A Public Service Announcement! ;)

A Public Service Announcement! ;)

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

The Panels Guide to Manga Terminology

Who can't use a nifty guide to vocabulary associated with Manga? Surely no one in education or literacy studies can afford not to have access to one, especially given the monstrous sales numbers of Attack on Titan recently. Some even suggest that when it comes to American comics sales, Manga is the dominating force.

Luckily the folks at Panels have created a primer. See their Guide to Essential Manga Terminology here

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Hey, Hey!

Hi there, readers. You may have noticed I don't update here as often as I have in the past. The blog's not dead. When I read a comic or graphic novel about which I think the public needs to know more, I'll post a review. In the meantime, here are ways to keep up with my work:

1. See a version of my online vita here: http://virginia.academia.edu/JamesBuckyCarter

2. I have a Google Scholar profile now! You should be able to access it at this address: https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=v_YyMagAAAAJ&hl=en&oi=ao. According to information gleaned from Google Scholar on November 3, 2015, my works have been cited at least 270 times, and I have an h-index of 8 and an i10-index of 7.

The latest *SANE* features cover art by
Gene Kannenberg, Jr.
3. I'm scheduled as featured speaker at 2016's Michigan Reading Association. In Detroit, I'll give a rundown of where I see the next decade of comics evolution and how teachers can tap into growing and emergent trends. For more information, visit http://michiganreading.org/conferences/annual-conference/2016speakers.

4. I'm still writing! I have work with ALAN's "Under the Radar" team in development, as well as entries for edited collections from academic presses. For one such project, I was deemed a "pioneering figure" regarding comics and education. That was quite an honor.

5. SANEjournal is still going strong. My latest peer-reviewed article, "PIM Pedagogy," was downloaded 17 times in September and had views from across the globe. Richard Graham is the managing editor of the journal now, and his first issue went live earlier this fall. SANEjournal now has four issues worth of research and practitioner-based texts, lesson plans, rationales, and more on the subject of comics and education.

Now for some miscellaneous comics considerations en mi cabeza, presented in stream of consciousness for your bemusement:

Learn to code! 
Saga still rocks; Sex Criminals is fun reading;  G. Willow Wilson's work on Ms. Marvel is awesome but G-Force is over-rated; Gene Yang is amazing and his Secret Coders is such a great idea for a book. I'm puzzled that Nimona is getting as much critical attention as it has based on its quality, which is, well, "meh," in my opinion. I'd hoped reading Stevenson, Ellis, Watters and Allen's Lumberjanes would reveal that Nimona was a working space for a new comics writer to hone their skills before nailing it with their next efforts, but I've read enough summer camp comics already. I do feel Lumberjanes has merited the positive attention it has received, though. Bitch Planet continues to challenge me, engage me and enrage me (Well, consternate me, anyway). Writers and critics need to let a series actually debut before they critique it for shortfalls. Also, it would be nice if writers would address a character's entire history and mediated representations before making claims about race, gender, or privilege within their articles -- or at the very least acknowledge the narrowed focus of their articles. Squirrel Girl is a fun, fun series, though I didn't like seeing it get a new #1 so soon after debuting. Raina Telgemeier is a full-fledged phenomenon now, as is Nick Sousanis. All comics are flawed in some way, as are all texts, and this is good news to scholars, as it gives us something to talk about. I'm eager to see fan reaction to the new comics featuring Red Wolf and Spider-Woman. I miss the Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle being in our critical consciousness. I still want to make more comics. I'm about to start reading Phoebe Gloeckner's The Diary of a Teenage Girl, the one with the "Now a Major Motion Picture" label on its cover.  First Second seems to have become more corporate in attitude and marketing recently. I am curious to see how Preacher works as a TV series. I want to want to watch Supergirl, but I didn't watch Smallville, Gotham, Arrow or The Flash, so I probably won't.  As comics readership demographics shift, keep an eye on who appears, reappears, and (particularly) disappears in their pages. Doing so will help you see if we're experiencing a more open medium or one happy to replace old powered discourses with new ones. Swamp Thing is still DC's most interesting character, to me. Most floppy comics that I'm not reading but would like to read look like they'd be better read in trade paperback or graphic novel form. Definitely, I can see generational preferences emerge regarding what young people like in comics versus what I like in them, My oldest son is on a Doug TenNapel kick. I'm still hip to Derf Backderf, Nate Powell, and Ed Piskor. Have any comics works of the last five year had as much power as David Mazzucchelli's Asterious Polpy or Jaime Hernandez' The Love Bunglers? Maybe the Tamaki's This One Summer. Maybe.  Otherwise, not that I've seen. I need to read more grown-up comics, though. When it comes to comics-and-literacy scholarship, I often feel overlooked, discarded and disrespected within the education and literacy communities. A good job would fix that for me, though, I'm sure. I picked up the first issue of Gene Yang's Superman but haven't read any other issues in the series.  The news of a Dark Knight III intrigues me more than excites me.
Squirrel Girl has an entertaining set of eponymous titles and the best catch phrase ever.

Monday, August 03, 2015

An Alternative to Bags and Boards

I just read an article from Panels contributor Christine Hoxmeier about an alternative method of storing comics. I won't say too much except I thought the method and article were intriguing enough to post about it here. Click to see what I mean.  Here's a teaser image:

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Rest Well, Tom Moore

News outlets report that Tom Moore, an influential comics artist known for his work in Archie, has passed in El Paso, Texas. 

Mr. Moore, who worked on Archie comics for three decades, was among the guests an "El Paso in the Comics" event I organized while I worked at UTEP. I learned about his presence in the area through an anonymous tip.

I remember him as collegial, humble, and eager to speak to any of the other comics creators and event attendees. 

While my time with him was brief, he left an impression, and I join his family and the comics community in mourning his loss. Mr. Moore was 86.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Quick n' Dirty: An Underdeveloped Review of Ant-Man

Low-key, quiet, and with a simplified plot even for a superhero film, Ant-Man retains a balance of action and (mostly) family-friendly charm not seen since the first Fantastic Four release. Like that picture, the movie invokes both joy and tedium, but with enough charisma and character to make the most hardened comics film critic accept it like a goofy, well-meaning best friend -- with a pat on the back, a "Ruddy" smile, and a welcoming embrace. "Come over here and let me hug you, Ant-Man. I love you despite your flaws."

Saturday, July 11, 2015

A "Way Too Early" Look at 2016's Eisner Award Winners

Can the emergence of feminine forces in comics help a series like Spider-Woman become an award-winning hit?
 Read on to find out!
In the spirit of college sports writers everywhere, now that the 2015 champions have been crowned, it's time to write immediately about next year's winners. I'm talking Eisners instead of Final Fours, though. Or would the comparison be more apt if  I used the College Football Playoff instead? Regardless, here are some comics titles and creators sure to make it on 2016 Eisner ballots. I think. I mean, what do I know?

Scott McCloud's The Sculptor, a study on the life of  exceptionally creative people and what it must be to have the urge to make and the compulsion and Godly skill to make art imitate one's visions of life and life imitate one's visions of art -- yet remain a fully fallible human restricted by the realities and fates of non-deity living -- is a sure-fire choice. Having garnered critical and commercial praise, expect this tome from First Second to be up for Best Graphic Album New. McCloud's reputation and place as an American Master will cement even more due to this great work, nomination or no.

In the categories of Best Academic Work and/or Best Comics-Related Book, expect to Nick Sousanis's Harvard University Press release Unflattening to make the ballot and get the win. With excellent, ongoing press and a network of fans spanning academic fields and popular culture audiences,  already Unflattening has  made an impact on hundreds and that number may reach tens of thousands by the time the ballots are announced. Part Understanding Comics, part Ways of Seeing, part Literary Theory: An Anthology, this book -- marketed as a comic dissertation (and it is in so  much as it is a long essay on a particular set of subjects, but do not mistake it for the same work Sousanis would have submitted as a dissertation for his recent doctorate) --  asks readers to reconsider their conceptualizations of knowledge and what counts as serious intellectual representations of such. Inspiring and eye-opening -- mind- and opinion-altering, even  -- especially to those who need to see a book of comics theory from an Ivy League press and an Ivy League-educated author -- Unflattening's following and success at expanding the minds of intellectuals and casual scholars alike make it a sure-fire awards winner. Expect second and third printings to wear some sort of medallion, if not the Eisner.

Bitch Planet is a lock for a Best New Series nomination and would make a controversial non-win
unless another title debuts with as much interest and pinache as DeConnick and De Landro's not-quite-monthly floppy from Image. With a loyal, championing (maybe even defensive?)  fan following, this title's mega-splash debut is enough to get it on the watch list, and while the series is still gaining steam and finding its flow, nothing short of a narrative meltdown will keep Bitch Planet from appearing on the ballots. Not recognizing this self-aware ironic female prison exploitation trope buster would make for judges who were non-compliant to popular opinion.

I have a hunch some assortment of Spider-Man titles will be in the hunt as well and will, along with Ms. Marvel, comprise most of Marvel's representation on the ballots. Whether the categories will honor  Spidey-centric writer, artist, or series I can't prognosticate. Will Miles Morales or Spider-Gwen take center stage, or will an off-center, quirky "super-powered yet still domestic"-themed  series featuring a very pregnant Spider-Woman fill the void left as series like Matt Fraction's Hawkeye and the fan-favorite She-Hulk fade from public consciousness? Could Silk be a dark horse beak-out series or character? Maybe the new group book will prove an Eisner winner. G. Willow Wilson deserves the recognition an Eisner would bring, but now that Ms. Marvel is not a new series, her best bet might be the very tough Best Writer category. Another prediction? The great-in-concept but tepid-so-far A-Force will not garner awards consideration, nor will a majority of contemporary Marvel properties beyond the titles mentioned.

Marvel will still have more representation on the ballot than DC, though, who will have to hope Gene Yang and John Romita Jr's Superman run continues to bring the heat.

Expect current sure-things like Saga and its creators to make at least one category, and expect a return of  The Walking Dead, maybe in compendium form (?), as well. I've a hunch Sex Criminals will find a way back into the ballots too, and that we'll see a push toward more literary, adult-themed comics and graphic novels to offset -- but in no way to invalidate -- this year's crowded slate of winners cross-associated with Young Adult Literature. If the Hernandez brothers catch fire with a new work or a chapter of Love & Rockets with the same meteoric impact as The Love Bunglers -- and having studied their cycles of work, they're due --  I expect Fantagraphics, Drawn + Quarterly, and Image to make the strongest hauls this time next year.

As with the sports columns, though, such columns as this serve as fun speculation more than anything else at this point in the new awards year. Let's meet in just under 400 days to revisit my predictions, though, eh?

2015 Eisner Awards Winners Announced!

Click *here* to see which creators and titles won. Though, while awards are nice, these accolades do not mean the other nominees and many others not nominated aren't doing equally awesome work.