A Public Service Announcement! ;)

A Public Service Announcement! ;)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

YALSA's "Great Graphic Novels" for 2012

See YALSA's list of exemplary graphic novels here. And since they made finding their top ten a little difficult (what is it with folks this year? Is it suddenly not hip, or is that not hipster [librarians were the original svelte, black-glasses-wearing, know-it-all hotties, afterall], to make top ten lists?), here's a link to it too.

Among the top ten, there's an interesting mix of genres. Even the capes got a nod or two.

University of Chicago Hosting Comics Mega-Event!

The University of Chicago's Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry is hosting a conference this May. "Comics: Philosophy & Practice Conference" will run from May 18-20 and feature an amazing line-up of top-tier comics talent. Visit the link in this post's title for more information, and be sure to click the "Conference Participants" link too.

Go Maroons!

Monday, January 23, 2012

See My "Comics" Entry in the Massive *Encyclopedia of Adolescence*

Edited by Roger J.R. Levesque of the University of Indiana, this impressive tome (3363 pages!) covers a range of topics pertinent to the development of adolescents and features my "Comics" entry on pages 460-468. What makes this encyclopedia unique is that not only were experts invited to talk about their areas of interest, as with many such texts, but were asked to highlight their own work in the area.

I'm honored to be included in such a worthy, if not expensive ($2050.00) project that will make a great resource for educators and researchers everywhere. It's a library purchase, to be sure, but a great contribution to adolescent literacy studies and all other areas of interest to those who study young people and their habits and behaviors. It just published and is available online as well. Get on the phone with those campus librarians, people! ;)

Check Out These Great High-Low Covers from Marvel

Click here to see the bulk of them. Or is that the "Hulk" of them? :) Here's my very favoritest:

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Rationales Project Gets Attention in Education Review

Rationales for Teaching Graphic Novels, a project I edited with around twenty other teachers and teacher educators last year, has been reviewed for Education Review/Resenas Educativas, a multi-lingual journal of book reviews.

Available as a CD-ROM, an Ebook, and in chunks through publisher Maupin House's a la carte feature, Rationales offers reviews, lesson ideas, and advice for integrating 108 graphic novels into the classroom.

Reviewer Tiffany A. Flowers calls the project "practical and useful" and "a great resource." Read her full review here.

Thanks for the kind words, Tiffany! :)

Friday, January 20, 2012

*The Comics Journal* Recaps 2011: "A Year of Comic Ambition"

TCJ has come up with a cleaver way to avoid posting a "best of" list. ;)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

FOX News Worries About Comics and Kids

CBR has great coverage of a recent news short that ran on FOX stations regarding comics, sex, and kids. CBR says everything I would have said about it, plus offers video of the story, so click here to access the link. Hopefully this is an isolated story and we're not going to see another Seduction of the Innocent type of backlash against comics. Afterall, FOX does have a psychiatrist as an expert in this story....

On the other hand, as CBR notes, the comics in mention are bad and not good for kids to read or anyone to read due to being so crappy. Not that FOX really has a leg to stand on hen it comes to issues of morality. On the other hand, that's never stopped them before.

Super Ladies Illustrate Breast Exams

If this story is to be believed, Marvel and DC characters are featured in several ads in Mozambique aimed at helping women learn how to give themselves breast exams. Seriously, see them here.

Blue Beetle & DC's New 52: Out of El Chuco and Into the World

It has been several months since DC relaunched its universe with 52 new comics titles. As we speak, several books have been cancelled and several others, less than 6 issues old, are undergoing creative changes. I've only been reading two of the new books, Swamp Thing and Blue Beetle, though I hear great things about Animal Man.

My interest in Blue Beetle stems from my fascination with Watchmen (Night Owl is the analogue for Charlton Comics' Steve Ditko-era Blue Beetle) but intensified when I came to UTEP at right around the same time as the most-recent Blue Beetle, featuring 16 year old Hispanic El Pasoan Jaime Reyes as the eponymous hero, was coming into his own. Alas, Jaime's first series was cancelled after less than 50 issues, but the character was revisited in 2011 in a new Blue Beetle series that is ongoing and not bad.

One of the things that made Jaime's first series so interesting -- and which made it a liability to DC, most likely -- was that it dealt with issues of the Borderland, immigration, and Mexican American life in the American Southwest. Jaime found himself becoming the regional hero for both El Paso and Juarez, MX. One editor has said that DC overestimated the amount of attention Americans were putting on immigration issues at the time and has stated that the first Reyes series was a "gimmick."

I don't buy it. While I do think DC tried to appeal to new, younger, browner demographics with the character, I don't think he is a gimmick, as evidenced by the fact that DC sees him as important enough to keep him around now and in how they built him up as a character on the cartoon Batman: The Brave and The Bold. They know they've created an important property.

Interesting, then, that the series' writer wants to take Jaime away from El Paso and place him in the larger, more "traditionally Euro-Anglo" world of the DCU. Frankly, I think they had to do it because keeping him in El Paso would have meant revisiting the violence in Juarez,MX. A fictional hero has no clout when he's saving lives in funny books while 8 murders a day are taking place in the real world territory he's claiming to protect. And who knows who might have protested the previous Reyes series and for what reasons.

At any rate, CBR has an interview with current Blue Beetle writer Tony Bedard in which he explains plans to move Jaime out of the Sun City and into the world at large. Read it here. Whether DC is asking him to do so to move him further away from real-world local problems and closer to global and galactic fake ones remains unknown.

Image: Are real-world issues boxing in the potential of DC's Hispanic Superhero?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

African American Classics Anthology Published

Poems and short stories are given the comics treatment by important comics artists of our day in this must-have collection. Click the link embedded in this post's title to see some preview art.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

"Son Testing" 4 TOON Books

One thing I love about being alive at this precise moment is that I have children growing up at the exact same time as the folks at Toon Books have established a line of comics/graphic novels for emergent readers. When I get review copies of their books, I know I have a perfect focus group waiting for me at home. I have a 4 year old and a six year old, and recently the wife bathed and pajama-ed them up, the beginning ritual for a good half hour or more of book reading.

Based on my eavesdropping and the wife’s feedback (my wife is a veteran teacher with over 12 years of experience at the k-12 level and has worked with kindergarteners on up to special needs high school students. She currently works with special needs pre-k/kindergarteners and holds multiple certifications in elementary education and special education and has a Masters degree in Reading with a focus on Special Education which qualifies her for IRA-approved Literacy Coaching), here are what the boys thought of a quartet of TOON titles:

Silly Lilly in What Will I Wear Today? by Agnes Rosenstiehl held little appeal for my kids. Described by wifey as a “girl power” book in which Lily tries on certain roles or future occupations during playtime sessions, this text was tolerated but not exactly enjoyed. But, it’s not a “boy’s book,” really. It is good for helping young readers know that their imagination is important and that anyone can be anything they put their mind to, but I think my boys already get that. I hope so, anyway. They have been making pretty interesting statements about boys and girls lately, and sometimes they do need to be reminded that girls and boys are equally cool. Silly Lilly might have seemed didactic to them in that regard, though. Still, if I had a daughter, I’d be sure to have the book.

Nina in That Makes Me Mad! by Hilary Knight was received with a little more aplomb. “They can relate to it,” my wife said in which the eponymous main character shares her pet peeves about her young life, like “”When you get made at me and I didn’t do it…. I get mad” and “When I try and it doesn’t work… I get mad.” To be frank, I think anyone can relate to Nina’s perturbances (instances of being perturbed). Therein may be the rub for these first two titles and my boys’ reactions to them, though: they’re important books for reasons adults might get but that some kids might not care for.

Of course, TALKING THROUGH things with your children as you read is essential, and I can see this text’s utility in helping the boys feel connected to others. While it is a strange aspect of human nature, it really does seem to help us, old or young, to know that other people suffer frustration and aggravation and failure just like we do. So, Nina is another one of those books to keep in reserve for when the times are right for it.

Patrick in A Teddy Bear’s Picnic and Other Stories, another Geoffrey Hayes offering from the publisher (see the Benny and Penny books), was one of the two big winners with my kids. How do I know for sure? Because they asked for my wife to read them again the night after their first exposure to the titles. “Read that one with the bear and the one with the bear and other animals” was how my oldest put it (my youngest is sort of the Chester to the oldest’s Spike at this point, mostly saying, “Yeah, yeah!” when he wants the same thing). Perhaps they take after me in that I’ve always liked anthologies and collections, but it seemed to be the multiple stories in one book that appealed to them most about this one. They liked seeing an involved daddy character, a streaking Patrick, and a bully get his comeuppance. I was intrigued to see an explanation for TOON Book’s leveling system at the back of this text (it is also in the other titles, save for Silly Lilly). That’s a welcomed and needed addition for the line. I appreciate transparency and feel like most other parents do too.

Benjamin Bear in Fuzzy Thinking by Philippe Coudray was the runaway favorite, though. My boys have been devouring the Mo Willems books lately, and the mix of humor and meta-narrative seem to be what gets them chuckling. In both Willems’ Elephant and Piggie books and Fuzzy Thinking, for example, the characters know they are in a book and discuss it and make use of the tropes and limitations of being bound in paper and pressed between cardstock to great effect. “I am a bear in a comic!” starts one adventure.

As well, both my boys enjoy visual and verbal puns, which makes me happy for two reasons: 1. That’s a sign of high intelligence in little kids. 2. It gives me more evidence that they are my kids after all! :) This little gem of book is full of them through a series of self-contained minis. My kids love how rabbit escapes a snow storm, for instance, and how bear one-ups him in a fishing contest. They haven’t laughed so hard since reading the aforementioned Willems books and, of course, Walter the Farting Dog. What can I say?: They love highbrow and lowbrow funny.

My wife says this one was good for kids who like “filling in the gaps” between what the words and images provide, which is where many of the puns develop in this book. Furthermore, if what she says is true, then Benjamin Bear in Fuzzy Thinking might be a perfect primer for more advanced comics reading.

Archie's Gay Character Kevin Enrages Some on Religious Right

Or, in other words, "Duh." Read Rob Boston's coverage of the outrage here.

Whatever happened to live and let live? Maybe there's a caveat because no one ever dies or stays dead in comics? Link

Must-Read Book on Government Comics

Richard Graham, librarian at the University of Nebraska, has done some great work digitizing old comics with a political and educational flair. Now available is his new book Government Issue: Comics for the People 1940-2000s. It's some collection, some commentary.

I can't wait to read it!

Friday, January 13, 2012

12 to Watch in 2012

Comic Book Resources has a neat preview of comics they think will make a big impact in the coming year.

Edutopia Spotlights Comics and Education...

....through spotlighting Andrew Miller of the Buck Institute of Education. Buck, eh? Maybe I am in the right field. ;)

So cool that when I was a middle school AIG teacher, we did a lot of problem based learning stuff, which is a focus of the Buck Institute focuses. Gotta love kizmet.

Constitution Gets GN Treatment!

Round Table is realesing a comics version of the United States Constitution, complete with a reader's guide from our friend Katie Monnin. To read more about the project, click here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Stuck in the Middle Survives Censorship Scare, But Not Unscathed

Comics news sites like Comic Book Resources (CBR) are reporting that the comics anthology Stuck in the Middle has survived a challenge to be removed from middle school libraries in some of Maine's public schools. A parent had complained that the book, which is subtitles "Seventeen Comics from an Unpleasant Age" and does deal with some of the "dirty underbellies" of adolescent life and identity.

The Comic Book Legal Defense fund offered support for the books' continued inclusion, and I would have as well had I known of the story! How this one escaped my notice I have no idea. The book will remain on the shelves of schools like Buckfield Junior-Senior High, but a 2009 challenge in South Dakota had less fortunate results for the text and its potential readers. The Souix Falls, SD, school board voted to remove the book from shelves for "foul language, sexual references and depictions of teen smoking."

Still, a student will need special permission to read the book in Maine's Region 10. It's not a complete victory, but it's not a total defeat either. Kudos to CBLDF for its support of the text, and a "good enough" to the special committee formed to decide the fate of the book.

You can read more about the local coverage of the story here.

I can't help but remember the work that I and many other teacher educators and k-12 teachers did last year in creating the CD-ROM and E-book versions of Rationales for Teaching Graphic Novels, which offers statements of summary, use, reputation, and value for 108 different graphic novels. Stuck in the Middle wasn't one of them, but I wonder if troubles could have been avoided if a rationale for the text had been available. Of course, the challenge for this book regarded its place in a library rather than a classroom.

This case reminds us that comics need our help and our vigilance regarding their inclusion in schools and libraries and that we need to fight for students' rights to read them,

Monday, January 09, 2012

NCTE journal _Language Arts_ Provides Podcast with Jerome C. Harste and Gunther Kress

Gottsta love an opportunity to listen to my homeboy Gunther Kress! The audio is a little rough and the conversation a little bit rambling, but if you've got about 40 minutes to spare, this is a neat offering from the editors of Language Arts, an NCTE journal with the theme of "Writing the image, Writing the World" for its January 2012 issue. Sooo, soooo interesting to me how close the conversation mirrors many of the aspects of Miles Myers' Changing Our Minds, which is why I use that text and some Kress when I teach courses that focus on multimodal literacies.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Katie Monnin Offers Up Batch of Reviews for Diamond Bookshelf

Visit Katie's Korner here.

General Electric's Educational Comics

There's been some chat within the Interwebs regarding General Electric's old educational comics. The Washington Post mentioned them in conjunction with an article on teaching STEM. That article, available here, features a slide show of old covers and comics.

Also, UNL librarian Richard Graham has virtually all of those GE comics archived at Nebraska's impressive online Educational Comics Collection here.

Ohio State's Project Narrative Summer Institute to have a Comics and Film Spin

If only I had $1200 and the time to apply! Anyway, click here for information on OSU's Project Narrative Summer Institute, which is exploring comics and film in a big way June 11-22 of this year.

Application deadlines are early March, and one has to be a faculty member or graduate student to apply.

Frederick Aldama and Sean O'Sullivan are core instructors.

You may recognize Dr. Aldama's name from this blog, as he has written 2 books on comics and multiculturalism with a strong emphasis on Latino characters.

The Daily Beast/ Newsweek Cover "Graphic Novel Renaissance"

Thank to Mark L. for sending the link embedded in this post's title!