A Public Service Announcement! ;)

A Public Service Announcement! ;)

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Almost Back from Write to Learn

So the snow caught up with me in Camdenton, MO, and I had to reschedule my flight, but I did enjoy my time at the nearby Tan-Tar-A Resort for the Write to Learn Conference. I had a small but typical crowd as far as personalities go, and I especially liked meeting Nick from Mizzou who was doing another comics-related seminar later in the day (sorry I didn't make it to yours, Nick, I got the "crud" and ended up sleeping most of the afternoon) and plans on doing his dissertation work on sequential art. Maybe I'll eventually convince him to use "panels" instead of "frames" for his terminology (what are you, studying Iser or something? ;) ), but I wish him the best in his studies!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Job Posting: Want to Write Educational Comics?

Thanks to Beth D. for sharing this posting from H-Net.org. Looks like the educational comics field continues to expand!

EZ COMICS - AP History Teacher- Content Writer for Second World War covered in AP US History and AP World History

Location: Rhode Island, United States
Institution Type: Other Position Type: Temporary
Submitted: Friday, February 13th, 2009
Main Category: U.S. History
Secondary Categories:
World History

INTRODUCTION :EZ Comics ( www.ezcomics.com) , is a Rhode Island based learning and education company with the focus on making fun and creative comics for students with History as the subject. The firm has three comic books so far based on different events and important figures and personalities from the US History.

SCOPE :EZ Comics invites applications for AP US and AP World History teacher /researcher in the field of US History to produce a specification document that includes any or all objective and subjective based questions for the topic 'Second World War' that is covered in the both the above mentioned exams.We seek candidates whose research and teaching interests may focus on�but are not limited to�the following areas as per the curriculum outline in the AP US History and AP World History Exam. From AP US History:21. The Second World Wara.The rise of fascism and militarism in Japan, Italy, and Germanyb. Prelude to war: policy of neutralityc.The attack on Pearl Harbor and United States declaration of ward. Fighting a multifront ware.Diplomacy, war aims, and wartime conferencesf. The United States as a global power in the Atomic AgeFrom AP World History:E. 1914 CE to present4. Compare the effects of the World War II on areas outside of Europe.

PURPOSE :This specification document will be used to used to create content for the comic book based on 'Second World War' , keeping in mind the objective of the AP curriculum, that can specifically address the exam questions in the document and in return help students prepare for the AP Exams.


Deliverable No. 1

Candidates should be able to find all the relevant resources pertaining to the Second World War with its scope to the AP US History and AP World History Exam in order to produce the document. The resources will include text books, exam books , sample exams and other such material available.

For example :
a. Cracking the AP World History Exam, 2009 Edition, Princeton Review Chapter 10 :Recent Stuff- Around 1914 to the Present , Pg 243-252
b. Cracking the AP US History Exam, 2009 Edition,Princeton ReviewChapter 13: The Early Twentieth Century, Pg 159-165

Deliverable No. 2

The document will include all the types of questions tested on the exam such as MCQs, DBQs, Free Response questions that cover the Second World War on both the AP US History and AP World History.The document should include as many questions as it may require to fully cover the wider scope of the exam topic mentioned and that will help a student take the AP Exam. At the minimum the document should includeMCQS : 1000DBQS: 200Free Response Questions: 200

Some examples of questions tested in the AP exam on the Second World War are......

[I don't want to step on H-Net's toes by coping the entire post. Follow the link in the blog post title for complete info]

......Contact Info: Mehul MaldeEmail: mehulmalde@gmail.com
Website: http://www.ezcomics.com

Monday, February 23, 2009

Make some Comics at MakeBeliefsComix.com

Along with applications like pixton and toondoo, MakeBeliefsComix lets students become cartoonists instantly via panel layout, character, and balloon selection. It's a fun site, and it is absolutely free with no strings attached. Definitely worth looking into for making your own cartoons or for getting your kids composing!

Recently, Google and UNESCO selected the site as one of the world's most innovative in encouraging reading and literacy. Educators who teach literacy and ESL students are using it in 180 countries. In addition to English, the site accepts text in Spanish, French, Italian, German, Portuguese and Latin. Join in on the fun, why don't ya?!?

Essay on the Importance of an Arts-Rich Education

Review of _Luke on the Loose_

Harry Bliss' first comic book is the tale of a rambunctious young boy who escapes his father's grasp at the park and then seemingly involves half of New York in his pursuit of pigeons through the boroughs. Apparently lighter than air and easily able to give chase, Luke is eventually rescued by city firemen after he falls asleep on a water tower atop one of Ne York's many brownstones. The ultimate result for Luke is that he becomes one of those leashed children the next time he goes to the park with his father, who doesn't change his own chatty behavior that led to him losing his son in the first place. Luke is his father's son, as he too tries to continue his chase from the day before. It's not there, but it is easy to visualize foam gathering at the corner of his mouth as he attempts to restart his antics.

The book is entertaining. Kids will enjoy seeing Luke cause tons of disruptions as he maintains his singularity of mind. Parents may want to discuss how lucky Luke is not to get hurt in his story. Fun but not fabulous, this Toon Books text should make for interesting reading and good discussion between small children and parents nonetheless.

Grown readers may see a little bit of Linus, Little Nemo and Curious George, even Barnaby, in the story, but whereas this text might remind one of those classic characters and storylines, Luke on the Loose does not rise to their level. Luke is going to need several more well-formed adventures with clearly developed beginnings, middles, and ends before he can think of being elevated to classic status.

Review of _Benny and Penny in The Big No-No_

Geoffrey Hayes' latest Benny and Penny book features the two cuddly mice siblings trying to discern the identity and nature of the new kid next door. After some misplaced notions of ownership and threat are worked out, the three become fast friends. And there's a mud fight thrown in too!

Cute, sweet, and true to the capricious nature of very young children, the Toon Books release is charming and prettily rendered. This is the type of book parents and children should enjoy together in a rocking chair and is a great text for practicing say-back comprehension after several readings.

Article in Educational Leadership 66(6)

Check out my article in the March 09 edition of Educational Leadership. Sure, they put the graphic novel article in an issue with 3 sixes associated with it, but it is not a bad read. I finally got some things off my chest about how some perceive GN's, and I tried to move us beyond the "define then give examples" stage, though I still had to do some of that too.

The article was retitled "Going Graphic: Understanding what graphic novels are -- and aren't -- can help teachers make the best use of this literary form." The phrase "going graphic" is one of many graphic novel article title cliches, unfortunately, but besides that, I was happy with the tightness of the copy editing, etc. And they added pictures, which really made it pop.

It's pretty cool to be in a journal with James Gee, Howard Gardner, Michael Levine, etc. And this publication focuses on principal types, which represent a powerful but less-frequently targeted audience when it comes to getting educators thinking about sequential art in the classroom.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Best Thing Ever or Sign of the End Times?

ICV2 Reports:

The American Library Association is offering a Watchmen-themed “Read” poster featuring Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Comedian in the Watchmen film), Watchmen-style graphic design, and the cover of the book. It’s selling the 22” x 34” poster for $16.00. This is one more indication of the breadth of the Watchmen phenomenon and its uses in promoting graphic novels.

ALA has in the past partnered with manga producers (see “ALA
Poster Features Manga”), Marvel, and DC for posters.

This is truly something I never thought I would see. I'm proud and also sort of amused in a sort of "best thing ever sort of way." I'm happy to know that this poster will probably make it into high schools across the country. I know some folks have been teaching Watchmen at the high school level. Hopefully, more will now.

On the other hand, they chose the actor who plays one of the more despicable characters from the book. J.D. Morgan here plays the amoral Comedian, a rapist, chauvinist, and cold-blooded murderer. "Hey kids, meet me in the stacks at your local library!" See how one can read this as more an April Fool's Day joke than a legitimate story? But, it appears to be reality, adding an even more wonderful but somehow disconcerting element to it.

Inside reference to those who have read Watchmen: Question: Would you actually ever meet the Comedian in the stacks of your local library? Answer: "Only once."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Phew! What a Night! Lawler, Portillo, Nitz, ETC Rock the House!

Thanks to my guests and to the great crowd for tonight's "El Paso in the Comics" event. Hopefully we can do more events like it in the future. I collected many business cards and samples and will look over each one in due time. I want to give a special thanks to those who had to do some border crossing to get there and who were very kind not to correct my Spanish when I said "Gracias para su ayuda" when I should have said "Gracias para su trabaja" or something that more directly translated into "thank you for your work."

I'm tuckered out, so I'll write more on it later. If you see Lawler, Portillo, and nitz at the bar tonight, buy'em a drink! Nitz'll take a vodka and redbull.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Hangin' With Jai Nitz

Jai Nitz, award-winning comics writer and scribe of series like El Diablo and Blue Beetle, is in town and ready to take El Paso by storm! His first official capacity will be speaking with my "Teaching the Graphic Novel" graduate class tonight before visiting a local high school tomorrow and giving his big talk later in the evening. Jai is smart, gregarious, and broad-minded, so I predict a huge success between now and his return to his hometown! :)

Updates as things develop!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Revelation on Tedious Topic Related to Teaching GN's

Today I was mulling over the "research" questions people always ask me about teaching graphic novels. I find myself saying many of the same things over again when I talk to people about comics in the classroom -- "graphic novel" is a fine term to use; "sequential art narrative" is even better; there's nothing wrong with calling them "comics;" they're a form or medium, not a genre; Will Eisner did not actually coin the term "graphic novel" in 1977 -- and when they ask about the research, I often inform folks that people have been studying comic strips and comic books in terms of education and literacy since at least the 1930s*.

I have my sources I quote, etc., but now I'm thinking I need to take a different strategy.

"Question: What does the research say about how effective using comics in the classroom is?"

"Answer: What does the research say about how effective using poetry/American Literature/Shakespeare/etc is?"

See, we don't have much quantifiable evidence that teaching Othello or The Bluest Eye or Of Mice and Men or The Catcher in the Rye or Beowulf improves students' literacy skills. If we focus solely on these texts or their larger forms or genres, we're essentially in the same boat as we are with graphic novels: we have tons of anecdotal evidence and personal experience from practicing teachers that show literacy and ELA skills and critical thinking skills can be engaged and seemingly improved via interaction with these texts. But, when it comes to NCLB quantitative data, not so much.

What we do have is data on how effective different teaching strategies can be. So, I'm thinking maybe we've been asking the wrong questions, and I've been giving the wrong answers.

It's a crapshoot whether texts teach independently, since in that case everything is completely dependent on reader variables. But when a well-trained and informed teacher utilizes good strategies to teach students a text, things can change. I am absolutely sure this holds true with any text. Don't believe me? Look at what Michael Bitz has done with The Comic Book Project, or what Nancy Frey and Doug Fisher have done with their students, or what I've talked about upon working with mine.

So, I'm thinking that the more important thing to tell teachers is not just to look at what the research says specifically on teaching comics, but to think about the gaps in evidence we have for the effectiveness of every text in our curriculum, and to think about what makes learning happen: it isn't the book or work itself so much, but the way the teacher and students interact with the texts and with one another. Whether we're dealing with ol' Shagstaff or Craig Thompson, the ans wer has always been in the how, not necessarily the what.

* This longevity is evidence to me that though the popularity of considering comics int he classroom may eventually lessen, as education does seem to be a field of trends -- it will never completely dissolve. Fads don't last 70+ years.

**The more I consider research vs. practical experience, the more frustrated I become. I certainly understand the need for solid qualitative and quantitative work related to teaching, but we can't dismiss auto/ethnographic stories of experience. As I learn more about the competitive world and fissures of educational and professional philosophies, the more I seem to think that the problem with anecdotal evidence is that it comes from the individual.

Think on it: I can tell my story about how comics influenced my reading development and how they seemed to engage my students, and so can scores others, but there are still many who will say that personal anecdotes aren't strong enough evidence. However, if we all tell our stories to a researcher, and they write up our stories and triangulate the data, it gains more respect. It is vetted. Now, if someone can somehow quantify the triangulated variables and run ANCOVA's or ANOVA's or whatever on it, those results are even more impressive.

All research is flawed, regardless of methodology. Useful, but flawed. But when it comes to anecdotal evidence, I wish we'd just cut the crap and say, "The reason it isn't compelling is because your story coming from you doesn't help me get tenured/published." As for practicing teachers, knowing the charades associated with academic careerism, ideological alignment's place in academic careerism, and the inherent falliblilities of each type of research may be just as important as focusing on research-based practices.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Full Text of Education Week Article on Comics and Literacy

Thanks to AE for helping me find this link!

Coverage "El Paso in the Comics" in the El Paso Times

Thanks to Doug Pullen and the El Paso Times for giving us some coverage of our speaker series even scheduled for Tuesday February 17 at the UTEP library!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

New Column on Comics and Academia

Comixology has Karen Green, Columbia University Classics Librarian and Graphic Novel selector, doing a column on graphic novels in academia, which apparently means k-16 for her. It's a decent column.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

I Can't Wait for This to Come out! Bring on the _Deluge_!!!

Press Release from Pantheon:


Josh Neufeld's debut A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge (Pantheon Books, August 18, 2009) will be front and center at New York Comic Con Tomorrow: "Comics and New Media" a panel discussion featuring Josh Neufeld (author), Jeff Newelt (senior editor of Smith Magazine, Kate Lee (agent at ICM) and Pantheon's very own Lisa Weinert Friday, February 6 3:30 PM to 4:30 PM Jacob Javits Center (644 West 34th Street).

Anyone with a badge can swing by. If you're unable to attend the convention, worry not! We'll be taping the panel and sending you the links to it here.

I soooooo want this book now!!

Scool Library Journal Covers the Recent NYC Graphica Conference

Here's Marshall George, Ph.D. offering me the first Excellence in Graphica in Education Award. The photo is from the School Library Journal's online coverage of the event, which is very positive and clearly illustrates the energy that was at Fordham on that cold but clear and sunny day in NYC.

The article mentions me quoting from information found in Stephen Krashen's The Power of Reading, 2nd edition, which has a section on comics research that is must-read material for anyone interested in comics and literacy.

I don't look half-bad for someone whose dry cleaners gave him pants that were two sizes too small but who didn't realize it until the day of the conference! And under that open collar? A Superman t-shirt.

If You're in El Paso 2/16-2/18, Check it Out!

Sponsored by the UTEP English Department and English Education Committee:

Not only is there an underground comic book scene in El Paso, but the Sun City has its very own super-hero!

On Tuesday, February 17, The UTEP English Department will host “El Paso in the Comics,” a presentation featuring two local comics writers and keynoted by Jai Nitz, DC Comics writer and writer of the All-Spanish issue of the super-hero series Blue Beetle, which is set in El Paso. The event will be in the Blumberg Auditorium from 6:30-8:30. Admission is free.
James Bucky Carter, Assistant Professor of English Education and comics scholar, will moderate the event. He and Nitz will be joined by Jaime Portillo and Julian Lawler, local comics creators who will speak about how the Border Region is influencing their current and upcoming comics projects.

“Proximics is an interesting thing to study in comics,” says Carter, who is writing the Blue Beetle entry for an upcoming revision of an encyclopedia on comic books. “In super-hero comics, and in DC comics in particular, it is common for heroes to work on macro levels and be based in cities that are stand-ins for actual metropolitan areas. Think Gotham for Batman or Metropolis for Superman. Both are stand-ins for New York. Often, the less populace the home base for the hero, the less serious he or she is taken as a major player on the hero scene. For a DC series to feature a prominent hero in a named city like El Paso says some interesting and exciting things about our region and how it may be viewed in comics and to the comics industry.”

Jaime Reyes is the teenage alter-ego of the most recent Blue Beetle. He is of Hispanic origin and attends El Paso High. The series has dealt with issues such as immigration, border patrol, and border trafficking.

Nitz will speak about writing Blue Beetle #26. Portillo will discuss his recent mature-readers graphic novel Gabriel, in which a vampire is responsible for many of the murders in Juarez, and Lawler will discuss an upcoming project that deals with the issues of voicelessness and violence in the Border Region.

Nitz will also speak to several classes at UTEP and to area high school students during his stay in El Paso. He will also do a signing at Dave’s comics and Paintball on February 18 from 11:00-1:00.


Jai Nitz is a Hispanic comic book writer from Lawrence, Kansas. He won the Xeric grant for self-publishing in 2003 for his pulp-inspired anthology, Paper Museum. He won the prestigious Stoker Award for best writer of illustrated narrative in 2004 for Heaven’s Devils from Image Comics. Most recently Nitz wrote Blue Beetle #26, the first all-Spanish comic from DC Comics, showing the adventures of El Paso’s native superhero. Nitz is currently writing the Southwest-set El Diablo for DC. Nitz has written for DC, Marvel, and Image comics, working on characters from Batman to the Fantastic Four to Hellboy.

Jaime “Jimmy” Portillo was born and raised in El Paso, TX. He began his college education at EPCC and continued on at UTEP, where he received a B.A. in History (2002) and Chicano Studies (2005). Jaime released his first book in 2008 titled, GABRIEL, a vampire graphic novel that takes place in El Paso and Juarez. This story received the prestigious Xeric Foundation grant. GABRIEL has gone on to become a highly critically acclaimed book. He is currently collaborating with Arturo Delgado Molina and Dany Morales of Juarez, Mexico’s, DEATH MOON COMICS. He is thankful for the support he has received from his fiancée Maribel Cisneros, his parents, Enrique and Estela, family, and friends.

Julian Lawler is an El Paso native, born and raised in the desert southwest. He received his B.A with a double major in American Literature and Anthropology from the University of Texas at El Paso in 2008. He has been editor-in-chief of Broken Tree Publications since 1999. He has published numerous comic books including Industriacide, Prophet of Dreams, Zodiac, and the underground comic book Triangle Man. Industriacide #1 was critically proclaimed as "Certified Cool," and labeled breakthrough in the field of comic books. Prophet of Dreams #3 received a "Spotlight On" distinction, which is a recommendation for readers to take a look. He plans to release a new comic book series titled Superheroes, Inc. in 2009, a book that focuses on the El Paso/Juarez area. Julian Lawler has also had several poems published in the Crysalis and the Rio Grand Review. He has published literary criticisms on Bewilderingstories.com as well as a pair of fantasy novels, Prophet of Dreams and Nightland.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

My First Award as a Tenure-Track Scholar!

At the inaugural Graphica in Education conference in NYC this weekend, I was honored to receive the first-ever Fordham GSE Graphica Excellence in Education Award for my work on helping teachers understand how and why comics and graphic novels can be used in the classroom. I've got a nice certificate coming my way and everything!

I appreciate the award, but having my name called while sitting next to Michael Bitz was a little tough, as when the conference organizers told me a few days before the conference that they'd need me to stick around to help with an award, I assumed they wanted my input on who should win it and I actually mentioned Dr. Bitz as the first person who came to mind due to his excellent work with the Comic Book Project. So, in my mind, I'm sharing it with him, with hopes that he'll get his own flashy certificate as the conference grows in future years.

I can't wait to share the news with my colleagues at UTEP, and if I can, I'll post pix and press reviews of the conference as they become available.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Thanks to NYC for a Great Trip!

Thanks to Fordham University, especially Professor George and soon-to-be Professor Kelley, to Diamond and the other sponsors of the recent Graphica Conference. I enjoyed my time there, was thrillled to give the keynote, learned a lot of neat things from presenters, the crowd, and the speakers, and was overwhelmed to have been presented with an award at the end of the day.

It was also nice to meet many folks for the first time and to reconnect with others. If you're reading, I'll be following up on our conversations in the coming days and weeks! I hesitate to say "it was especially an honor to meet" because I was honored to meet everyone who stopped by to say hello or who had a part in the conference. Here's hoping the conference becomes known as much for building connections among teachers and scholars and publishers as it does for being a major "first."