A Public Service Announcement! ;)

A Public Service Announcement! ;)

Monday, August 31, 2009

New Academic Journal for Comics Scholarship

Studies in Comics will debut this winter! Thanks to P.C. for the info!

Mickey Mouse Owns Spider-Man!: Disney Buys Marvel

Does this mean super-hero titles will slip back into telling sappy saccharine tales where everyone adheres to the same conservative moral code? How long before Iron Man sports Duck Tales stickers on his armor? Is this a good move or not?

At least we've got a new joke out of it: Spider-Man is divorcing Mary Jane. The judge is asking him why he wants a divorce but is unsure if the reason he just gave has to do with her psychological state or adultery. He asks for clarification, "Mr. Spider-Man, what exactly did you mean when you said, 'She's f****ng Goofy!'?"

Ah, a new take on an old classic. And inherent in that value judgement may be all the tensions that fanboys and fangirls will feel about this move.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Tons of Iphone Comics News This Week

As if Marvel's Spider-Woman web comic being the #1 app download in iTunes this week wasn't impressive enough news, more stories keep coming about companies trying to get a piece of this pie. OK, perhaps that's bad phrasing considering the "lets see how boobs look when a woman in a skin-tight costume who can fly is upside down, sideways, etc." inspired thinking behind the Spider-Woman story (a critique, but not exactly a complaint). But, you get the picture.....

A story from Te Beat is embedded in this post's title. Here's a link to ICV2's coverage of the fast-spreading phenomenon.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Graphic Novel Reporter Updates; Yours Truly Profiled

More graphic novel goodness at Graphic Novel Reporter, and John Hogan asks me some questions and puts the answers on the site -- along with a photo of me! Will my ugly mug prove to be the death of GNR? I hope not! ;)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

2009 Ignatz Award Nominees Info Released

The only comics award that comes at you like a brick to the head has announced nominees for the year.

More on ACTA Jackassery

You know I couldn't just take Dr. Fish's word for it. I had to find the reference to graphic novels in the the ACTA report. It comes in the Appendix:

Below we explain, as applicable, why we did not count as core subjects certain courses that might appear, at first glance, to meet core requirements. Where possible, we also take note of institutions that set a high standard or off er am noteworthy curricular model. The colleges are listed in alphabetical order

[several colleges are mentioned, then...]

Dartmouth College: No credit given for Literature as the Literature requirement
may be fulfilled with niche courses such as “Bob Dylan”
or “The Graphic
Novel”—a course about comic books.
No credit given for Mathematics because
courses in linguistics may satisfy the Quantitative and Deductive Sciences

Davidson College: No credit given for Composition because required writing
seminars are topic courses in a range of disciplines. No credit given for Literature
because students may use such courses as “Young Adult Literature” to fulfill the
Literature distribution requirement.
No credit given for U.S. Government or
History because the History requirement may be satisfied by courses narrow in

[then several other schools are mentioned]

As someone who teaches courses on graphic novels and courses in young adult literature -- and who has actually taught a course on the graphic novel as young adult literature -- I can't help but remember a line from my father: "there's no kind of idiot like an educated idiot." Get a large enough group of them together, and well, I guess you have a Washington, D.C. special interest group like the ACTA.

Stanley Fish on Graphic Novels and the College Curriculum

On his NY Times blog, Stanley Fish has recently written about his frustration with college composition classes that do not focus on grammar and rhetoric, the field's negative reaction to his critique, and the subsequent indirect support for some of his ideas from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, a political group that appears to want to influence the college curriculum because college professors can't be trusted to safeguard it. In a recent report, “What Will They Learn? A Report on General Education Requirements at 100 of the Nation’s Leading Colleges and Universities,” ACTA made some suggestions on what should and shouldn't be taught.

While finding some of ACTA's ideas to his liking, Fish is worried about some of this organization's ideas. For example, when considering literature requirements, he writes:

"Things are not so clear when it comes to literature and history. Why should the literature requirement be fulfilled only by “a comprehensive literary survey” and not by single-author courses (aren’t Shakespeare and Milton “comprehensive” enough), or by a course in the theater or the graphic novel or the lyrics of Bob Dylan (all rejected in the report)? "

So a "yay!" to Stanley Fish, and a big ol' "bite it!" to ACTA.

(thanks to C for sharing this info!)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

This makes me wish I was back in North Carolina

The first comic shop I ever visited was the Heroes Aren't Hard to Find store in Winston-Salem. That one closed down years ago, but the main store has always been in Charlotte, which is only about an hour from where I grew up. If I were back in North Cakalacka and knew about this, I'd be there! Thanks, Comics Reporter, for the info!
What? You haven't read Mazzucchelli's Asterios Polyp yet? Put it on your to-do list! How else will you ever learn to spell Mazzucchelli except by writing about his work? ;)

Brooklyn Library Places Viewing Restrictions on Tin Tin

Dated and distasteful representations of Africans to blame for the move. The Comics Reporter also mentions that Borders moved Tin Tin books out of their kids section and into the adult section a while ago.

Friday, August 21, 2009

"Comics Enriched Their Lives #13-1" from Comics Comics

The Comics Comics blog has a nice collection of information on famous figures and literary luminaries who have claimed comics as an influence. Here's hoping they keep up the good work!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Lesson Plan Online for TOON Book's _Little Mouse Gets Ready_

Peter Gutierrez has crafted a lesson plan to go along with the new book Little Mouse Gets Ready. It's geared for kindergarten and is worth checking out.

The Graphic Classroom Talks about New Education-Based Comics Research Initiative

This story details a little about something called Reading with Pictures, which I may just have to learn more about. Apparently it is a research initiative geared towards giving teachers quantitative data about comics and learning.

Pandering, one could call it, the skeptic in me says, but, then again, I've also called for this sort of data, so I won't be critical at this point.

What is really needed is for teachers not to enjoy playing "administrator" when someone is talking to them about the research we do have that suggests comics can be good for kids. This research is mostly qualitative in nature, but teachers often want "data" as they have come to narrowly define it/as their leaders narrowly define it for them: as numbers and correlations. Qualitative data is still data. And focusing only on quantitative measures alone is always dangerous business. There are always too many unexplored variables.

I welcome and embrace efforts to establish quantitative data, but I think we need to work the "qualitative is important too" angle more as well. Teachers inherently know of its importance as they continually make the case for other assessment measures to be valued rather than only seeing student growth in end-of-year, multiple choice tests, and comics-and-literacy advocates need to play up this fact. It's a way to break down an "us vs. them" (comics advocates vs. educators) model while establishing another (those who understand what teachers go through and want vs. those who have power over them but don't seem to care about what they want or what they know) that we could work to our advantage.

Here's an experiment for you: Choose any work of traditional text that is currently taught in high school English classes, and do a database search for any quantitative evidence that is improves students' lives or literacy skills. Find anything? At least when you search for "cartoons" and "quantitative research" you get back a nice bunch of articles. Yet, despite an absence of quantitative-based studies that prove Shakespeare increases knowledge, you're not about to toss the Bard out on his ass, are you? Even if you wanted to, you might not be able to due to curricular constraints.

The bigger issue here is that it is the teacher and the strategy that makes the major difference, not so much the text as text, but the text as well-examined text.

If the organization has some good experiment ideas, I'd love to be involved. I think they're working with a professor from Northwestern, so that's exciting. As I learn more, I'll post more. Hopefully I will have the chance to learn more.

If you're involved with the project and you're reading this, gimme a shout at my UTEP e-mail address, will ya? Salivate at the potential of study sites in a high-poverty, high minority urban setting away from Chicago. Eschew deep dish pizza for some data sessions over chile rellenos. I know you want to! ;)

Comics Professionals Discuss "GN" as Term

As evidence that not just newcomers find the term "graphic novel" problematic. I've "come to terms with the term," though I prefer "sequential art narrative." (Both are phrases popularized by comics master Will Eisner). MLA has recently referred to them as "graphic narrative." Last year, "graphica" had a nice run of a couple of months before "graphia" debuted. Perhaps "graphein" would be the best term, since it has the clout of being ancient and by definition reminds us that all scratches, whether evolving into pictures or letters, have traits in common.

But, I'm cool with "graphic novel" except when people just assume that it applies to any work of sequential art, including pamphlet-style single issues of a comics series. Spider-Man #600 was not a graphic novel, but a trade paperback collecting Spider-Man #600-612 could be. All graphic novels are comics, but not all comics are graphic novels.

And please don't tell me that "comics" is a problematic term as well. I know this, and I see the entire conversation as wheel reinventing, but others think it is important, and I don't want to be caught off guard when the next hip terminology gives it a go at some staying power. ;)

So, "Drawn or painted or computer-crafted images with no real space or temporal relation on their own except when the reader infers them in conjunction with adequate suspension of disbelief that life can be disjointed into frames and language can be represented as a seemingly tangible object that take up lots of space within the narrative yet is not really supposed to exist except as heard speech or other sound within the diegeses of the narrative -- which is always linear but often misconstrued as non-linear; bound not by staples puncturing thin filmed paper but rather by various types of card stock and with a spine of some girth," you're on the batter's deck, and I'm ready for you!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Online Comics Databases

Director of the Institute for Comics Studies Peter Coogan has a blog about online comics databases, which he sees as the future major resource for comics classes at the collegiate level.

I'll definitely be using the Underground and Independent Comics, Comix, and Graphic Novels site once it is up!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Graphic Novel Reporter Updates!

Too much great stuff to mention, including some awesome creator interviews! Visit now! :)

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Two New Must-Reads: A "Quick-Hits" Review

I've just completed two new graphic novels, Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli and Bayou Volume 1 by Jeremy Love. The former is about a professor of architecture who must move beyond his binary ways of thinking to become a whole person, which means reconnecting with the common folk and with his former lover. The latter is being described as a Southern fairy tale.

Both are great reads that are garnering great reviews, and they're both titles that I highly recommend. Asterios Polyp is for mature audiences and is intellectually heady, while high schoolers and onwards should enjoy Bayou, which started out (and continues) as a web comic through DC's Zuda line.

Bayou has won several Glyph awards for excellence in comics among black creators, and Asterios Polyp is a sure award-winner in the making. While I loved Bayou and will read subsequent volumes of the story as they are released in trade form (though I may not follow the strip in its web comic form at zudacomics.com), Asterios Polyp may just be one the best graphic novels ever published.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Old Story about Teacher using Mickey Mouse as Part of Evolution Debate

Thanks to R. Petersen for bringing this to my atention. Very cool science lesson explained here.

Ipod Comics and Cell Comics News

ICV2 reports that the new comics browser from Comixology is the #1 app at the iTunes store. ICV2 also reports that Manga delivered to cell phones accounts for almost $350 million dollars in sales in Japan.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Op-Ed on Girls and Super-Heroines

A mother ruminates on her daughter's desire to connect with super-powered women.

Comics in the College-Level Intensive Writing Course

As part of its most recent updates, Graphic Novel Reporter features an op-ed from a college lecturer at CSU-East Bay who uses comics in her intensive writing course, what some might remember as "remedial writing." Comics as composition? A great idea, of course!