A Public Service Announcement! ;)

A Public Service Announcement! ;)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Just in Case You're in Boston for NCTE and Want Your Facebook Friends to Know Where You Stand...

Feel free to copy this image and use it as you like. Share it with your friends on your Social Network.

Monday, November 18, 2013

I Oppose the Common Core State Standards and Urge Publishers of Comics and Those Who Study Them To Do the Same

 Sure, publishers stand to make a lot of money marketing CCSS materials to teachers, students, parents, and even colleges. Sure, some believe comics still need justification as education-worthy materials. Yes, the CCSS does mention graphic novels as a type of text with which students should be familiar, making them the first standards to do so on the national scale.

But, I urge the comics community not to use the CCSS to justify the use of comics in the classroom. Or at the very least, not to do so exclusively. Look to the 1996 NCTE/IRA standards as well.

Why do I oppose the CCSS, even though at one time I supported their creation? I can't articulate the reasons better than Anthony Cody, who wrote these two articles:

"Common Core Standards: Ten Colossal Errors" and its follow-up,  "The Door We Open When We Defeat the Common Core".

Also must-reading is Diane Ravitch's Reign of Error:  The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools.

Stephen Krashen, long-time comics-and-literacy advocate (search his name as a keyword on this blog), Susan Ohanian, and Peter Smagorinsky have spoken out against the CCSS/current education reform movement as well.

Public education is not a perfect system and needs improvement, but the CCSS and the stakes of their implementation undermine public education as a democratic right. If you believe, as so many of us do, that comics is a democratic medium, please use your resources to resist, even when your products might stand to gain from being aligned to these standards.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Gilbert Hernandez Wins PEN Center Award!

Click here for all the awesome details! Well-deserved, Beto! In other news, brother Jaime was honored with another PENny Century award. ;)

Seriously, though, it's great to see this American Maestro get the attention he deserves.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Art Spiegelman on NPR: Co-Mix-in it Up.

Click here for the September 14, 2013 interview. It promotes his new book Co-Mix: A Retrospective of Comics, Graphics and Scraps.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

CBLDF Announces Japanese Ban on *Barefoot Gen* Lifted!

'Tis a happy day in the Land of the Rising Sun and for all advocates of free choice when it comes to reading in public schools! Click here for more details.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

BAREFOOT GEN Pulled from Japanese Primary, Middle School System

The excellent manga Barefoot Gen has been removed from shelves in primary and middle schools in Matsue, Japan. While teachers can still teach the text, it appears students will no longer be able to find the book in library stacks. Read the CBLDF press release on the subject here.

I wrote the rationale for this graphic novel's use in classrooms for the Teaching Rationales for Graphic Novels ebook/CD-rom project published  through Maupin House. I feel strongly that Barefoot Gen is an important text worthy of study and which should be accessible to all readers. I hope the school officials reconsider their decision, which was based on the book's portrayal of Japanese troops, apparently.

I was approached by a Japanese public television show to do an interview on the importance of this text and using it in classes. I couldn't commit due to my move to Washington, but now I wish I could have found the time.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

CFP-A-Palooza!: Calls for Papers for Collections, Journals Focusing on Comics

Hi there! I just wanted to mention several journal- or edited collection projects on which I'm working that might also interest you or those who know you.

First off, did you know I'm guest-editing an edition of ImageTexT, that very prestigious journal on comics, etc., out of the University of Florida? I am, and I'm doing so with Najwa Al-tabaa, a doctoral student at UF who is formerly of UTEP (interestingly, I'm very close to being "formerly of UTEP" myself, but rest assured, all submissions will still be vetted through folks associated with strong universities, *hint hint*) and honored me with the position of second reader on her MA thesis. She's good; I'm established. What's not to love about that pairing?

At any rate, the issue we're working on is entitled "Comics and Post-Secondary Education," so we're seeking articles about teaching comics in community colleges, universities, prisons, adult literacy programs, etc. Learn more about the project and submit something by the July 2013 deadline by visiting here.

Secondly, SANEjournal:sequential art narrative in education has announced its next themed issue. The deadline for this one looms less largely, though. "The Singularity Plurality" issue asks, "How can the writing or writings of one scholar inform how we teach comics or teach with them, or how we should do those things?" For example, what does the work of Louise Rosenblatt suggest about how we should read or teach comics?Paulo Freire? Click here to read the CFP.

As well, I am co-editing a collection with Derek Parker Royal about comics' presence in the American Southwest and Borderlands. We hope the collection does for the Southwest and Border region what Costello and Whitted’s Comics and the U.S. South did for that region and Southern studies via mining, creating, and illuminating the intersections of comics scholarship and established academic writing on the Southwestern United States, the U.S-Mexico border, and their literatures, identities, and cultures.

While abstracts were due to us by January 2013, I can tell you we'll soon issue another volley to get more submissions to join the intriguing ones we've seen so far. If you think you might have an essay that would be good for Comics and the American Southwest and Borderland, click here for contact details and general information about how we're conceiving the project currently.

Finally, I'd like to inform you about "The Conversations Project: Interdisciplinary Conversations About Comics, Literacy, and Scholarship," an edited collection in which I've asked scholars and teachers in humanities disciplines to pair with someone in the social sciences/education to talk about comics scholarship and comics teaching. The official CFP asked for abstracts by January 2013, but the first set of pairs will be getting me their essays around June 20. After that set, I'll send out more invitations, so if you're interested in comics scholarship and/or comics-and-literacy, maybe consider finding an informed buddy in a field other than your own and starting what we hope will be an innovative, gap-bridging conversation in a book which plans to be full of them. Some major players in comics scholarship and the comics-and-literacy movement have already signed on. Maybe you'll do so too. To learn more about the initial call, click here.

Of course, you can talk to me directly about any of these projects by emailing jbcarter777 at gmail dot com. Perhaps we'll be working together soon! :)

Dave Roman's *Astronaut Academy: Re-entry Day* is Out Now!

 I first learned about Dave Roman through his hilarious and quirky Teen Boat. He has another series geared toward upper elementary and middle schoolers, though, and the second of the Astronaut Academy line debuts TODAY!

Having met Dave at ALAN 2012, I can attest to his good character. Having read his work, I can attest to just how much you're going to love his books!

Click here to see a video trailer for this latest release.

CBLDF Reports on Recent Attempt, Failure to Censure THE KILLING JOKE

Click here for information about a patron's attempt to have Alan Moore's The Killing Joke removed from a public library in Nebraska. The patron assumed the text "advocated" rape, apparently. Cooler heads prevailed, and the librarians did not remove the graphic novel.

According to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund:

The book is currently shelved in the young adult section of the library with several other graphic novels. Ellyson notes that the review board consistently denies material challenges posed in the community, ensuring the availability of materials for patrons.

While this case is a victory for free speech, Batman: The Killing Joke can now be added to the list of Alan Moore’s books that have been challenged in libraries. Watchmen, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and most recently Neonomicon have all been challenged.

Chalk up a win against censorship, and give the opus of Alan Moore another notoriety upgrade! 

Grab Your Glasses & View Photos from The Near-Sighted Monkey

I'm not sure exactly what is going on here, but when you combine comics and comiquesque creations, Lynda Barry, and the University of Wisconsin- Madison, it has to be good. Check out the photos of some projects being created via The Near-Sighted Monkey tumblr.  (Thanks to MH for the link!)

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Free Comic Book Day 2013 is THIS SATURDAY! May 4!

Get some free comic book goodness at your local comic book shop this Saturday as Free Comic Book Day strikes again!

Click here to learn more, such as what titles will be available to the comics lover near you! This event has been going strong for eleven years and seems to gain steam with every new first Saturday in May. Your Cinco De Mayo just got better due to this Cuatro De Mayo. I hope to hit up Asylum Comics in West El Paso for some "gratis goodies."

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Erik Evensen and the Curious Case of the Slaughtering Sasqui: A Review of _The Beast of Wolfe's Bay_

Erik Evensen’s latest graphic novel, The Beast of Wolfe’s Bay, is part rural legend/supernatural adventure story, part romance, part parody of academic life. Brian Wegman, struggling doctoral candidate in Anthropology, is called upon to help small town cops in rustic Wolfe’s Bay solve a murder mystery, despite many considering him unqualified for the job. Along the way, he reunites with childhood acquaintance Freddie Roth, an attractive comparative literature professor as comfortable talking about folklore as she is making pop culture references. The two become fast foils, then friends, then more than friends as they fight Wegman’s severe career fatigue, a jealous investigator, an army of wendigos and their unhinged human leader, Dr. Greta Wendel.

References to the epic Beowulf are interlaced throughout the story; for example, Dr. Wendel’s character is a Grendel analogue. “Hwait!” begins the tale. Wolfe’s Bay is in Heorot County. In the closing notes, Evensen, a Xeric Award winner for his graphic novel Gods of Asgard, suggests that the book was planned as a more direct retelling but ended up as a sort of half-baked Beowulf, and while it is true that the text runs less than a hundred pages and is not an exact adaptation of the epic set to contemporary times, it doesn’t have to be for uninformed readers to enjoy it on the surface as a fun, thrilling narrative or for the more literary-inclined to appreciate the numerous interspersed allusions.

                                     The first page and invocation for The Beast of Wolfe's Bay

Indeed, high school teachers could use the text to help explore differences between adaptations and stories that are “inspired by” other texts. Intertextuality is comprised of ranges, after all. Readers in college – especially those in graduate school – and more than a few doctorates should get a kick out of seeing professors and university cultures take a few pokes and jabs. Unless they’re sensitive like Dr. Wendel, in which case I’d advise them to take field work in a remote location and never return to “normal” life, as does she.

Quirky, quixotic, and upbeat, The Beast of Wolfe’s Bay asks readers to balance between anticipating new love and anticipating criminal resolution, between jokey asides and literary subtexts. Often the plot-driving presence of hulking, killing sasqui is just a strange after note. Embedded within is a subtle critique of the problems associated with high cultures vs. low cultures arguments and their inherent notions of “worth,” and Evensen seems to suggest that no matter what one values and thinks is “real” or important, time, literatures, and life choices always push against the boundaries of normalcy – and accepting that might be the key to ending one’s quest happily.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

TCJ Interviews Walter Biggins, Departing Comics Guru for UP Mississippi

Here's a great interview from a month or so ago that features a guy who really know where comics scholarship has been, where it is going, and where it ought to go. Must-read stuff for anyone trying to get a grasp on comics and academia. I can't recommend this strongly enough.

2013 Eisner Awards Noms Made Public!

Click here or here to learn about the comics nominated for the award consistently referred to as the Oscars of the Comics! Maybe one day I'll get to judge these things. I hear it is a heck of a process! *Hint!Hint! To anyone reading!*

2012 Lynd Ward Award Goes to Chris Ware's Building Stories

Awarded by the Pennsylvania State University's Pennsylvania Center for the Book, the Lind Ward Award goes to an exemplar of comics narrative each year. Chris Ware's Building Stories is a fine, fine choice. Other comics were honored as well. Click here to learn more, and congrats to Chris Ware! I'm a big fan!

ALA's Most Challenged/Banned YA Books for 2012 Surpisingly Comicsless

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund reports that no comics or graphic novels made the 2012 list of most challenged books. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian was challenged in 2012 and is a regular on such lists now, according to CBLDF, and since the Sherman Alexie book has comics elements, let's consider it a prose/comics hybrid text just so the sequential art lovers among us don't feel too left out.

Click here for the story and links to ALA's lists of oft-challenged books.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Satrapi Weighs in on Persepolis Ban

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is keeping this ever-befuddling clusterflub from Chicago Public Schools fresh in our minds by helping share Marjane Satrapi's thoughts on the subject. I am excited to see her talk about the issue, and frustrated that CPS is requiring an ambiguous type of training to teachers before they teach the book. Pseudo-censorship at its finest, laced with half-baked stories and rumors and very little transparent truth from CPS beyond a "We'll do what we want" rhetoric.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

ImageTexT Special Issue: "Comics and Post-Secondary Education" CFP

Hi, all. I'm pleased to share with you that I am guest-editing an issue of ImageTexT journal, one of the premiere comics scholarship publications. Former UTEP graduate student (I was on her thesis committee!) and current University of Florida doctoral student Najwa Al-tabaa is co-editing the issue with me.

Please consider submitting your work, and help us spread the word. Here's a link to the actual Call For Papers.

The Clyde Fitch Report Spotlights Columbia U Librarian Karen Green

 Click here to read an interview with the influential librarian who has had much success integrating comics collections into the stacks at that most-excellent of Ivy League institutions!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Persepolis Being Banned from Chicago Schools?

Bleeding Cool News is reporting that Marjane Satrapi's graphic novel Persepolis may be experiencing a controversy. According to a post from the principal of Lane Tech College Prep High School, the book has caught the attention of someone who doesn't want the book available to students.

Read more about this possible censorship case here. You can access the principal's email address and send a letter of support for the book's continued inclusion in this and other Chicago-area schools, which is also a letter of support for students' ability to access it, read it, and learn from it.

Here's a copy of the email I just sent:

Dear Principal Dignam,

Hi there. I'm James Bucky Carter, an English Education professor and comics-and-literacy scholar. My work on comics and education has appeared in publications from MLA, NCTE, ALAN and ASCD. I have been a keynote or featured speaker on the subject at NCTE affiliates in NY, NH, OR, MO, NC, IO, and ID.

I'm writing in support of the graphic novel _Persepolis_, which, according to some media outlets, is being challenged in your schools?:

Please trust me when I tell you that Marjane Satrapi's _Persepolis_ is an excellent graphic novel for inclusion in public schools and libraries. As well, my research indicates that it is one of three graphic novels with which teachers are most familiar at the national level (along with Maus and American Born Chinese). Lesson plans and articles have been written on how to teach it. You might see the Marla Harris chapter on teaching it in my book _Building Literacy Connections with Graphic Novels_, published by NCTE and a best-seller for them. You might see Susan Spangler's chapter on integrating Persepolis into the ELA classroom by visiting the online _Journal of Media Literacy Education_. There is also a rationale for teaching the first volume of Persepolis available on the CDrom/ebook _Rationales for Teaching Graphic Novels_. Alan Webb has some great articles and a book on exploring literature from the Middle East in the American ELA classroom.

Simply put, there is no lack of information regarding teacher's respect for this text or how to use it effectively in a secondary school classroom.

I have recommended _Persepolis_ for secondary audiences for many years. I have taught it in my YA lit classes for many years. While it is true that the book can be seen as controversial from any number of parties (I've had christian students express frustration with it as well as Muslim students), its potential to open dialogue and discourse at a time when our country and the Middle East need to find understandings.... Well, it might be unparallelled.

I encourage you to support this inclusion of _Persepolis_ in your school's classrooms and libraries, to encourage your teachers to support the text as well, and I hope you might share this support across Chicago.

Thank you for the work you do. If I can be of any help, do not hesitate to call upon me.