25 April 2012

25 April 2012–Comic Con Update

 

Just got the news from Tsunami Media that they’ve added two new guests to the lineup at DCC this year. Steven Yeun and Lauren Cohan from the Walking Dead (Glenn and Maggie) will be at the Con along side Chandler Riggs (Carl)! How sweet it is!

Here’s the press release:

http://us2.forward-to-friend.com/forward/show?u=56407dbf4162380b16620c2f8&id=19b9a51f73

Also, May 1, ticket prices are set to go up, so if you haven’t gotten them yet, now is the time!

23 April 2012

23 April 2012–News and a review (In that order!)

 

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So a couple of days ago, I told you all about the The Graphic Textbook Kickstarter program, well I took the plunge and pledged my support for the book! I’m super excited to see this program get the green light, but they need your support!

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/readingwithpictures/the-graphic-textbook

 

In other news, the DCC clock is ticking down, we’re now under two months away from the biggest Comic Book Con in Colorado. I’m getting giddy with anticipation, and can’t wait to see all the cool kids hanging out together! I just hope they’ll let me join.

Speaking of deadlines, I will be completing my B.A. in English – Writing from CMU in just under a week and a half, and I’m putting myself back out on the market. If anyone is looking for  a writer with a magnificent command of the English language, who has published a book about books, and is wanting to pursue a masters degree in library science, please give me a holler. I work well with others, and I’m always looking for a new challenge. I need to dust off (update) my resume, but I will be posting it within the week – Barring (or baring, as a friend was so kind to point out) any last minute issues with school.

 

Anyways, enough about me: let’s get to why you’re really here – this week’s review

 

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Image Courtesy :01 Second Books

Written and Illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks

:01 Second Books, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59643-556-8 (TPB)

$15.99, Ages 12 +

Summary

Maggie has spent her entire life being homeschooled. Now that she’s entering high school, she takes the plunge that her brothers before her did – entering public school. At first it’s terrifying – she doesn’t know anyone, her brothers are keeping an eye on her, but ever since their mom took off, Maggie has felt lost. Soon she befriends two “outcasts”, Lucy and Alistair. Maggie begins to learn the ins and outs of high school, but she’s got one nagging problem – she’s also haunted.

Analysis

Hicks originally produced Friends with Boys as a web comic, and was picked up by :01 Second. Hicks has done work for :01 Second before, her previous book being Brain Camp with Susan Kim and Laurence Clavan. While I liked the artwork in Brain Camp, I was just completely blown away with it in Friends with Boys. Her characters facial expressions are such that entire stories are told in one glance. Very few artists I know can do this, and Hicks makes it seem like it’s an every day occurrence. Maggie is a charming, entertaining young protagonist who you can’t help but like and root for from page one. Her brother Daniel (the eldest), has that cool, laid-back, Zen-like thespian vibe without coming off as self-important of elitist. The twins, Lloyd and Zander, have hints of another famous pair of twins from across the pond (hint, their good friend has a lightning bolt scar), but define themselves as individuals – which becomes a sub-plot in the story for the two of them. Alistair and Lucy are brilliant additions to help define Maggie – a little awkward, a little unsure of themselves, but honest and believable. The sub-plot with the ghost really drives home the idea that not everything in life is going to resolve itself nicely eventually; sometimes things are left unfinished, or unexplained, and we just have to come to terms with that fact.

Final Thoughts

I was honestly dreading this review today. Not because I don’t like the book – I love it. I think it’s one of the best books to come along since Craig Thompson’s opus Blankets back in 2005. No, the reason I was worried about this review was due to the fact that I was afraid I couldn’t do the book enough justice. Friends with Boys is, hands down, my personal pick for the Eisner award for best book of the year. It is funny without being schmaltzy, deep without being pretentious, emotional without being overwrought, and uplifting without being corny or clich├ęd. It’s a powerfully beautiful book that I consider an honor to have in my home. Parents, if you have kids that are getting into high school, get this book. As for librarians, you may want to get two copies, because once word gets out, it’s going to be tough keeping it on the shelves. Teachers, this one you might give a pass to, but only because it’ll prove to be too much of a distraction in class. Regardless, this one is going right next to my copy of Blankets, because great works of graphic lit need to stick together.

 

*edit* BTW: if you want a 20 page teaser, check out friendswithboys.com

18 April 2012

18 April 2012–Kickstarter Project – The Graphic Textbook

 

Hey guys,

Normally, I don’t mention special projects or fund-raising events here (it’s not that I don’t support them, it’s just beyond the scope of what I do), but this is just too dang cool to not mention.

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What you see above is a Kickstarter project  that these folks are trying to get together. I’m going to let them explain it, because I just won’t do it justice:

The Graphic Textbook unites the finest creative talents in the comics industry with the nation's leading experts in visual literacy to create a gamechanging[sic] educational tool for the classroom and beyond, one that’s tied to a revolutionary impact study overseen by the Learning Sciences Department of Northwestern University. 

The goal is to create an awesomeness-filled book of the highest artistic quality and literary merit that also meets all the criteria necessary to be accepted as classroom curriculum. 

Aimed at grades 3-6, The Graphic Textbook features a dozen short stories (both fiction and non-fiction) that address topics in a variety of disciplines (Social Studies, Math, Language Arts, Science) drawn from the list of Common Core Standards used in classrooms countrywide. The accompanying Teacher’s Guide will include Standards-correlated lesson plans customized to each story, research-based justifications for using comics in the classroom, a guide to establishing best classroom practices and a comprehensive listing of additional educational resources.

The Graphic Textbook will prove once and for all that comics belong in the classroom by creating a comic that every teacher will actually want to use and a textbook that every student will actually want to read!”

 

This is something that I’ve felt is a huge necessity in classrooms. Many studies that have come out have pointed to a increase in not only understanding, but retention as well when kids have studied a topic with strong visual accompaniment, and graphic novels and comics fit that bill nicely. They’re looking for $65,000 by 17 May 2012, and they’re currently at $5,358 (as of 1:50 MST 18 April 2012. for a minimum of $10, you’ll be able to get a digital copy of the book when it comes out, and if you donate more, the benefits grow – you can get a signed hardback copy of the book, you can get a limited edition series of Probamon cards (a game included in the textbook), you can get a classroom full of copies for your favorite class, or, you can even become part of the stories!

Please, give them a look, and if you can, donate to this amazing project! Your descendants will thank you for it.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/readingwithpictures/the-graphic-textbook

16 April 2012

16 April 2012–Darth Vader & Son

 

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Image courtesy Chronicle Books

Written and Illustrated by Jeffery Brown

Chronicle Books, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-45210-655-7 (Hardback)

$14.95; Ages 6+ 

 

Summary

What if the Dark Lord of the Sith had taken a more active role in raising his son? What would it be like if “Luke, I am your Father” was immediately proceeded by “Do you want a time out?” This imaginative and enthralling look at a fun “what if…” gives a light-hearted look at what it might be like if Lord Vader was a single parent.

Analysis

Star Wars has had its fair share of knock-offs, derivatives, spin-offs, spoofs and re-interpretations, a few good, a few that are just o.k., and a few that just stink out loud. Fortunately, Darth Vader and Son is one of those books that not only treats the subject material with  a modicum of respect, but also celebrates one of the more dysfunctional family relationships without getting overbearing or preachy. Brown’s artwork is beautiful, fully colored images. Locations are immediately recognizable, and the humor is gentle without ever resorting to infantile, obnoxious or rude humor. Brilliantly imagined and expertly executed, Darth Vader and Son is an enjoyable romp through a galaxy far, far away.

Final Thoughts

This is one of those few books that I just could not wait to get my hands on, and when I did, it was well worth the wait. I adore this book, and I cannot suggest it enough to anyone who is a fan of the franchise. While school libraries bight give it a pass, public libraries should grab a copy (at least one!) and parents, this is a good suggestion for bedtime as the single panels make for fun and easy reading right before lights out. Fantastic reading, and I really look forward to more of Brown’s work.

09 April 2012

9 April 2012 – A review and some news (not in that order)

 

Personal News

First off, I want to apologize for not updating last two weeks. It has been a chaotic and difficult week. My wife has busting her butt getting her pottery going again. This is just a small sampling of what she’s been making, and I’m extremely proud of her.  She’s in the process of getting a website set up so she can start showcasing more of her artwork. As more information comes available, I’ll post it here.

In other news, I got a couple of nice little surprises recently: I’ve been a huge fan of Jeff Smith’s Bone series pretty much since it originally came out, and It still entertains and amazes readers of all stripes. Apparently, someone at Scholastic had seen my review of Quest for the Spark last year, because I got this in the mail.

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This is a full color print of a scene from Quest for the Spark signed by Jeff Smith, and pre-framed. There was much giddiness and silly behavior on my behalf for a while after receiving this. So, to everyone at Scholastic, THANK YOU for the wonderful gift!

Also, a couple of weeks ago, I did a quick review of Steve Conley’s Bloop. Needless to say, my review truly understates his work. It is amazingly beautiful artwork, and a great story. Not only that, but Steve was kind enough to do this:

Bloop Thanks

I was truly touched and humbled when I received this in my email. If you haven’t checked out Bloop yet, you’re doing yourself a HUGE disservice.

http://bloopstree.com/webcomic/

 

Industry News

Raina Telgemeier’s Smile has won the The Maine Student Book Award for 2012 last week. The most awesome part about this is that the people that vote on this award are kids in grades 4 – 8. Full information can be found here.

The Denver Comic Con’s latest guest announcement was a bit of a surprise. Chandler Riggs, who plays Carl on AMC’s The Walking Dead will be at the Convention.  It will be interesting to see what Chandler has to say about the series as well as some of the criticism that has been directed toward his character.

Speaking of the Denver Comic Con, I’ll be posting more information about the convention as it draws closer, as well as the Rocky Mountain Conference on Comic and Graphic Novels that precedes the Comic Con. So far for the RMCCGN, they have such luminaries as Dr. James Bucky Carter, Dr. Charles Hatfield, Robert Weiner, and Scott McCloud. Yours truly has been asked to present a paper on graphic novels in the elementary classroom, and I hope I can do it justice, especially in light of these guys I listed above. If you see me, please don’t say “no pressure”. Seriously.

I also snagged a copy of the latest ad for Comic Con and have been planning on plastering Grand Junction with copies of it. If you want to see a copy of it, you can view it here:

DCC_posterV5

This latest poster

(from http://www.tsunamipublicity.com/) is dead sexy, and the crew at Tsunami are super nice and friendly. If you’re looking for a good place for publicity, check them out.

This previous Friday, I did my first two presentations: The first was for Dr. Robin Calland at Colorado Mesa University, for her Children’s Literature class. Dr. Calland is a former teacher of mine, and I was honored to come and speak to her class. It was a wonderful experience, and I hope to be able to do it again. My other presentation was down at the Mesa County Public Library. Trevor Adams, one of the children/teen librarians invited me to come speak with his teens at their monthly graphic novel group. While it was a small group, they were extremely  attentive, and I have never felt so welcomed. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and I really hope to be invited back again. Trevor has a great group of kids, and he totally rocks as well.

 

Here’s links to my presentations if you would like to see samples of my work.

Graphic Novels for Younger Readers

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1TZXgdjflom6F2KrcF3JF-SwFIyRfUrMg1IMIQ9AK6KQ/edit

Teen Picks

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1CLmE3u5ouCLm5X-2u226faCtIn-YZxh-kHD2LdpdFoQ/edit

 

Review

 

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Image Courtesy Graphic Universe

Written and Illustrated by: Julien Neel

Graphic Universe, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-76138-869-2 (Paperback)

$8.95 Ages: 13 +

Summary

The second book in the (originally French) Lou! series finds Lou and her mom both mooning over men. Their summer is not shaping up to be very fun – Lou’s boyfriend moved away with little warning, and Mom’s boyfriend has to help supervise a summer camp for two months. What’s even worse is that the ladies have a mandatory visit to Lou’s grandmother who lives in the country, is constantly surly, and only serves brussels sprouts for every meal. To make things worse, Gram wants to hook Mom up with a local doctor who was a real sleaze ball in high school, and Lou meets a new boy. With the two of them find new loves, much less survive the summer?

Analysis

This is a fun series that comes from French artist Julien Neel. His artwork is playful without getting cutesy, and the story’s fluidity is stunning. Lou’s Mom is a perennial slacker, nerd grrrl who is forever trying to write her book about a scantily clad space heroine (like Barbarella, with a few more clothes). The relationships between the characters feel extremely true – there is not a disingenuous moment between characters at all, even the cat comes into it’s own as a supporting cast member. I feel the need to point out that this was originally a French publication, and as such, comes from a completely different social ideology than America. Because of this ideology, there is a bit more cheek in this book than one would probably find in a similar title written by an American.

Final Thoughts

I really enjoyed this book. The characters all feel well rounded and developed, the artwork is beautiful, the story itself is well paced and entertaining, and you feel good about the book at the end. I do feel compelled to point out that this is an excellent book for any teen collection, but librarians need to be aware that some parents may be upset and offended by the cheekiness. If it wasn’t for the “sexiness” of the sub-story, I would recommend this for probably 10 – 11 and up.