A Public Service Announcement! ;)

A Public Service Announcement! ;)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wertham's Papers Soon to Go Public, But What Will it Mean?

Profiling the Best Women Comics Creators of the Contemporary Moment

Thanks for drawing this to my attention, Spurge!

1 in 4 Comics Readers is a Senior Citizen

One of the prevailing myths I often hear from academics/educators who study comics is that teachers need to be careful not to co-opt this form of literature from their students. The assumption is that comics reading is the domain of youth culture rather than pop culture, that comics "belong" to kids rather than to everyone.

The truth is that for a few decades now, the average age of the comics reader has been rising. Many feel that 40 year old men have made up the bulk of comics readership for the last twenty years. And, of course, there's that fact that in comics' heyday, almost everyone read comics. In other cultures, sequential art is enjoyed by multiple segments of the population as well.

To further attempt halting the concept of comics as youth culture, consider that Simba Publishing just releases a report stating that 1 in 4 comics readers is over 65 years old.

As the press release reads, "Despite notable efforts from many in the industry, comics and graphic novels continue to be repeatedly mislabeled as just another children’s book category,” said Warren Pawlowski, online publishing manager for Simba Information and an analyst within the company’s Trade Books Group. “With nearly a quarter of the comic reading audience beyond the age of retirement, there is a misconception that needs to be corrected.”

Yep. Or should I say, Yessiree! Also see here for a broader overview of the comics and GN market. If you have the Benjamins, that is! (You'll see what I mean)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

6 of 10 Most Challenges Graphic Novels Covered in *Rationales for Teaching Graphic Novels*

According to ICV2 and The Huffington Post, the ALA has released a list of graphic novels most often challenged (defined as an effort to remove the book from a certain location and audience). I'm unsure what period of time the ALA is covering in this list.

Click the title of this post to see the list, but also know that 6 of the 10 titles have rationales in the upcoming Maupin House release Rationales for Teaching Graphic Novels.

Hopefully these rationales -- statements of the content, possible concerns, and pedagogical potentials of specific texts -- will help people keep apparently oft-challenged graphic novels Blankets, Fun Home, Maus, Bone, Pride of Baghdad, and Watchmen on shelves and in readers' hands.

Another title mentioned is Absolute Sandman, and while R4TGN doesn't cover that edition, it does feature a rationale for one of the smaller Sandman graphic novels. So, that's sort of 7 of ten, if you think about it.

Great Article on Muslims in Comics

Indoctrination and Religion vs. Tolerance and Education. Notions of "super" powers. The 99 and Silver Scorpion. This post from The Beat has a little of everything.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Comics., Libraries, and Columbia University

Karen Green, research librarian, "set up the first university-based graphic novels and comic book collection in the city. New York University has since established its own." Green also writes the "Comic Adventures in Academia" column for Comixology.

I Hear this Comic is Going to Zuck...

BlueWater: If you use the right brand, it's what your toilet is full of.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Banned Books, Bone and Bayou

This week is Banned Books Week, a celebration of the freedom to read for all people of all ages.

This year it comes at a pertinent time, as Missouri State University professor W. Scoggins has recently called Laurie Halse Anderson's important YA novel Speak soft-core porn because of its depiction of rape and disapproves of the book being read and even sold.

Luckily, the YA community has responded loudly in favor of the book, though, who can say for sure if their efforts will help keep Speak on bookshelves?

Recent efforts by teachers, teacher educators, and organizations like NCTE, the National Coalition Against Censorship, the ALA, and the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression weren't enough to keep Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian from being banned in Stockton, Missouri, just a little ways up the road from Springfield and MSU, after all.

I'll be discussing censorship with my YA Lit class this week, which will read Last Night I Sang to the Monster for Wednesday and will read Speak in a few weeks as well, and I've joined Speakloudly.org, but I am ashamed to say I did little to help the cause of Part-Time Indian, which contains some sections of comics art.
However, for 108 other graphic novels, I can say I and a crew of dedicated teachers and professors have done something to help teachers keep graphica from suffering a similar fate:

Enter Rationales for Teaching Graphic Novels, a CD-Rom packed with statements on the content and teaching value of over 100 graphic novels. Each rationale also includes teaching ideas for each text.

While this most recent spate of censorship has glossed over 100% comics art texts (so far), comics have had some pretty high-profile censorship cases lately as well. A district in Minnesota considered having a volume of Jeff Smith's Bone removed after a parent complained. The text had advocates on site and used letters from me and Jeff Smith himself to come to a 10-1 decision to keep the book. Even lovable Spider-Man has been censored lately, based on a Nebraska-based parent complaint that the book was too sexy for her elementary school student.

Further, comics and graphic novels that are facing bans or censorship don't always make it onto NCTE or ALA's radar like traditional print texts do. So, they're often on their own unless a busy-body professor (like me) or a conscientious creator like Smith reaches out.

I hope that Rationales for Teaching Graphic Novels remedies that to some degree. Each rationale offers not only summary information and teaching resources and ideas, but is very explicit about anything that may be considered objectionable while also explaining why those elements might be in the text. The rationales can be used to help assuage the anxieties of other teachers, administrators or parents and can even be used as contracts that parents and students can sign off on to offer evidence of being OK with a specific graphic novel's use.
Titles covered include classics like Maus, Persepolis, and American Born Chinese as well as just-released books. A variety of genres are covered, from superhero to memoir, and contributors include teacher educators who have previously published on comics and literacy connections and practicing k-12 teachers.

In celebration of the right to read and Rationales for Teaching Graphic Novel's deep connection to issues of readers' choice and anti-censorship agenda, I am pleased to share with you two sample rationales:
Click here for a rationale of Jeff Smith's Bone series and for a rationale for the first installment of one of my favorite contemporary comics sagas, Jeremy Love's Southern Gothic Bayou.
Rationales for Teaching Graphic Novels is available for pre-order from Maupin House now.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Texas Tech Professor Rob Weiner Talks Comics, Libraries, and Catalogues

Rob Weiner, my Lone State State colleague at TTU, and author of Graphic Novels and Comics in Libraries and Archives, speaks with Graphic Novel Reporter about comics in libraries and how to get them well-situated on the shelves and in readers' hands.

Weiner might just be the best thing to come out of Lubbock since Mike Leach. Give the article a read via clicking the title of this post!

GNR Synthesizes NCTE 2010's GN-related Programming

Click this post's title to see a brief rundown the graphic novels-related programming taking place at NCTE in Orlando this November.

Interesting, that one with the description about graphica's "abstract

Sometimes the level of "literal want" from teachers can be frustrating, i.e. sometimes some educators seem to think that things that aren't spelled out for them 100% and might require them to use a little bit of their own knowledge and creativity aren't worthwhile.

It's like the system has sucked out so much of their independence and creative thought that they've become programmable robots.

The "I'm busy! I need it all spelled out for me!" argument -- I'm sympathetic to it because I know teachers are asked to be so many things, but I'm angry at it when I see teachers acting like they have the inability to synthesize, evaluate and construct novel ideas based on a set of basic or broad premises. I'm downright heartbroken when I realize some of them probably don't have those abilities, or they had them once but have had them slowly wither like a dying limb on a tree otherwise completely capable of sustaining life and real living.

Anyway, I should point out that I'm pontificating based on a phrase, not actually seeing the presentation that used it, which I'm sure will be awesome.

Please do check out these GN-centric sessions at NCTE!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

CD Cover for Rationales for Teaching Graphic Novels is Here!

And Now a Little Midwest Flavah: Jose G.

Centerstage has posted a cool interview with Chicago South Sider and cartoonist Jose Garibaldi. Click this post's title for the read. (Thanks to MH for the link!)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

Disk Art for _Super-Powered Word Study!_

Not only does Super-Powered Word Study bring you 160 pages of comics and vocabulary goodness, but it has a special DVD software package as well! Here's the disk art:

Matt Fraction Wins a PEN USA Literary Award

Marvel writer Matt Fraction is the first comics author to win a PEN USA Literary Award. He wins for "Graphic Literature" and will forever be the first to do so, since 2010 is the first year these awards have been given from the center which strives to "stimulate and maintain interest in the written word, to foster a vital literary culture, and to defend freedom of expression domestically and internationally."

Congrats, Matt Fraction!


MakeBeliefsComix.com is sponsoring a comic strip contest as part of its efforts to encourage students enrolled in literacy and English as Second Language programs to develop their language, writing and reading skills.

Each month students can submit by email their best comics created at the free online comic strip generator. Comics can be on any theme the student chooses. A selection will be posted periodically on the MakeBeliefsComix Facebook Wall and the winner of the best comic will receive a free book written by Bill Zimmerman, the creator of MakeBeliefsComix.com.

His books are used by educators to help students discover their writers’ voices and express what’s hidden within them. They include: MakeBeliefs: A Gift for Your Imagination; Pocket Doodles for Young Artists and Your Life in Comics: 100 Things for Guys to Write and Draw.

Contest rules: Classroom collaborative and individual submissions are encouraged each month. Books can be delivered to U.S. addresses only and winners will be notified via email. Winners under the age of 16 will be required to have an adult in the family or school provide the address for book delivery.

Comic strips created on the site should be sent to WmZ@aol.com, the email address of Bill Zimmerman. (For more information, go to: http://www.makebeliefscomix.com/Comix/MakeBeliefsComix_on_Facebook.php)

Since MakeBeliefsComix.com was launched four years ago, over 2 million people from 175 countries have visited this free educational resource. Google and UNESCO named MakeBeliefsComix as among the world's most innovative web sites that encourage reading and literacy, and Parents' Choice Foundation gave it the Recommended Award.

This year the American Library Association selected MakeBeliefsComix for its annual ‘’Great Web Sites for Kids ’’ listing. The site offers 80 different characters, blank talk and thought balloons to be filled in with text, story prompts and printables, and accepts text in English, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese and Latin. Comics created can be printed and emailed.

The educational online comic strip site also has added another feature that enables users to post their comic strips on their very own Facebook walls to share with friends and family.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Reason 1002 Why You Should Listen to Me When I Talk About Comics and Literacy: I'm Tight with D. Vader

That's what we close friends get to call him, anyway. :)

Neil Gaiman To Appear on Cartoon Arthur

Arthur is a kid-centric yet edgy PBS cartoon that promotes everything from good manners to literacy to understanding and valuing diversity. It's great to know that comics/print superstar Neil Gaiman will make an appearance on the show soon. Maybe we'll see Buster dressed up as Sandman? DW as Death?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

2010 Lulu Nominees Annouced

Friends of Lulu, on the brink of extinction earlier this year, has rallied and posted its 2010 nominees for works for, by, or about women.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Vancouver Sun Reports that Bill Vander Zalm Learned to Read Through Comics

From the article, which also mentions Michael Bitz:

Archie, Donald Duck and Superman opened the doors to a language and a culture the young boy, who emigrated from the Netherlands after the Second World War, knew nothing about.

“Comic books were a way of escaping into another world, like TV,” said Vander Zalm.

“They helped me learn to communicate and to make friends. Those were big things.”

Vander Zalm is a former premier in Canada.

2010 Ignatz Winners!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Law and Comics Exhibit at Yale

Lawyers and Super-heroes have to be connected since heroes always triumph over the scum of the earth, right? I know, that was a cheap shot. I should have told the joke about the lion who ate the lawyer instead.. ;)

Anyway, check out this neat show that explores the interconnectivity of law and comics, comics and law.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Jaime Portillo Debuts New Project at EPCON 2010!

Xeric Award-winning local comics writer Jaime "Jimmy" Portillo's new series, HELL PASO: THE STORY OF DALLAS STOUDENMIRE premieres this Saturday at EPCON!

Look for Portillo on Channel 7 today on the afternoon show with Stephanie Valle.

Read his interview in What's Up magazine too!

What I love about Jaime's innovative work is that he is using the comics medium to preserve local Borderland folklore. He ads his own spin to each myth, of course, which connects his efforts with the tradition of storytelling and adding and subtracting to folk legends, and he's not afraid to slide in some social commentary, which ties him to other comics creators in the region as well.

I've always had a soft spot for local color literature and for folklore, so Jaime Portillo's stuff is just the right Hell-fire hot cup of tea for me!

First-Ever EPCON This Weekend!!!

My friend Julian Lawler has been working his arse off to make this weekend's EPCON event a success. He's been all over the place advertising this inaugural Comic Con for the Sun City, which will feature pretty much all of El Paso and Juarez's comics community and many, many other gamer-, cosplay-, fantasy-., sci-fi-, horror-related organizations.

I'll be moderating some panel discussions on Saturday and can't wait to see the crowd and all the creators.

Come see Julian Lawler and his Broken Tree Comics line of books and creators; 656 and Adversary Comix; Jimmy Portillo of Jimmy Daze Comics; Brett Booth, Jaime Carrillo, Martin Montiel, Eric Basaldua, and guest of honor Joe Benitez!

And, as the saying goes, SO! MUCH! MORE!

It's history in the making, so if you're in the area, please stop by EPCON and join the party!

From the El Paso Times:

Make plans
What: El Paso Comic Con.
When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Where: Wyndham Airport Inn, 2027 Airway.
How much: $15 for one day, $25 for both days, at the door. $5 discount for active-duty military; free for children 10 and younger.
Sponsors: The event is organized by El Paso's Broken Tree Comics with sponsorship help from Bersal's Chop of Horrors, Beanie Planet, Agent of Chaos Productions and HappiRobot.
Information: www.ep-con.com.Schedule highlights
Saturday: Panel discussions, artist talks and question-and-answer sessions moderated by UTEP professor James Bucky Carter.
Sunday: Yu-Gi-Oh card game tournaments.
Both days: Belly dance troupes; vintage horror movie screenings; appearances by the 501st Legion, a costumed "Star Wars" troupe; costume contests; bands each evening at the hotel.
What else: Club 101, 1148 Airway, will host the official after-party at 8 p.m. Saturday on its second floor.

GNR Posts Slew of Updates!

Graphic Novel Reporter continues its excellent work! This week they have creator interviews with Belle Yang and Audrey Niffenegger; our friend John C. Weaver reports on his vbisit to Baltimore Comic-Con; and there's a feature on GRN's "Core List of Manga for Teens."

Since I'm not really Manga-informed, I'm especially excited to see that list!

And there's so much more! Visit http://www.graphicnovelreporter.com now!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Breaking News: TOON Books Pairs with Candlewick Press

Press Release:

Hello from TOON Books!

We are very excited to announce a momentous step for TOON Books: our new partnership with Candlewick Press. As of October 1, 2010, TOON Books will operate as an imprint of Candlewick Press, and our award-winning titles will be distributed by Candlewick and the Random House network.

Candlewick will bring on board TOON's acclaimed backlist, including 2010 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner Benny and Penny in the Big No-No! by Geoffrey Hayes; two Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Books: Little Mouse Gets Ready by Jeff Smith and Stinky by Eleanor Davis; and eight additional TOON Books favorites.

The new imprint will publish four to five new titles each year. In spring 2011, TOON will release Silly Lilly in What Will I Be Today? by Agnès Rosenstiehl, and Patrick in A Teddy Bear’s Picnic and Other Stories by Geoffrey Hayes.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Candlewick, which is renowned for its passion for publishing only outstanding art and text,” said Françoise Mouly, publisher and editorial director of TOON Books.

“TOON Books’ radical approach, putting to use all the sophisticated tools one can find in good comics to hook kids on reading, could only find support at a house that is as daring and comfortable in its own groundbreaking track record as Candlewick is. Joining forces, we will publish the new classics, the visually literate books that will tickle the fancy of, delight, inspire, and inform the children of the twenty-first century.”

Of the new imprint, Candlewick’s senior vice president of sales, John Mendelson, said, “Since its founding in the fall of 2008, we have admired TOON Books and how the list has been received by booksellers, librarians, and teachers. TOON’s mission to get kids reading through the accessible vernacular of comics paired with Candlewick’s deep sales and marketing relationships within the children’s books community will bring a renewed focus to the imprint in the both the retail and school and library channels.”

Françoise Mouly launched TOON Books in spring 2008. She is the art editor of The New Yorker, as well as the publisher and editorial director of RAW Junior, the childrens' book branch of RAW Books & Graphics. The TOON Books, which are leveled books for emerging readers, are vetted by educators. The books feature original stories and characters created by veteran children’s book authors, renowned cartoonists, and new talents.

Candlewick Press is an independent, employee-owned publisher based in Somerville, Massachusetts. Candlewick publishes outstanding children’s books for readers of all ages; including books by award-winning authors Kate DiCamillo, M. T. Anderson, and Laura Amy Schlitz; the widely acclaimed 'Ologies and Judy Moody series; and favorites such as the Where's Waldo? and Maisy books. Candlewick's parent company is Walker Books Ltd., of London with additional offices in Sydney and Auckland.

GNR Profiles Todd Kent

From their intro:

"Kent is a writer and filmmaker from Dallas whose latest project is the documentary Comic Book Literacy. The film explores how comics are utilized in the classroom and features interviews with several creators and comics readers discussing how comics promote a love of reading. Here, Todd talks about his love of comics."

Learn more by clicking the link embedded in this post's title.

Bill Zimmerman's _Your Life in Comics: 100 Things for Guys to Write and Draw_ Now Available!

Bill Zimmerman continues his quest to blend comics and literacy for the sake of youth everywhere. With this particular effort, he's targeting those reluctant or hard-to-inspire boys who have been at the center of many a blog post here lately.

"The book has pages of situations in which readers fill in the characters' thought and talk balloons and point of view. Other activities encourage boys to draw full pages of comic strips with help from word and picture prompts. The book is geared for reluctant writers ages 9-13 and is part of my body of work over the years to help young people find their writers' voices," says Zimmerman.

Click this post's title to see more and to print sample pages that you can use with your youngsters!
Seriously, the samples are pretty cool, and the price of the book is just right at under ten bucks!

The book can be ordered from Amazon.com or at www.barnesandnoble.com or directly from the publisher, Free Spirit Publishing, at www.freespirit.com or by calling their toll-free number: 1-800-735-7323.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Article on Reading Comics Aloud to Your Kids

Before my son was old enough to enjoy words and pictures, I always though it would be a little cheesy to read comics aloud to a group of students, but now that I routinely take on the voices of however many characters are in a panel of Brave and the Bold or Calvin and Hobbes, I'm not as opposed to the idea as I used to be. Indeed, I think it helps build literacy skills in beginnning and emergent readers by priming some interpretative and illustrative work in the wee ones' brians.

Peter Gutierrez has some reasons why it's a good idea over at Dr. Rick's Blog. Apparently this is the first article in a series Peter will be writing, so check in often.

(thanks to RM for drawing my attention to this story).

Tufts U Offering Course on Religion and the Graphic Novel

Article on R. Crumb's African Americans

With the release of Genesis, R. Crumb may be finding more folks beyond comics scholars willing to consider his work for classroom use. He's also done some short comics biographies of famous blues musicians that could make for interesting conversation in secondary music, history, or literature courses, for example.

However, his depiction of African Americans has been troubling at times. The article linked to in this post's title examines this issue.

"Get Your Hands Off My Pekar!"

Apparently Harvey Pekar's wife, Joyce Brabner, does not want some of his pending stories published if they include selections Harvey created with Tara Seibel, a situation allowing my inner 13 year old the chance to pen a post title.

Friday, September 03, 2010

School Library Journal Article Tackles Ways to Make Libraries More Boy-Friendly

Another article mentioning comics as a means of getting boys interested in reading and hanging out in places full of books.

It's interesting to note that there is a "boy crisis" in terms of literacy and libraries that some feel comics can help resolve, whereas in the industry, especially in the comics shop, there is a "girl crisis" regarding how to get female readers to feel comfortable in places full of comic books.

An analysis of the two arguments and their nuances would be highly intriguing and enlightening, in my opinion. That'd make one hell of a thesis or dissertation or article or book.

Partly so, I think, because there would be evidence to suggest "it really has come to this," i.e. the gender perceptions are that high-brow reading and places that support literacy have become girly and female-centric and places considered, even if wrongly, to be bastions of low brow reading have become equated with boys or an adolescent version of masculinity.

What are the ramifications for such gender-intwined notions of reading and literature and literacy?