EN/SANE World

Monday, November 30, 2009

2010 Texas Library Association Maverick Graphic Novel List

It's nice to see librarians in my current home state of Texas giving graphic novels some good attention.

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Video on 24 Hour Comic Book Day

According to Kim Munson, this was "filmed in San Francisco at the Comic Outpost and Mission Comics and Art by Gary Buechler (co-owner of Comic Outpost)."

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New York Times' Graphic Novel Gift Guide for Holiday Season 2009

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

"Good Neighbor" Graphic Novel Idea

I'm currently watching the State Farm Bayou Classic, which is pitting HBCU footballers from Southern (Baton Rouge, LA) and Grambling State (Grambling, LA). Apparently, State Farm has sponsored the event since 1996.

The sad laugher here is that State Farm screwed thousands of African Americans and other citizens who experienced loss and damage from Hurricane Katrina, etc. The company is still passing off its costs to citizens in the Deep South through crazy-high insurance premiums. When I moved to Mississippi from Virginia, for example, our car insurance premiums from State Farm went up over 200%. We'd been with the company since I was 15. We ended up switching companies, and we'll never go back.

So, here's an idea for you, graphic novelists: Do some Michael Moore-type research and publish a graphic novel called "Good Neighbor" in which you detail how State Farm is bending over their neighbors in the South and how state politicians are happy to let it happen.

Throw in the Bayou Classic for some irony. Hell, let it be your jumping off point.




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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Doom Says, "Enjoy your 'Death to Turkey' Day, Peons!"


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Monday, November 23, 2009

New Jersey Libraries Get Grants for Graphic Novels!

Graphic Novel Reporter has the scoop in its recent update!

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Friday, November 20, 2009

My NCTE Session Went Well

Thanks to all the participants and audience members of today's 9:30 "Comics in the Contact Zone" roundtable. We had a very respectable crowd and lots of good conversation going on. If only publishers had been present to see the deep interest from practicing teachers. And a special thanks to Dr. B from the land of a thousand lakes for stopping by.

I look forward to our future conversations. Now, some down time to try to let my sinuses drain before a busy evening of comics-related presentation watching, publication talking, and general hobnobbing.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

With a Rebel Yell!: Moore, Moore, Moore!

The Black Dossier censorship case in Kentucky heats up. Evangelical involved! Porn invoked! Evangelical's relative warns of dangers of censorship!

It's Blue Grass, Dumb Ass, and a Text that's Crass (depending on your p.o.v.)! Grab your peanuts (no, I said "peanuts," gutter-head!) and enjoy!

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Get Your "Philly" of Graphic Novels at NCTE 2009!

Having barely squeezed myself onto the programming this year, I'm just about to embark to Philadelphia, PA, for NCTE 2009. I'll be hosting a roundtable and presenting at said roundtable as well. I'll be joined by SUNY-Fredonia Professor Susan Spangler, Fordham University Doctoral student Brian Kelley, University of Windsor Professor Dale Jacobs, Gallaudet Professor and former UVa colleague Sharon Padjka-West, and Hugh Davis, who teaches at an all-girls school in my home state of North Carolina.

We'll be discussing "comics in the contact zone," which relates to Mary Louise Pratt's ideas on teaching and more generally refers to talk about how comics and conflict go hand-in-hand -- and how that isn't a bad thing!

Search NCTE's online program with key word "Graphic Novel" to see the rest of the exciting GN-centric sessions!

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Bridging Ideas using Big Fat Little Lit, Best American Comics, Smithsonian Collection

This semester's crop of bridging activities from my English 3349: "Dramatic Modes of English Language Arts" class are perhaps some of the most intriguing I've ever seen.


The skinny: Students have to take a story they read from Big Fat Little Lit, The Smithsonian Book of Comic-Book Stories, or one of the Best American Comics anthologies and think of a way they could use the story as a thematic bridge to set up instruction of a more canonical text.

Regarding bridges stemming from the Little Lit collection:

April felt that Barbara McClintock's interpretation of "The Princess and the Pea" could be used as a bridge to Shakespeare's Pericles, since both deal with fate and coincidence in one way or another. Jonathan also wrote on the same fairy tale but bridged it to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight since both deal with the concept of questioning one's authenticity.


Kenneth saw connections between Milton's Paradise Lost and "The Baker's Daughter" since characters in both experience a sort of fall from grace and a transformation of kinds based on their behavior.



Brenda kept the British Lit mojo alive by suggesting bridging to Shakespeare's "Sonnet 130" -- you know, the one about the mistress who is lovely to the speaker but not necessarily to anyone else -- and "Pretty Ugly."

Rita found the theme of destiny vs. free will in "The Enchanted Pumpkin" and felt it could be used to build prior knowledge of the theme as it is represented in Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist.

Sandra saw connections between Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter and "The Several Selves of Selby Sheldrake." She'd use the comic to discuss multiple identities, especially as they relate to Arthur Dimmesdale, who is many things to many people.


"Broken promises" comprise a theme that can bridge "The Fisherman and the Sea Princess" to Marie de France's Lanval, says Angela.

Thomas found Kaz's "The Hungry Horse" a perfect companion for Crane's "The Open Boat" since both deal with forms of irony. Irony isn't a theme, of course, but there are all sorts of connections regarding depravity and choices in these two texts, which Thomas pointed out when we discussed our bridges in class.


Vanessa chose a selection from the Smithsonian collection. She saw connections between Will Eisner's "Izzy the Cockroach" and Kafka's Metamorphosis, and not just because the two feature bugs as main characters. Gregor and Jacob also have many similarities in how they deal with life's angsts. I was very impressed.

Hilda also had a very intriguing thematic bridge. She pulled hers from the exquisite collection Best American Comics 2008. Hilda wanted to bridge Carre's "The Thing About Madeline" to Midsummer Night's Dream and even suggested the song "Time of the Season" by The Zombies as another textual link in the bridge. The big theme seemed to be "Who are you, really?" if I read Hilda correctly.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

2009 Friends of Lulu Winners Announced

See the list here!

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Among Adults who buy books, 1 in 10 read comics

Thanks to M. Streeter for calling my attention to this report from Simba, a company that helps publishers understand their markets. According to the study, comics readers are a strong force among those who buy books of all kinds.

A quote from the report that is making the rounds: "...about 70% of adults who have read comics in the previous 12 months also bought at least one book. This is quite notable, given that only about 56% of the entire U.S. adult population buys books....."

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Another Graphic Novel Pulled from Libraries

ICV2 reports that Stuck in the Middle: Seventeen Comics from an Unpleasant Age has been removed from two middle school libraries in Souix Falls, South Dakota.

"The school district averages about one complaint per year concerning library material, but this is the first time since at least 2001 that a book has been made unavailable to students.

A committee that reviewed the graphic novel said unanimously that it's inappropriate for middle school students. The book's editor says the cartoons are true to life and could help struggling teens and pre-teens understand that they're not alone," states an article on the event from ArgusLeader.com (see link above). Also, Ariel Schrag, who wrote the book centering on teen angst and issues of sexuality that young teens often confront, has defended the book while respecting the thoughts of parent Shelly Miller, who complained and drew attention to the text, apparently in relation to her sixth-grader's response to it.

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A Scene from Persepolis/ AKA My Students are Cool

In my ENG 3349 class, "The Dramatic Modes of English Language Arts," students learn about the six English Language Arts and how they can use all of them to integrate new and multimodal discourses into their teaching and into the types of work in which they might have their future students engage. They choose from a host of assignments (well over 20) to craft a portfolio of work illustrating them using technology to create texts that tell a little about themselves and/or offer pedagogical opportunities.

Here is a draft version of a "reader's theatre" based on one page of Marjane Satrapi's excellent graphic novel, Persepolis. The students even provide you with post-viewing discussion questions. They need to edit the text a little bit, but this still struck me as an intriguing clip that shows how knowing one form can help readers produce another. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

GNR Updates with Interview of author of The Physics of Superheroes

James Kakalios can tell you if Havoc could actually channel plasma, how Nightcrawler might actually be able to teleport, and how he'd need to do it if Superman could actually fly. He's the author one The Physics of Superheroes, which has just been revised in its second edition. Graphic Novel Reporter.com has an interview with the wizard of how.

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Go Read: Katie Monnin's New Book Teaching Graphic Novels

The folks at Maupin House sure know how to market a book on teaching graphic novels in the English Language Arts classroom. This hot new text looks to be an important and necessary addition to the comic-and-literacy movement.

I know I can't wait to read it. Click this post's title to learn more about the book, and be impressed by the multimodal efforts to draw attention to what is surely going to be an excellent addition to the growing body of work on teaching comics in the secondary classroom.

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The ALAN Review Fall 09 Has 2 Articles on Comics

The "seems to get mentioned in clumps on En/Sane World," indispensable Peter Gutierrez makes the case for eleven graphic novels in your classroom in "Integrating Graphica into your Curriculum," and West Virginia University's Rosemary Hathaway impresses in "'More than Meets the Eye': Transformative Intertextuality in Gene Luen Yang's American Born Chinese." Both are great reads!

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

This Week's NCTE Inbox Mentions Article on Manga Quoting Peter Gutierrez

The article is from the AARP Bulletin and is entitled "Drawn Into Manga." Peter holds court pretty well.

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Little Women, Other Alcott Stories Comprise Latest Graphic Classics Volume

Press Release: LOUISA MAY ALCOTT, ILLUSTRATED
Eureka Productions is pleased to announce the publication of GRAPHIC CLASSICS: LOUISA MAY ALCOTT, the eighteenth volume in the GRAPHIC CLASSICS® series of comics adaptations of great literature.

GRAPHIC CLASSICS: LOUISA MAY ALCOTT features "Little Women", adapted for comics by Trina Robbins and illustrated by Anne Timmons. Plus lesser-known gothic mysteries and horror stories including "A Whisper in the Dark" by Antonella Caputo and Arnold Arre, "The Rival Prima Donnas" by Rod Lott and Molly Crabapple, and "Lost in a Pyramid" by Alex Burrows and Pedro Lopez. Also two poems and two strange children's stories, "Buzz" and "The Piggy Girl", illustrated by Mary Fleener, Shary Flenniken, Toni Pawlowsky and Lisa K. Weber.

GRAPHIC CLASSICS are available in bookstores, comics shops, or direct from the publisher at http://www.graphicclassics.com/. Libraries and schools can order from Diamond Book Distributors, Baker & Taylor, Ingram, Follett or other distributors.

“The selections range widely across the Alcott oeuvre to include not just Little Women but also poems and short stories for more sophisticated audiences. An excellent addition to both school and public library collections, whether this series is already a mainstay or will be a new discovery.”— Booklist

“This attractive,full-color anthology contains a complete adaptation of Little Women scripted by Trina Robbins, plus a number of other Alcott works, from verse to gothic melodramas with various creators. The art is uniformly skillful and brings new verve to Alcott’s oeuvre.”— Library Journal

GRAPHIC CLASSICS: LOUISA MAY ALCOTT

Edited by Tom Pomplun
Published November 2009, Eureka Productions
Distributed by Diamond Book Distributors
(ISBN 978-0-9787919-8-8) 144 pgs, 7 x 10", paperback, full color, 4c cover, $17.95
(Maybe it is just because the cover reminds me of my first-ever comic, which featured redhaired beauty Hellcat writing a letter at a desk, but that lil' woman in the blue dress is sorta hot! Mrowr!)

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ICV2 has Even More on Kentucky Librarian Shocked by LOEG

The story that just won't die keeps spurting out extra details like some lascivious alien pig teat. To be sure, LOEG: The Black Dossier, the hijacked library book at the center of all this, is one of Moore's more self-indulgent works, almost on the same level as Lost Girls. There does seem to be gratuitous nudity in it, but as is often with Moore's work, it seems to be necessary gratuitous nudity (hey, I just used the phrase "lascivious alien pig teat." You think I worry about writing "necessary gratuitous?") as the author unravels the threads of reality and storytelling itself.

I love the text because I see it as offering evidence that Mark S. Bernard and I were correct in our analysis of Moore's use of space-time relationships and 4th wall dynamics. But, I can see where someone not familiar with Moore's themes might see it as salacious. Not that I think that would merit someone embargoing the book so others couldn't see the images, nor that I think that I would ask people to pray for me just so the images wouldn't get stuck in my head. (There are so many other terrible things one can see that I'd rather not think about. That truck with the pictures of aborted babies I saw on campus at UVA one semester comes to mind).

I find it interesting that the whole "I was trying to save it from the eyes of a child" angle has given way to a sort of "I was trying to protect anyone from seeing these terrible images" slant from the librarian. Where will this story go next? Will basketball season be enough to pull Blue Grassers away from this enthralling story about the blue-haired moral crusader?

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Monday, November 09, 2009

Texts I've Read Recently: Quick Reviews for What They're Worth

Best American Comics 2009: Another great contribution to the series but not as much that grabbed me as in years past. Will anything ever top "Turtle, Keep it Steady!" from 2008? Lots of standard figures in there: Clowes, Crumb, Spiegelman, Ware. A set of interesting comics as meditations on art are sprinkled throughout the pages. If the series runs long enough, one will probably be able to read Berlin and Shortcomings in their entirety without every buying those two texts on their own.

Ball Peen Hammer: Adam Rapp and George O'Connor's tale of an disease-ridden apocalyptica where people earn sway with power figures by killing live or bagging already-dead children is a swing and a miss for me, but unfortunately not for anyone under 15 who appears in this book. The text seems too condensed, too rushed, like there are scenes missing that really ought to be in there. Rarely do I say that a comics story might have been best represented via traditional print text ( I sort of see it as blasphemy, frankly), but I get the feeling this would work better as a YA novel or film script than it does as a graphic novel.
The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb: I'm only..... Well, shit, the book doesn't have page numbers, but I'm less than halfway through and am enjoying it thoroughly so far.

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Best. Thematic. Braiding. Ever!


Comic Artist on Comic Artist

Vanessa Davis shares her thoughts on Crumb's Genesis and more via... her own comics. Thanks, Comics Reporter for sharing the post.

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What was I just saying?

"The battle has been won" proclaims The Beat regarding this article from The Telegraph where a researcher extols the virtues of kids learning from comics. My thoughts? Well, read a couple of posts below this one for my take on those who say the battle has been won.

"And if you really consider how the pictures and words work together to tell a story, you can make the case that comics are just as complex as any other kind of literature," says University of Illinois researcher Carol Tilley.

Why The Beat suggests people will listen to her over the scores of previous and current other researchers, I don't know. I wouldn't be opposed to it happening, though! :)

Click this post's title for more of Dr. Tilley's findings.

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More (and Moore?) on the Kentucky Librarians vs. LOEG

Amazing article with a great timeline. Thanks, The Beat!

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Friday, November 06, 2009

Fightin' Fallacies Again: Mythbusting with Bucky

It's been a while since I posted something on fighting' fallacies associated with comics in education, but I think it may be time to revisit the topic based on certain ideas, trends, and opinions I've noted over the last six months or so.

1. Talk about how graphic novels match up with local/national standards is moot because of the new CORE standards being developed by the National Governors Association and the CCSSO.

I have seen much hubbub about how the CORE standards being developed under the Obama administration are going to obliterate any and all other lists of standards available nationwide, and while the CORE documents will certainly influence state and organizational standards, I think it might be a bit of hyperbole (at least I hope it is) to suggest that states will drop years of work on crafting standards to adopt the CORE standards. Rather, what I think we'll see is that the CORE standards will be suggested as THE BARE MINIMUM, and states will be encouraged to adapt -- not adopt -- them to the standards documents they've already crafted.

As for standards like those for the English Language Arts that have been published by NCTE/IRA, I have it on good authority from a representative at NCTE that these standards are not being updated in response to the CORE standards, not yet anyway.

Several recent and upcoming publications deal with how comics and graphic novels can be used to meet state and national (NCTE/IRA) standards. Brian Kelley recently published a document relating to New Jersey's ELA standards. Michael Bitz's recent book and his upcoming book, as well as a couple of his articles, reveal how using comics as composition meet many of New York's state ELA standards. Katie Monnin will soon publish a book that deals explicitly with NCTE/IRA's standards for ELA. All of these are and will be valuable to teachers and will help make the case for comics' worth in America's school rooms.

I've also heard folks try to make a distinction between having standards and the phenomenon of standardization. The problem is in interpretation. Too often, once standards are set, they become the rationale for standardization of curriculum. This leads to stolid curricula that focus more on the standards than on best practices, and after time, this also forms a sort of indoctrination that state education leaders accept and then feed their teachers. The "cure" for this, of course, is trusting teachers to be intelligent enough to see any set of standards as a bare minimum rather than the "gold standard" and having leadership that finds ways to assist teachers in being critical thinkers and experts in their fields.

2. Graphic novel proponents seek to supplant traditional print-based literature with graphic novels.

I think I can speak for most of my colleagues who advocate for using graphic novels and comics in the classroom when I say we probably all support a supplemental or complimentary approach, one where graphic novels are integrated into the ELA classroom along with traditional-based print texts.

I get it from both ends, it seems. I've read criticism of my edited collection Building Literacy Connections with Graphic Novels that suggested I and my contributors wanted to replace canonical texts with graphic novels. This isn't the case -- not in every possibly exigency, anyway. On the other hand, folks wonder if I and my co-writers aren't suggesting that comics and graphic novels aren't good enough, strong enough, to stand alone and be taught on their own. I think folks need to give comics-in-literacy scholars and teachers the benefit of the doubt (and read their texts more deeply).

I think most of us seek a balanced approach, where comics are used in pre-existing curricula where they fit best and with students who they can best engage (read "all students" on one level or the other) and only replace a text when a teacher was already looking to do so before considering a sequential art narrative as the replacement.

I think most of us do feel that certain graphic novels are good enough to be taught in their own right. I just think most of us are knowledgeable enough as pedagogues to know that teaching any text in isolation is not the most effective means of teaching.

3. The argument has been won. There is no need to continue work that falls under the rubric of "graphic novel advocacy."

There are so many of us using comics in the classroom now, so many blogs, so many books coming out, so much attention from MLA and YALSA and the ALA and NCTE, etc., and so many articles on sequential art in the classroom that it may seem that everyone has gotten the message. Especially for those of us who live and work in progressive environments where all or most of the people we see everyday are the kinds who readily accept comics' place in the classroom, this is dangerous thinking. Your world may not be my world may not be the world of a teacher in rural Wyoming or even in Washington, D.C.

As someone who lives in Texas, as someone who has, since 2000, taught in the states of Tennessee, North Carolina, Mississippi, Virginia, and Texas, and as someone who travels the country talking with teachers about comics' use in secondary education, I can tell you that it is a Manhattan-sized assumption to think that everyone everywhere -- whether "everywhere" pertains to state, k-12 school, college of education or university English department -- is on the same page or at the same level of their development when it comes to graphica. Austin is not El Paso is not Houston is not San Diego or New York.

While I get as frustrated as anyone when newbies try to reinvent the wheel regarding comics terminology, use, and advocacy in the classroom, especially when they do this in print (and especially when that print doesn't cite previous writing that has established a groundwork), I accept that, nationally, we see a range of acceptance of the form, ranging from elective courses on GN's at the high school level and courses focusing on them at colleges like Stanford, MIT, and Yale, to fogies still afraid to accept the form as viable for their sixth graders and considering it a threat to literacy, intelligence, and quality living.

The battles are still being fought in k-12 and university departments near you, whether it seems that way or not. So, there's plenty of room for more advocacy work regarding the sequential art narrative, and any work that deals with it in a positive light, even if it is crafted by those who believe the good fight has been won, might be said to be advocacy literature anyway.

(*draft. I may revisit this for edits later)

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Wolvie Knows the Tropes

Here he tells Marvel Boy, "You never had a team-up before, huh? That's all right. I'll break you in. Usually we start by fighting each other, but we'll just skip that part this time." :)

Peter Coogan knows what I'm talkin' 'bout. Les Daniels does. Bradford Wright too. Yeah they do.

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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Amazon.com's "Best Of" 2009 for GN's

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Crumb Controversy in Richmond, VA.

What? R. Crumb has said and drawn some pretty controversial things concerning women? Get out! I love it and I hate it when comics folks have to deal with conversations that seem new but that most are joining in on about 30 years too late.

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Parents Want More Focus on 21st-Century Skills

"21st-century skills" are mostly defined as skills associated with technology in this article from E-School News.

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