Wednesday, August 31, 2011
What are you waiting for? Mench up and stop being a putz! Go read it! ;)
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Monday, August 29, 2011
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Several people emailed me different links, so it it looks like the Associated Press picked up on the story, hopefully meaning it might have gotten some national attention. With such a neat comics scene in El Paso and El Paso Comics Convention coming up soon, that timing is great, and Jaime certainly deserves some recognition for his efforts to capture part of the history of this area.
What? You didn't know Dallas Stoudenmire was a real person? Time for you to visit what the kids call "The Google." ;)
Friday, August 26, 2011
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Apparently a film adaptation or two is underway as well. We'll see how The Hunger Games fairs as a film franchise and will keep an eye out for these Uglies GN's and films too as studios tray to catch the Harry Potter series lightening in a bottle.
So, humor me a bit as I continue my childhood desire to feel like these characters were meant to speak to me when I share this image with you:
Why is Steve Rogers apologizing to me, and why does it cause me emotion as I consider the words? First, I'll give you some options for answering the former query:
1. He's apologizing for not being able to avenge Bucky Barnes' (second) death, if not for not being able to save him.
2. He knows I've been buying the last year's worth of Avengers even though it's been nothing but talking heads a la Bendis at $4 a pop.
If it is true that Captain America is a zeitgeist figure for our country at any given time, I have to feel that he's apologizing to me, and that if you go buy your own copy of Avengers # 16, he'll be offering you an apology too.
He's saying he's sorry for the selfishness of so many of the Baby Boomers and their ingenues. He's apologizing for the Hippies who became Yuppies who have been thinking they have all the answers and have never been wrong about anything since they've been 16 years old.
He's apologizing for the stupidity of our falling for the bipartisan traps that have been put before us and for the country's leadership slowly moving away from Democracy toward a cold Capitalism that cares little for government beyond economy.
He's offering condolences for the terrible job market and for the death or perversion of the American Dream.
And you know what? If that's what he's offering, I'll take it. Who else who supposedly embodies the spirit of America has the gumption to offer apologies without blaming an "other side?"
I suggest you take it too, because you're not gonna get it from a greater American that Steve Rogers, and it's just a crying shame that he doesn't really exist.
But, if he's willing to take some responsibility, I should too, eh? Maybe he's apologizing to help me wake up and try to do more to make a difference. Or maybe he's apologizing because he knows I'll think that, and things are so bad that making a difference can't even make a dent anymore.
Anyway, if you'be been as disappointed with leadership as I have been for the last 12-16 years or so, please feel free to join me in thinking that Captain America speaks to us directly.
Here's a short description in his own words:
The "Chain World" Comic Book Experiment is, with the endorsement of several comics industry professionals, aimed at producing one artisan-designed hardcover slipcased 200-page comic book/"graphic novel" with a full-color wrap-around cover, beautifully illustrated initial page of story, and...199 pages left blank.
Call it the most aesthetic chain letter ever, call it the most beautifully tangible campfire "continue-the-story" game, or call it the oddest "jam comic" to ever come down the pike: This whole Experiment is about creating and releasing one book -- only ONE -- to find its narrative destiny unchecked. The book would be passed quietly from one artist to another, never discussing the ongoing story and likely never seeing the book again. Kickstarter donors would be contributing to a social experiment but also becoming part of something simultaneously exclusive and covert.
Sounds cool, eh? To learn more about the project, view a film about it, and help fund it, click here.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
But when Anya falls down a well and discovers the spirit of a girl about her age who died at its bottom, a typical teen angst narrative takes a tantalizing turn for the weird and creepy. By story's end, Anya has to grow up a bit and realize what is most important about family and self.
Or, to put it in cheesy film preview language, "A girl so worried about her weight is about to get some exorcise!"
Vera Brosgol's Anya's Ghost (2011, First Second) has been compared to Gene Yang's American Born Chinese, and surely Brosgol is paying homage to First Second's most commercially successful graphic novel to date. While the story is creepy cool and Anya is an attractive, relatable main character who deals with similar feelings as did Yang's, I do not see this book earning a National Book Award nomination. Maybe a Printz, and most-likely high praise from ALA.
Neil Gaiman has called the book a masterpiece, and certainly its themes and integration of the uncanny appeal to him. They appeal to me too, and I do think this is a very good, well-written, compelling graphic novel that meshes elements of the typical teen bildungsroman, the immigrant narrative, and the ghost story. While I do not think it will come to be seen as one of the best graphic novels ever published, as many consider American Born Chinese, Anya's Ghost holds its own and may be even more interesting to read to its target audience than ABC.
But, you know, there's nothing wrong with not being considered the best by everyone but still being considered among everyone's favorites. And as end-of-narrative Anya will tell you, even that isn't all that.
Comparisons to other texts aside, Brosgol has crafted an engaging narrative that nails the teen experience while adding a supernatural twist that should keep this graphic novel on the minds of adolescents and teachers for years to come.
Monday, August 22, 2011
Right? It was the most urgent thing on your list of urgent things. Remember? You 'member!
Now sink your teeth into "Aligning the IRA/NCTE Standards to Graphic Novels: An ELA Pedagogy of Multiliteracies," co-written with Katie Monnin and Brian Kelley, which is appearing now in InLand 28.1.
Both these journals' summer issues explore YA literature, and there's plenty more good readin' beyond the the stuff from the professor in the West Texas town of El Paso.
Interesting to see that Marvel's retcon of Captain America in Truth:Red, Black and White seems to have pulled from Captain CSA's mythos in that in both stories it is revealed that the Captains gained their powers from a serum that was tested on African Americans. Guess Marvel, which published some of Captain Confederacy back in the EPIC days, thought the idea was a good one.
Thanks to Tom Spurgeon for wishing a big "HBD" to the series' writer over the Comics Reporter, which spurred me to look into the series on a whim today.
Sunday, August 21, 2011
I'll also be a keynote speaker for one of the days of the New York NCTE affiliate in October and will be part of a panel of NCTE in November. Both appearances deal with comics, of course. Maybe I'll even introduce some graphic novelists at this year's ALAN, like I did last year.
I've got the "Comics" entry in the upcoming Encyclopedia of Adolescence, and I've published articles on graphica and education in Theory into Practice and Inland this summer.
I'll also be working to publish the second issue of SANEjournal. You may recall that the theme is "Teaching the Works of Alan Moore." We have some good articles lined up, and I can't wait to get back to this aspect of my advocacy for comics and literacy.
Then there are the things "in the works" that I want to talk about but probably need wait before doing so. Suffice it to say, by the end of the semester, I expect to announce a major library-based addition to the UTEP stacks.
And, if things fall right and I find evidence of equitable treatment to my liking, I may be making a professional milestone soon too.
I do need to get to writing new material and to sending out more proposals, etc. But, due to working with others, I'm not on empty there either.
Here's to a great Fall 2011 semester and beyond!
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Anyway, there are some neat titles on this list, some reportage and some history and some science. Teachers will note that suggests multi-curricular appeal!
Thursday, August 11, 2011
And that's cool... but do we need to paint Peter Parker as whiter than the lilies now? I mean, just because he died fighting one of the few green people in his world doesn't make him a racist. ;)
And that's my problem with the story surrounding this new character. It's not about the character at all but about the meta-narratives surrounding his appearance. You may have heard that Glen Beck blamed the First Lady for this change. "Blamed?" Come on. The subtexts surrounding Miles' new role are disturbing to me, even if it is easy to gloss over some of their substance and focus on the "feel good" aspect of "diversification."
Let me explain:
Consider this article from WNYC:
Comics writer Brian Michael Bendis is quoted as saying " Wouldn't it be cool if Spider-Man was biracial? Somebody different than the comic book norm -- who represented New York more."
Sorry, hard working, loyal, conflicted, over-achieving everyteen Peter Parker. You just didn't represent your city. Sorry all white people; your time has come and gone. You have no place in the New York of the 21 century. Or, if you did, your incredible whiteness was so glaring, it was mucking up the metaphor.
Jeff Yang of the San Francisco Chronicle is quoted in the article as saying, "This is definitely progress....It's always great to see when the faces behind the masks -- the iconic characters we grew up with -- are finally starting to reflect the world around us."
So, progress is replacing white people with people who are of non-white backgrounds, because all white people are the same and have a singular homogeneous culture that is at odds with reality?
The next example comes from Cheryl Gladstone, a biracial citizen of Brooklyn, who says, "Being different is a superpower."
Again, is the intimation that all white people are the same, and all people who are non-white are different. Just people of biracial identity break the mold? A white, milky mold?
Don't get me wrong. I haven't been keeping up with the Ultimate Spider-Man character for a while now and probably won't read the new book either. Am I glad that this new Spidey might connect with new generations of readers? Absolutely. But, in my mind, that includes white readers too.
Diversification is not simply about exchange, about pitting one ethnicity against another as if "white" is old and everything else is "new." And, though I know more than a few of my liberal friends will probably think it, I don't mean to come off as a stodgy, out-of-touch white guy upset that the world around him is changing and he's getting left behind.
(Insert word balloon on above image of Green Goblin: "Crackers be hatin'!!")
Well, actually, some of that is how I'm trying to come off. True progress, true multicultural acceptance means not erasing white identities, but bringing them and all other possible identities along for the ride. Working together rather than against, with resistance being applied to paradigms of divisive difference.
In a world where that is understood, I can't help thinking we'd have media exalting the character of Peter Parker and praising his accomplishments in his fictional universe while excited about the newcomer's ability to exemplify all the best of what Spider-Man represents, which, as the article points out, to its credit, has never been about race, but actions and decency and respect and the constant struggle to improve one's self and one's world.
That is not and should not be construed as a racial prerogative; it's a human one. But in our universe, that message seems to be getting lost.
Peter Parker is about to become an absent presence for Miles Morales, similar to how Ben Parker and Peter's dad were absent presences for him. I hope that Miles shares with his predecessor the common core value of judging people not on the color of their skin or the ethnic or cultural heritages from which they come, but on the quality of their character.
One of the most common teaser images on the web right now, in which an exhausted Morales lifts up his mask and thinks, "Maybe the costume is in bad taste," reveals to me that Miles is as deep a thinker and worrier as Peter, which is heartening. We might be getting it wrong, but maybe Spidey keeps getting it right.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
In addition to reminding folks about my first edited collection, the award-winning and best-selling Building Literacy Connections with Graphic Novels: Page by Page, Panel by Panel, this week's NCTE Inbox has links to 3 articles about comics and literacy:
1."In the Fight for Better Literacy, Comic Books Are Teachers' Secret Weapon" from This Magazine
2."Wondering (Worrying?) about Graphic Novels" from the Tempered Radical blog which features a lot of unfounded idiocy from, where else, my home state of North Carolina? When it comes to North Carolina teachers, I just can't stand stupidity. Guess it comes from having worked in the North Carolina public schools for 3 years. Anyway, I gave a pretty fiery reply to this one....
3."The Literacy of Gaming: What Kids Learn from Playing" from PBS. The James Gee is quoted.
OK, the third is more about video games, but still.
OK, I'm gonna go fume about... wait, what is this?? Tempered Radical's Bill Ferriter has already updated and seems to backtrack a bit, acknowledging that he needs to do some research?? Maybe there is hope for teaching in the Old North State yet!
In the name of fairness, and since I blasted the guy without seeing the new post -- seriously, I actually told him to "read a f------g book!" -- I feel I must share the link to the"Lessons Learned" post about graphic novels as well.
Wow, that was about 10 minutes of roller coaster for yours truly. I started out excited but curious about NCTE's focus on comics, then furious at the second link they shared, then a little cooled upon noticing the update from the second source.
Anyway, if you want to subscribe to the NCTE Inbox weekly, free newsletter, click here. I guess I'm now living testimony that it will thrill, chill, elate, and anger you.
for more info on PNCA, click here.
Melissa Burke-Marquart, an 11th grade English teacher at St. Thomas More High School, a small Catholic high school in Champaign, Illinois, has been teaching graphic novels in the classroom on and off throughout her career. A lifelong comics fan and experienced educator, she says, "Years ago, I used superhero comics with my freshmen when I taught them the elements of fiction. I hear back from many of them—they're now grownups with families—that that was their all-time favorite lesson. We created a class superhero and then I grouped the students into creative teams; they wrote and created a comic and short story starring the class hero."
I could have used Melissa when I interviewed at a university in Normal, IL, a few years ago and a classroom teacher who was part of the hiring process told me that the curriculum was so full that at best, high school teachers could probably only use one graphic novel per year. The intimation was, of course, that my field of study was too limited to be of much use.
Live and let live, though, eh?
Monday, August 08, 2011
p.s. Brannon, if you're reading this, thanks for the shout-out! :)
Saturday, August 06, 2011
I was very happy to see Krazy Kat, Little Nemo in Slumberland, Maus, Watchmen, and Locas in the top ten.
But I'm happy to announce the company is literally adding a "class" component. My friend and colleague in comics-and-literacy, Chris Wilson, of the popular blog resource The Graphic Classroom, has signed on to produce lesson plans for the company's nonfiction titles. I think this is a very smart move for Blue Water.
Click the link emdedded in this post's title to learn more, and, if you're reading, congrats on the gig, Chris!