On April 29th, 2021, COO of Second Sight Publishing, Marcus Roberts, donated 1000 comic books to the Polk County School System. The books will be distributed throughout the school library system and used throughout the summer program.
Second Sight donated copies of Book of Lyaxiaand Lady Freedomwhose creators reside in Florida. Aron Pohara lives in Tampa, and Larry Jarrell resides in Orlando.
As Second Sight Publishing publishes entertainment for kids of all ages, Roberts saw this as an opportunity to provide an alternate reading source to help strengthen the reading skills of students.
Second Sight Publishing was created by Bradley Golden in 2016 and began building on an early catalog of horror comic stories. As he developed his own personal brand he signed on with Antarctic Press and brought his stories to a larger audience, as well as meeting other creators/writers like John Crowther, Larry Spike Jarrell, and Peter Breau. All the while teaming up with Marcus H. Roberts and launching Mississippi Zombie, published by Caliber Comics.
Second Sight Publishing is striving to build a catalog of new, intriguing, exciting and enjoyable titles that draw in our readers and keep its fans engaged.
92Y and Archie Comics are collaborating on a new, online comic book class for kids, “Create Your Own Comic Book,” featuring legendary and award-winning Archie writer/artist, Dan Parent, as the instructor.
In the four-week class, kids ages 9-13 will learn to draw, write, and create their own comic book— and explore Archie Comics’ iconic characters, Archie, Jughead, Betty and Veronica, Josie, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, and more. Participants will familiarize themselves with the characters and style via copies of the comic book.
The class, offered at $200, is the latest addition to 92Y’s Virtual Afterschool program, which was launched in September; it brings together two organizations with New York roots.
It’s a new week and we’re getting prepared for Baltimore Comic Con. Who’s going? Sound off below! While you get the week started, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.
It’s new comic book day tomorrow! What’s everyone excited for? What do you plan on getting? Sound off in the comments below. While you think about that, here’s some comic news and a review from around the web.
A few weeks ago I ended my career in teaching. For the last nine years, I’ve taught high school English. For the last three, I taught a graphic novel class I’d created. In both contexts, I’d had times of triumph and feelings of frustration. Ultimately the frustrations won out and I decided to switch careers. Truthfully, the last couple of years of teaching I wanted out. I didn’t know what I wanted to do: I was looking for a career that also felt like a calling. Eventually, I decided that I needed a job that was better than teaching. Already I have my own calling with my writing.
While I have many reflections on teaching in general, I’m not going to cover them here. That would take a whole book. Instead, I’m going to focus on what’s more relevant to this site, my reflections on teaching graphic novels to teens. It’s something I’ve done previously (here and here). I’ve had some great success in the class. Some crushing failures. And, a whole lot of approaches that–like a lot of teaching curriculum–were okay. It pushed students to produce good work that they weren’t generally passionate about. They did well for their abilities.
The biggest success carried across all years teaching this class. Most students didn’t take the class because they were passionate about comics. In fact, most students taking the class hadn’t read comics recreationally at all, unless we count their time reading the Sunday comics. And, even then, most had only done that a few times. Most of these students came into the class thinking that comics weren’t for them. Partly because they equated superheroes with comics. They just took the class because it sounded easier than the other English elective options they had to choose from.
This attitude was a source of one of my frustrations. Ultimately, it also paved the way for one of the biggest successes. At the end of each semester, every student became more open to comics. Every student saw that superheroes were a genre within the medium and that to equate comics with superheroes was foolish. Even more rewarding, almost every student ended up liking comics. Not everyone we read but comics in general. Almost every student said they preferred reading comics to traditional texts. If my aim was to convert students and help them love comics (and that was part of it, of course), I was certainly more successful at that than helping students love reading books in my other classes.
While they liked reading comics in general, they didn’t always like the comics that I thought were great. Years of teaching traditional books had prepared me in part for that. I was still somewhat shocked that many students didn’t appreciate Maus, one of our whole-class reads. Even more surprising and frustrating, though, was that sometimes students didn’t like a book club graphic novel they’d picked. Granted, they picked it out of a narrow choice of 15 or so graphic novels.
I would’ve thought more students would have liked Blankets or Watchmen, especially since they were texts that needed parent/guardian approval and had the time of edgy material I thought teens would like. Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of this was when students didn’t even choose to read some graphic novels that are truly great: Linda Medley’s fantastic Castle Waiting only had one student read it in all three years, the other copies lying lonely on the bookshelf; Jessica Abel’s illuminating Out on the Wire also only had one student read it in that same time, making me think less of my students and regret having the school purchase these texts. At the end of the day, though, those two students like them, and most students liked their other selections, so I take heart in that.
When I envisioned this course, I pictured students who wanted to analyze comics on a granular level. Students who spouted comics jargon from academic perspectives like Will Eisner’s Comics and Sequential Art,Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics, and Jessica Abel and Matt Madden’s Writing Words and Drawing Pictures. What was I thinking? Students didn’t like using academic language to analyze traditional texts, wanting to stick to their own dialect in crafting responses. And that’s if they were even willing to read and discuss those texts!
Each year of teaching the comics class, I realized this trend held true for discussing comics. I liked thinking and talking about comics with Eisner’s thoughts about framing, McCloud’s panel transition types, and Abel and Madden’s thoughts on pacing. Students generally couldn’t care less whether it was a Moment-to-Moment or Action-to-Action panel. They only cared about if they liked the comic and if it connected with them on a personal level. It took a while for me to let go of my initial utopian vision of this class. Eventually, I started using less of these readings.
I still thought it was important to study some essential concepts. The panel transitions and panel types from McCloud were important to learn. Even if we didn’t use that language most of the time. There were some concepts that got too granular. I decided I could only make students read half of Understanding Comics instead of the whole thing. Eisner and Abel became options. The best creative analysis came from engaging in the process itself rather than abstractly discussing it to death. When we had to discuss graphic novels and the process–students would have better analysis of the creative process by discussing it with graphic novels they liked, with stories that resonated with them.
Seeing these trends, this past year I shifted the order and curriculum of the class, leading to yet another success. Before, we’d start with reading the original version of Metamorphosisand then Peter Kuper’s version to compare and contrast. While the aim of that unit worked–to show students how graphic novels differed from novels and other traditional texts, it never hooked students.
These were consistently students’ least favorite texts. Kafka’s original was definitely disliked much more than the graphic novel version, if only because it was denser and took longer to read. Still seeing some value in studying these two texts, I moved them to the last unit. It was a unit that focused on adaptations (prose to comics, movies to comics, etc…) and decided to only read excerpts from the two, so that we gained the knowledge from our study without losing engagement (too much, at least). This was also a good move since it aligned with our study of Persepolis. It was a study that had involved comparing and contrasting the graphic novel with the movie adaptation in a Socratic Seminar.
With that move made, the beginning of the year opened up: I decided to open it up to complete choice, giving students options from my classroom library (full of about 75 or more graphic novels) along with the school library. Students were more engaged in their texts than I’d ever seen, in that class or any other. They might not have liked to do activities, about their comics (because, after all, it’s work and most teens don’t like work–plus, analyzing texts isn’t something most people like to do, something that often kills the joy of reading in students and adults alike).
Part of this unit also entailed reading conferences, one-on-one discussions with me about their graphic novels. This is where I truly saw the passion in students for what they were reading, and the most ownership over thinking about their graphic novels. For those in the know, for those who know education theory and edu-babble, I had essentially implemented a Reader’s Workshop approach at the end of the year, something that largely worked (although, I’ll admit, I dropped conferencing after awhile, due to it taking too much time).
The Reader’s Workshop model is also often paired with the Writer’s Workshop model (something I did in my other classes where we read traditional texts and did more writing), but I knew I needed a different structure for the graphic novel class. I needed to create a Cartoonist’s Workshop, to focus on developing students’ abilities to create comics in traditional and digital ways.
Now, I’d already done this to some degree. In the first two years, I’d had a running series of Behind the Scenes days where we went into a Mac Lab to explore different aspects of creating comics in Adobe Illustrator (after we’d spent a few days in the room thinking about creating plot and writing scripts). The idea was that students would have brainstormed a plot, written a page of its script, and then built off that story and concept in Adobe Illustrator as we learned to pencil, ink, color, and letter. I always gave students the option to start a new story, since that’s sometimes the creative process, but the students who did the best work often followed their initial idea through the whole semester.
Part of what made this approach different than the Cartoonist’s Workshop, though, is that we practiced these skills less in general, and we practiced these skills mainly in digital formats instead of letting students go old-school with pencil, pen, and paper. Another difference was simply in its timing and my own comic-creating knowledge. The first year, I’d only released a few issues of Rebirth of the Gangster, so my knowledge of some aspects of Adobe Illustrator and comic-creation was limited. As a result, I linked to a lot of video tutorials and websites to supplement students in their activities, giving them many resources to choose from, but this freedom became a double-edged sword.
Students that were passionate about the process chose the best, yet most thorough and time-consuming resources, and produced the best final projects-at the end of the semester (a six- page comic about anything, something that also gave students the freedom to fly high or crawl). And these projects were better than the ones my last year when I used the Cartoonist’s Workshop approach. But other students wanted more guidance, or lacked the passion to utilize the best resources, and they produced some of the worst projects I’d seen in my whole time teaching the class.
The more I created comics, though, and the more I helped students problem solve their own digital comics, the better creator I became, one of the best (and most selfish) successes of teaching this class. Truly, if this class had been good for nothing else, I would appreciate teaching it because it made me evaluate my creative process, refining it even more because I wasn’t just thinking about creating comics after class ended.
Becoming a better creator was the biggest step in preparing me for switching to the Cartoonist’s Workshop in my final year. It was an approach that led to better overall products from the average student if less spectacular ones by outliers. The shorter ceiling was probably because of the shift in the requirements for the last project. Not because I became a worse teacher for those few passionate student creators. Instead of giving students complete freedom to create any six-page comic, I had them create a six-page comic adapting anything. It could be a scene from a TV show, a movie, a song, a chapter, a whole fairy tale. They had a foundation to build off of instead of coming up with their own ideas.
Most students created better comics. They could focus on style, pacing, and other aesthetics since the content was already made for them. However, since the content wasn’t their own, that did stem some students’ creativity and passion; instead of applying solid craft to a personal vision of their own, they only had the craft.
Raising the floor of my students’ creative abilities was due in part because I was a better creator. But (humility aside), it probably had more to do with the fact that I had students keep a Cartoonist’s section in their notebooks. That lead to a lot more old-school comics. Students got more practice in creating comics and became engaged in the class since they were now creating more and discussing reading less. Most students might not have had a personal vision for the final project this year. But they had mastered more of their craft. That lead to a better comic from most students. On some level, this paralleled my journey in this course. I had lost my passion for teaching (teaching in general, and teaching comics to some degree). I had gained a stronger foundation of knowledge and a higher level of craft.
When I closed the door on my comics classroom the last time a few weeks ago, I walked to the staff parking lot with mixed emotions. I would miss the passion from the few students who wanted to create at a high level. I’d miss the evolution of students’ perception of, and enjoyment of, comics. I would miss the ability to refine my own creative process. But I wouldn’t miss the disengaged student taking the class for an easy D. The ones who just wanted to pass and graduate high school; I wouldn’t miss the students casting shade on some of my favorite reads; and I wouldn’t miss having to murder my darlings, to spend less and less time on the analytical texts.
The control freak in me also despaired that the class wouldn’t end with me; another teacher would pick up the reins and steer future students down this trail. In some ways, I felt like Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby must’ve felt. We had done our work-for-hire, but now we had to see our creations move on in the hands of others. At the same time, I’m excited for the teacher who’s taking on the course and for the students who will be graced with his different vision. After all, in work-for-hire scenarios and creations, the creator isn’t always the best fit for every audience member. Some might glorify the Lee/Kirby years of the Fantastic Four; some might prefer John Byrne’s; Hickman’s run might resonate with others.
Ultimately, any great creation will have its ups and downs and will be received differently by different people. That’s the way life goes, and its only fitting that that’s the way a comics classroom rolls too.
CJ Standal is a writer and self-publisher. He is co-creator of Rebirth of the Gangster, which has been featured in Alterna Comics’ 2017 IF Anthology; he has lettered the webcomic Henshin Man; and he has written for online sites like Graphic Policy and the now-defunct Slant. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram (@cj_standal), Facebook, and visit his website: cjstandalproductions.com.
Have you struggled to learn Calculus? The Cartoon Introduction to Calculus is out July 16 to help you! From Grady Klein, Yoram Bauman, Ph.D., and published by Hill and Wang, the graphic novel is a supplement to traditional textbooks. The Cartoon Introduction to Calculus focuses on the big ideas rather than all the formulas you have to memorize.
Award-winning illustrator Klein and the world’s only stand-up economist Bauman guide us as we scale the dual peaks of Mount Derivative and Mount Integral. From their summits, we see how calculus relates to the rest of mathematics. Beginning with the problems of speed and area, Klein and Bauman show how the discipline is unified by a fundamental theorem.
We meet geniuses like Archimedes, Liu Hui, and Bonaventura Cavalieri. They survived the slopes on intuition but prepared us for the avalanche-like dangers posed by mathematical rigor. Then we trek onward and scramble through limits and extreme values, optimization and integration. We learn how calculus can be applied to economics, physics, and so much more. We discover that calculus isn’t the pinnacle of mathematics after all, but its tools are foundational to everything that follows. Klein and Bauman round out the book with a handy glossary of symbols and terms. You don’t have to worry about mixing up constants and constraints.
With a witty and engaging narrative full of jokes and insights, The Cartoon Introduction to Calculus is an essential primer for students or for anyone who is curious about math.
Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2), the largest pop culture convention in the Midwest are teaming up with 194 local schools and libraries to launch “Power Up To Read.” The free program gives students between ages 6-14 the chance to earn a free 3-day badge to C2E2 simply by reading! In its inaugural year, ReedPOP is distributing 57,000 “Power Up To Read” participation worksheets and coupon codes to participating schools and libraries to help incentivize students to read more.
To partake in the program, students must attend a participating school and obtain a “Power Up To Read” worksheet from a school representative or download a copy from the Power Up To Read website. To complete the program, students must read eight books, comic books, or graphic novels from their school or library between now and March 9, 2019 and fill out the provided worksheet with the requested details on the books they read.
Once the students complete their worksheets, they can turn in the completed sheet to their school’s representative in exchange for a promo code which can be redeemed by a parent or guardian and are valid for a free 3-day badge for the student, and 50 percent off two additional 3-day badges. Codes can be redeemed at C2E219.com/badges.
Comic book fans, assemble! Ithaca College will be offering a new course for the spring 2019 semester: Creating and Promoting Ithacon. Students enrolled in the course will help organize and promote Ithacon, the second-longest running comic convention in the nation.
Designed for students interested in learning about event planning, celebrity management and pop culture marketing, the course will provide a unique hands-on learning opportunity. Students will take a lead role in planning for Ithacon 2019, from assessing material and staffing needs, logistical preparation, and managing the weekend-long event, in addition to marketing the convention by preparing press releases, crafting social media campaigns and developing partnerships with local and national businesses, publishers and entertainment properties.
The course will be co-taught by faculty from the School of Humanities and Sciences and the School of Business. English professor Katharine Kittredge, the coordinator of Ithacon, will guide students in creating aspects of the event that promote literacy and creativity. Ed Catto, a lecturer in the Department of Management, will leverage his deep experience in “geek culture” and convention planning to educate the students about marketing and branding, in addition to assisting them with planning and promoting the event.
Catto and Kittredge plan to bring in an impressive list of guest speakers with experience in the comic book and convention industries, including former DC Comics president Paul Levitz, Bill Schanes of Diamond Comic Distributors, and comic book editor Will Dennis.
While much of the coursework will focus on management and marketing, students will also learn about entrepreneurship as they work with up-and-coming companies to ensure a successful Ithacon. The course will also highlight post-event analysis and foster an understanding of the importance of trade shows in the business world. The course will also have a focus on pop culture, particularly publishing, filmed entertainment, licensing, collectibles and fan communities.
Ithacon 2019 will be held March 23-24 in Ithaca College’s Emerson Suites. The convention will spotlight “The Twilight Zone”and celebrate the 60th anniversary of the groundbreaking show. “Twilight Zone” creator Rod Serling taught at Ithaca College from 1967 to 1975, and the college houses the Rod Serling Archives, a comprehensive collection of his television scripts, film screenplays, stage play scripts, films, unpublished works, awards and other materials.
Ithacon is funded by the Ithaca College School of Humanities and Sciences.
The cast of Black Panther continue to create magic surprising a student with a full-ride scholarship courtesy of The Black Panther Scholarship. That reveal was made during The Hollywood Reporter‘s 2018 Women in Entertainment event. The event took place this past week at Milk Studios in Los Angeles.
Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o, and Danai Gurira presented thew new scholarship created by Walt Disney Studios. It was presented to one girl from THR‘s Women in Entertainment Mentorship Program and is worth $250,000 to Loyola Marymount University. The program is in its ninth year and a partnership with Big Brother Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles.
The recipient, Kalis Coleman, plans on becoming a pediatric dermatologist and attends high school in Inglewood.
During the event more than $1.8 million scholarships were unveiled by Kesha.
The scholarship feels appropriate as the end of the film saw Wakanda opening an institute to educate and share information between them and the world.
It’s said that no work of literature is written in a vacuum.
One of the first things you learn to do as an undergrad in any course in literature is to unpack the political, cultural, and societal implication of whatever it is you’re reading, because whether the author intended it or not, he or she was assuredly influenced by the circumstances in which it was written. Even as a high school student I learned that Shakespeare’s fascination with witchcraft in Macbeth is likely an influence of the King under which he was writing, who had an interest in the occult himself; The Lord of the Flies and Animal Farm both have their roots in a kind of British political anxiety, and the only way that On the Road can be more of a manifesto of the early counterculture movement is if copies of it are beaten by riot officers.
Yet I’ve always been more interested in the political, cultural, and social capital hidden away in the more obscure media, the stuff that, for whatever reason, has for so long escaped the notice of conventional scholarship. Though teachers have long adored the political cartoon there remains a strange, standoffish attitude toward the comic book, as though we’re all still in the 1950s and Dr. Wertham is sitting across from us making all sorts of uncomfortable eye contact over a stack of World’s Finest. Thankfully that attitude has receded significantly in recent years and I’m happy to see more and more that teachers like myself are having success in using the rife political and cultural content of comics as a springboard to discuss ideas as diverse and grandiose as race relations, diplomacy, and the importance of de-mystifying the “other”ness of foreign cultures, peoples, and ideologies.
The conversation about the political and sociocultural implications of comics – really, of all media – is always hobbled somewhat when it hits a K-12 classroom environment. There begin conversations about correctness and age-appropriateness, and whether a book can or should be introduced to the student population for fear of indoctrination. Year after year mainstays like The Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird are called into question by school boards and parent groups across the country, and while their reasons are varied they general boil down to what we want our children to discover about who and what we are. Works that are censored for classroom use have a common thread: they oftentimes highlight the worst of us, in an attempt to ensure that we avoid making the mistakes of our ancestry.
That being said, it seems highly unlike that Shannon Wheeler’s “Sh*t My President Says” will ever see regular use as a implement of classroom instruction, given that it is both a comic book, and therefore still a subject of academic uncertainty by some of my colleagues, and demonstrative of one of the most deranged, startling, and ultimately embarrassing garbage fires of the 21st century. It is eye-opening in its candor, tragically funny, vitally informative, and ought to be required reading for anyone hoping to study the political machine of the early 21st century. It may very well be one of the most important historical artifacts of this decade.
All because of Twitter.
“Sh*t My President Says” is a perfect example of the historically-embedded nature of media. Even without Wheeler’s accompanying caricatures of Trump as a riotous toddler with a phone fetish, the collection of our mentally-errant President’s 140-character temper tantrums provides a sobering look at just how we got to where we are. Taken with Shannon Wheeler’s supplemental artwork, the Tweets take on a second life: their childishness is thrown into a stark relief with the inclusion of the author’s idealized boy king Trump, and indeed the whole work might read as a fiction were we not living it as we are now.
From a teachable standpoint, nothing beats a work that provides the subject’s words as they were uttered while simultaneously offering a responding critique of them. In this way Shannon Wheeler has submitted to his audience a kind of living primary source, an artifact that both serves to document history as well as record our collective reaction to the oftentimes unbelievable events of our current political climate – which, of course, is a form of history in and of itself.
Is it teachable? Absolutely, and pertinently so: in much the same way that we recognize the crassness of the language in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or the sexuality of “The Awakening” as indicative of the societies and cultures of the time in which they were written, Wheeler’s compilation of the fractured thoughts of our enfeebled Commander-in-Chief are likewise a reflection of the state of our society. Wheeler provides a means to process an pivotal event in American political history in a way that is accessible for its simplicity, honest for its presentation, and as painless an experience as it could be possibly be for the author’s satirical approach to her bumbling, foolhardy subject matter.
Nevertheless, I give Mr. Wheeler a great deal of credit for his work in compiling this trainwreck of a timeline in recording the Trump tweets he has. For the levity with which it is presented, there is something truly sinister about seeing these words become actions, and those actions engender other, more awful actions. Longtime exposure to those levels of ego-maniacal word vomit cannot be healthy for an individual, and I hope sincerely that Mr. Wheeler recovers quickly for his exposure.
While its unflinching revelation of the worst of our potential all but guarantees it never sees widespread classroom use, I fully expect that passages from “Sh*t My President Says” will find their way into political science and literature classrooms across the globe. This cutting work of comics journalism is a vibrant reminder of how we ended up in this mess, and I wager that there’s more than a few daring educators willing to make the case that, like Mockingbird and Rye, just because something is uncomfortable doesn’t mean that we turn a blind eye to its implications.
Literature isn’t written in a vacuum – but sometimes the stuff that inspires it sucks nonetheless. It’s our job to learn from it, and works like Wheeler’s make that possible.