EN/SANE World

Friday, October 31, 2008

What Could Have Happened....

Go Kill Some Aztecs, Why Don'tchya?

Nothing says "Halloween" more like the bloody massacre of an indigenous people with land and abundant natural resources and precious ore.

Just ask Hernan Cortes, who, according to the graphic novel Hernan Cortes and the Fall of the Aztec Empire, used Montezuma like a stooge and then cleaned up the mess his Number 2, Pedro De Alvarado, made when Alvarado staged an attack on the Aztecs that really just sort of pissed them off. How'd he clean house? By taking his armored men with their guns and swords and essentially killing off an entire city and culture. Tenochtitlan fell, but Cortes built Mexico City on the site. Politics, money, land -- that's frightening stuff.

Yeah, it's simplistic, but this is a graphic novel for younger readers. It's a good supplement to a traditional text book, but oh does it does need supplementing. Did Cortes call the city Mexico City? Why, if the land was considered New Spain? A glossary of terms and a timeline are in this text and help younger readers, but this graphic novel isn't one of those sources that can stand on its own. Sometimes things are simplified to the point of raising more questions than they resolve.

But, hey, if you're still looking for a scary Halloween costume and want to be original, try going out as a conquistador. Having just read this tiny graphic novel on Halloween, I think Cortes would make a fine addition to your trick or treat parade.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

New Conference on "Graphica" in the Classroom


Graphica in Education: Bringing the Discussion of Graphic Novels Out from Under the Desk

January 31, 2009
Fordham University
Lincoln Center Campus: New York, NY


Hosted by the Graduate School of Education at Fordham University
General Information

The inaugural Graphica in Education conference is designed to open a discussion among educators about the place of graphica in the field of education. It will serve teachers, instructional designers, administrators, librarians, and other interested individuals who would like to explore the use of graphic novels and other graphica in the classroom. Participants in the conference will have the opportunity to hear from authors, teachers, and researchers about the nature of writing, reading, and teaching graphic novels. The conference will offer a full day of workshops to complement a keynote address and panel discussion. The conference will also include sponsor presentations and exhibits. Lunch will be included with conference registration.

Invitation to Respond to the Call for Proposals
The Graphica in Education Conference planning committee seeks interactive and engaging proposals for presentations in the breakout workshops of the conference. Workshops will be approximately 60 minutes in length. Paper presentations may be combined into panel discussions. Proposals from practicing teachers about pedagogical methodologies and from researchers about application of graphica in the classroom are encouraged.

Proposals should include:

* The type of presentation (e.g., paper presentation, teaching demonstration, panel discussion)
* A brief description (50 words or less) of the presentation or workshop
* A summary (500 words or less) of the workshop, including rationale/theoretical grounding, practical application, and participant involvement (the benefit to participants)
* The name(s), contact information, and affiliation of presenter(s)

Proposal submission deadline: December 1, 2008

Proposals should be submitted electronically to krturner@fordham.edu.
Conference Registration Presenters for accepted proposals will receive free registration to the conference.

For More Information For more information on the proposal submission process or the conference in general contact Kristen Turner at krturner@fordham.edu.
(Yours Truly just accepted the keynote role for this conference!)

Nate Fisher Back To Work Teaching Kids

Thanks to The Beat for posting a "resolution" link about Nate Fisher, an English teacher who was let go after asking a student to read Eightball #22 (do a search of this blog of his name and the comic title for more info). According to this story, he's found another teaching gig and is doing well. Good for him, and even better for his students! Yay, happy endings and new beginnings!

PAPERCUTZ Brings Back Classics Illustrated

Below are a series of press releases from the past year or so detailing Papercutz publishing's attempts to revive the Classics Illustrated series. They look like they're doing it up right too, but on to the official press release barrage:

Good News for Students:

Classics Illustrated returns after a 10-year hiatus -- just in time for the new semester

In January, kids will reluctantly return to school. Luckily, Classics Illustrated will join them. Generations of students have been introduced to the great classics by this legendary series of comics, their appetites whetted for the real thing.


These comic-book editions of great literature sold about 200 million copies from 1941 through 1998. Papercutz -- publisher of graphic-novel series such as The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and Tales from the Crypt -- is reviving the series in two formats. Classics Illustrated presents abridged versions of classic novels, while Classics Illustrated Deluxe features longer, more expansive adaptations.


The last few years have seen quickly growing recognition amongst librarians and especially educators of the power of comics to bring kids to reading and away from video, video games and the internet. Many publishers, including in the educational field, have successfully launched expansive graphic novel programs with widely varying degrees of quality.


The works from Papercutz are not for hire but loving adaptations by top artists. The line begins with Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, adapted by Michel Plessix. Later volumes will include Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations by Rick Geary, followed by Grimm’s Fairy Tales and The Invisible Man. Each adaptation will come from an artist with a special expertise in the book’s tone and topic. Great Expectations’ Geary, for example, is the writer-artist of the Treasury of Victorian Murder graphic-novel series and an expert in Dickensian England.The 144-page book is available in both hardcover ($17.95) and trade paperback editions ($13.95).


Plessix’s elaborately painted pages, precise storytelling, and style that can best be called “detailed impressionism” have earned shining reviews such as “adds dramatic flair to the beloved story” (Publishers Weekly), “brings to mind the best storybooks of our childhood” (Memphis Commercial Appeal) and “Excellent! Lively and fun!”(Children’s Bookwatch).


**F.Y.I., 2008 is The Wind in the Willows’ 100th anniversary!**


Classics Illustrated was the creation of Albert Lewis Kanter (1897-1973), a visionary publisher. Kanter believed that comics could introduce young readers to great literature. In 1941, he launched Classic Comics (changed to Classics Illustrated in 1947). For thirty years, Kanter produced more than 200 Classics Illustrated and Classics Illustrated Junior publications. They introduced young readers worldwide to fiction, history, folklore, mythology, and science --


In 1990, the Berkley Publishing Group and First Publishing revived Classics Illustrated as a series of graphic novels featuring new adaptations by such top graphic novelists as Rick Geary, Bill Sienkiewicz, Kyle Baker, and Gahan Wilson.


Papercutz will reprint many of these books. Papercutz has also obtained rights to new adaptations of the classics by some of the world's finest graphic novelists. Published under the Classics Illustrated Deluxe imprint, they devote three to five times as many pages as the previous series and more fully capture the depth of the original novels.


The Wind in the Willows: 6 ½ x 9”, 144pp., full color hardcover, $17.95, ISBN 978-1-59707-095-9, trade pb.: $13.95. ISBN 978-59707-096-6; publication: February ’08. Distributed by Macmillan.For more information please contact Papercutz publicist David Seidman at davidseidman@earthlink.net or 310-652-4369.


CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED PRESENTS: The Invisible Man

With coverage going from USA Today to a rapturous article in Newsweek, Papercutz’ rebirth of the great Classics Illustrated comics line continues with another superb adaptation by Rick Geary, who did Dickens’ Great Expectations which Papercutz revived a few months ago.

Taken from the vaults of the great quality line of short adaptations tried by First Comics in conjunction with Berkley back in the eighties, this adaptation has not seen the light in quite a few years.

And since then, Rick Geary has slowly but surely made quite a name for himself. Winner in 2007 of an Eisner Award (the comics’ industry’s Oscars) for his revival of Gumby comics with Bob (“Flaming Carrot”) Burden, he has also been recently published by Hill & Wang, with a biography of J. Edgar Hoover.

The main series Geary has become increasingly recognized for is the Treasury of Victorian Murder (NBM Publishing). Meticulously researched and comprising 9 volumes, it has presented that era’s most famous murders, from the Lizzie Borden double axe murder to the one of Abraham Lincoln, not to miss Jack the Ripper. All with tongue firmly in cheek.

And this adaptation injects a good deal of whimsy as well into the horror classic by the great Wells. The story is of a scientist who discovers the secret to making things invisible. There’s only one problem: he cannot undo it! As a result, he becomes stark raving mad and seriously dangerous.

Papercutz’ new line is actually two: one regular collection of which this is the second volume, the first one being Geary’s Great Expectations, and a Deluxe collection which presents much lengthier adaptations such as the first volume which had Plessix’ The Wind in the Willows. Saying “The Wind in the Willows has met its Michelangelo,” Newsweek went on to set the challenge: "Papercutz has set very high standards for its new series." The Deluxe series also has recently brought out a collection of Grimm Tales.

6 ½ x 9”, 56pp. full color hardcover, $9.95, ISBN 978-1-59707-106-2, publication date: August. Distributed by Macmillan.

Classics Illustrated’s Grimm Fairy Tales: Papercutz offers all-new comics adaptation

PAPERCUTZ Press Release:
You’ve never seen fairy tales quite like this.

In May, Papercutz will ship Tales from the Brothers Grimm to bookstores and comic-book shops. The 144-page full-color book presents the first official North American appearance of four stories adapted by some of Europe’s finest comics artists.


• Philip Petit combines a painter’s mastery of color, a campfire storyteller’s command of suspense, and a cartoonist’s touch of humor to retell the famous “Hansel and Gretel.”


• In “Learning How to Shudder” by Mazan (the pen name of Pierre Lavaud, artist of a volume of Lewis Trondheim and Joann Sfar’s popular series Dungeon), a boy tries to learn how to be afraid, but nothing scares him -- not even a scarlet-skinned man with horns and a tail -- until he gets a lesson from a very unexpected source


.• “The Devil and the Three Golden Hairs” is the first comic-book work by fine artist Cecile Chicault. It’s about a peasant boy who wants to marry a king’s daughter – but the king won’t let him do it unless the boy brings him three hairs from the devil’s head.


• And when the hero of Mazan’s “The Valiant Little Tailor” announces too proudly that he’s killed seven with one blow -- and doesn’t mention that the seven are flies -- he’s called on to fight some very grumpy giants.The paperback edition (ISBN-13: 978-159707-100-0) retails for $13.95, and the hardcover (ISBN-13: 978-159707-101-7) for $17.95.

"If the first two, “Great Expectations” and “Wind in the Willows,” are any indication, Papercutz has set very high standards for its new series.” -- Malcolm Jones, NEWSWEEK

Classics Illustrated has introduced generations of students to great literature. These comic-book editions of novels, plays, and poems sold about 200 million copies from 1941 through 1998. Tales of the Brothers Grimm is the third volume in Papercutz’s revival of the line.


“The volumes are perfectly designed for library shelves, with sturdy bindings and a large enough size for kids to get a good look at the contents,” School Library Journal has written about Papercutz’s new editions. “The artwork is beautifully reproduced -- crisp and clear -- and each book contains background about the series’ history and a brief bio of the artist/adaptor.”


Papercutz publishes comic books and graphic novels for kids. The company’s titles range from new adventures of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew to Tales from the Crypt.


For more information, please visit http://www.papercutz.com or http://myspace.com/papercutzcomics, or contact Papercutz publicist David Seidman at davidseidman@earthlink.net or 310-652-4369.

I got some PAPERCUTZ: Great Expectations in the GN Form

NEWS FROM PAPERCUTZ (Press Release)

Great Expectations, the Graphic Novel


Best-selling Treasury of Victorian Murder creator Rick Geary adapts Charles Dickens’ tale of mystery and obsessive love, the next book in Papercutz’ Classics Illustrated re-launch.It’s been made into movies nearly a dozen times. School systems worldwide tell their students to read it. It’s in the top one-tenth of one percent of Amazon.com’s bestsellers. And in April, Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations appears under the Papercutz Classics Illustrated imprint as a graphic novel by Rick Geary, creator of the popular series Treasury of Victorian Murder.In both the prose novel and the graphic novel, the homeless orphan Pip falls desperately in love with the beautiful but shallow Estella. Pip struggles to prove himself worthy of Estella while a mysterious benefactor intervenes in the boy’s life.

Geary has won the 2007 “Best Title for a Younger Audience” Eisner award (the comic-book Oscar) and the National Cartoonists Society’s Book and Magazine Illustration Award. His Treasury of Victorian Murder graphic novels have inspired praise such as:


• “First rate. Superb as always.”--Publishers Weekly

• “Meticulously researched, beautifully drawn, and quite entertaining. My highest recommendation!”--Comics Buyer’s Guide

• “A must read!”--Andrew Smith, Scripps-Howard Newspapers

• “ Will have even reluctant readers immersed in history.”--School Library Journal

• “Geary relies not on gore but on the scrupulously drawn detail and the droll, telling expression.”--Booklist

• “A keen sense of period detail and sharp pacing.”--Kirkus Reviews

• “Filled with rich detail and told with the tightness of a thriller.”--Time.comix•

“Geary shows a true talent for capturing the images, mood and even language of Victorian society.”--Washington Post


Classics Illustrated has introduced generations of students to great literature. These comic-book editions of novels, plays, and epic poems sold about 200 million copies from 1941 through 1998. Geary originally created his version of Great Expectations for a Classics Illustrated series published by Berkley Publishing and First Publishing in 1990. It has been out of print for more than a decade, and Papercutz is proud to bring it back.


Great Expectations is a full-color hardcover, 56 pages long, at a size of 6 1/2” by 9”, a cover price of $9.95, ISBN 978-1-59707-097-3. Publication: April ’08. It is the second of Papercutz’s new Classics Illustrated volumes. The first was Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, adapted by Michel Plessix.


For more information please contact Papercutz publicist David Seidman at davidseidman@earthlink.net or 310-652-4369.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Thanks, NCETA!

I'm wrapping up here in Winston-Salem, NC, where I was the keynote speaker at the North Carolina English Teacher's Association. It's always interesting to go home and visit with North Carolina's teachers. Thanks, NCETA for having me!



Now to get ready for my presentations on graphic novels at the national NCTE conference in San Antonio! :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I JUST VOTED DURING TEXAS' EARLY VOTING PERIOD


... and I was wearing a Captain America shirt while I did it! Now you vote, too. Captain America shirt optional, but damn-well able to make you feel even better once you pull the level/press the button/swipe the card/etc.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Blue Dot, Red Dot #2: "Giving"


Blue Dot, Red Dot #1: "Rule"


Blotchmen "24 Hour Comic Book Day" Story

24 hour Comic Book Day is an annual event that asks people to hole themselves up in their favorite creative spots, either alone or with the similarly-inclined, and produce a fully drawn, inked, and lettered story of sequential art in the span of 24 consecutive hours. I hope to try it out someday. The most recent was on October 18, and Tom Spurgeon has already found a gem among the pages in this Watchmen spoof, Blotchmen, in which a masked marauder must face the secret evil of...... William Carlos Williams????? It's just a plum good riff from Kevin Cannon, I tell you.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Review of Pitch Black

The morlocks are real, and some of them are even artistic. The rumors of people living beneath the streets of New York City, well below the subway lines, are true. The morlocks of Cinco Punto press's recent graphic novel release, Pitch Black, may not be as disfigured or scary as those in Wells' The Time Machine, but they are just as forgotten, just as shocking to surface-level sensabilities of class and standards of living, and, in the case of Anthony Horton, just as resourceful.

Horton's resources are his artistic ability and friendly, if sometimes guarded, spirit, and when paired with the talents of Youme Landowne, his story of living on the streets, then underneath them, becomes compelling, and unsettling. Horton seemed to have a doomed life from the start. An unwanted child soon became an invisible youth in a megalopolis where people have to look out for themselves. The social services he found seemed just as dangerous as living alone, and he eventually found himself in the subterrain of the Big Apple. If not for a chance encounter with fellow artist Landowne, his story might never have been told.

As it happened, though, that fated meeting in the subway system produced an intriguing, sometimes stimyying work of sequential art.

Check out The ALAN Review 36.1 (Fall 08)

See my thoughts on the graphic novel as genre vs. the graphic novel as form or medium in the latest ALAN Review. Also included: a visual literacy activity sure to help you and others see that sequential art is not a genre in and of itself, but a format that supports multiple genres. Read The Alan Review 36.1 now, and be sure to check out my article "Die a Graphic Death: Revisiting the Death of Genre with Graphic novels or 'Why won't you just die already?'" -- perhaps the longest title ever to appear in an ALAN publication! ;)

The Education of Hopey Glass

Douglas Wolk can do no wrong nowadays, mostly becuase of his great book Reading Comics, so it's not surprising that his review of The Education of Hopey Glass is getting some attention. Thanks to D. Myers for sending me the link to the NY Times review, which is worthy of the praise it is getting. As someone who will be using the new Jaime Hernandez graphic novel in a college-level class next semester, I was very happy to see it getting some love, though it has been out for a while now.


Woot!: Obama'El


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

"This Looks Like Fun!": Mascot to the Rescue

From the HarperCollins website:

Josh Miller, sixth grader at Demarest Elementary School, has a secret. Everything that happens to Mascot, the superhero sidekick in the Captain Major comic books, also happens to Josh. So when Josh finds out that Mascot is slated to die in the next Captain Major adventure, he knows he has to do something—and fast! A budding comics artist and writer himself, Josh and his new friend, Kelsey (aka Large Lass), take off to find Stan Kirby, the creator of the Captain Major series, so they can save Mascot—and Josh's life.

Comic-book legend Peter David teams up with the renowned comics artist Colleen Doran in their first book for young readers.


Comics fans will note the reference/reverence to super-hero creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby , and it's about time sidekicks got in on the action since so many YA and traditional print novels have been exploring super-hero themes and tropes as of late. And as someone who shares a name with one of comics' all-time mascots (Captain America's Bucky), I'm partial to this sort of thing.
Soo fun! I wish they'd send me a review copy (hint, hint, if you're reading.....)

Papercutz' Frankenstein

A revamped version of the Classics Illustrated Frankenstein will soon be releases by imprint Papercutz, which apparently has several graphic novel adaptations from the series for sale. For some interesting contrasting visuals, do a search for "Frankenstein" on my blog and take a look at some excellent artwork.

O My! Sequential Art Students Create O. Henry Collection

Let's face it, if you've been an English teacher long enough, you've taught an O. Henry story. It's relatively easy to get readers to feel the pathos of his stories, but now there's a resource to help you get them to visualize the characters, their reactions, their emotions, etc:

Students from SVA Comic Book Storytelling Workshop have compiled a graphic anthology of his works, including stories like "The Green Door" and "The Whirligig of Life."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"Looks Good To Me:" I Live Here




Comics have a long history of detailing the plight of the poor and displaced, or those looking for a new home and life after dealing with crisis or disaster, from Will Eisner to Joe Kubert to adaptations of Kafka to Joe Sacco to the upcoming Hurricane Katrina tale After the Deluge to the following new title, as detailed in a press release from Pantheon:



"Gut–wrenching and hauntingly beautiful" —Glamour



For the past two months, you've listened to me tell you how excited I was about I Live Here. I couldn't be more pleased now to tell you that it's finally on sale! If you don't already know what I Live Here is about, here's the short version: the book—or more precisely the four books that are contained within a slipcase—is a stunning visual documentary, in which the lives of refugees and displaced people become at once personal and universal. I Live Here is a raw and intimate journey to crises in four corners of the world: war in Chechnya, ethnic cleansing in Burma, globalization in Mexico, and AIDS in Malawi.


The voices we encounter are those of displaced women and children, told in their own words or by noted writers and artists, including Joe Sacco, Ann–Marie MacDonald, Phoebe Gloeckner, Chris Abani, and many others. The stories unfold in an avalanche: an orphan goes to jail for stealing leftovers. A grieving mother snaps photos of spaces left vacant by her vanished teenaged daughter. A child soldier escapes his army only to be saved by the people he was trained to kill. An elderly woman recounts the tumultuous history of fellow refugees. Threaded throughout these accounts is Mia Kirshner's intimate travel narrative, brought vividly to life in collaboration with writer J.B. MacKinnon and designers Paul Shoebridge and Michael Simons.


I Live Here is a truly groundbreaking work.



Join the cause on Facebook


Order your copy here Happy Reading!


--Hillary Tisman

Monday, October 13, 2008

Powell's City of Books (Portland, Oregon)

This weekend I had a dream come true, literally. For years now, I've had a recurring dream where I visit the largest bookstore in the world. Stacks are stories high, the ladders are enormous, and long velvet drapes cover many of the sections until one asks for them to be revealed. That wasn't exactly the layout of Powell's City of Books, but the bookstore in Portland, Oregon, is the largest in the world and was certainly worth the visit.

Imagine being a bookstore that encompasses and entire block, one with graphic novels on shelf after shelf, from the floor to twenty feet above your head -- and that was just *one* section of GN's. Powell's had several sections -a couple of Manga sections (one for general Manga, another for adolescents favorites), an adult graphic novels section (not what you think, but they probably had a section of those too somewhere), and a kids graphic novel section.

Twas bliss. Never have I been in a bookstore so big, they give you a map of the place when you walk in the door. And despite the inexplicable absence of copies of Maus I (II was in abundance), the graphic novel section was impressive. If only I could visit Powell's again as easily as I do that bookstore in my dreams...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Thanks, OCTE!

Thanks to all the folks in Lake Oswego, Oregon, for hosting me this weekend. I hope my keynote was OK. The audience certainly was attentive, and I think the early-career teachers in the audience might have particularly gained some direction, based on questions and such. I had a great time and appreciate everyone's efforts, and I'm happy to have made a new friend in Bob Hamm.

One more keynote to go (North Carolina) before my appearances at the national NCTE conference in San Antonio!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Political Fun w/ Microsoft Publisher

See, you don't need fancy programs like Comic Life to create comics art with your students (but it is a great application!). Using Microsoft Word and even Microsoft Publisher can be an effective way of creating pieces, for example, the political comic strip I made:

(Surely I'm not the only classic car buff to have noticed the muscle car undertones of the recent political campaigns. My thoughts? As the cartoon clearly implies, "Nobody ever bought a Maverick if they could afford a Mustang!")

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

I Found This Stimulating (Intelectually): Portillo's Gabriel


There is an evil lurking in the border community that encompasses El Paso, Texas, and Juarez, Mexico. Over 1,000 murders have already been reported this year alone, and many young women have gone missing or have been found dead.


That’s not fiction. It is interesting to me as I learn more about El Paso and the comics scene here to note that there are comic creators in the region who are actually exploring this reality in their work. Take, for instance, Jaime “Jimmy” Portillo’s recent graphic novel Gabriel. A mature title that won a Xeric Foundation grant, Gabriel suggests that the motive behind many of the killings may not be greed or drugs as the news media is reporting, but hunger.


Portillo’s eponymous character is introduced to readers as a decent enough fellow who has a penchant for hanging out at goth bars and taking in the scenery, which is often exotic, dark, and beautiful. But he doesn’t appear to be the go-getter type. He comes off as a “safe” fellow, the eternal friend, until he hooks up with a very attractive young woman who turns out to be a vampire. As they copulate in her car, she turns him and informs him of his new powers, weaknesses, and desires. It takes little time for him to accept his new situation.


Indeed, along with an excessive wordiness that often manifests in the form of repetitive phrases, Gabriel’s quick transition from “anyman” to mass murderer feels like a weakness of the text. Perhaps this is a sign of a young author, or perhaps Portillo is making a statement that given the proper positioning and power, mankind is not a particularly benevolent species. Even as he meets his end, Gabriel has no regrets for killing, maiming, and raping scores of young women. “Of course not, I’m a fucking vampire,” he states several times. It’s as if being a vampire is what we all really aspire to, deep down.


No, this Gabriel is not an angelic messenger from God. Or, if he is, the message is not a pleasant one. Indeed, even though the power-lusting blood sucker dies, the spirit he seems to have imparted over the region lives on as corrupt officials, thugs, and police officers copycat his tendencies and further cement a murderous legacy that is revealed to have super-natural roots from the beginnings of the region’s reputation as a lawless Western oasis for outlaws and renegades.


Crafted using Ka-Blam’s print-on-demand digital services and utilizing heavy photo-manipulation, the visual tone, layout, and feel of the graphic novel is impressive. The saturated and inky feel of the photos translates well into black-and-white and help to make Gabriel seem familiar yet distanced from his readers. At any moment we feel we are a part of his excitement, the thrill and eroticism of his hunt and kills but are just as likely to be his next victim.
And Portillo does do the vampire sub-genre justice. As noted, the sexual element associated with vampires since Stoker and before is very apparent, especially in a scene in which Gabriel meshes cunnilingus schemata with the vagina dentata mythos. Gabriel has the typical vampire strengths of flight, even teleportation, and the standard aversion to sunlight and heart-piercing stakes.


The scenes are violent, horrific, but not horrifying. The narrative is not a horror story; there is no instance where the reader “doesn’t see it coming,” not while he’s on the prowl, anyway. Rather, the horror resides in the psychological ethos of the book: the over-arching idea that none of us are any better than Gabriel. That we’d all react the same if we had the power and especially the privilege and secrecy that come with power and authority. Gabriel is turned not so much by a vampire, but by humanity’s urge to prey upon its weaker beings and gorge itself on abuses of authority.

The true genius of the book, the real violence of this quite graphic graphic novel, is that it temporary offers a fictional explanation of real-life horrors, then relinquishes the reader of that anxiety, but ultimately returns it by bringing the reader back down from the night skies and into the actual, or quite possible, realities that the reasons these atrocities are happening in our sister cities is because they are inhabited by those with flaws and ambitions all too human.


Isn't it always the way?: The pretty ones always have the most bite. Gabriel learns this, to be sure. You can read his story by visiting http://www.myspace.com/gabrielgraphicnovel and ordering a copy.

"Stop Staring at Me, Swann!"

The Swann Foundation for Caricature and Cartoon, Library of Congress, is now accepting applications for the Swann Fellowship for the 2009-2010 academic year. Annual award up to $15,000 to support scholarly graduate research in caricature and cartoon. Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited M.A. or Ph.D program in a university in the U.S., Canada, or Mexico. Deadline: Feb. 13, 2009. Access guidelines and application at:
http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/swann/swann-fellow.html

Contact Martha Kennedy with questions at 202/707-9115 or email swann@loc.gov.

What's Wrong with Calling them Proto-comics?

Or precursors? Or sequential art? Critic Domingos Isabelinho discusses Medieval painting and book illustration, the wordless engraving cycle, Modern and Post-Modern painting and Concrete and Visual Poetry as entities that can help "expand comics as an art form," then critiques each one for how it is or is not comics. Something doesn't have to be the thing itself to have the traits of the thing; nor do we need to worry so much on giving something from the 15th century a 19th or 21st century label. No, there weren't comic books in the Middle Ages, but there was sequential art and visual narrative. Acknowledging the precursors to something seems to inherently suggest that there are going to evolutions an devolutions throughout the ages, but at least Isabelinho is attempting an interesting vivisection of the intersections of myriad art forms with multiple similarities.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Non-Fiction Manga on Japanese Power and War

Thanks to Tom Spurgeon for offering the above link. You'll have to scroll down a bit to get the the translated manga, but it's worth it. Too often school children in America only get the American-European viewpoint on politics and war, so it is good to see other viewpoints expressed. Here's a take on WWII-era Japan we might not often see. It reminds me a little of Barefoot Gen.

Friday, October 03, 2008

See You in San Antonio -- If Not Earlier!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Thanks, ICTE!

I'm currently in Johnston, Iowa, working with the Iowa Council of Teachers of English and am having a blast. Some members wanted me to post a "top ten" recommended reading list, so here it is in no particular order!:

Maus by Art Spiegelman
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Bone by Jeff Smith
The Tale of One Bad Rat by Bryan Talbot
Ultimate Spider-Man Volume 1 by Marvel
American Born Chinese by Gene Yang
Deogratias: A Tale of Rwanda by J.P. Stassen
Runaways by Brian K. Vaughan and Marvel
Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan
Pedro and Me by Judd Winick

Now, I often rotate titles in and out of my ten favorites, and these represent middle-and high school-friendly titles. If you want more titles and more mature titles, just ask.