A Public Service Announcement! ;)

A Public Service Announcement! ;)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

IRA Pre-Conference Institute, We Hardly Knew Ye

This April 25, there was supposed to be an all-day preconference institute on the graphic novel at the International Reading Association's conference in Chicago, IL. Katie Monnin organized the event, which featured many leading figures in comics-and-literacy scholarship, such as Michael Bitz, Katie, yours truly, and others, as well as actual comics creators/graphic novelists and leaders from the publishing field.

Alas, after almost all arrangements were made, including flights and hotel room bookings, we received word that the event was cancelled. (Thank goodness I was able to cancel my room reservations without penalty and my university was able to eat the cost of the plane ticket. Others might not have been so lucky).The reason given was low numbers of folks registering.

Only a sign of the economy, something more, or a combination of factors? Who is to say?

I'm sure there will be folks at IRA talking about graphic novels. I hope they enjoy being the representative experts, as I'm sure they will have great things to say and will give wonderful presentations, but nothing on the program regarding the topic could have equalled the combined knowledge and interests of the group Katie assembled. It's a missed opportunity not just for the presenters, but for IRA and its audience at the conference.

Of course, IRA is a selective group (I say everything herein as a current member) , and there seem to be channels to make sure things happen within its influence (this selectivity as it pertains to comics and literacy, might be observed by looking at the works cited lists of the articles on graphic novels that have appeared in JAAL over the last eight months or so. Got some time? Look at the names that are cited over and over, and also apply your knowledge of the arguments being made regarding comics and literacy and who all are making them, and compare who is being noted and who isn't). Perhaps those of us involved just didn't know how to best utilize those channels.

BUT, I can tell you the institute is not dead yet. Not its mission , members, and desires, anyway. Simply reformed. Some members will be at the convention in other capacities. And other plans to keep the collection of talent together to make their points and share their expertise are afoot. More as more develops!

(Picture: According to this paperwork from IRA, which arrived in my mailbox the day after I received the news that the pre-conference session was cancelled, I'm all good to go for my trip to Chicago, where I would have joined perhaps the best single group of comics and literacy scholars ever assembled in one place)

Monday, March 29, 2010

TOON Books Launches Revolutionary iPhone Application!

Press Release:

NEW YORK, March 29, 2010 – TOON Books is pleased to announce the release of the second of its comics for beginning readers iPhone application. Parents and children can enjoy award-winning books anywhere with the convenience of an iPhone or iPod touch.

Available for $2.99 at the iPhone App Store, the first iphone TOON Book immediately broke into the top 100. Parents can entertain and educate children with easy-to-read comics. Kids can immerse themselves with words and images while waiting at the grocery store, restaurant or airport.

(image created using Photoshop)

Titles currently available are Jack and the Box by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Art Spiegelman and Little Mouse Gets Ready, a Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Honor book, by Jeff Smith, author of Bone. “Comics for the Jet Age! It’s exciting to see little mouse available on a new digital platform,” said Smith. Other TOON books will be offered soon.

Unique features of the TOON Books iPhone app include:
• Authors read their work. Children can hear the authors’ voices and see their drawings.
• Designed specifically for young readers to easily use, the pages can be turned automatically or manually.
• Onscreen text and highlighted speech balloons help readers make associations between the words they hear and see. It is the closest experience to being read a book that any app can deliver. As with all TOON Books, repeated use builds reading fluency.
• Narration is available in five languages - English, Spanish, French, Russian and Mandarin Chinese.

“The app takes full advantage of its electronic medium by introducing young readers to other languages,” says Art Spiegelman.




This is a collaboration between TOON Books and iStoryTime, a publisher of children’s storybooks for the iPhone. iStoryTime has the largest library of illustrated and narrated children’s books for the phone. iStoryTime books are available in the iPhone App Store in 80 countries.

Editorial Director Francoise Mouly (also Art Editor of The New Yorker) received overwhelming praise for the TOON Books collection, launched in Spring 2008. Vetted by educators and librarians, the books are now used in many K-4 classrooms and are the cornerstone of TOON in… A Comics in the Schools Initiative presented in partnership with the NYC School Library System.

For more information and to see our FREE, LITERARY, ONLINE TOOLS FOR KIDS, please visit: http://www.toon-books.com

The Beat Posts on Boys and Literacy

Got quotes and everything. Neat article exploring gender, gendered readings, boys, literacy, and how comics should/shouldn't fit in with those constructd.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sequential Tart Interviews Author of _Road To God Knows_

Von Allan is interviewed regarding her new graphic novel featuring a teenage girl coping with being an adolescent while also having a mother struggling with schizophrenia.

Originally published as a webcomic at http://www.girlamatic.com/, Road to God Knows is now available in print.

I'm glad Sequential Tart covered this text, which seems to be flying under the radar but could become an important book in young adult literature circles.

Review: _Resistance Book 1_

Having just been less than kind to Jane Yolen's own graphic novel effort, I find her appraisal of Carla Jablonksi and Leland Purvis' Resistance right-on: "A forceful reminder of both the broad horrors and the small braveries of that period of history, things we should never forget."

Resistance is the story of how pre-adolescents Paul and Marie Tessier come to join their Vichey, France-based family and friends in subverting the efforts of the occupying German army. Paul uses his artistic talent to send messages to others in Paris; Marie uses her ability to memorize (toe-the-line literacy supporters rejoice. But, then again, such folks are probably least likely to accept a graphic novel as good reading material anyway, right?) to interpret crytpics. Their older sister uses her feminine wiles to distract soldiers and hide papers. The kids are able to join their Jewish friend Henri with his parents in Paris, but their success seem small in sight of growing threats.

The well-established novelist Jablonksi and the respected comics artist Purvis, rightly considered co-authors of the text, appear to work well together to integrate plot and symbolic elements. The use of Paul's art as multilayered metatexts (actual images within panels; Paul's drawings of those images -- as drawings -- overlapping the actual images, and the reader seeing the signs as multiple as they read) reveals the complex reader response relationships inherent in graphica that the best comics artists easily manipulate. As well, the severity of the situations of the characters makes caring for them quick and easy, allowing for a fast-paced, deep, but still economic story development.

Further, it is nice to see more sequential art narratives on the Holocaust examining "other" sides of the equation, not just "War-Mongering Germans vs. Hapless Jews." I recently read an article about movies like Inglorious Bastards and books that are revealing a new version of Jewish identity, especially Jewish male identity. As well, graphic novels like the Barefoot Gen series and A Family Secret and The Arrival inform readers about how the war affected different nations and hemispheres as well as more various populations than we often consider in our study of this bleak period of human history.

Resistance fits well with the texts mentioned above, and in terms of quality, would be near the top (but not quite so near The Book Thief). Apparently there are more volumes to come, as this text was published as Book 1. I hope Jablonski and Purvis can keep up thier mojo in future continuations of the story, and perhaps one day we'll be looking at a tome-sized version of Resistance like we do the collected Maus.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Review: Jane Yolen's _Foiled_

Jane Yolen's new graphic novel Foiled is about a teenage girl who is a skilled fencer (not the Tom Sawyer kind; the kind with swords, or weapons, as they're called in the text) and uses her knowledge of parrying and thrusting to explain her relationship with a certain young boy. Sounds hot and heavy, but it isn't.

The story is basically a jumble of mixed metaphors and underdevelopment of everything, with some bad magic thrown in that conveniently develops in the third quarter of the book when the main character puts on her fencing mask -- something she's done thousands of times before with no wizards or trolls -- in Grand Central Station while waiting on a date.

I will say I admire the effort. Certainly Yolen has proved herself a capable writer in other forms. This one, to continue the fencing language, simply misses the mark. What it reveals to me is that while it is great to see writers in other genres or mediums, not all of them will have smash hit-level successes with their efforts. I actually see this as a compelling actuality, in that it shows how difficult it is to create an exemplary graphic narrative. Not every author from other forms will be able to make a coherent story or work with an artist (not an illustrator, as Mike Cavallaro is called on the book's cover) such that what needs to be said is fully said and what needs to be conveyed through images is what gets conveyed as such.

When otherwise skilled writers struggle to do well and have their struggling efforts published in sequential art narrative, I celebrate the effort and the affects: helping us all see how complex and difficult comics can be, and thereby engendering more respect for those who do them well.

So, while not a great read or an inspirational graphic novel, I can't say Foiled should remain shrinkwrapped.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Twilight GN Breaking Records, According to Publisher

Swiped from The Beat:

Via PR, The Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Volume 1 (The Twilight Saga) adaptation released last week sold over 66,000 copies, which publisher Yen Press claims is a record for single week GN sales in the US. The sales success comes in the face of generally bad reviews from the comics press, especially for the bizarro lettering. Yet despite these flaws, the target audience....

Click this post's title to link to the full story, with comments!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Katie Monnin's Teaching Graphic Novels in the Secondary Classrooms Nominated for Foreward Magazine's 2010 Book of the Year in Education

You go, Katie!

Michele Gorman Profiled at GNR

Graphic Novel Reporter has an OP-Ed up by Michele Gorman, a Charlotte, North Carolina-based (if only I'd known!) librarian who has been working with graphic novels for years. I'm super-excited to see her get some recognition, as her book Getting Graphic!: Using Graphic Novels to Promote Literacy with Preteens and Teens, was one of the very first resources I learned about when starting my graphic novels-and-education love fest.

Alas, she and I seem to be in the boat of good works on comics and education that continually go uncited, but perhaps this write-up will get her more of the attention she deserves.

Ball State To Honor Jim Davis

Garfield's creator is getting some love from his hometown university. Also, if you're not familiar with Professor Garfield, you're missing out on some great comics-and-education applications joining BSU and everyone's lovable orange feline.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Scholastic to Publish GN with 1 Million Copy Initial Print Run!

That's a one with six zeros behind it, folks. "Scholastic is planning a million-copy first printing of the first Captain Underpants graphic novel," says the article, available b y clicking the title of this post.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

ICV2 Reveals Top Ten Kids Graphic Novel Properties for 2009

Neat list. Glad to see Bone making the top 10. If you want to visit the main site, they also have a list of top 10 super-hero properties for 2009.

Ooligan Press's Classroom Publishing Guide Available!

Ooligan Press has released Classroom Publishing: A Practical Guide for Teachers, 2nd edition. The main website can be accessed in this post's title, and the press has a title-specific blog here.

What's this have to do with comics and education? My past exploits as a secondary teacher are detailed along with many other familiar names. My section deals with making and publishing comics, of course. :)
I have an advance copy, and I have to say, while I was a little dubious when I was being interviewed for the project a while back, I really do think the book is a good resource for current and future teachers. I'm thinking about adding it to some of my classes and suggesting it to colleagues. It is thorough, chocked-full of real-life examples, and takes on a broad definition of publishing appropriate to "best practice" thinking.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Kids' Graphic Novel Section at Alameda Free Library Gains Attention from ICV2

Swiped from the article (Click the title to this post to go to the rest of the story):

When we saw a picture of the new children’s graphic novel collection at the Alameda Free Library in Alameda, California in a tweet from Supervising Children’s Librarian (and ICv2 reviewier) Eva Volin, it looked to us like the kind of place where new comic readers were being created on a regular basis. We were intrigued and asked for more information. Here are Volin’s answers, giving some great info on the kids’ graphic novel collection and how it’s developed....

Friday, March 12, 2010

In Homage to the Spurge: If I Were in Arkansas....

I might go to this:

1st Annual Comic Expo. “Comics On the Wall” April 1st- 3rd 2010

According to Robert N. O'Nale, Jr, this "is a Comic-Con type event to be held at the Artchurch Studio, Hot Springs National Park urban arts studio and gallery on April 1-3- and sponsored partially by Hot Springs High School and Henderson state University."

He continues, "This event is geared primarily for educators and students, but does have some open-to-the-public events such as gallery showings at the Downtown Gallery Walk the evening of Friday, April 2. I'll be delivering a history of comics lecture that day as well--no word on whether this lecture is open to the public or if registration is required."

"TO TEACH" Being adapted into Graphic Format

Italics swiped from The Beat (link embedded in post's title):

Before he was a polarizing figure in the 2008 US presidential election. Professor William Ayers was also a respected educational figure with many books to his credit. Now he’s bringing his thoughts on the teaching life to comics with a graphic novel adaptation of TO TEACH: THE JOURNEY, IN COMICS, illustrated by Xeric Grant winner Ryan Alexander-Tanner.

Next on my wish-list of comic book adaptations of teacherly texts:
* Savage Inequalities
* Ghetto Schooling

* Basics of Qualitative Research

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Graphic Novel

Yes, this exists. Graphica adaptations of contemporary texts is the new "thing" right now. Still no word on when the Harry Potter comic books series will debut.......

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Teaser: You'll Never Even Know It When it Hits You....

But when it hits you, it will knock you on your arse!

Hint: This Trans-Phat can be good for you.

Graphic Novel Reporter Updates

Some intriguing stuff in this week's edition:

* A roundtable discussion on black issues and comics
* News that the Los Angeles Times has added a graphic novel category to their Book Prizes.
* Lisa Coxson teaches comics to ninth-graders in the Bronx.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

And the Congregation said "Amen!": The Spurge weighs in on Equating All Comics with Super-Hero Comics

Kudos to Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon for taking to task a blogger's perhaps well-intentioned post of the most important "gay moments" in comics. The problem? Every single entry came from super hero comics. Spurge's complaint, and a pet peeve of mine as well? The embedded assumption from the writer that super hero comics are the only genre that count, if not the only genre that exists.

Spurgeon calls for a a simple solution: If you're doing best-of lists or articles that focus solely on super hero-genred comics, say so.


Friday, March 05, 2010

Barn Stomin', Award-winning Goodness!

Matt Phelan's The Storm in the Barn has been awarded the 2010 Scott O'Dell Award for nonfiction. Yay GN's!

Below is a trailer for the book. I'd be happy to review it if anyone wanted to send me a copy, cough cough.

Graphic Novels on Tap for Ya Lit Course This Summer

I'm mixing it up this summer by adding different titles to my typical reading list in YA Lit. American Born Chinese is still on the list, but now so are the Twilight Graphic Novel and Bayou, volume 1. The first new title will allow me to discuss two or three phenomenons at once (the graphic novel, the vampire craze in pop culture, and the Twilight hysteria) and the latter will help me mix up my selections of graphic novels and African American literature. I'm looking forward to teaching these books along with 11 more traditional print-based books during first session this summer.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010



Hey, I'm a native North Carolinian. Loving good college basketball is in my blood. Also congrats to my Western Carolina University Catamounts on a 20+ win season there in cozy Cullowhee!

_Zig and Wikki_ Passes the Son Test

TOON BOOKS' latest hardbound kids comic comes from Nadja Spiegelman (yes, that Nadja Spiegelman!) and Trade Loeffler and is the tale of two aliens on a mission to complete a late homework assignment when they discover a big ol' ball of blue called Earth. Wikki, a walking database, helps Zig learn about native wildlife as the two try to capture a species for class.

I have trouble evaluating TOON BOOKS' titles because I've never taught elementary school and don't really see myself as good with gauging the interests of kids under ten.
Luckily, my oldest son is just shy of 4, and his reactions to the texts typically tell me all I need to know since the goal of the company is to get young gals and guys interested in comics texts and in reading in general.

While my son was not as riveted with this text as he was with Little Mouse (but, to be fair, that book talks about underwear, a topic of absence in the Spiegelman and Loefller collaboration), I've never heard him guffaw with laughter quite like he did with this book. He loved the chase scenes and all the different animals. He also asked questions about the animals the two main characters chased. Each animal was one step up in the food chain, and he seemed to make the connection enough to ask why one critter was trying to eat the other. So, he was actively engaged with the text and clearly interested. I'd say that signifies "mission accomplished."

I asked him to tell me if he liked it outright, but he just looked at me wide-eyed and put his finger over his lips as if to say, "I'll never tell!" This leads me to believe that he may be on to the Son Test.

After all, most of these TOON BOOKS have a similar look. Perhaps he knows what's coming. I can't read his mind, but I'd say that means to him that when daddy brings home a thin hardbound comic, it means he's in for a good time and a good read.