A Public Service Announcement! ;)

A Public Service Announcement! ;)

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.