers from the exquisite collection Best American Comics 2008. Hilda wanted to bridge Carre's "The Thing About Madeline" to Midsummer Night's Dream and even suggested the song "Time of the Season" by The Zombies as another textual link in the bridge. The big theme seemed to be "Who are you, really?" if I read Hilda correctly.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

2009 Friends of Lulu Winners Announced

See the list here!

Among Adults who buy books, 1 in 10 read comics

Thanks to M. Streeter for calling my attention to this report from Simba, a company that helps publishers understand their markets. According to the study, comics readers are a strong force among those who buy books of all kinds.

A quote from the report that is making the rounds: "...about 70% of adults who have read comics in the previous 12 months also bought at least one book. This is quite notable, given that only about 56% of the entire U.S. adult population buys books....."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Another Graphic Novel Pulled from Libraries

ICV2 reports that Stuck in the Middle: Seventeen Comics from an Unpleasant Age has been removed from two middle school libraries in Souix Falls, South Dakota.

"The school district averages about one complaint per year concerning library material, but this is the first time since at least 2001 that a book has been made unavailable to students.

A committee that reviewed the graphic novel said unanimously that it's inappropriate for middle school students. The book's editor says the cartoons are true to life and could help struggling teens and pre-teens understand that they're not alone," states an article on the event from ArgusLeader.com (see link above). Also, Ariel Schrag, who wrote the book centering on teen angst and issues of sexuality that young teens often confront, has defended the book while respecting the thoughts of parent Shelly Miller, who complained and drew attention to the text, apparently in relation to her sixth-grader's response to it.

A Scene from Persepolis/ AKA My Students are Cool

In my ENG 3349 class, "The Dramatic Modes of English Language Arts," students learn about the six English Language Arts and how they can use all of them to integrate new and multimodal discourses into their teaching and into the types of work in which they might have their future students engage. They choose from a host of assignments (well over 20) to craft a portfolio of work illustrating them using technology to create texts that tell a little about themselves and/or offer pedagogical opportunities.

Here is a draft version of a "reader's theatre" based on one page of Marjane Satrapi's excellent graphic novel, Persepolis. The students even provide you with post-viewing discussion questions. They need to edit the text a little bit, but this still struck me as an intriguing clip that shows how knowing one form can help readers produce another. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

GNR Updates with Interview of author of The Physics of Superheroes

James Kakalios can tell you if Havoc could actually channel plasma, how Nightcrawler might actually be able to teleport, and how he'd need to do it if Superman could actually fly. He's the author one The Physics of Superheroes, which has just been revised in its second edition. Graphic Novel Reporter.com has an interview with the wizard of how.

Go Read: Katie Monnin's New Book Teaching Graphic Novels

The folks at Maupin House sure know how to market a book on teaching graphic novels in the English Language Arts classroom. This hot new text looks to be an important and necessary addition to the comic-and-literacy movement.

I know I can't wait to read it. Click this post's title to learn more about the book, and be impressed by the multimodal efforts to draw attention to what is surely going to be an excellent addition to the growing body of work on teaching comics in the secondary classroom.

The ALAN Review Fall 09 Has 2 Articles on Comics

The "seems to get mentioned in clumps on En/Sane World," indispensable Peter Gutierrez makes the case for eleven graphic novels in your classroom in "Integrating Graphica into your Curriculum," and West Virginia University's Rosemary Hathaway impresses in "'More than Meets the Eye': Transformative Intertextuality in Gene Luen Yang's American Born Chinese." Both are great reads!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

This Week's NCTE Inbox Mentions Article on Manga Quoting Peter Gutierrez

The article is from the AARP Bulletin and is entitled "Drawn Into Manga." Peter holds court pretty well.

Little Women, Other Alcott Stories Comprise Latest Graphic Classics Volume

Eureka Productions is pleased to announce the publication of GRAPHIC CLASSICS: LOUISA MAY ALCOTT, the eighteenth volume in the GRAPHIC CLASSICS® series of comics adaptations of great literature.

GRAPHIC CLASSICS: LOUISA MAY ALCOTT features "Little Women", adapted for comics by Trina Robbins and illustrated by Anne Timmons. Plus lesser-known gothic mysteries and horror stories including "A Whisper in the Dark" by Antonella Caputo and Arnold Arre, "The Rival Prima Donnas" by Rod Lott and Molly Crabapple, and "Lost in a Pyramid" by Alex Burrows and Pedro Lopez. Also two poems and two strange children's stories, "Buzz" and "The Piggy Girl", illustrated by Mary Fleener, Shary Flenniken, Toni Pawlowsky and Lisa K. Weber.

GRAPHIC CLASSICS are available in bookstores, comics shops, or direct from the publisher at http://www.graphicclassics.com/. Libraries and schools can order from Diamond Book Distributors, Baker & Taylor, Ingram, Follett or other distributors.

“The selections range widely across the Alcott oeuvre to include not just Little Women but also poems and short stories for more sophisticated audiences. An excellent addition to both school and public library collections, whether this series is already a mainstay or will be a new discovery.”— Booklist

“This attractive,full-color anthology contains a complete adaptation of Little Women scripted by Trina Robbins, plus a number of other Alcott works, from verse to gothic melodramas with various creators. The art is uniformly skillful and brings new verve to Alcott’s oeuvre.”— Library Journal


Edited by Tom Pomplun
Published November 2009, Eureka Productions
Distributed by Diamond Book Distributors
(ISBN 978-0-9787919-8-8) 144 pgs, 7 x 10", paperback, full color, 4c cover, $17.95
(Maybe it is just because the cover reminds me of my first-ever comic, which featured redhaired beauty Hellcat writing a letter at a desk, but that lil' woman in the blue dress is sorta hot! Mrowr!)

ICV2 has Even More on Kentucky Librarian Shocked by LOEG

The story that just won't die keeps spurting out extra details like some lascivious alien pig teat. To be sure, LOEG: The Black Dossier, the hijacked library book at the center of all this, is one of Moore's more self-indulgent works, almost on the same level as Lost Girls. There does seem to be gratuitous nudity in it, but as is often with Moore's work, it seems to be necessary gratuitous nudity (hey, I just used the phrase "lascivious alien pig teat." You think I worry about writing "necessary gratuitous?") as the author unravels the threads of reality and storytelling itself.

I love the text because I see it as offering evidence that Mark S. Bernard and I were correct in our analysis of Moore's use of space-time relationships and 4th wall dynamics. But, I can see where someone not familiar with Moore's themes might see it as salacious. Not that I think that would merit someone embargoing the book so others couldn't see the images, nor that I think that I would ask people to pray for me just so the images wouldn't get stuck in my head. (There are so many other terrible things one can see that I'd rather not think about. That truck with the pictures of aborted babies I saw on campus at UVA one semester comes to mind).

I find it interesting that the whole "I was trying to save it from the eyes of a child" angle has given way to a sort of "I was trying to protect anyone from seeing these terrible images" slant from the librarian. Where will this story go next? Will basketball season be enough to pull Blue Grassers away from this enthralling story about the blue-haired moral crusader?

Monday, November 09, 2009

Texts I've Read Recently: Quick Reviews for What They're Worth

Best American Comics 2009: Another great contribution to the series but not as much that grabbed me as in years past. Will anything ever top "Turtle, Keep it Steady!" from 2008? Lots of standard figures in there: Clowes, Crumb, Spiegelman, Ware. A set of interesting comics as meditations on art are sprinkled throughout the pages. If the series runs long enough, one will probably be able to read Berlin and Shortcomings in their entirety without every buying those two texts on their own.

Ball Peen Hammer: Adam Rapp and George O'Connor's tale of an disease-ridden apocalyptica where people earn sway with power figures by killing live or bagging already-dead children is a swing and a miss for me, but unfortunately not for anyone under 15 who appears in this book. The text seems too condensed, too rushed, like there are scenes missing that really ought to be in there. Rarely do I say that a comics story might have been best represented via traditional print text ( I sort of see it as blasphemy, frankly), but I get the feeling this would work better as a YA novel or film script than it does as a graphic novel.
The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb: I'm only..... Well, shit, the book doesn't have page numbers, but I'm less than halfway through and am enjoying it thoroughly so far.

Best. Thematic. Braiding. Ever!

Comic Artist on Comic Artist

Vanessa Davis shares her thoughts on Crumb's Genesis and more via... her own comics. Thanks, Comics Reporter for sharing the post.

What was I just saying?

"The battle has been won" proclaims The Beat regarding this article from The Telegraph where a researcher extols the virtues of kids learning from comics. My thoughts? Well, read a couple of posts below this one for my take on those who say the battle has been won.

"And if you really consider how the pictures and words work together to tell a story, you can make the case that comics are just as complex as any other kind of literature," says University of Illinois researcher Carol Tilley.

Why The Beat suggests people will listen to her over the scores of previous and current other researchers, I don't know. I wouldn't be opposed to it happening, though! :)

Click this post's title for more of Dr. Tilley's findings.

More (and Moore?) on the Kentucky Librarians vs. LOEG

Amazing article with a great timeline. Thanks, The Beat!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Fightin' Fallacies Again: Mythbusting with Bucky

It's been a while since I posted something on fighting' fallacies associated with comics in education, but I think it may be time to revisit the topic based on certain ideas, trends, and opinions I've noted over the last six months or so.

1. Talk about how graphic novels match up with local/national standards is moot because of the new CORE standards being developed by the National Governors Association and the CCSSO.

I have seen much hubbub about how the CORE standards being developed under the Obama administration are going to obliterate any and all other lists of standards available nationwide, and while the CORE documents will certainly influence state and organizational standards, I think it might be a bit of hyperbole (at least I hope it is) to suggest that states will drop years of work on crafting standards to adopt the CORE standards. Rather, what I think we'll see is that the CORE standards will be suggested as THE BARE MINIMUM, and states will be encouraged to adapt -- not adopt -- them to the standards documents they've already crafted.

As for standards like those for the English Language Arts that have been published by NCTE/IRA, I have it on good authority from a representative at NCTE that these standards are not being updated in response to the CORE standards, not yet anyway.

Several recent and upcoming publications deal with how comics and graphic novels can be used to meet state and national (NCTE/IRA) standards. Brian Kelley recently published a document relating to New Jersey's ELA standards. Michael Bitz's recent book and his upcoming book, as well as a couple of his articles, reveal how using comics as composition meet many of New York's state ELA standards. Katie Monnin will soon publish a book that deals explicitly with NCTE/IRA's standards for ELA. All of these are and will be valuable to teachers and will help make the case for comics' worth in America's school rooms.

I've also heard folks try to make a distinction between having standards and the phenomenon of standardization. The problem is in interpretation. Too often, once standards are set, they become the rationale for standardization of curriculum. This leads to stolid curricula that focus more on the standards than on best practices, and after time, this also forms a sort of indoctrination that state education leaders accept and then feed their teachers. The "cure" for this, of course, is trusting teachers to be intelligent enough to see any set of standards as a bare minimum rather than the "gold standard" and having leadership that finds ways to assist teachers in being critical thinkers and experts in their fields.

2. Graphic novel proponents seek to supplant traditional print-based literature with graphic novels.

I think I can speak for most of my colleagues who advocate for using graphic novels and comics in the classroom when I say we probably all support a supplemental or complimentary approach, one where graphic novels are integrated into the ELA classroom along with traditional-based print texts.

I get it from both ends, it seems. I've read criticism of my edited collection Building Literacy Connections with Graphic Novels that suggested I and my contributors wanted to replace canonical texts with graphic novels. This isn't the case -- not in every possibly exigency, anyway. On the other hand, folks wonder if I and my co-writers aren't suggesting that comics and graphic novels aren't good enough, strong enough, to stand alone and be taught on their own. I think folks need to give comics-in-literacy scholars and teachers the benefit of the doubt (and read their texts more deeply).

I think most of us seek a balanced approach, where comics are used in pre-existing curricula where they fit best and with students who they can best engage (read "all students" on one level or the other) and only replace a text when a teacher was already looking to do so before considering a sequential art narrative as the replacement.

I think most of us do feel that certain graphic novels are good enough to be taught in their own right. I just think most of us are knowledgeable enough as pedagogues to know that teaching any text in isolation is not the most effective means of teaching.

3. The argument has been won. There is no need to continue work that falls under the rubric of "graphic novel advocacy."

There are so many of us using comics in the classroom now, so many blogs, so many books coming out, so much attention from MLA and YALSA and the ALA and NCTE, etc., and so many articles on sequential art in the classroom that it may seem that everyone has gotten the message. Especially for those of us who live and work in progressive environments where all or most of the people we see everyday are the kinds who readily accept comics' place in the classroom, this is dangerous thinking. Your world may not be my world may not be the world of a teacher in rural Wyoming or even in Washington, D.C.

As someone who lives in Texas, as someone who has, since 2000, taught in the states of Tennessee, North Carolina, Mississippi, Virginia, and Texas, and as someone who travels the country talking with teachers about comics' use in secondary education, I can tell you that it is a Manhattan-sized assumption to think that everyone everywhere -- whether "everywhere" pertains to state, k-12 school, college of education or university English department -- is on the same page or at the same level of their development when it comes to graphica. Austin is not El Paso is not Houston is not San Diego or New York.

While I get as frustrated as anyone when newbies try to reinvent the wheel regarding comics terminology, use, and advocacy in the classroom, especially when they do this in print (and especially when that print doesn't cite previous writing that has established a groundwork), I accept that, nationally, we see a range of acceptance of the form, ranging from elective courses on GN's at the high school level and courses focusing on them at colleges like Stanford, MIT, and Yale, to fogies still afraid to accept the form as viable for their sixth graders and considering it a threat to literacy, intelligence, and quality living.

The battles are still being fought in k-12 and university departments near you, whether it seems that way or not. So, there's plenty of room for more advocacy work regarding the sequential art narrative, and any work that deals with it in a positive light, even if it is crafted by those who believe the good fight has been won, might be said to be advocacy literature anyway.

(*draft. I may revisit this for edits later)

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Wolvie Knows the Tropes

Here he tells Marvel Boy, "You never had a team-up before, huh? That's all right. I'll break you in. Usually we start by fighting each other, but we'll just skip that part this time." :)

Peter Coogan knows what I'm talkin' 'bout. Les Daniels does. Bradford Wright too. Yeah they do.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Amazon.com's "Best Of" 2009 for GN's

Crumb Controversy in Richmond, VA.

What? R. Crumb has said and drawn some pretty controversial things concerning women? Get out! I love it and I hate it when comics folks have to deal with conversations that seem new but that most are joining in on about 30 years too late.

Parents Want More Focus on 21st-Century Skills

"21st-century skills" are mostly defined as skills associated with technology in this article from E-School News.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009

EL Paso Press' Graphic Novel Getting some YALSA 2009 Love

Cinco Puntos' first graphic novel, Pitch Black (which I've reviewed somewhere around here), is on the 2009 List of Great Graphic Novels For Teens. That list is created by The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), which has been leading the way in graphic novel advocacy since the early 00's. It even made the "Top 10," which isn't bad since over 50 titles were honored.

Congrats to El Paso's own Cinco Puntos and to Pitch Black authors Youme Landowne and Anthony Horton!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Halloween Shout-Outs!

Chris McCay, a longtime friend of mine from my days as editor-in-chief of OutcastStudios.com and their journalism efforts via Comicbookinsider.com and the Outsider Views section of the main site (check them out at the wayback machine at archive.org someday), has published another comic just in time for Halloween.

Offspring is described as a story featuring "a child abandoned who returns home to a world of shadows and blood just in time for a war with her father's greatest nemesis! Will she accept the power that courses through her veins and stand against the creature that attempted to slay her as an infant?" Hey, the title has product tags such as "werewolf," "vampire," and "zombie." What else can you want for late October comics reading?

Learn more here.

Also, if you're in El Paso this Halloween, check out the signing for local studios' graphic novel, Infestacion: The Mythology.

Students Craft Katrina Epics

I found this link from the ASCD daily web letter. The Times-Picayune reports that Greater Gentilly High School students are learning about the epic form via crafting Katrina narratives. It sounds like a great idea to me. I wonder if the teachers are incorporating Josh Neufeld's A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge graphic novel in the lessons. I love when we can see how the epic and the everyday often intersect, and when we consider how everymen and everywomen become epic heroes simply by living their lives with drive.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Kentucky Librarians Fired For Refusing Access to Child

Thanks to The Beat for drawing this story to my attention. Two librarians from Nicholasville, KY, thought Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen graphic novels were too mature for one young girl (age unknown, but possibly 12). So, they didn't let her check out the book.

ABC 36, which broke the story in the media, also has published some community feedback, which is varied.

"The Jessamine County Library director says it's against their policy to speak about employee terminations but he did give me a copy of their policy and it clearly states the responsibilities of the child's reading must lye with the parents and not with the library," says the article's unnamed writer.

The librarians refer to the comics as "porn."

While the books do have sexual situations, they're far from porn. Furthermore, they're laden with more allusions to other "traditional" literature characters and motifs than they are with sex scenes (OK, maybe at least as much as).

This reminds me of a time when I visited my local public library in Mocksville, North Carolina. I saw this book on 1950s culture that fascinated me, and I also saw this reprint of a nude Marylin Monroe spread that confounded me: I couldn't tell if it was a painting or a photograph. So, I decided to check out the book and ask my mother what she thought. I explained this to the librarian, who knew of the nudity in the book, and she simply asked if she could call my mother to see it it was OK for me to check out the book. She said "yes," and I learned about photo-editing techniques using soft lighting and soft focus from the mid 20th century to help certain images/people look more sexy and mysterious. And, yeah, I enjoyed looking at Marylin too -- and I'm sure my mother accepted this -- but the busty bombshell was just one part of the book that interested me.

It seems to me that if the librarians had followed a similar protocol -- one in keeping with their employer's policy -- they'd still be working and the decision regarding access would have been a nice blend of bringing together all stakeholders in the matter.

Why I Stopped Believing in the "Power" of Traditional Literatures, or The Truth as Presented by Beto

I'm not at all surprised that an image from a graphic novel would sum up the feelings that I've had for years that led me to see myself as an ELA pedagogue rather than a content monger. Nor am I surprised that the panel below was found in Luba, a work from the brilliant Gilbert Hernandez (Beto). This image is definitely going on my office door (not to upset my English Department colleagues, of course, but because it captures so perfectly part of my identity as an English Educator and as a reader of "alternate" literatures).

Friday, October 23, 2009

NY Times Reviews R. Crumb's Genesis

I actually saw this book in the West side El Paso B&N. So, maybe this religious text really is about miracles!

Thanks to DM for sending me this link.

Death of an Elder

From the AP wire:

Professor who pioneered study of pop culture dies
JOHN SEEWER,Associated Press Writer

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — Ray Browne, an Ohio university professor who was credited with coining the phrase "popular culture" and pioneering the study of things such as bumper stickers and cartoons, has died. He was 87.

Browne died at his home Thursday, according to his family and officials at Bowling Green State university.

He developed the first academic department devoted to studying what he called the "people's culture" at Bowling Green in 1973.

Browne wrote and edited more than 70 books on popular culture — including "The Guide to United States Popular Culture," published in 2001.

"Culture is everything from the food we've always eaten to the clothes we've always worn," he said in a 2003 interview with The Associated Press.

While many in the field credit Browne with coming up the name "popular culture," no one could say for sure whether he originated it. He said he made a mistake in 1967 when he first used the phrase.

"If I had called it everyday culture or Democratic culture, it would not have been so sharply criticized," he said.
Browne worked for decades to convince academics that much could be learned from studying seemingly insignificant elements of our lives.

"He was really going against the grain," said Robert Thompson, director of the Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University. "He seemed to be interested in anything. You could drop a gum wrapper in front of him and he would see a text to be studied."

Professors at universities nationwide thought Browne, an English professor, was trying to demean or trivialize what they were teaching when he founded the popular culture department.

That wasn't the case, he said. His interest was rooted in finding out how society affects culture and how culture affects society.

Dozens of schools now offer classes rooted in popular culture.

His interests ranged from Western cowboy movies to wallpaper.

"The covering of walls has been one of the most important items in housing since the beginning," he said. "But nobody ever wrote a book on it."

Browne taught at the University of Maryland and Purdue University before moving to Bowling Green with the idea of starting a popular culture department.

He often was quoted in the media and always had a ready thought on virtually any subject. He stopped teaching in 1990 but continued to research and write — often working on several books at once.

Browne is survived by his wife, Pat, two sons and a daughter.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

The Dominator

Just learned about this story about comics, fighting, cancer, and (hopefully) healing while reading through Graphic Novel Reporter

Learn About The "Reading With Pictures" Project with Graphic Novel Reporter

Ties to Northwestern University research, education consultants, and Diamond. This project associated with comics-and-literacy has a little bit of everything (except, to date, me, * sniff, sniff*)

Did You Know This Was Teen Read Week?

Yup, all week, till tomorrow. Here's the website.

ICV2 Covers the Maryland Schools Dragon Ball Controversy

They're a little late to the game, but ICV2's short article on the Salisbury, MD, school district's decision to pull Dragon Ball Mangas from all its school shelves is short and gives the facts.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Renowned Cartoonist May Seek Grant to Create Comic on Juarez Violence

Thanks to The Comics Reporter for bringing this to my attention. As readers of this blog know, one doesn't need a renowned comics artist from France to find comics dealing with violence in the Border Region: There are plenty of artists in El Paso and Juarez already exploring that theme in their works. But perhaps Edmond Baudouin could offer an outsider's perspective.

Here is a rough translation (via Google's translator tool) of an answer Baudouin gave about upcoming pet projects in a recent interview:

"If France will allow me, I have one. I asked a scholarship to go to the Mexican border in Ciudad Juárez. I would write a book about the city of bandits and drug traffickers, the drawing and ask the dreams of its inhabitants. I do not want to talk about death in the city where most people die in the world. "

The "dreams" angle would probably be a new one, as most of what I've read is horror-themed. I do hope Baudouin would make an effort to talk with current comics artists in the region if he were to gain his grant.

Hilarious Spoof of Diary of a Wimpy Kid...

...featuring Charles Xavier and the X-Men. Thanks to the Beat for sharing this work from Chris Sims!

Trial-And-Error Seems to Boost Learning

From the ASCD daily e-mail newsletter:

Students learn more effectively through trial and error in answering questions about challenging material, according to researchers who found that getting answers wrong actually helps learning. Their research revealed that students perform better if they try to answer questions about a textbook passage before reading it. For example, students should try to answer questions before reading a textbook chapter, then read the chapter and answer them again during and after reading.

Literacy experts among us will think of pre-reading, post-reading, and during-reading strategies and research on grammar and writing when they read this. I find support for how I do my classes, which often have "do it and let's see how you do; then we'll offer commentary and let you go from there" sort of tasks and assessments.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


"Sequential Art Stories Submitted by Youths!," an online writing gallery associated with the National Council of Teachers of English and their National Day on Writing, is now live! View examples of comics art stories submitted through me and my co-curator, the awesome Michael Bitz! And, it is never too late to upload your own story for consideration! :)

Pose Maniacs!

Like posers? If you like to figure draw, you love girls and guys who are posers. Here's a blog with so many anatomical poses, it'll make you want to grab your pencil and get back to drawin'!

Monday, October 19, 2009

This Looks Like fun: The Big Blog of Kids' Comics

Heidi at The Beat thought this was a fun blog for readers to notice. I thought so too.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Kill Bill: Willy D. Shakes to Get Graphic Novel Treatment with a Twist!

Kill Shakespeare is coming! Here's a note from the authors:

“Kill Shakespeare” is going to start as a 12-issue comic-book series. IDW (the third largest comics publisher right now) is publishing the first issue in April. Then we plan to collect the series in two six-issue trades and one “Absolute” collection.

So what is “Kill Shakespeare”? Well think of a “Lord of the Rings” style action-adventure but with The Bard’s characters. In our story Shakespeare’s greatest heroes are pit against his most menacing villains in a race to save, or kill, Shakespeare himself. The short comics pitch is “The Justice League of Shakespeare”, but I prefer “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” meets “Fables” with a dash of “Northlanders” tossed in.

In our story Hamlet is banished from Denmark and the Pirates attack his ship just as they do in the play, but in our world instead of ending up in Elsinore he ends up in another place – one where everyone he meets is a Shakespearean character. There he meets Richard III who makes him a bargain: if the Dane will seek out a reclusive Wizard and take the source of his power, Richard will return Hamlet’s Father from the dead.

The name of this reclusive Wizard? William Shakespeare.

On his journey Hamlet meets Falstaff, Juliet (who has survived her ordeal with Romeo) and Othello (also alive, but Desdemona is dead). They tell him Shakespeare isn’t a Wizard, but the Creator and that Hamlet is fated to meet and save Shakespeare – not kill him (in effect triggering a literary “Second coming”). They tell him that Richard is an oppressive “King” and that Hamlet is their land’s best hope to depose the King and his evil associates – Lady Macbeth and Iago.

Kill a Wizard and save his Father? Or save a God and rescue a land….? (and dare we mention Juliet and Hamlet’s growing love and what happens when Romeo shows up????)

Sounds fun, eh? Publisher's Weekly thinks so too. Of course, the yummy irony is that a project with a murderous title might actually help bring the Bard to life for students.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

_Stitches_ Among National Book Award Finalists

David Small's graphic novel joins Gene Yang's American Born Chinese as theo nly two ever GN's ever nominated for the award.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Comics-And-Literacy-Related Programming Announced for Miami Book Fair

I was asked about doing something for this year's Miami book Fair but felt I couldn't swing it due to other travels interfering with my teaching schedule, but there are going to be some excellent speakers talking about graphic novels and education November 13-15.

They include the unstoppable John Shableski of Diamond, James Sturm of the Institute for Cartoon Studies, Alex Simmons, and UNF professor Katie Monnin, who has a book on teaching comics in the ELA classroom debuting this December. It should be some great programming at a great conference!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Parent Complains about Dragon Ball Z Manga; School Library Removes Book

Here's a link to the article in the local paper. The Beat reports this happened in a school library in Salisbury, Maryland. What is it with the Mid-Atlantic states lately? Maryland now, Connecticut a year or so ago. Is there a push to get another coastline for Alabama or something???*

(*reference to Corville's humorous claim that Pennsylvania is nothing but Pittsburgh and Philadelphia with Alabama in between)

2009 Harvey Award Winners Announced

The Beat has the scoop. Click the title to this post for more info.

Blogger Celebrates Banned Book Week with Look at SOTI Comics

Great blog post that offers downloadable links to many of the comics mentioned in Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent as attributing the delinquency of American youths.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Oregon Librarian Talks about Getting Spanish-Language Comics in Her Stacks

This excellent op-ed is part of this week's update at GraphicNovelReporter.com.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

SASSY Mentioned in October 6, 2009 NCTE Inbox

From the Inbox e-mail newsletter:

Reading the Gallery for Teen Read Week

On October 20, 2009, right in the middle of Teen Read Week, the National Gallery of Writing will open and teens will be able to join readers of all ages to enjoy the selections each of the gallery writers (3,822 as of today) has chosen to submit. The gallery will remain open until June, so if you haven't submitted yet, or if you know others who would like to participate, there is still time to submit your favorite compositions for display.

Next week, why not encourage your students to submit some writing about the books they're reading during Teen Read Week? Several of the 1,392 galleries live at this writing invite just such submissions: SASSY: Sequential Art Stories Submitted by Youths!, A Lifetime of Reading, International Reading Association, and Memories about Libraries and Bookjoy.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Get "SASSY" With Your Bad Self!

Comics Gallery Now Available through NCTE's National Gallery of Writing!

I herein formally announce the creation of the "SASSY: Sequential Art Stories Submitted by Youths!" virtual gallery.

SASSY is one of the online galleries associated with NCTE's National Gallery of Writing, but SASSY is unique in that it features graphic narratives (comic strips, comic books, and graphic novels) exclusively!

Here's the formal description:Gallery Description: Sequential art narratives -- comic strips, comic books, and graphic novels -- involve advanced writing and composing skills too! This gallery features works of comics art submitted by young people and by those young at heart.

Anyone can submit a work of sequential art to the gallery, but, as curator, I am especially interested in works from students and from classes or programs where comics composing is being taught.Please spread the word about this gallery.

Tell local teachers; share it with your students; encourage talented comics creators in your classrooms to submit. They might just see their work published for the world to admire!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Buzzati's _Poem Strip_ Gains Critical Attention

Thanks to several readers for sending along this link about Dino Buzatti's book Poem Strip: An Explanation of the Afterlife, which has been translated from the Italian by Marina Harss.

Get Your Graphic Novel Degree at Napier University

"Edinburgh’s Napier University will become the first university in Britain to include comic books and graphic novels on a Masters level Creative Writing course," reports Emma Towers of The Journal.

Dundee University has also added a comics course to their English degree, according to the story.

So, comics studies programs are building steam overseas. Maybe information like this can help those of us who want to see CSP's here in the states as well. I just had a student e-mail asking about comics-related coursework at UTEP and had to tell him that we were working on it but that it may or may not ever happen. I recently read a book on academic life that quoted a Cornell professor as saying the academy's mantra is "never be the first to do anything." That's probably going hold true for folks like myself in the states who would like to see CSP's, but I'm happy to let our European brothers and sisters take the lead, because another line of old school thinking is "If Europe is doing it, we should too." So, we may see some "trickle down" effect from this. :)

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Thank You, ICTE!

Thanks to Jonelle, Blas, Brandon and everyone in Boise for having me as a keynote and for helping me feel like part of the crowd. Not only did I see several great sessions on graphic novels, but I once again got to spend time with some very dedicated English teachers. And I even got to see the Smurf Turf at Boise State!:)

Thursday, October 01, 2009

"Comic Book Literacy" Documentary/Website

This looks AWESOME! My only question: Why wasn't I interviewed for the documentary? Looks like most folks are comics creators rather than scholars, and it has been years since my script writing days at Outcast Studios.com (not that I'm not currently scripting on interesting projects, hint, hint, wink, wink)

The website, available through clicking this post's title, offers more information about who is involved in the project, who is interviewed, etc. Here's some info from the FAQ section: "Comic Book Literacy is an independent documentary film that showcases the utilization of comic books to promote literacy and education. Throughout the film educators, researchers, writers and artists give commentary in both an historic and contemporary context on a variety of subjects related to the topic."

Also according to the FAQs, the film is in post production and will be screened at film festivals in 2010.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I'll See Ya in Boise!

Wednesday sees me leaving for Boise, Idaho, where I'll give a keynote address to the Idaho Council of Teachers of English. It's gonna be meaty, gooey graphic novel goodness, like butter n' bacon on an Idaho 'tater!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Coming Soon!: _MLA's Teaching The Graphic Novel_

As advertised in the recent PMLA, Teaching the Graphic Novel will be available in late 2009. I'm happy to have a chapter on teaching Watchmen in the collection, which has been in production for some time and will include some great work by some excellent comics scholars.

Borderland Zombie Violence!: Announcing _Infestacion_

Here's a press release from some local comics creators whom I beleive will be joining me February 23, 2010 as part of the "El Paso in the Comics II: The Southwest in the Comics" event. :) As you'll see, these local folks are creating interesting comics and engaging in social commentary.



INFESTACIÓN: THE MYTHOLOGY is a 372 page graphic novel that collects the highly sought after first 6 issues of INFESTACIÓN, the first 4 issues of HELL’S PASS and the one-shot ROAD TO NOWHERE along with extra stories, the origins of the INFESTACIÓN, pinups, series covers, and commentary by all the creators involved.

Adversary Comix is proud to announce the premiere of El Paso/Juarez’s newest comic book horror series: INFESTACION: HELL’S PASS!

We are using “the Border” and the “undead” as social commentary canon to showcase the problems we as Fronterizos are faced with. The divide between ethnicities, the divide between social classes, the growing violence and fears that it may spill unto our streets in the US, and ultimately, using zombies as the biggest divide of all, the segregation between life and death, or un-death as the situation presents itself.

INFESTACION: THE MYTHOLOGY will arrive in comic book stores on Halloween, October 31st having its premiere at Asylum Comics.

But it doesn’t end there; the originators of the story and direct from Juarez, México, 656 Comics will also be on hand at the singing to relate their tales of zombies on the border land!

Book Specs:

Hard cover with dust jacket, 6x9 (digest size), 372 pages, black and white.Pre-order price: $35 ONLY AT ASYLUM COMICS located at 5360 N Mesa St El Paso, TX 79912-5872, PH (915) 875-8600. Shipping of the books will begin late October. In addition to the graphic novel, we’ll be giving away a free 6x9 original sketch from one of the artists featured in the book!

INFESTACIÓN: THE MYTHOLOGY is a ground breaking graphic novel set on the border between Mexico (Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua) and the United States (El Paso, Texas), where a zombie plague has taken over both cities and all they have to survive is each other. A border that has now become one between life and death, or un-death.

This area is very conducive to this type of story because it plays on all the fears that we as a people have living in this part of the country. The borders, the different races, the traditions, the growing threat of violence, the land itself, we’re in the middle of a desert here where all we have is each other, but how can we trust one another if we fail to accept the differences we all have?
Of course, its all there, the racial tension, the problems that Chicanos, and Hispanics, and Mexican Americans have fitting in. we also have the social commentary in the form of how we are all separated by these silly social classes that make no sense, how we choose to separate our selves and subjugate our own people, because of our own fear of each other. We don’t know our neighbor, so we’ll keep him at arms length, but as soon as he turns into a zombie, you know who we’ll be putting a bullet into their heads at a moments notice!


This has never been done before where a series has been collected in this manner- two different publishers working together on one tale. INFESTACIÓN or INFESTACIÓN: THE MYTHOLOGY, as it is now referred to, is a 372 page graphic novel that collects the highly sought after first 6 issues of INFESTACIÓN, the first 4 issues of HELL’S PASS and the one-shot ROAD TO NOWHERE along with extra stories, the origins of the INFESTACIÓN, pinups, series covers, and commentary by all the creators involved.
The border has always been considered a no mans land, where the rest of the country turns a blind eye on its problems; INFESTATION takes this premise to the extreme and shows us exactly how people can adapt and grow even in the most adverse situation and in some cases even find happiness.

This is what Jimmy Palmiotti of DC’s Jonah Hex fame thought of our book “filled with more guts and heartbreak than a butcher-shop in a vegan neighborhood. this is a prime example of a lot of different creators having a blast and making some truly horrific comics that make me smile. its worth it for the energy alone. "

About Adversary Comix
Adversary Comix is a local comic book publishing venture that has been around for years but under different names. In fact, Adversary was the FIRST El Paso based comic book company to set its sights on delivering the best story and sequential art in the form of comic books. Adversary Comix strives to bring to the forefront the best local talent has to offer. With books such as EL VALIENTE and BATTERY ACID, Adversary Comix has a stable of talent that can hold its own in the competitive business of the comic book industry both amateur and professional.

More information about Adversary Comix and its products can be found at http://www.myspace.com/adversarycomix

Copyright 2007-2009, Adversary Comix. All Rights Reserved. All trademarks and titles are the property of their respective owners. The statements contained within this document are considered "forward-looking statements" and may not reflect upon the actual future performance of Adversary Comix.

About 656 Comics
656 Comics, el comic hecho en Cd. Juárez, which literally translates to ‘comics made in Cd. Juárez’. This comic collective have been active since forming in 2003. Composed by writers, illustrators, graphic designers, urban artists and lit majors, who have been trailblazing and filling the borderland with stories of mature characters and unpublished themes about the local scene.
656 Comics have independently published over 20 comics in the past few years and worked with various local newspapers, film makers and musicians. Their two main projects; Infestacion: The Mythology a zombie outbreak on the borderland and Karmesi, an ex cop turned vigilante who tries to clean up the corruption and injustices’ of Cd. Juárez.

656 Comics has been accredited countless times with grants and assistance by various national institutions and organizations (Ichicult, Conaculta, Fechac, Conacyt, Fortes, Tec de Monterrey, UACH, UAM) to help spread comic awareness and workshops to help aspiring writers/artists publish their work in a series of anthologies. Some of those anthologies are: El Comiquero, Feminizando la Historieta and Leyendas: una ventana hacia lo desconocido en la frontera.

For more informationon 656:

Friday, September 25, 2009

Two New GN's Focusing on WWII/The Holocaust!

A Family Secret (Eric Huevel) and The Search (Huevel, Ruud van der Rol, & Lies Schippers) are two more graphic novels exploring the Holocaust and WWII.

Jereon is looking for yard sale items in his grandmother's attic as A Family Secret begins, only to find a cache of WWII era letters, clothing, and newspapers. He learns that the life he knows in the Netherlands is vastly different than that of the one known by his grandmother. Helena lived through the German occupation, lost one brother to the war, and, for many years, assumed that she would never see her childhood best friend Esther, a Jewish person, again because Helena's own Nazi-sympathizing father ratted her out. As so often characterizes the WWII era, though, things were not what they seemed, and a happy reunion awaits Helena after Jereon departs her house and just happens to hear a certain guest speaker at an open-air memorial service.

It is revealed that Helena's father wasn't as cruel as Helena might have thought. Instead of giving Esther to the authorities, he helped her escape. The Search is her story.

These books are published with help from the Anne Frank House, the Jewish Historical Museum of Amsterdam, and the Resistance Museum of Friesland. They are marketed as "stories told from the perspective of modern-day children." There definitely seems to be a desire through these books to craft texts that are accessible to younger children, to expand their options for learning about this era in comics form beyond the weighty Maus.

The full-color art appears inspired by Archie and TinTin, and the young people who learn their ancestors' stories seem realistic enough. While the storytelling is simple, it is informative, and what I like most about these books is that they cover the necessary historical information that most of us "know" while also examining countries and situations that we don't think about so much in regards to the war and genocide but that were just as much a part of the era's exigencies. Reading scenes from the Pacific and learning about how neutral countries such as the Netherlands were affected gave me a fresh and broader perspective. Seeing how the South Pacific evolved from a place of sanctuary to a danger zone deepened my sypathies for a people who, for a while, seemed to find no good place that would allow them to live in peace.

I won't say that these texts are as relevant to the comics form as Maus, but I will say that they offer younger readers -- upper-elementary and middle schoolers -- access to information they need to know and offer all readers perspectives that are often glossed over while studying this dark period of human history.

Each can expand a study of the modern world (1900-1950s) for virtually any class engaging in study thereof, so anything the books lose in stuffy, simplified storytelling they gain in relevance.

A Family Secret is available now. The Search will be available in October 2009. I recommend reading them both, especially if you work with elementary and middle schoolers or with high school students who need highly accessible texts.

_Teaching New Literacies_ Books Forthcoming!

Teaching New Literacies in Grades 4-6 will be published by Guilford Press in December of 2009. While my buddy Chris Wilson covers comics for this edited collection, I was asked to cover editorial/political cartoons. My chapter is co-authored with my wife and is entitled "No Stripping Allowed," though I promise there's no sort of connection between the first fact and the latter. ;)

Here's what the PR from Guilford says about the text:

Upper-elementary students encounter a sometimes dizzying array of traditional and nontraditional texts both in and outside of the classroom. This practical handbook helps teachers in grades 4–6 harness the instructional potential of fiction, poetry, and plays; informational texts; graphic novels; digital storytelling; Web-based and multimodal texts; hip-hop; advertisements; math problems; and many other types of texts. Twenty-four complete lessons promote critical literacy skills such as comprehending, analyzing, and synthesizing information and using writing to communicate new ideas and pose questions. Snapshots of diverse classrooms are accompanied by clear explanations of the research base for instruction in each genre. Ready-to-use reproducibles are included.

> Highly practical: provides 23 complete, classroom-tested lesson plans.
> Timely: states require students to read a growing variety of text types.
> Unique: lessons expose students to a broader range of genres than competing titles.
> Genres covered include biography, newspapers, political cartoons, hip-hop, graphic novels, poetry, and plays.

“The book moves beyond the basic curricular model of language arts, embracing authentic, purposeful, relevant areas of literacy that are typically overlooked. Classroom teachers, literacy coaches, and university professors alike will be able to find a place for this well laid-out text and the resources and expertise it provides. Examples of innovative and dynamic lessons will make it easy for classroom teachers to apply their new learning with ease. I was so energized that I immediately began sharing information from the book with my intermediate teachers.”

—Cate Stallmeyer-Gerard, MEd, CAS, Literacy Coach, Barkstall Elementary School, Champaign, Illinois

“A valuable resource for upper-elementary and intermediate teachers. The book provides a wealth of useful, research-based information and lessons that will assist educators in their quest of improving student comprehension and learning in the ever-changing world of literacy. This is a resource teachers can pick up, trust, and utilize immediately.”

—Carrie Wessman, MS, fourth-grade teacher, Bruce, Wisconsin

“Very timely. Inservice and preservice teachers need to know how to help students engage meaningfully and critically with multiple forms of text. Moss and Lapp offer a rich and accessible blend of instructional practices and curriculum integration that will enable teachers and students to expand their understanding of new literacies and connect with current technologies. This book is a comprehensive companion to turn to time and again.”

—Gustave Weltsek, PhD, Department of Literacy, Culture, and Language Education, Indiana University

“A fabulous book! So many upper-elementary teachers have a difficult time engaging students in literacy because they only use trade books and textbooks for instruction. But this book shows that a variety of texts, from comics to hip-hop lyrics to advertisements, can be used effectively for literacy instruction. Teachers will find the lessons in this book easy to use and supported by a strong research base. What is very exciting about the book is its emphasis on content literacy. Any teacher who has wondered how to thoughtfully integrate literacy into math, science, and social studies lessons, and make connections with students’ interests and lives, should buy this book! As a teacher educator, I see this volume as a wonderful resource for the new and experienced teachers in my courses, as well as for professional development workshops in schools. The lessons are very solid and would be useful both for students who need to ‘see’ the inner workings of good literacy instruction and for veteran teachers looking for fresh ideas and texts.”

—Jennifer D. Turner, PhD, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Maryland

Also debuting is Teaching New Literacies in Grades K-3, which will also have a chapter on comics from Chris Wilson and will be worth checking out for those who teach younger students.