Will you make up your mind: now the Guardian thinks comics are awesome


While The UK Guardian tooketh away on Monday with a trolling column by a known gadfly, but they gaveth back today with
this piece on how studying comics is vital to future civilizationby Christopher Murray on his courage at the University of Dundee:

Comics have a lot to offer teachers and school pupils, as I have seen in the workshops I have organised for local schools. They can break down disciplinary divides and enable discussions that cross between literature, art, history, politics, media, religious studies, and so on. The value that universities now place on creative thinking across subjects could be embedded much earlier, and using a medium that reflects forms and influences from many cultures.

Comics are also a powerful educational tool for assisting readers with dyslexia or autism who may have difficulty processing text.

Murray offers a reading list of five basics—including The Big Three, Watchmen, Dark Knight and Fun Home—but adds We3 and The Arrival. Good picks, especially The Arrival which isn’t usually classed as a graphic novel, but should be as it’s visual storytelling at its most amazing.

Anyway, please set aside that silly Jones piece as the waste of time it was.

SDCC’13: What is a Superhero?

By Benjamin J. Villareal

While droves of comic book, movie, television, video game, and toy fans roam the San Diego Comic-Con floor booths and exhibit halls, university professors and students are upstairs tackling the big questions through their ongoing research. The Comics Arts Conference is an academic conference that runs in conjunction with both Comic-Con International and Wonder-Con.

[Read more…]

Exclusive Interview: The Rise of Denver Comic Con & Comic Book Classroom, Part 2 “Expansion”

Denver Comic Con has made the record books for the fastest growing con in American history and is now one of the largest cons in the country after staging its second year. The con is closely affiliated with the educational charity Comic Book Classroom bringing school curriculum and after school programs to the Denver community, and CBC has also expanded rapidly to enormous impact on the young people of the Denver area. In the first installment of this interview with Christina Angel, a founding member (along with Bruce MacIntosh, Michael NewmanIllya Kowalchuk and  founders Frank Romero and Charlie La Greca,) of Denver Comic Con, and Illya Kowalchuk, Executive Director of Comic Book Classroom, they spoke about the challenges they faced just launching these events and stabilizing their dream to make comics a big part of Denver’s culture. They gave insights into the kind of strategies they developed that enabled DCC and CBC’s first year to be record-breaking, but in this second, final installment, Angel and Kowalchuk address the monumental “Noah’s flood” they encountered this year when both events met increasing demand well beyond expectations. It was thrilling for them but also a monster of a year to learn quickly how to grow and sustain their dreams. Here’s what they have to say about this game-changing year for their organizations.

Comic-Book-Classroom-logoHMS: When Comic Book Classroom started expanding after its first year, what challenges did you face?

Illya Kowalchuk: A great example of this was our second year of piloting the curriculum!  Our goal was to triple our outreach and successfully run three programs.  We did not advertise at all, and we wound up with 14 classes and over 250 graduates!  All this happened from word of mouth.  So, we creatively scheduled when our teachers and reference libraries could be in different places over the course of each semester.  Another asset to this expansion was that several classroom teachers wanted to use our curriculum as part of their school day curriculum.  That way, all we needed to provide to make this happen was a copy of the curriculum and a reference library.

We look forward to expanding in this manner – providing curriculum and content as a free digital download for anyone who wants to use it!  This way, we aren’t limited by geography, numbers of volunteers, or libraries.

HMS: What kind of impact have you seen CBC make in kids’ lives so far in Denver? What kind of impact do you want to have in the future?

[Read more…]

Exclusive Interview: The Rise of Denver Comic Con & Comic Book Classroom, Part 1, “Origins”

Denver Comic Con is a phenomenon. In only two years, it has become one of the largest comic conventions in the country, and figuring out just how that came about can give us some in-depth insights into the wider growth of cons happening internationally, but particularly in the USA right now. Christina Angel, an English professor at Metropolitan State University in Denver, is one of the con’s small band of visionary founding members (with Frank Romero, Bruce MacIntosh, Charlie La Greca, Michael Newman, and Illya Kowalchuk), and one of the lynch-pins that held the con together through its planning stages, astonishing first year, and even more overwhelming second year this past May. She spoke in very personal terms with The Beat about how exactly Denver Comic Con came to exist, and how it met its first year’s extreme challenges. An equal partner in Denver Comic Con is the charitable educational literacy program Comic Book Classroom, which has also experienced a meteoric rise in the Denver area, is part of Denver Comic Con itself, and a strong element in the drive toward comics as a positive impact in the community that has fueled programming at DCC. Illya Kowalchuk, Executive Director of Comic Book Classroom, also spoke with The Beat about the charity’s origins and how it functions to supply real-world need for youngsters through the medium of comics. Together Angel and Kowalchuk lay out the foundational steps that led them up to an explosion in growth for DCC and Comic Book Classroom in this exclusive interview.


Hannah Means-Shannon: What were the nuts and bolts necessary to start a local comic con? What kind of relationships are necessary on a local level to get started?

Christina Angel, Ph.D.: The funny thing is, at the time we started this, we had no idea about the nuts and bolts, so I’m answering this part in retrospect. Beyond knowing we needed people, vendors and a place to put them all, the rest was learned mostly on the fly. In order to start a local comic con, the most crucial thing to have is patience – what you don’t know takes time to learn and from my own experience, people will get excited about the prospect, but will take a sceptical approach to helping you, save the few “true believers” right out of the gate. The other learning experience is that comic cons are not like other conventions and you will have to educate even the most seasoned convention organizers, decorators and security teams about the unique qualities of such an event. You have to prove yourself to all of the people who think you’re nuts or out of your league or both, and that also takes time.

[Read more…]