Friday, August 21, 2009

New! Comics Research Blog Aggregator

At last count, the Internet was found to host approximately twelvety-million blogs about comics[*]. The number of blogs dealing specifically with research about comics, while slightly smaller, is still daunting for anyone trying to follow all or even most them. That's why here at we've begun the Comics Research Blog Aggregator -- your one-stop shopping place for feeds from all the research-oriented blogs of which we're aware.

If you have or know of a blog you believe we should include, you can suggest it right from the aggregator, using the green + button in the upper right-hand corner menu. You also can respond to this post or use the form at Happy reading!

[*] Source: A pretty good guess.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Early Comics Published in Belgium: A New Blog by Pascal Lefèvre

Internationally regarded comics scholar/historian (and friend) Pascal Lefèvre has announced his new blog. I'll let him describe it, from his initial posting:
This is my research blog on Early Comics published in Belgium before Hergé's Tintin (1929). I've been browsing through Belgian periodicals and popular prints for the last five years and found already scores of examples, but most of them are reprints and translations from abroad. So, this blog will be mainly about early comics from an international perspective. I'm hoping to share parts of my research and foster some dialogue with other researchers. I've lots of plans, various articles are waiting to be published (see [the complete blog post] for former and projected publications). By the end of this year I'll put up also a website about my research.
I became a fan of Pascal's work even before I had the pleasure of meeting him, upon discovering his book (with Jan Baetens) Pour une lecture moderne de la Bande Dessinée in the bookstore of the Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée [Belgian Comic Strip Center] in Brussels. I await his next post with great anticipation!

Image Credit: Dr. Lefèvre's page.

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Wednesday, July 08, 2009's "Comics in the Classroom: 100 Tips, Tools, and Resources for Teachers"

The Blog posted a great entry this past Sunday: Comics in the Classroom: 100 Tips, Tools, and Resources for Teachers. I'll let the site speak for itself...
Gone are the days of children sneaking comics past diligent parents and teachers watching out for sub-par literature. The comics of today not only have plenty to offer, they are gaining well-deserved recognition and awards. Take advantage of the natural affinity children have for comics and use them as a powerful teaching tool in your classroom. The following tips, tools, and resources will get you started.
They've organized these 100 links into the following categories:
  • Understanding Benefits and Usage in the Classroom
  • Resources for Using Comics in the Classroom
  • Suggested Comics for the Classroom
  • Tools
  • Creative Ways to Use Comics in the Classroom
  • Lesson Plans for Elementary
  • Lesson Plans for Middle School
  • Lesson Plans for High School
  • Lesson Plans for All Ages
  • Manga and Anime
  • Free Comics for Educators
That website again: Comics in the Classroom: 100 Tips, Tools, and Resources for Teachers.

Big thanks for the tip to sister-in-law extraordinaire Alessandra Gillen, who in turn found this website listed on MetaFilter. Those among you who study comics or use comics in the classroom will be at turns encouraged, saddened, and horrified by the comments posted at the MetaFilter link. Many of them are textbook examples of people arguing "from the gut," knowledge or facts be damned. Sigh.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

University Press of Mississippi: Website Super Sale (ends July 15, 2009)

University Press of Mississippi, which has published more books about comics than any other academic publisher in the USA, currently is running a large sale for web-only purchases. Not every title is on sale, but a goodly number are, at 20% to 85% Off. The sale ends July 15th.

Luckily for comics scholars, UP Miss provides a breakdown of sale titles by subject. So click here for their list of discounted books on comic art.

Also: Check out UP Miss's blog. (But no tags?!? I will speak to them about this. srsly.)

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Yoe! Here's the Love!

What better day to start a blog called "Arf Lovers" than Valentine's Day?

That Craig Yoe, he's no love-struck fool; he's in love with comics for the long haul, as his series of "art+comics" books, Arf, makes abundantly clear. Arf Lovers promises to pass along new comics curiosities every day; and, as Craig himself is one of the most curious folks I know, I'm sure we won't be disappointed.

Arf Lovers previews both the first book in the Arf series, Modern Arf (index at and the newest entry, Arf Museum; from the on-line preview, it looks like we need this one on our shelves here right-quick. With treats like never-before seen Yellow Kid paintings; a true-life comics story by Mort Walker concerning Roy Lichtenstein; Art Young in Hell; and the debut of Craig's new character, Mr. Smart-Ass, Arf Museum is bound to be another kornucopia of kwality.

Craig might not yet have covered Victorian Valentines in Arf, but it's probably only a matter of time. Given Arf Museum's section on "gorillas and damsels in distress," I'm sure he'll be interested in just whose job it was to "lead apes in Hell"...

Above: Portrait of Craig Yoe by the late Kelly Freas.

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Past Shame Rises from the Grave, Zombie-Like, to Taunt Me Again

Ah, the World-Wide Internets: Where information never dies, it just gets a new URL.

I should have known that no matter how many times I glowingly name-check Tom Spurgeon and his essential Comics Reporter blog, it would only be a matter of time before he got around to re-posting his scathing review of the only mini-comic I ever produced. He's been adding lots of his old reviews to CR, but I'd hoped that this one (which he wrote for an on-line column entitled "You Send It, We'll Review It") was obscure enough to escape his notice; ha ha on me. Herewith, a few select quotations from his review of my very own Gene Gene's Comics Machine #1 [Aug. 1997]:
This is a good comic of the type by people who have no business doing comics...

The nostalgia doesn't really go beyond tedious recollection...

Kannenberg fails on all sort of craft levels he doesn't even pretend to engage...
And that's not including this tidbit, which I was gonna use on the cover of GGCM #2 (fortunately never produced): [S]adly, he's no cartoonist.

I kid, I kid: To be fair, the review's a bit more balanced than the above quotes (all genuine!) might suggest; and to be honest, Tom's critiques are really pretty much dead on the mark. I did the comics in that mini [A] to see what it was like to make comics, and [B] mostly as contributions to a certain Wombat-themed zine (mentioned in Roger Sabin and Teal Triggs' essential Below Critical Radar: Fanzines and Alternative Comics From 1976 to Now).

Even though it didn't lead to fame or fortune, or even to talent, making GGCM increased my interest in - and enthusiasm for - the comics form. I'd thought a lot about comics as a reader; but stepping behind the curtain for the first time, I got to think about comics as a creator, like all those dozens (at least) of decisions that need to be made per panel, or what story "beats" are most important to illustrate, or even how hard it is to draw somebody sitting in a chair. (The astute reader will note that there are no chairs in GGCM #1.)

So thanks, Tom, for reminding me about this little learning experience of mine. All's forgiven; in fact, everyone reading this should immediately purchase a book he co-wrote: Stan Lee and the Rise and Fall of the American Comic Book. And to any masochists out there: I recently found a small stash of Gene Gene's Comics Machine #1s, and they're still available at last millennium's cover price: one USAmerican dollar (Cheap!) or something in trade. Contact me, and I'll hook you up with the pain.

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Monday, December 12, 2005

Black Ink Monday

The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists has declared today "Black Ink Monday":
Over the last 20 years, the number of cartoonists on the staff of daily newspapers nationwide has been cut in half. In the last month alone, the Tribune Company (owner of the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and a half-dozen other prominent papers), has forced out well-known and award-winning cartoonists at the LA Times and Baltimore Sun, eliminating their positions entirely. [...]
In an open letter to Tribune CEO Dennis FitzSimons, AAEC President Clay Bennett recently wrote: "There are few journalists in a newsroom who can define the tone and identity of a publication like an editorial cartoonist does. By discarding those who make a newspaper unique, you rob it of its character. By robbing a newspaper of its character, you steal its spirit."

You can view 100 editorial cartoon protests at this page of the AAEC website.

Why should you care about this? Some might put it this way: "It's the First Ammendment, Stupid." Others might note that this "downsizing" trend is happening throughout America; as corporations continue their absorptions, mergers and monoplies, lining their CEOs' pockets by demandinge more work from fewer workers for less cash, the next position to be eliminated could be your own. Still others might take an historical approach, noting that editorial cartooning played an important role in the founding of this very country:

That, of course, is Benjamin Franklin's famous "Join, or Die" cartoon from the May 9, 1754 edition of Franklin's newspaper, The Pennsylvania Gazette. It's considered the first editorial cartoon in what would eventually become the United States. By trampling on the editorial cartoon tradition, the Tribune Comany tramples on a fundamental piece of what makes America, America.

Here's a story about the recent acquisition of an original print of this cartoon by none other than Steve Geppi, President and Chief Executive Officer of Diamond Comic Distributors. Insert your own joke about monopolization here...

Update: Curiously, there's nary a mention of Black Ink Monday in today's Houston Chronicle; after all the complaints I've heard in Houston about how "liberal" the Chronicle is, I was hoping to see some coverage. They didn't forget to include the Editorial Page's daily "Bible Verse," though. (Curiously, the Bible Verse seems to be just about the only portion of the paper not reproduced on its website. Hmmmm...)

Update Nummer Zwei: For more background on the reasons for Black Ink Monday - and to learn that editorial cartoonist Paul Revere understood the power of revision - check out this animated editorial cartoon by past AAEC President Milt Priggee. It takes a few minutes to watch/read, but it's worth it to get a sort of panoramic view of the current situation. And be sure also to read the enlightening essay "In Defense of Editorial Cartooning" by Chris Lamb (entry for December 9 at Daryl Cagle's blog). Thanks to the Ever-Amazing Elena Steier for telling Milt Priggee about the Blog Machine!

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Monday, November 14, 2005

Read It: Interview with Steve Bissette

SwampyGood friend Steve Bissette (creator of the late, lamented life-of-a-T.rex comic book series Tyrant, editor of the late, lamented horror-comics anthology Taboo, and penciller of the second "golden age" of Swamp Thing, amongst many other kwality kredits) is featured in a big ol' interview at iBrattleboro. He talks comics, movies, and more, including info about his new gig teaching at the Center for Cartoon Studies and his somewhat-controversial opinion concerning the pernicious effects of the first (original) Star Wars movies on a generation. There's lots more where this came from, too; check out MyRant, his blog, for musings far and wide. (Today he used the adjective "downright anus-puckering," so you know it's good stuff!)

Above: Swamp Thing illo by Steve, as featured at the website for Henderson State Library's Stephen R. Bissette Collection

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Monday, April 25, 2005

New York Times' Comics Forum: Keeping the "Mess" in "Message Board"

As Tom Spurgeon at Comics Reporter rightly notes, the New York Times Book Review's April 24 piece on comics does read like something out of the past - why the Review devoted so much space to this type of superhero-influenced review is a bit puzzling, especially given its recent coverage of Spiegelman and Satrapi and David B., among others. (Note: Registration required to view any Times links. Don't want to register? No problem!)

What's also puzzling - no, more like extremely disappointing - is the Times' new Readers Forum on Comics. I spent an hour or so making my way through the posts there, and oh my Lord - if you think (as I do) that the "wheat/chaff" and "thoughtful poster/moron" ratios are usually pretty low on comics-related message boards, try slogging through this one. I had naively assumed that the Times On-Line would attract a more contemplative, erudite, and open-minded audience. Stupid, stupid Gene...

The Forum opened April 16, to coincide with the Times' preview of Will Eisner's The Plot; unfortunately, it also coincided with a revamp of the Forums as a whole. So a large part of the first week's postings are written by Forum regulars who are angry that the previous Forums on Shakespeare and Nabokov, for example, were "replaced" by the Comics Forum. From what I can tell, it's not a "replacement" so much as a "restructuring" and an unfortunate bit of timing; but these folks in general can't seem to tell their post hoc from their propter hoc.

What we do get, however, are the predictable laments about the end of civilization. And also some fairly ignorant comments about Eisner's The Plot, from considering it a joke to questioning the need for any such book in the first place to - I'm being serious here - calling Eisner a Spiegelman clone. And of course, the ever-popular "expert opinion":
Look at that guy at the top of the page, pretending this is about "literary" comics like Maus, as if there were more than about five of them.
To be fair, there are some knowledgeable defenders of the forum. For the most part, though, even those who do know something about comics rarely get past recommending Sandman or "more sophisticated" superhero books. I like Sandman and Watchmen, but I wouldn't consider either of them to be good "gateway drugs" for the curious but clueless would-be comics reader.

I realize that a message board can only be as good as the people who post in it, and I suppose I have no real right to complain about the Times forum, since I haven't contributed anything myself. But seeing the small-mindedness and petty carping there only reinforces my opionion of message boards as places generally to avoid. I've occasionally found useful info at places like the Comics Journal boards, but then we're back to the whole "wheat/chaff" thing...

If anyone knows of any good comics-related discussion boards - forums where people actually pay attention to other's ideas, and where, come to think of it, people actually have ideas - I'd love to hear about them.

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