A Public Service Announcement! ;)

A Public Service Announcement! ;)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sequential Tart Reviews *Graven Images*

There's still a chance that I mught be using this book as a textbook for a GN-related course next Autumn, so I'm happy to start stockpiling some reviews.

USJF Releases Another Educational Manga...

...focusing on the Japan-US alliance. Click the link embedded in this post's title to see the government-sponsored book and even download a copy!

The military has a long history of using comics to educate citizens and troops. This latest effort adds to that legacy. Of course, any time a government seeks to educate, issues of "education" vs "propaganda" are going to arise....

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tigra and Pym Discuss Parenting in *Avengers Academy* #7

I gotta say, I think Incredible Hulks and Avengers Academy are the best two superhero comics series on the market.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

*SANE journal* Publishes First Issue!

The "Comics in the Contact Zone" issue is now live! Click the title of this post to visit, and enjoy!

Friday, December 03, 2010

Review of *Mr. Mendoza's Paintbrush* (2010, Cinco Puntos Press)

Luis Alberto Urrea's story of the magical Mr. Mendoza, a leathery ancient in the town of Rosario, MX, who uses his paint brush to inspire, confound, and challenge the morality of the locals, is an example of a graphic novel that represents Mexican/Mexican American writing and artistry at its finest.

The magical realism that permeates and defines so much of Latin American writing is apparent; the mythos of mystery in events and places that otherwise seem mundane is clear; religion and local color folklore entwine throughout the narrative appropriately and without seams, and Christopher Cardinale's artwork is exquisitely palpable.

The woodcut-esque textures and hatches of the drawings don't just offer an aesthetic sensation of "feeling," but an actual sense of touching, of smelling, of hearing and tasting. Everything looks and feels like burlap, like stone, like the skin of the elderly or the smell of fresh milk, or the heat of summer.

One reads this book and its art and has every sense heightened and ever sense of sense stimulated.

But as soon as we are introduced to Rosario's iconic artist and his influence on the two young leads, he leaves everyone, walking on a stairway to the stars, with readers and townsfolk alike left to ponder the components of his pigments, or, if the graffiti on the back end of that mule on the last page is to be heeded, if we've gotten too wrapped up in the telling, fooled by the planted and tilled mysticism of a story with a reality too ordinary to leave alone.

The Kirkus Review has mentioned Mr. Mendoza's Paintbrush as one of the best graphic novels of the year. It's hard to argue against the claim.

Publishers Weekly Gives ALAN 2010 Some Press

And since graphic novelists George O' Connor and Barry Deutsch were presenters, I can mention it here!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

See 2011's Free Comic Book Day Offerings!

ICV2 suggests 2011's giveaways might be the best ever!

Bradbury's *The Martian Chronicles* and *Something Wicked This Way Comes* Getting GN Treatment from Hill & Wang

Offering yet another reason for me to repost this not-for-kiddies tribute video:

Katie Monnin Inteviews Doug TenNapel

I know him from Ghostopolis, but Katie covers his oeuvre in this great interview for Graphic Novel Reporter.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Wins Intellectual Freedom Award, Yo!

The award, which you can learn more about by clicking the link in this post's title, is given to offer attention to “individuals or groups who have furthered the cause of intellectual freedom, particularly as it impacts libraries and information centers and the dissemination of ideas.” It’s “granted to those who have resisted censorship or efforts to abridge the freedom of individuals to read or view materials of their choice….”

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Webinar on GN's in Collections, Stores, and Stacks Available from Baker and Taylor, 12/08/10

From the site:

Why should a library or retailer stock graphic novels?

How can a librarian or retailer select titles that are appropriate for multiple audiences?

How do ratings work?

What authors and titles should they know about? To help answer these and other questions, Baker & Taylor is proud to present a unique webinar for retailers and librarians. We will provide insight from graphic novel experts Michele Gorman, Teen Services Coordinator, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Library; Francoise Mouly, Editorial Director, TOON Books; and John Shableski, Sales Manager, Diamond Book Distributors. Discover the tips and trends that make graphic novels one of the fastest growing formats in the industry.

That's a big-hitter cast, right there, folks! Click the link embedded in this post's title to learn more and to register for the event. They're giving away free posters, for goodness's sake!!

Peter Gutierrez's Rationale for Teaching Literacy Skills Through GN's

A nice little piece that packs a wallop in its economy and straightforwardness. Sing it, Peter! And thanks for the shout-out too. :)

*Super-Powered Word Study* Press Release from eSchool News!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Offers Best GN's for Teens 2010 List

El Paso's own Cinco Puntos Press has a title on the list too!: Mr. Mendoza's Paintbrush by Luis Alberto Urrea and Christopher Cardinale. (Thanks to CP for giving me a review copy at NCTE. I'll offer my own review very soon).


Thanks to all the presenters and participants in the roundtable I chaired this morning at NCTE. Thanks also to all the folks who stopped by the Maupin House booth to talk to me or let me sign a book or CD. Also, thanks to the ALAN Board for letting me sit in on today's meetings.

Now that I know how these things go, I'll know how to participate next time! :)

The only requirement remaining for me now is hardly something I'm being forced to do. I get to meet graphic novelists Barry Deutsch and George O'Connor on Sunday and facilitate their enjoyment of the ALAN conference before introducing them to the ALAN crowd on Monday.

Sometimes I lova-muh-werk!


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thanks to Miami Book Fair and the School on Comics and Graphic Novels

If you weren't in Miami this morning you missed Bill Zimmerman rock the house! And thanks to the fair for having me as a speaker as well. I just wish I could have seen Raina and the folks from Stanford and all the other nice speakers scheduled.

Hey, organizers, I'd love to do it again next year, if you're reading.

And, OF COURSE, thanks to all the teachers and librarians and students in the audience and who stopped by to let me sign their books. :)

Now off to Orlanda for NCTE and ALAN!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Most Productive November of My Career?: Where I'll Be and What's New for the Coming Week

Hi there! If I don't update the blog for the next week or two, please understand that I'm having a very busy and joyous November! See below:

Fresh off my very successful (I've seen the evaluation numbers now) seminar for the Trans-Pecos Library Association, I'm getting ready for my first-ever presentation at the Miami Book Fair on November 18. My presentation, "Using Graphic Novels to Open a Different Door to Literacy," is the first full session of the day! No pressure, right?

Then it's off to Orlando for NCTE, where I'll be leading a roundtable and presenting on censorship issues with comics and graphic novels on the 19th from 9:30-10:45. If you're at the conference, come to Coronado/Fiesta Ballroom Salon 5 to see me, Crag Hill, Nick Kremer, Louann Reid, Alisha White and Mary F. Wright.

After the roundtable, it's off to the convention floor to do a signing with Maupin House, because my co-authored (with Erik A. Evensen) book Super-Powered Word Study is now available, as is the CD-ROM Rationales for Teaching Graphic Novels (in which you can find more rationales from the roundtablers mentioned above).
Then, I attend my first ALAN workshop, where I'll be formally introduced as a new member to the Board of Directors and will also do some formal introducing of graphic novelists Barry Deutsch and George O' Connor on the 23rd.

All the while, I'll also be celebrating my recent co-authored article in this month's English Journal (primary author Cheryl Gomes) and will hopefully get copies of the article that Katie Monnin, Brian Kelley and I wrote for Inland, which is supposed to be published this month as well.

Of course, I'll also be advertising this blog and SANE journal.

But the best part will be meeting old and new friends over the next 10 days! Maybe I'll see you soon?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hot Off the Presses!

Rebecca Lukowski of Maupin House marketing and copy editor Marilee Griffin model Super-Powered Word Study and Rationales for Teaching Graphic Novels. What can I say? Somedays it is good to be me.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Publisher's Weekly Best Comics List

I agree with Tom Spurgeon on Comics Reporter that this list seems a little specious.

The Comics Equivalent of Wal-Mart Hanging Up Christmas Stuff Post-Halloween...

...is the posting of "Best Of" lists. Click the title for Amazon's best GN's of 2010 and their list of best-sellers. Equivalent.

*Kill Shakespeare* Cocreator Conor McCreery Talks Teaching Comics

He doesn't care what you call them, but the cocreator of the YALSA 2010-2011 Great Graphic Novels for Kids nominated series feels comics have a place in the classroom.

Great Interview of Gareth Hinds, Adaptor Extraordinaire!

Come See Me and the Entire School of Comics and Graphic Novels at the 2010 Miami Book Fair!

Introduction and Welcome
10:00–10:05 a.m.Carol Fitzgerald, Founder of GraphicNovelReporter.com

Session 1
10:05–10:55 a.m.Using Graphic Novels to Open a Different Door to Literacy with Dr. James “Bucky” Carter

Why do graphic novels and comics work so well as a breakthrough tool in reaching challenged and reluctant readers? How does a graphic novel or comic hold the attention of gifted readers and reluctant readers alike? Dr. Carter discusses the effectiveness of the comics medium from a personal perspective, and helps educators discover how to use comics to help students develop a love for reading and learning. Dr. James "Bucky" Carter is the author of Building Literacy Connections with Graphic Novels (NCTE).

Session 2
11:00–11:50 a.m.Your Life In Comics: Using Do-it-Yourself Comics to Foster a Love of Reading, Writing and Creativity with Bill Zimmerman

Most educators understand that playing can also mean learning and this session will show how the fun process of creating comics can encourage children to practice language, reading, writing and communication skills. Bill Zimmerman is an award-winning author and has written more than a dozen books used by families, children and schools, including his most recent title, Your Life in Comics: 100 Things for Guys to Write and Draw.

11:50–12:50 p.m.

Session 3
1:00–1:50 p.m.Connecting the Library and the Classroom: Developing a Brilliant Partnership and Resource for Teacherswith Librarian Kat Kan

Kat Kan is a leading voice in the development of the graphic novel category for public libraries. This session will address the value of resources available to educators, parallels between prose and graphic novels and how graphic novels can support in-class learning. Kat Kan has worked in school and public libraries. She has served on the Best Books for Young Adults Committee, among others, and she chaired the YALSA Graphic Novels Task Force, which recommended the creation of the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee. Kan also created the selection criteria for Brodart Company’s graphic novel collection development program and currently selects the recommended titles for their core lists.

Session 4
2:00–2:50 p.m.Developing a Graphic Novel Project for the Classroom with Dr. Adam Johnson

When professors Adam Johnson and Tom Kealey created the Graphic Novel Project at Stanford University, they discovered an incredible opportunity to introduce a collaborative environment where students from a wide variety of disciplines could come together to script, draw, edit and publish a graphic novel. What does it take to create and publish a graphic novel within a classroom setting? How do the students benefit from the program? Dr. Adam Johnson developed and implements the Stanford University Graphic Novel Project.

Session 5
3:00–3:50 p.m.The Art of Story Telling in the Graphic Novel Formatwith Professor Chris Schweizer

When it comes to creating the look and feel of a graphic novel, the author/creator draws on a wide range of influences and experience to bring characters to life. How does a swarthy pirate really sound? How do you show fear or real joy? To create a story in the graphic novel format, an artist and author has the fantastic opportunity to use separate skill sets. Chris Schweizer created the graphic novels Crogan's Vengeance and Crogan's March (Oni Press).

Friday, November 19

Educational Sessions for Comics and Graphic Novel Creators of All Ages
Session 1
10-11:30 a.m. Women Making Comics, A New Generation

For years comics and graphic novels were viewed as mostly a “boy thing.” Lately, the participation of women in comics-making has grown exponentially. From stories for the ‘capes and tights’ genre to biographies, adaptations and memoirs, get the scoop from four members of this new generation of women creators on writing comics and graphic novels. How do they approach story telling? What comes first, drawings or dialog? Where do they start the process, and does it come out the way they had planned? Amy Ignatow, The Popularity Papers Raina Telgemeier, Smile Tracy White, How I Made It to Eighteen Amanda Conner, Power Girl

Session 2
11:30-1:00 p.m. Brain to Hand to Paper: Getting Your Comics/Graphic Novel Done
Have a great idea for character? A story? A series? Get it done!

Four creators talk about the process and offer advice on how you too can get your comic book /graphic novel completed and published. Barry Deutsch, Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword Mark McKenna, Banana Tail Alex Rodrik, Bushido Wasabi David Steinberg, The Adventures of Daniel Boom AKA Loud Boy

FREE. Registration required. Please use registration form at the upper right of this page (above presenters' photos). For additional information, please call 305.237.3841or 305.237.3298.

Philippine Senator Wants Bill to Preserve Graphic Novels

Here's a great story out of the Philippines. Senator Lito Lapid wants to pass a bill to create a notational graphic novel archive. The idea is to allow the archive to preserve the rich sequential art narrative traditions of the nation.

I hope the bill makes it through. See it by clicking here.

Thanks to Everyone at TPLA!

Thanks to the participants and organizers of the Trans-Pecos Library Association event last Friday. We all seemed to have a good time, and at the very least, there are some librarians in West Texas who know more about graphic novels now than they ever wanted to know. :)

I also hope that if any of you are reading, you'll remember to stay in touch! :)

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Come See Me This Friday!

This Friday I'll be presenting a 4 hour workshop on graphic novels and literacy issues for the Trans-Pecos Library Association. It'll be my longest, largest presentation yet and will combine some of my "classic" spiels with some examinations of my most recent work. And we'll be raffling off books specific to graphica and libraries too, so hopefully it'll be a fun time had by all.

On Comics and Discourse...

Monday, November 01, 2010

Happy Birthday, MH!

Thanks for all the cool links you send my way and for the correspondence over the years! :)

The Comic Book Project is Going Global!!

From the Center for Educational Pathways:

The Comic Book Project is going global! In partnership with Australia's Distance Education Centre of Victoria, students will be launching an online comic book production company. This collaboration will involve young comic book creators in Australia, the U.S., and eventually around the world.

Also, this past summer our board member Susan Robeson led the Comic Book Project in Wales on the subject of her grandfather, Paul Robeson. Look for the Comic Book Project in Canada, Mexico, and Nigeria. And Manga High is being translated into Japanese and published in Japan by Iwanami Shoten Publishers. Finally, check out the great companion website for When Commas Meet Kryptonite.


2010 Friends of Lulu and Eagle Award Winners Announced!

Friends of Lulu and the Eagle Awards for 2010 have been announced.

Friday, October 29, 2010

*Ender's Game* Prequel to be Graphic Novel First

Interesting that Orson Scott Card, who has had the Ender series adapted to comics form as of late, has decided to write a prequel in the comics medium before doing a print version.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"Confessions of a Graphic Novel Convert" Article from *LA Times*

Sonja Bolle makes me spell "bat mitszah." This makes me wonder, how the hell have I been blogging for 5 years now and never put a "judaica" search term in my list??? I know I've covered Jewish connections, at least, but now: search term/label time!

RSA Animate: Changing Education Paradigms


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Teaser Trailer for *Kid Beowulf and the Song of Roland*

Bowler Hat Comics is at it again with the upcoming Kid Beowulf and the Song of Roland. This teaser trailer suggests readers are in for another epic treat!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

New GN Award: The Lynd Ward

The Pennsylvania Center for the Book, Penn State and the University of Pennsylvania announce that:

The Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize will be presented annually to the best graphic novel, fiction or non-fiction, published in the previous calendar year in the United States by a living American citizen or resident. The announcement of the award will take place each spring and the prize of $2,500, the two volume set of Ward’s six novels published by the Library of America, and a suitable commemorative will be presented each fall to the creator(s) of the award-winning book at a ceremony to be held at Penn State.

Friggin' Sweet! And I didn't know that Ward's work had been donated to the libraries at Penn State!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Review of *Best American Comics 2010*

An angry adolescent peers at you while a fire rages behind him. He seems to say, "Burn my comics, will you? Fine! I'll burn down your house!"

Alas, the house seems to be his family's, so it's actually his house too, but his defiance is undeniable.

And that, my friends, describes the cover and the reading experience that is Best American Comics 2010. Edited by Neil Gaiman, the anthology has interesting pieces that are accessible to a reader but that push away, as if to suggest, "I'm complicated!" when one considers why Gaiman made his choices.

Of course, this line of thinking suggests a sort of "cult of the superstar" surrounding Gaiman, but that's part of the fun of this series: seeing who the new editor is, being impressed, then seeing what he or she thinks makes the grade for inclusion.

Series editors Jessica Abel and Matt Madden suggest a Golden Age of comics accessibility, and Gaiman's introduction plays off the comment by mentioning that a CIA study suggests that "comics are the easiest way to assimilate information." Gaiman soon adds pull to push, though, mentioning Lynda Barry's previous Best American Comics sentiments that comics are democratic while anthologies are by nature discriminatory, especially one that asks its editor to consider what "American" means alongside "best."

That's not to suggest he's complaining. Gaiman simply wants his audience to feel a bit of his experience and to realize that push and pull are the guiding dynamic of his work for the series.

I suspect we can see that in the first two selections as well. I honestly think that Gaiman probably wanted to lead with "Ceci N'est Pas une Comic" but decided it would be too politically scathing a start, thereby helping a section from Lethem and Dalrymple's Omega the Unknown occupy the first pages.

Standouts include Lilli Carre's excerpt from The Lagoon, which interjects magical realism in a section with lots of slice-of-life entries, and Ames and Haspeil's excerpt from The Alcoholic, which is bound to be cited in thesis upon thesis on comics and 9/11.

The excerpts from Asterios Polyp, Genesis, and A.D. New Orleans After the Deluge seemed to be obligatory, as did the short from Scott Pilgrim, but that's sort of the joy in seeing them in there. Gaiman gets to play with commercial successes and critical successes as he sees fit. And throwing in a little name recognition vis a vis the movies can't hurt, right?

I can't help but see Gaiman throwing papers around a small room, nerve-wracked, saying to himself, "I can't not put so-and-so in there! Look at the press and notoriety they've gained this year! It's good for the medium! And isn't '2010' in the title to the damn thing??" :)

The story that surprised me the most was "The Bank," which, based on the art, I thought I would hate, but I ended up enjoying the 1980's tale of The Clash and other main characters, um, clashing and pulling against the push of popular music. The hyper-charged vibe from that text, which oozes a sort of 80s masculinity, is aptly juxtaposed with Chris Ware's sniveling sad sack entry from the Acme Novelty Library.

Note to Chris: They do make other types of men worthy of being a main character! ;)

I also enjoyed the sweet "Lobster Run" more than I expected and appreciated the reintroduction to Fred Chao, who is more diverse an artist than I've considered. The push of that action-driven love story is balanced by the pull of the next selection, which also explores the theme of intimacy, but via two homosexual males meeting for drinks after calling it quits. "Ex Communication" is endearing in its difference to the text that precedes it but similar enough in theme that this section flows well, possibly even adding more sentimentalism to a reading of "Norman's Left Arm," the story following these two, than is necessary.

Of all the selections, only Michael Cho's "Trinity" made me rush to the front matter to learn what larger collection it was part of (but this is because I had already read many of the other texts excerpted). I absolutely must learn more about Taddle Creek and appreciated finding a story that spoke to my generation's concept of modernity and progress and fear. "Trinity" would have made an excellent juxtaposition with "The Alcoholic" in that both texts together, perhaps along with "Ceci N'est Pa," illustrate the defining anxieties of those born pre- 9/11 and those born near or afterwards and just how different the definitive worries are for folks of a certain era in comparison with younger folks' zeitgeist stresses. Placing those texts one after the other would have been too obvious a choice, though, and having them scattered away from one another allows for a consideration of theme and sub-theme in a way that having them in sequence would have cheapened.

Completing the anthology is another short from Chris Ware which sums up the tensions of the text while also contemplating the fissures of fiction and nonfiction, the comics form, and even a little bit of life itself. "Fiction Versus Nonfiction" plays with memory, representation, meaning- making, and the various joys of reading. Ware reminds us of the interplay, the push and pull of being known and being foreign, of being real and... not quite...

Who better to have assimilated a collection of such texts than the man who knows how to mine that space better than almost any other? Make no mistake, Gaiman knows what he is doing, and the end result is another intriguing edition of the Best American Comics series.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Review of *Your Life in Comics: 100 Things for Guys to Read and Draw*

Bill Zimmerman's Your Life in Comics attempts to give guys a chance to write their own comics in response to images and written words that act as prompts. The book is more like a journal or diary than a textbook and simply offers some visual stimulus to go along with prompts like "What's the hardest thing you've ever had to handle?" and "Did anything interesting happen at school today?"

There's the suggestion of reflection and introspection wrapped up in comics, so it doesn't look like a diary or a teacher's journal prompt even if it might feel like a collection of them to some. The blue benday-dotted cover doesn't suggest romance stories and unicorns at all, which also helps the subversive nature of the text, which seems to say, "Come on, guys! We know you have things to say! Why not write'em down?!?"

While marketed to dudes, the prompts are just as good for girls. In fact, it might be interesting to see how young girls would fill in the blanks of the word balloons mostly emanating from boys' mouths.

An intriguing feature of the text is that it comes "Internet connected," as is stated on the front cover. Zimmerman continues to upload new page images and prompts, so the book is ongoing, and so its influence for its readers.

I'm not sure if it is a book targeting boys or targeting teachers who will themselves target the hombres, but the concept behind the book is admirable, and, I hope, successful.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Jessica Abel Talks about Adapting to Prose

"It turned out that, while I’m pretty decent at writing comics, when it came to prose fiction I had no idea what I was doing. Not only that, I didn’t particularly like writing prose" -- JA

With so many prose writers trying their hands at comics and also talking about how difficult a transition it can be, it's neat to see someone from the other point of view. Click the title to this post for the entire read.

Article on Stanford's Collaborative Writing Initiatives: Novels and Graphic Novels

Learn more about two creative writing classes at Stanford: “NaNoWriMo” and “The Graphic Novel.”

Me: Doing the Bucky since 1977

Just not in Wisconsin yet.... If I ever apply for a position at Madison, I'm going to start my cover letter with "Let me teach you how to Bucky" and end it with the hopes that their students will soon be asking "Teach me how to, Bucky."

Take THAT, Tolerance!: Muslim-Centric Cartoon "The 99" Attacked in "NY Post"

According to ICV2.com, "Some of the same folks that brought about the 9/11 Mosque controversy are sharpening their Islamophobic axes to attack The 99, a comic book-based cartoon from Teshkeel Media that features 99 heroes, who embody the 99 attributes of Allah."

The 99 started as a comic, of course, and is also designed to help people understand that Islam is not all about crashing aircraft into buildings and hyper-violence, but, I guess if Westerners understood that, it'd make it that much harder to "kill them back."

Ah, the political dangers of peeling back the layers of othering to reveal the best of all humanities.....

I'm going to go cry now......

Monday, October 11, 2010

I SOOOOO Want This!: Lynd Ward Woodcut Novels Collection

Proto-graphic novels at their best! (OK, Frans Masereel did some good work too).

Take ENGL 685: Graphic Novels...

....if you're a graduate student at George Mason University this semester!


to all who voted me in as a member of the ALAN Board of Directors. I'll begin my stint, which I believe is 3 years, pretty soon and look forward to serving the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of NCTE.

A.D. New Orleans After the Deluge Author now Official State Dept. Comics Ambassador

According to The Beat and The Washington Post, anyway. Cool beans! I can't wait to teach A.D. in my "New and Multimodal Literacies" graduate class next semester!

Comics Issue of Transatlantica Journal is Online!

The first half covering Shakespeare, the second half giving comics equal weight... :)

I'm especially eager to read Craig Fischer's essay, which seems to focus on Theirry Groensteens' The System of Comics, a textbook for my "New and Multimodal Literacies" graduate class next semester, and I see lots of application in my own work in Charles Hatfield's article on interdisciplinarity in comics studies.

Friday, October 08, 2010

NY Times Article Overblows "Issues" Associated with Declining Children's Book Sales

"Picture Books No Longer a Staple for Children" reads the headline of Julie Bosman's article, which offers evidence that some parents are pushing their young children away from picture books and toward chapter books.

The article makes it sound like this phenomenon is widespread, though, and downplays the role that other media -- children's cartoons, video games, websites, digital books, etc -- could be playing on the declining sales. I can certainly see where someone could find parents so hell-bent on baby going to NYU that they'd pass judgement on books that are developmentally appropriate for their children and go straight for frustration-level reading. What a way to build success, as this quote so clearly illustrates!:

Now Laurence is 6 ½, and while he regularly tackles 80-page chapter books, he is still a “reluctant reader,” Ms. Gignac said.

Sometimes, she said, he tries to go back to picture books.

“He would still read picture books now if we let him, because he doesn’t want to work to read,” she said, adding that she and her husband have kept him reading chapter books.

Poor Laurence. Do you think his reluctance might be because he's being asked to read things he might not be ready to properly appreciate or enjoy?

Interestingly, the article mentions how well YA lit is doing right now and also mentions that graphic novels are part of that development. Are we at a point where parents see graphic novels as a sophisticated literature and are shoving off all those preconceived notions, once reserved for comics, onto children's books?

While I can list several children's literature scholars whom I'd pay to see squirm if this is the case, I hope it is not. If so, however, we might soon need to discuss the similarities in comics and picture books rather than focus on their differences.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

News on Latest GN from Stanford Graphic Novel Project

I still haven't read the copy of Virunga, the 2009 book from the Stanford Graphic Novel Project, that was sent to me, but I promise I will! In the meantime, you and I can get some 411 on this year's title, Piko Don.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Nice Review of *Building Literacy Connections with Graphic Novels*

..from our friends at The Graphic Classroom blog. Thanks, ya'll!

U of Washington Professor Donates Comics Collection to School's Special Collections

So here we have yet another article about an elite American university embracing comics in one way or another, and I'm still having to fight the good fight to get my current department to let me teach a course on comics and graphic novels, even though I've done it very well at a previous university..... *Sigh*

Friday, October 01, 2010

Mighty Morphin' Vocabulary Rangers!: Articles in Recent JAAL and Reading Teacher Jibe Well with *Super-Powered Word Study*

The September issues of Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy and The Reading Teacher both feature articles on vocabulary instruction that jibe well with the pedagogical underpinnings of Super-Powered Word Study, available in November from Maupin House.

Specifically, Michael J. Keiffer and Nonie K. Lessaux's "Morphing Into Adolescents: Active Word Learning for English-Language Learners and Their Classmates in Middle School" and Joan G. Kelley, Nonie K. Lesaux, Michael K. Keiffer and S. Elisabeth Faller's "Effective Academic Vocabulary Instruction in the Urban Middle School" focus on academic language and morphology. *

"Effective" informs readers that many urban middle school students struggle to understand and use academic vocabulary, which is often rife with ancient roots and affixes. But, when students use "morphological awareness skills," they "gain the cognitive tools they need to learn a large number of words independently."

Students need to learn how to use context clues, of course, which is just one of the many things covered in Super-Powered Word Study.

Both SPWS and these articles suggest overt, explicit, interest-based exploration of language with students drawing on texts they appreciate and are already inclined to be interested in.

Comics, anyone? There are 15 comics stories awaiting students in SPWS, along with suggestion on teaching morphology and developing language exploration skills and attitudes!

Both articles suggest particular attention to morphology as pertinent to vocabulary growth. "Morphing Into" reminds us that morphology is "the study of the structure of words as combinations of smaller units of meaning within words: morphemes," and morphemes include affixes and roots, the exact units of focus in Super-Powered Word Study.

"Morphing Into" suggests that teachers help students when they teach morphology in "an explicit yet meaningful way," as part of a "thinking strategy" rather than as "a bunch of rules or lists of word parts."

Considering what words have in common and are unique is one such way of doing this, and the authors even use a figure to illustrate "Word Sets" that look very much like word sorts, which students can do in SPWS to help them consider morphemes.

Further, students and teachers are encouraged by both articles and SPWS to adapt an explicit language exploration ideology in considering words.

"To exponentially increase vocabulary, students need to develop word consciousness and a curiosity about words," says "Effective." Super-Powered Word Study agrees and helps teachers tap into our innate interest in language by explaining how Larry Andrews' Language Exploration and Awareness theory can help us morph into active language explorers and linguistic inquirers.

"Morphing Into" suggests a 4-step process in which students must endeavor to study words morphologically. Step one involves word recognition study; step two requests overt study of word parts they might know; step 3 asks for hypotheses regarding word parts, and step 4 suggests hypothesis checking.

Students using SPWS will be asked to follow similar processes when they use riddles to figure out/hypothesize meanings of words featuring specific roots or affixes, sort words by their features, and record their observations and hypotheses in their word study journals.

"Effective" also suggests that at the end of each unit, students write, integrating new words, to suggest their mastery over them. All of SPWS's assessments are based in creative writing and ask students to do exactly as this article suggests. "Effective" asks for 5 words in a paragraph, whereas SPWS asks for 6 and also asks students to use "clue language" to show they have also mastered using context clues.

As anyone involved in academic work will tell you that keeping abreast of current research is difficult and tiring work. Further, when it comes to book writing, you're always taking risks that your book will hit the market and then new research will come along to blow its premises out of the water.

And, of course, there's no way to read research published alongside your book or after the book has been "set" such that you can integrate it into the book. There comes a time when you just gotta do the Anne Bradstreet thing and watch your baby walk to school, where you hope it does well.

So, Erik and I certainly did not have access to the classroom-based research coming out of these articles when we wrote Super-Powered Word Study, though many of the sources cited in each article also appear in our book, but isn't is wonderful to know that concepts and findings associated with this brand new research fits the goals and aspirations for students of Super-Powered Word Study?

I think so and think you will to!

James Bucky Carter,
Co-author of... Well, do I have to write it out again? ;)

*Hey, I edited and wrote chapters for Building Literacy Connections with Graphic Novels: Page by PAge, Panel by Panel. Do you think I have any hate for the long title? Further, I'm refering to the articles as if they wrote themselves simply becuase I don't want to write all of those names over and over. Titles are one thing: they can be turned into acronyms and keep reader's comprehension going without much trouble. BLCWGN:PBPPBP anyone? Authors' names? Not so much.

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?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pictures of Me Reading Reading With Pictures' _Reading With Pictures Anthology_

Harvard Weighs in on "Boy Crisis"/Comics

Here's a great article on the literacy "crisis" facing young boys. Thanks to Mr.M for drawing it to my attention.

It's very thorough and hits all the main points about fiction, nonfiction, curriculum, choice, etc. and how boys respond to them.

Among the points is this gem:

"'Nontraditional materials such as comic books and sports-themed materials can provide an important “hook” to get boys more involved in reading,' [William]Pollack [of Harvard Medical School] says, 'and serve as a helpful bridge to more advanced types of reading later on.'"

So, we get a little but of pro-comics stance. In the next paragraph, though, we get:

"If there are kids out there who are, for whatever reason, really reluctant readers or low-level readers, then anything that gets them hooked into spending time on reading is a good thing,” [Catherine]Snow [of Harvard Graduate School of Education] says. “But the problem is that whereas those can be great places to start, they don’t get you where you need to be to succeed academically. You’ve got to be able to access serious academic texts.”

I'm not sure if Snow is referring directly to comics, since Pollack was the one who mentioned them. If so, we've got another example of folks not realizing that some comics are very sophisticated texts, but I think this might be an example of the writer of the article merging concepts for story flow rather than a blanket statement from Snow, especially since we're talking about two different people's statements here.

But, if a representative from Harvard is acknowledging comics' role in facilitating literacy, I ain't gonna complain.

Monday, August 30, 2010

NCTE Cancels 2012 Annual Convention: Reaction from Out in the West Texas Town of El Paso....

NCTE has moved its 2012 annual convention as a political statement against current immigration policies in Arizona. Originally planned to convene in Phoenix, the national convention of English teachers and literacy educators has been moved to Las Vegas, NV.

And there's the rub.

I'm happy that NCTE made the move as a political statement, but in my mind, we (I'm a member, though I did not try to influence the move away from Phoenix) only went halfway.

If we really wanted to honor our ideas about diversity and stick it to policy-makers who might be targeting Hispanics in burdening ways, why not hold the convention in one of our border cities?

El Paso, Loredo, McAllen, Del Rio, Brownsville -- I'm sure those cities would love the economic boost.

Plus, we'd get to see just how progressive and active is the virtue of the membership. It's one thing to move a convention from county and state lines, it is another thing to show support by bringing yourself to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Honestly, it is probably true none of the cities mentioned above are large enough to accommodate NCTE. San Diego is probably the best choice for a border city that could host the conference.

Still, it'd be pretty neat to see how many folks from the Midwest or South or Northeast would put in proposals for the chance to stay at a hotel overlooking Juarez.

Heck, El Paso had trouble getting Oklahomans to feel comfortable coming to the Sun Bowl to see OU play Stanford this year, and that was for a something really important: a football game! ;)

I'm probably being unfair, but while NCTE most likely did the right thing, I can't help but think it could have been much bolder in its reaction, and why it wasn't or couldn't be might be worth thinking about.

It might not.

It could just be that as someone who lives in remote El Paso, it'd be nice to be able to drive to one of these things without leaving my home city one of these days!!! :)

Reviewing the _Reading With Pictures_ Anthology

The first volume of the Reading With Pictures Anthology is now available. Proceeds from the book will go to sponsor research and outreach projects associated with Reading With Pictures, a group of comics artists, educators, and researchers who seek to explore the connections between education and comics.

I enjoyed reading the anthology. Dr. Michael Bitz's introduction was the perfect frame, and I appreciate how he mentions "the fragile relationship between comics and the reading establishment," citing IRA's spur-of-the-moment cancellation of a full day's worth of GN-related programming last year and inadvertently helping RWP solidify their mission and desire to produce the book. That happening has been terribly under-reported and examined.

The various shorts, from generous comics artists associated with RWP or just willing to offer their resources, cover a variety of genres and messages. Many are inherently pedagogical and some are even a little didactic, but others seem created for the pure juissance of the comics reading experience.

The Fillback Brothers history of images as linguistic signifiers starts the book and pairs well with David Faroz Precht and Cho Youn Chul's "Visual Cues" toward the end of the text.

Among my favorites were the aforementioned; the "Just James" selection, in which I'd like to think mention of characters named James and Katie are references to a couple of folks who have recently published books on comics and literacy (don't shatter my illusion, please!) and in which comics, composition, and literary elements are explored; the physics-inspired "Mail Order Ninja" short that explores the square-cube law; Raina Telgemeir's short but poignant "A Conversation I Had While Teaching a Comics Class;" Pyle and Sacco's "The Order of the Silent Pencil," which deals with literacy and in-school subversive vs. in-school traditional notions of learning to read and write; and Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey's "Comics and the Classroom: a Match Made in History," which relates some of the historical connections between comics and education and from which this gem of an image (and new office door cartoon) is drawn:

It's hard to say if the anthology is for kids or for teachers. Certainly the short stories are child-appropriate, but the reasons behind the anthology's creation never seem too far removed from the content therein, and one can read the text as offering information and lesson ideas for teachers more than offering kids interesting reads. That's not a weakness of the book, of course.

For example, in my "Dramatic Modes of English Language Arts" class, we cover comics as a form that meets the 6-pronged definition of English Language Arts as explained by NCTE/IRA. I ask students to choose 1 book from among the following: Big Fat Little Lit, The Best American Comics, or the Smithsonian collection of graphic novels.
My pre-service English teachers use that text to help them explore connections with pedagogy and comics, but the Reading With Pictures Anthology seems to overtly cover that ground whereas these other texts need some coaxing to do so. Hence, I'm thinking of using the anthology the next time I teach the class.

Indeed, the text might have its most use in application and practice, with pre-service teachers and in professional development seminars first, then in the classroom once professionals have considered the stories and their use beyond a simple reading.

Regardless of initial use or intended audience, the anthology does not disappoint. There's enough evidence for comics and learning coexisting to help the cause, though one wonders how much success the text might have reaching beyond "the choir," a problem all of us in comics-and-literacy face, and enough fun for anyone.

Fans Force Change in Casting Call for _Runaways_ Movie

Reminiscent of the hooplah over non-Asian actors in The Last Airbender, the news here also centers on a beloved Asian American character from the series, which I can't recommend enough, especially in the earlier years. Niko's casting call did not specify race, which ICV2 suggests signifies a default to "white" in the film industry, but fans took notice and rabble-roused their way to a change. Click the URL embedded in this link's post for more details.

August 28 was "Read Comics in Public" Day

I messed up and read all mine on Friday, D'oh! Here's hoping this becomes an annual tradition that grows and grows, like Comic Con or Free Comic Book Day.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Stoopid Move from Maryland Politician Nancy King

Nancy King, who is running for the senate in Maryland, has been running mailers that suggest that if teachers are laid off, the world will come to an end because students will have to read comic books.

Sounds silly, and it is.

Dean Trippe has written the senator a letter explaining a bit about comics' and literacy's connections. (See link embedded in this post's title, which also reprints the mailer, hilariously featuring one child reading not a comic, but Previews. That reader is obviously reconsidering her pull list).

What's worse, Maryland is the home of the Maryland Comic Book Initiative, one of the highest-profile, public integrations of comics into public schools ever.

What's that the kids say about trying so hard you actually miss the forest for the trees? Oh yeah, "EPIC FAIL."

Of course, if the general public is still oblivious to the advantages of comics in the classroom, or at least in the hands of children, I guess it doesn't really matter:

If a kid in a forest reads a comic and learns a new word, and there's no one around to hear him learn, does anyone give a damn?

Come see me at the 2010 Miami Book Fair!

This event just keeps getting bigger every year, as does its graphica programming. I'm happy to be a part of the action this year.

The title to this post is a link to more information on the fair from Graphic Novel Reporter, which itself promises to release more details as they come available.

What I do know is that I'm scheduled to appear on November 18:

Featured Speakers for Thursday:
Prof William Ayers, To Teach: The Journey, in Comics ;Chris Schweizer, Crogan’s Vengeance and Crogan’s March; Professor James “Bucky” Carter, NCTE board member and author;
Professor Adam Johnson, Stanford University’s Graphic Novel Project

Yep, November will be a busy month for the Buckster. I leave Miami to go directly to Orlando to talk about graphic novels at NCTE, and I have at least 3 projects set to debut in the month of Thanksgiving. Maybe I'll see you in Florida in 2010!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I Just did The Monster Marsh!

Or, more specifically, I just read two of Robert Marsh's Monster and Me graphic novels. I read Monster Moneymaker, a hilarious story reminiscent of The Chocolate War, but with monsters, and Monster in the Outfield, in which the blue hairy beast known as Dwight helps his keeper, 12-year-old Gabby, and her team mates beat her school's teachers at a game of baseball.

The series works under the premise that every kid has a monster, but most people keep theirs hidden. Not Gabby, though, who lets Dwight out of the closet and free to cause as much mayhem as his good heart will let him.

The series is funny, pleasingly weird and has just the right blend of wackiness and ribald. Tom Percival's unique art is both strangely effective and effectively strange and never fails to get the story across.

The books are geared toward striving readers at the elementary and middle school levels and are just one of a series of comics-inspired books from Capstone Kids, a division of Capstone Publishers, which seeks to serve the needs of prek-12 readers. I have no idea how Capstone has escaped my prying eyes to date, but I'm glad I learned about them through Marsh's exquisitely silly and enjoyable books.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

_Super-Powered Word Study_ is Available!

For pre-order, that is, but the book is officially public now!

Here's the press from Maupin House:

Whether you’re a principal, teacher, summer camp instructor, parent, or student, you’ll enjoy the vocabulary-building adventures in Super-Powered Word Study. Weekly word study instruction is combined with short mini-comics that illustrate the meanings of words and word parts in context, making the exploration of roots, suffixes, and affixes fun and engaging for all students in grades five and up. Reluctant readers and ELL students of all grades are especially motivated by comics’ high-interest visual narratives.

Super-Powered Word Study includes fifteen weeks’ worth of stimulating study and creative activities that ask students to think about language, consider word formation, and create their own stories—all in just twenty minutes a day! Each week introduces two word parts students interact with through riddle cards, word study notebooks, word sorts, word hunts, and practice assessments they create for their peers. Word sort lists, comics, writing assessment prompts, and optional extension activities offer endless opportunities for creative writing and language exploration. A comics primer and a DVD with all of the comics stories, riddle cards, word study notebook pages, sample comics scripts, and comics templates give teachers the support they need to build vocabulary knowledge and encourage students’ imaginations to run wild. The DVD also supports each of the fifteen lessons with interactive eCard word sorts, eComics with clickable clues, and opportunities for students to create their own comics and assessments.

Make your word study super-powered!

Monday, August 23, 2010

CFP's: Sequential Art, Graphic Novels, and Comics in Education/ Spidey Anthology

CFP: Sequential Art, Graphic Novels, and Comics in Education

Edited by Robert G. Weiner and Carrye Syma of Texas Tech University Library

In recent years the use of graphic novels, comics, and sequential art in education has exploded. This is due not only to the boom in superhero movies that are based on comic book characters, but also to the wide literary range that graphic novels now have. There are now literally hundreds of college and university courses all over the world that are using graphic novels in their curriculum. The days when comics were just seen as children’s trash, with no redeeming literary or educational value, are hopefully behind us.

Contrary to the idea that comics “dumb” down material, it takes both sides of the brain to read and interpret sequential art stories: the right side to interpret the pictures and the left side to understand the narrative text. Our goal with this collection is to provide the educator and scholar with a collection of essays that show how graphic novels and comics are being used in the classroom today, as well as some historical pieces that detail how the educational fields often have and have had a “rocky” relationship with the use of comics in educational settings. We want both theoretical and practical essays showing how sequential art can be and is being used to teach and illustrate concepts and ideas.

We are especially keen on pieces related to higher education, military and government uses of comics to educate, but all aspects of comics and education are under consideration. In addition, we would like to have educators from a wide spectrum of the educational fields from K-12, to undergraduate and graduate educational levels. Those using sequential art in adult education and pre-school are encouraged.

Some possible questions/ideas that could be addressed include:

The Military’s use of comics to teach.
Graphic Novels and comics in library science education.
How relationships can be understood through the use of graphic novels in human science education.
Teaching mathematical concepts using graphic narrative.
Grade school use of comics.
Middle school use of comics.
High school use of sequential art (say something like Maus to teach the Holocaust).
Comics and Film to teach about blockbuster cinema.
Philosophical issues raised by graphic novels (The Watchmen in a philosophy class about ethics).
Biological and scientific concepts using graphic novels.
The use of mainstream superhero stories in the classroom.
Superman, Batman, Spider-Man to further understand the concept of the hero Mythology (i.e., Odysseys, Hercules etc.).
Graphic Novels and history, how effective a tool is the graphic novel in teaching a historical concept?
Sequential art in teaching foreign language or English as a second language.
Comics in literacy and adult education programs.
Graduate courses using graphic novels.
The History of sequential art in education.
Medical education using comics

Please send 200 word abstracts by January 15th 2011 to Rob Weiner Rob.weiner@ttu.eduFinal papers will be due February 28th 2011. No exceptions.

Please note the submission of an essay does NOT necessarily mean publication in the volume.

Essays will be going through a rigorous peer review process and we have asked a number of scholars to serve in this capacity. We are striving to put together as an excellent collection with diverse viewpoints covering all aspects of comics and education. Authors are also expected to follow the editor’s style guide and be willing to have their work edited.

Thank you,

Carry Syma, Texas Tech University Library
Rob Weiner ,Texas Tech University Library


Also, remember the Spidey collection for which Dr. Weiner is currently seeking submissions!

Graphic Novels Not So Risky Business in Business School Classrooms

Inside Higher Ed has an article on professors at business schools using comics or graphic novels to teach business concepts.

Jeremy Short's students at Texas Tech's business school read and discuss Atlas Black: Managing to Succeed as a means of learning business basics. The text was written by folks at Portland State and Auburn, along with Short. A professor at the University of Vermont uses these texts as well. The University of South Carolina's Thomas Moliterno does too.

I'm not sure if these Atlas books are comic books or graphic novels. They're called graphic novels in the article but seem to have the shape and feel of the pamphlet-style comic books you'd see on news stands.

As well, there seems to be some lack of knowledge from the writer and his or her sources regarding the differences. Certainly the comments on Inside Higher Ed's public response area suggest a "dumbing down" is taking place rather than a simple reconstruction and presentation of the data.

It's also interesting that there is a sense that there is consensus among academics outside of education, particularly in business schools, it seems, that graphic novels are only written for entertainment. Woo that Maus, it was riot, wasn't it? That exploding giraffe head in Pride of Baghdad? Had me laughing for days. (Warning: Watch for dripping sarcasm).

I think what this suggests is the schism between what academics think constitutes "worth" and what education academics know works regarding teaching. Isn't is just a little strange and bassackwards that people responsible for teaching content material don't seem to know about how their students learn best? What's more, they get to be the authorities on what constitutes excellence in their given fields.

Makes you want to read one of the comic books that really is just for entertainment, doesn't it? Just to escape the ironic ignorance!

At least there are some folks that are exploring this form's pedagogical potentials is classrooms outside the ELA one. Graphic novels and comics are wonderfully interdisciplinary, afterall.