A Public Service Announcement! ;)

A Public Service Announcement! ;)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

_SANE journal_ Moving Closer to Reality!

I have a hosting agency, a domain name, and some general information about the scopes and aims of the journal now available to the general public. For a sneak peak of the journal as I develop it piece by peice, visit http://www.sanejournal.net.

Next up, getting the editorial review boards together and sending out the first CFP's. This is going to be an organic process, but I think it will be a successful one.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"Kids Today" Cartoon: Discuss Among Yourselves

Want more? See this text. Cartoon by James Bucky Carter and Erik A. Evensen

Monday, January 25, 2010

News From the Comic Book Project

Press Release from the Center for Educational Pathways, headed in part by our good colleague Dr. Michael Bitz (my bold):

The results are in! According to an independent study conducted for the US Department of Education, students across Imperial County, California participated in the Comic Book Project and, as a result, demonstrated significant gains in their English language arts performance. After extensive professional development, classroom teachers engaged students in creating and publishing comics in content area subjects ranging from the Civil War to the water cycle. See excerpts from the students' comics and watch a video about the Imperial County project (bottom right of page in videos section--scroll to USA Project-Comic Books). For more about the Comic Book Project, visit the project website.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

"Hablando de Comics con Dr. Carter"

Today I had the pleasure of videoconferencing with several comics artists at the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The artists will soon be making comics for the people of Mexico and asked me to speak about the traditions associated with comic arts and social issues. We chatted for a full two hours, and I absolutely enjoyed my time with them.

Thanks to the artists, the consulate, and the folks at UTEP who helped set up the technology. And to the fine artists: Take pride in the work you will do and be the difference you want to see! Salud! :)

Friday, January 22, 2010

How You Know You Have Cool Colleagues

Diary -- I mean Journal! -- of a Wimpy Kid Movie Trailer Now Available

Fresh off the news that the Twilight graphic novel adaptation will have a initial print run of 350,000 comes info from another pop culture hit. The Beat has the video for Greg's movie debut. I, alas, am not cool enough to post it yet.

This all begs the question, "When will the Harry Potter comic book series be released?"

Me? I'm looking forward to Mark Millar's Kick Ass getting the film treatment, but that's probably because I could have played the main character back when I was in high school. Yep, I was that thin with hair that curly. For proof, see the images to the right, featuring Kick Ass's young star Dave Lizewski and a certain blogger's senior year photograph. Ah, if only I had Dave's lighting..... :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

New Books = No Excuses Anymore! (Quick Reviews of Two Salient New Texts)

With the publication of the Stephen Tabachnick-edited collection Teaching the Graphic Novel, teachers at the collegiate level have a vast array of strategies, ideas, philosophies and lenses regarding the critical viewing of graphica in the classroom. While the book features a wonderful cohesion in key concepts -- such as reveling in the ambiguities of form, terminology, and place so inherent in higher-order considerations of comics -- it also reveals that academics from various fields are studying comics. With a book like this available, there's no longer any excuse for a post-secondary educator to avoid accepting comics place in academe.

Katie Monnin's similarly titled single-authored Teaching Graphic Novels offers a complete and thorough deconstruction of how to study comics as comics and as literature. The various methods for viewing frames and exploring other elements of comics as text constitute a breakdown of the medium like no other text on the market geared towards secondary educators. "But I just don't understand the form!!" and "I just don't get comics and don't know how to teach their formal properties to my students so they can adequately read them" are now relegated to lame excuses, folks.

I have to admit, I'm a "part" of both books, which were published in the latter part of 2009. As some of my previous posts revealed, I have a chapter in the MLA book, and Katie was very kind to mention me as a mentor figure in the front matter of her book. I'm very proud to say I was able to give Katie a hug at this year's NCTE, where she hand-delivered a copy of the text to me, after seeing such a kind sentiment expressed. So, I may be guilty of bias, but it is very exciting to see texts filling in gaps such that the overall body of comics-and-literacy scholarship and research becomes more well-constructed bridge to learning than little islands of insight surrounded in between by vast oceans of disconnect.

I recommend both texts to anyone with an iota of curiosity regarding why all these teachers seem to be accepting a once maligned medium.

_A Comics Studies Reader_ Wins Rollins Award!

Jeet Heer and Kent Worcester's edited collection A Comics Studies Reader (UP Mississippi) was recently awarded the 2009 Peter C. Rollins award for best book on popular culture studies. The award is offered by the Southwest Texas Popular Culture Association.

I've read the book and think it will eventually become one of several texts from which scholars will build comics studies programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels in the United States. I can't recommend the book enough for those wanting to get a fairly thorough look at the many facets of comics scholarship. Combine it with The System of Comics, the recent edition of the journal English Language Notes (46.2), and MLA's just-released Teaching the Graphic Novel, and you've pretty much got the academic scene in comics (in post-secondary education, anyway) covered.

Hmm... maybe I should approach UP Mississippi about publishing something called The Comics and Literacy Reader. If you're reading, are you interested there in Jackson? :)

Monday, January 18, 2010

SANE journal Update

I mentioned a month or so ago that I'm working on starting an academic journal focusing exclusively on comics and education. Here's an update on my progress:

I've been talking with a high-end online academic publisher but recently discovered a much more affordable entry-level online academic publisher. I've also sent e-mails to several granting agencies and to a couple of university presses but still need to hear back. I'm also scheduling a meeting with my department chair soon to discuss the idea of the journal being sponsored by UTEP's English department. I don't necessarily need the department's sponsorship to get the journal started, but it could be a very nice thing for me and my institution, especially as UTEP moves towards what it is calling "tier one" status. I've been putting together lists of editorial board members and reviewers, making sure I have representatives strong in education research, practitioner work, and the various humanities. I am putting off actually contacting anyone on these lists yet, but that could happen as early as this week. I've got ideas for the first dozen or so issues too. I'm trying to decide if it is poor form to do a call for editorial/review board members and a call for papers for the first two issues within a few hours of one another (anybody?).

My goal here is to gather the best and most appropriate folks to be part of the editorial/review boards, meaning folks who have already proven themselves with publications about comics-and-literacy, (and I know many of these folks, if not most of them) but I have such a long list of folks whom I know who would love to submit work to such a journal and/or review articles for it, that I really think this could be a great opportunity for many, many people.

I'll keep you informed as more develops!

Graphic Novels Featuring African American Characters

My link to the Beat's link to Library Journal's link. Ain't bloggin' great? ;)

ALA Awards Show Recognition for Graphic Novels

The Beat has the scoop and the links.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

_Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics_ Debuts Soon!

Looks like other folks are getting in on this "we need more journals on comics and sequential art" argument. Routledge is publishing Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics twice a year starting in 2010.

Subscriptions are $45 a year and the editors are out of Manchester Metropolitan University in the U.K. Bart Beaty, Charles Hatfield, Mel Gibson, Joseph Witek, and Rob Weiner are on the review board, which is international.

The aims and scope of the journal suggest it will cover all aspects of comics and mentions being interdisciplinary, but education is not mentioned specifically as a particular interest of the journal (meaning I still have my niche market for SANE journal. Yay!)

I can't tell for sure if it is an ejournal or will be print-based (it may well be both), but it looks like a great new outlet for comics scholarship.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Graphic Novel Reporter Has Been Bringin' It

While I was traveling, GraphicNovelReporter.com kept working hard to bring the world comics-and-education-related journalistic goodness. To wit:

Allen Porter, a high school teacher in Michigan, discusses his recent "Graphic Novels as Literature" course at Skyline High. Dore Ripley from Cal State-East Bay talks more about using comics in her intensive writing courses. Sari Wilson is profiled for her work as a comics consultant and an education consultant. Uber-sessy librarian Jordan Boaz talks about the graphic novel workshops for teens at her Avondale, Arizona book-slinger's.

Good readin' all around!

MLA Rectifies Situation, Offers Apologies

I've always thought it is important to acknowledge when people "done good" as well as when they make mistakes. I just received an e-mail from a high-level MLA member (not sure they get any higher in the organization, actually) offering apologies for the mishandling of sending out contributor copies of Teaching the Graphic Novel.

I was impressed with the attention given to my sorry little complaint. It came from someone who certainly did not have to take responsibility for the snafu or even acknowledge that there was one.

Long story short, the attention given to the matter made me proud to be a member of the organization and happy with its upper-level leadership, and my copy is being sent via expedited mail. My hope is that similar treatment is being afforded to any other contributors who did not receive their copies when they should have as well.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

And Now, The Scariest GEE DEE Thing On Earth...

MLA is Messing with My Money and My Emotions

Is Laurie N. Taylor's chapter in MLA's recent publication Teaching the Graphic Novel going to help solidify her as a major presence in comics studies? Has Charles Hatfield started quoting from actual education and literacy professors' works to make his points about comics and education/literacy? Are many humanities professors in the edited collection doing the same, or simply using the "I said it, so that makes it so" mantra regarding pedagogy that so many in the humanities seem to accept as valid? How does my own piddly little chapter on teaching Watchmen stack up with the other chapters in this edited collection?

I'd love to tell you, but I can't.

Why? Because MLA decided not to complete its obligations to its contributors to this text right away, as is customary and considered professionally polite. Instead, MLA sent some contributors their copies of this text, as per contract obligations, but not others. There was such a back-order for the book, the organization decided to go with the money over their integrity, sending all available copies to those who paid for it BEFORE honoring their contracts to contributors.

This, in the academic world, is poor form. Contributors should get their copies BEFORE anyone else, or at least have their copies sent at the same time as orders begin being filled.
How did they choose who would get the copies and who would have to wait? Was it based alphabetically? By rank? By trying to decide who would balk at the notion least or who wouldn't have the balls to complain (see my previous post) at such an act? I will probably never know those answers, but I have to tell you, it has been a banner 18 months or so regarding me feeling disappointed in many of my professional organizations:

NCTE cancelled a contract for what would have been my second book. A keynote speaker at a CEE conference called for the removal of all visual aids in the English classroom. I have received peer evaluations from an IRA journal where the reviewers suggested I didn't tell them enough about my identity in the article, even though the journal's guidelines specifically call for removing all instances of one's identity. The same journals have been publishing articles on graphic novels, but my work hasn't been cited in any of them. I've received a vague, standard-issue rejection letter from an NCTE journal that claims to be peer reviewed but offered no specific evidence of being such in the letter I received.

And now this.

What's worse, MLA representatives have NO IDEA of when I will get my copies. Here I am, trying to put together my annual performance review, and I don't even have physical evidence of my chapter's inclusion. I do have a PDF copy of the page proofs and can show the online table of contents for the book, thank goodness. But, what if I was in a department that required physical evidence of the text? My performance review is due next week. I doubt I'll have my copy by then.

Some of you may not realize this, but sometimes professors get raises or merit pay increases based on the prestige and number of their publications per year. So, if I was in a department that needed physical evidence of my chapter's inclusion in the text, there is a strong possibility that I would not be able to get credit for this publication for this past year, the year of its appearance. That could theoretically mean I would not gain as high a merit score and therefor possibly not be rewarded with as high a pay increase as I could have been.

So, MLA could be messing with my money. And when you mess with my money, you mess with my emotions. (Biggie Smalls, right?)

One would think the Modern Language Association, comprised mostly of academics, would take such situations into account, especially since they were the ones who decided on the December 31, 2009 publication date.

I am incensed about their decision not to honor all contributor contracts at the same time. I'm angered that it was even considered as a viable option, that someone in the MLA thought that MLA was big enough that they didn't have to follow professional protocol or that they were powerful enough that members wouldn't dare complain.

(Again, to explain for some readers: Academics pretty much HAVE to be members of professional organizations. Not being involved suggests a lack of responsibility and presence within intellectual communities. Depending on one's field, one needs to be associated with certain organizations. On top of this, there is often the unstated notion that one needs to "be quiet until one is tenured" when it comes to wrongdoings within organizations. After all, the organizations you're a part of will probably host the members who will do your "outside evaluations" as a scholar that will determine if you're tenured.)

Thank goodness for CEE and ALAN, organizations with which I've had no major frustrations since becoming a member.

Before ending this rant, I do want to make it clear that the contributors and editor of Teaching the Graphic Novel were not responsible for this poorly thought-out decision. Further, I am in full control of my faculties and know there's the possibility of professional fall-out from posting something like this. Frankly, if the profession's organizations can't do better, I'm not sure if I need to be involved in them at all. I have my goals: have an impact on my field (check. Education scholars almost have to acknowledge graphic novels now, partly due to my efforts), and help prepare the best future English teachers I possibly can (in progress). But, as a nontenured professor, it doesn't feel like I have much voice in how certain decisions are made -- except through my blog -- for now.