A Public Service Announcement! ;)

A Public Service Announcement! ;)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Rest Well, Tom Moore

News outlets report that Tom Moore, an influential comics artist known for his work in Archie, has passed in El Paso, Texas. 

Mr. Moore, who worked on Archie comics for three decades, was among the guests an "El Paso in the Comics" event I organized while I worked at UTEP. I learned about his presence in the area through an anonymous tip.

I remember him as collegial, humble, and eager to speak to any of the other comics creators and event attendees. 

While my time with him was brief, he left an impression, and I join his family and the comics community in mourning his loss. Mr. Moore was 86.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Quick n' Dirty: An Underdeveloped Review of Ant-Man

Low-key, quiet, and with a simplified plot even for a superhero film, Ant-Man retains a balance of action and (mostly) family-friendly charm not seen since the first Fantastic Four release. Like that picture, the movie invokes both joy and tedium, but with enough charisma and character to make the most hardened comics film critic accept it like a goofy, well-meaning best friend -- with a pat on the back, a "Ruddy" smile, and a welcoming embrace. "Come over here and let me hug you, Ant-Man. I love you despite your flaws."

Saturday, July 11, 2015

A "Way Too Early" Look at 2016's Eisner Award Winners

Can the emergence of feminine forces in comics help a series like Spider-Woman become an award-winning hit?
 Read on to find out!
In the spirit of college sports writers everywhere, now that the 2015 champions have been crowned, it's time to write immediately about next year's winners. I'm talking Eisners instead of Final Fours, though. Or would the comparison be more apt if  I used the College Football Playoff instead? Regardless, here are some comics titles and creators sure to make it on 2016 Eisner ballots. I think. I mean, what do I know?

Scott McCloud's The Sculptor, a study on the life of  exceptionally creative people and what it must be to have the urge to make and the compulsion and Godly skill to make art imitate one's visions of life and life imitate one's visions of art -- yet remain a fully fallible human restricted by the realities and fates of non-deity living -- is a sure-fire choice. Having garnered critical and commercial praise, expect this tome from First Second to be up for Best Graphic Album New. McCloud's reputation and place as an American Master will cement even more due to this great work, nomination or no.

In the categories of Best Academic Work and/or Best Comics-Related Book, expect to Nick Sousanis's Harvard University Press release Unflattening to make the ballot and get the win. With excellent, ongoing press and a network of fans spanning academic fields and popular culture audiences,  already Unflattening has  made an impact on hundreds and that number may reach tens of thousands by the time the ballots are announced. Part Understanding Comics, part Ways of Seeing, part Literary Theory: An Anthology, this book -- marketed as a comic dissertation (and it is in so  much as it is a long essay on a particular set of subjects, but do not mistake it for the same work Sousanis would have submitted as a dissertation for his recent doctorate) --  asks readers to reconsider their conceptualizations of knowledge and what counts as serious intellectual representations of such. Inspiring and eye-opening -- mind- and opinion-altering, even  -- especially to those who need to see a book of comics theory from an Ivy League press and an Ivy League-educated author -- Unflattening's following and success at expanding the minds of intellectuals and casual scholars alike make it a sure-fire awards winner. Expect second and third printings to wear some sort of medallion, if not the Eisner.

Bitch Planet is a lock for a Best New Series nomination and would make a controversial non-win
unless another title debuts with as much interest and pinache as DeConnick and De Landro's not-quite-monthly floppy from Image. With a loyal, championing (maybe even defensive?)  fan following, this title's mega-splash debut is enough to get it on the watch list, and while the series is still gaining steam and finding its flow, nothing short of a narrative meltdown will keep Bitch Planet from appearing on the ballots. Not recognizing this self-aware ironic female prison exploitation trope buster would make for judges who were non-compliant to popular opinion.

I have a hunch some assortment of Spider-Man titles will be in the hunt as well and will, along with Ms. Marvel, comprise most of Marvel's representation on the ballots. Whether the categories will honor  Spidey-centric writer, artist, or series I can't prognosticate. Will Miles Morales or Spider-Gwen take center stage, or will an off-center, quirky "super-powered yet still domestic"-themed  series featuring a very pregnant Spider-Woman fill the void left as series like Matt Fraction's Hawkeye and the fan-favorite She-Hulk fade from public consciousness? Could Silk be a dark horse beak-out series or character? Maybe the new group book will prove an Eisner winner. G. Willow Wilson deserves the recognition an Eisner would bring, but now that Ms. Marvel is not a new series, her best bet might be the very tough Best Writer category. Another prediction? The great-in-concept but tepid-so-far A-Force will not garner awards consideration, nor will a majority of contemporary Marvel properties beyond the titles mentioned.

Marvel will still have more representation on the ballot than DC, though, who will have to hope Gene Yang and John Romita Jr's Superman run continues to bring the heat.

Expect current sure-things like Saga and its creators to make at least one category, and expect a return of  The Walking Dead, maybe in compendium form (?), as well. I've a hunch Sex Criminals will find a way back into the ballots too, and that we'll see a push toward more literary, adult-themed comics and graphic novels to offset -- but in no way to invalidate -- this year's crowded slate of winners cross-associated with Young Adult Literature. If the Hernandez brothers catch fire with a new work or a chapter of Love & Rockets with the same meteoric impact as The Love Bunglers -- and having studied their cycles of work, they're due --  I expect Fantagraphics, Drawn + Quarterly, and Image to make the strongest hauls this time next year.

As with the sports columns, though, such columns as this serve as fun speculation more than anything else at this point in the new awards year. Let's meet in just under 400 days to revisit my predictions, though, eh?

2015 Eisner Awards Winners Announced!

Click *here* to see which creators and titles won. Though, while awards are nice, these accolades do not mean the other nominees and many others not nominated aren't doing equally awesome work.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

One of Nation's Largest Literacy Events Happening This Week! San Diego Comic Con 2015

Memories of my last Comic-Con from 2012 loom large. Attending this event, which, this year, will most-likely attract over 100,000 enthusiastic readers and viewers of popular culture, is an astounding experience. Educators at all levels should recognize comic conventions for what they are: Literacy events for reading communities.

Seriously, you've never seen a deep reader if you've never experienced a conversation about what that one artifact in the corner of Uncanny X-Men #238 might signify. You've never met an informed, critical reader like the fangirl who can tell you every reason Carol Danvers rocks and exactly how creators have mishandled her character throughout the years and exactly how  Kelly Sue DeConnick got her right.
Me on my way to SDCC 2012, during which I spent some of my time cosplaying as The Thing.

Here's to San Diego Comic Con, all comics conventions, and the eager, critical, engaged, smart, savvy readers and fans who make them authentic literacy events worthy of educators' admiration and respect.