A Public Service Announcement! ;)

A Public Service Announcement! ;)

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Gene Yang "Levels Up," Named Library of Congress Ambassador For Young People's Literature

Yang, pictured here with Level Up co-creator  Thien Pham, is
a long-time advocate of Asian American voices in comics and
other literatures. The multi-talented comics creator now adds
Ambassador as an *official* title, adding to a distinguished career.
Gene Yang is celebrated for his comics, his commitment to responsible diversity within them, and -- of special import to this blog -- his teaching. Yang has K12- and college-level teaching experience and gets the comics-and-literacy connections. I am so pleased he has been granted this honor and opportunity. He's the perfect person to help the rest of the comics-and-education community fight *prejudices* and bigotries associated with oppressive notions of favoritism regarding so many things, the tyranny of the printed word among them. Learn more about his new position *here*.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

No Female Action Figures? No Problem! (Sort Of). Is 3D Printing a Maker-Space Solution?

Notice anything interesting about these toy sets? Go ahead, scroll on down for a bit.


They feature characters from blockbuster movie and comics chains, but where are the women characters? There is no Black Widow in the Marvel set, and no Leia in the Star Wars sets. Vision makes it into the Avengers toys, but not Scarlet Witch. If and when The Force Awakens sets are released, will they include Phasma and Rey? You won't find Rey in the new Star Wars Monopoly either, nor in several other toy sets.

Perhaps the toys are on the way, but if they aren't, is there a 21st-century solution waiting to become reality in the realm of maker spaces?

While having the toy companies decide on their own to release female figures would be great, could someone take matters into their own hands and draft some custom parts for the Mashers series via 3D printing?

 I'll bet there's a market for such parts, akin to the market for special-made LEGO sets. And if someone made such plans and wanted to distribute them for free, I am sure the internet hive-mind would approve.

I come from a tradition of unsanctioned action figure customization. Before there were viable X-Men action figures, I would use acrylic paint and markers to turn my wrestling action figures into X-Men. Larry Zybysko made a heck of a Banshee, let me tell you!One of the Fabulous Freebirds had curly hair perfect for Nightcrawler, and I even had a Colossus covered in chrome model car paint, though I do not recall whom I customized to make him. My heroes were mine, of course. I didn't have the means or desire to make them for other kids, and it took some tolerance from the adults in my life to let me mess up my toys with costumes and accessories "no one" had even heard of (yet!).

Surely if I could scrounge materials to make the heroes the toy companies weren't interested in yet, today's savvy makers can help solve the gender problem in action figure sets until some of the toy lines become more inclusive. 

(Thanks to my Facebook friend J.A. for helping this idea long via his posts on gender exclusion in toy sets!)

The right paint and cloth for the "wings" was all
it took for me to have a Banshee action figure!




Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year! Welcome a 2016 Filled With Comics Goodness


May your back issues be found, your bags unyellowed, your boards crisp and straight, and may your passion for comics benefit you and those around you all  the livelong days of this new year, 2016.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Merry Christmas, 1979-style!

Two-year old me wishes you a happy holiday season via this groundbreaking rap from Kurtis Blow, whom I wouldn't know about for at least another 20 years but would have wanted you to know about had I known about it then. ;)



The rap reminds me of the time I accompanied my father on a trucking trip through New York State.  I was in fifth grade, if memory serves. I remember Ithaca, Syracuse, and a town called White Plains (?) or White Falls. I remember a complete white out while we were on the road and a deer jumping in front of the cab so high into the sky it was on level with the 18-wheeler's windshield. Luckily it made  it past us! I recall stopping at a shop and getting a brownie almost as big as my head. I remember flipping of someone in a Camaro who almost ran over me. I remember stopping in a drug store and seeing the Todd McFarlane Marvel  Poster Book


Dad purchased a truck-stop cassette tape of Christmas rap songs somewhere along the way, which we listened to for as long as we could before tossing it out the window! We were harsh critics. I don't think Blow's rap was on the tape. 

Anyway, happy holidays and Merry Christmas! 



Saturday, December 05, 2015

Privileged -- Not Informed -- Perspectives Keep Comics out of Classrooms, Teacher Educators' Considerations

Noting what appears to be less attention being paid to comics and graphic novels at the recent 2015 National Council of Teachers of English, Assembly on Literature for Adolescent of NCTE, and the Literacy Research Association, I have to revisit the reasons why sequential art may be getting pushed back to the periphery of teachers' and teacher educators' social and critical consciousness.
Luckily, current top burner theory and concerns, namely White Privilege, Social Justice, and White Supremacy offer lenses through which to, once again, make a claim as to why this might be the case: 
The light, white, right hand that feeds and starves. 

Around the nation, teachers and teacher educators continue to favor their dominant cultural biases regarding notions of success, quality, and worth. They keep out certain elements such that prevailing discourses and traditions are favored and those with different perspectives remain disenfranchised and under thumb, best seen and not heard -- if acknowledged at all. 
Despite all the wonder adding new voices could could add to their classrooms, these teachers maintain the status quo of bigotry and ignorance. Their knapsacks, ironically, are incredibly visible, and very few stand up to them due to the sheer numbers and weight of those who think similarly. Their privilege knows no ends because they privilege one another and can be as radical as they think they are nestled in the safety of their group think.
Miles Myers, Gunther Kress, other New Londerers, Scott McCloud, Theirry Groensteen, Nick Sousanis and so many others have discussed the reasons why, but has anyone called the reason comics and other visual forms remain on the outside looking in of so man English teachers' and English educators' classes?
Let it be so named: The privilege, bigotry and ignorance is the result of :
Write Privilege and Write Supremacy.

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