I'm frequently invited to conduct workshops on comix as an educational tool at regional conferences of K-12 librarians, teachers, and administrators. These educators appreciate the appeal of graphic novels but sometimes lack the familiarity to employ them effectively. Here are some of the conclusions we've reached on the judicious use of comix in school.
Comix are extremely useful as a tool to address students struggling with limited literacy or English as a second language (ESL.) In remedial situations, students are reluctant to be assigned material substantially below grade level. With many comix, the age level is ambiguous, which removes the social stigma associated with reading challenges. Additionally, the illustrations assist with word identification and drive the story in an accessible fashion. Comix are considered cool in school, and can engage students at all literacy levels.
The Usagi Yojimbo series is particularly appealing in teaching both ESL and remedial readers. It's a smart, well-paced adventure story about samurai culture in 17th century feudal Japan. These books are attractive to readers of all ages without respect to gender. For adolescents in higher grades, I often suggest Blazing Combat. This anthology contains compelling war stories throughout history, including the American Revolution, Civil War, World Wars I and II, Korea, Viet Nam and others. The stories have historical value and many focus on the futility of armed conflict. In addition, they feature some of the most remarkable artists in comics.
Fantagraphics Bookstore stocks dozens of comix and graphic novels suitable to students of all ages. Many of these books concern history, race and social justice, geopolitics, philosophy and other subjects common to K-12 curricula. To arrange an individual consultation or group visit to the bookstore please call Larry Reid at 206.658.0110. Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery is located at 1201 S. Vale Street, minutes south of downtown Seattle. Open daily 11:30 to 8:00 PM, Sundays until 5:00 PM. See you all soon.
* Other People's Publications ** Yeah, You Know Me.
"Down with OPP" spotlights excellent titles from other publishers that you can find at the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery. And this week, I present to you Make Me a Womanby Vanessa Davis (Drawn & Quarterly).
This week's column ain't exactly for the ladies. I'm sure we all bought this book when it first came out, gleefully pouring over this collection of sketchbook drawings that Davis did from 2004 to 2010. Some of these stories were originally published online in a monthly column she did for Tablet magazine, but they were new to me.
No, this column is for the fellas. I see you walking by our tables of new releases, your eyes darting across the covers, and some of you seem to flinch at the exuberantly girlish cover here. Really? It makes me wanna hit you in the face with this book, and it's a $24.95 hardcover, so it's gonna sting. How's THAT for being a woman?
Davis has a wonderful drawing style, somewhere between the frame-eschewing style of Ellen Forney (and with all the similar tiny anecdotal notes!) and the energetic spirit of Julie Doucet. Some drawings are slapdash pencil sketches, while others are beautifully watercolored, with exquisite attention to floor tiles, curtains, and book spines.
And, sure, some of you boys aren't gonna appreciate the awesome way she draws clothes and hairstyles as much as I do (I reaaaally appreciate it), but there's so much more about this book to enjoy. Maybe you went to Fat Camp, too. Maybe you'll agree with her opinions on R. Crumb'sThe Book of Genesis. Maybe you can relate to her Jewish upbringing. And actually, as a woman, I couldn't relate to any of that, but I still enjoyed this book. Look, I don't pee in jars, but I still enjoyed reading Peepshow!
So, be a man, and get Make Me a Woman.
We've also got another Davis book in stock, Spaniel Rage #1 (Buenaventura Press). It, too, is a collection of diary comics and sketchbook drawings, but from 2003 to 2004. And it's softcover, so I won't hit you with it.
[Um, and that "Cheri" t-shirt on the cover of Spaniel Rage? Well, it pops-up again in Make Me a Woman, in a scene where she's drawing with Gabrielle Bell and Michel Gondry -- Yeah, don't think I didn't notice!!!]
Both Make Me a Woman and Spaniel Rage #1 are currently in stock at the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery, located at 1201 S. Vale Street in Seattle's Georgetown district. Open daily 11:30 to 8:00 PM, Sundays until 5:00 PM. Phone: (206) 658-0110. See you soon!
* Other People's Publications ** Yeah, You Know Me.
We're introducing a new column to the FLOG this year, spotlighting some excellent titles from other publishers that you can find at the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery! (And spotlighting my dorky predilection for song titles from the 90's.)
Subtitled "Comics From Bangkok to Belgrade," Gazeta, Vol. 1debuts its series with a collection of artists from places I've never heard of. (Zagreb? Tampere? I need to get out more.)
Our store manager/curator Larry Reid recommended this one to me, pointing out the cover by the great Ron Regé, Jr. (who, speaking of 90's music, I discovered "back in the day" through the amazing band The Swirlies).
Admittedly, two of my favorite pieces come from the more well-known artists, Dylan Horrocks (whose story "Cornucopia" is so sweet, I may have swooned), and the aforemention Regé. Regé's piece is one of the longer ones in the collection, and was inspired by the writings of P.B. Randolph (the, uh, founder of "sex magic"!), and the teachings of Neville Goddard. Even though he didn't write the philosophies himself, the story is pure uplifting, transcendent Regé.
I may have swooned again.
The collection also introduced me to some artists I was unfamiliar with, including Portugese artist André Lemos, whose stark drawing style reminded me of our own Jason T. Miles, and the beautiful, haunting pencil drawings of Amanda Vähämäki, whose name has three umlauts, so clearly she's hardcore!
Gazeta, Vol. 1 is currently in stock at the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery, located at 1201 S. Vale Street in Seattle's Georgetown district. Open daily 11:30 to 8:00 PM, Sundays until 5:00 PM. Phone: (206) 658-0110. See you soon!
The Georgetown Second Saturday Art Attack rings in the New Year with a festive celebration of visual and performing arts throughout the historic industrial arts corridor. Please join us on Saturday, January 8 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM for this colorful cultural event.
Among the highlights of the January 8 Art Attack: Our uniquely amazing Georgetown Trailer Park Mall includes the Comet Lodge Mercantile Trailer hosting the "Le Marche' Noir" trunk show, a collection of upcycled garments created by Parisian artist & designer Elisabeth Vedrine, and the Lula B Lightning Trailer presenting limited edition "Strange Religion" chap books by Amanda B'Hymer, among other trailer park attractions; the grand re-openng of Georgetown Yoga at 5519 Airport Way S., with arts and crafts, prizes, snacks and beverages; Heather Hudson showing her exquisite illustrations at Krab Jab Studio; illustrative art up by Julie Baroh and Mark Tedin at Calamity Jane's; Michael Shephard's bizarre mixed media sculptures and paintings at Nautilus Studio; "Medieval Thinkers" comix art exhibition at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery; and, weather permitting, an outdoor spectacle of New Year cheer.
The Georgetown Second Saturday Art Attack is a monthly promotion of the Georgetown Merchants Association. For more information contact Art Attack coordinator Larry Reid at numbers above. For a printable map of participants, visit: www.georgetownartattack.com.
While you're at the store, get the gift of music. Our neighbors at Georgetown Records will give $1.00 off every purchase to Fantagraphics Bookstore customers. Simply show your receipt and save a buck!
Vintage vinyl and comic books. What else could you possibly ask for? Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery, along with Georgetown Records, is located at 1201 S. Vale Street in Seattle's groovy Georgetown district. Open daily 11:30 to 8:00 PM, Sundays until 5:00 PM. We're open on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve until 4:00 PM. Closed Christmas and New Year's Day. Phone 206.658.0110. See you soon.
As the year draws to an end, allow me the indulgence of fawning over Fantagraphics.
FOUR COLOR FEAR is a phenomenal book. The wonderful pre-code horror comics inside provide colorful context to a wider understanding of mid-century America. I'm a child of the fifties and these amazing comic books still speak to me in a meaningful way. Our country was caught in the grip of a Cold War with perceived enemies that threatened the end of civilization. As impressionable kids, there were daily reminders of this terrifying reality — and we all felt totally helpless. Maybe in some subconscious way these horror stories were manifestations of this pervasive sense of fear. I vaguely recall the irony of indignant politicians and preachers railing against comic books when our very existence was at stake. As a result of this hysteria, I wasn't allowed to read comic books of any sort, which naturally increased their allure. I was seduced. My innocence lost.
FOUR COLOR FEAR is not only a fun read, it's essential to an appreciation of American popular culture in the last half of the 20th century. Truly remarkable. Must buy now.
Ho, ho, ho. One week to go. And you have yet to buy a single gift for anybody? If you live in the Northwest, you're in luck. Simply drop by Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery in Seattle and we'll set you up quick. Skip the manic mall crowds and parking problems. We've got exquisite gifts to suit everyone on your list. If you're on a tight budget, we recommend the dozen books below, all under $20 — many below $10! Check ‘em out.
For the love of your life: LOVE & ROCKETS! We suggest MAGGIE THE MECHANIC, where it all started. Fall in love all over again with Maggie, Hopey and the gang. This essential book is only $14.95. A companion stocking stuffer is a set of LOVE & ROCKETS TRADING CARDS. Colorful pictures and bios of all the characters provide a primer for new readers and a refresher for those returning to the series. On sale at the insane price of $6.48.
Get your innocent infatuation a copy of Jordan Crane's wistful "picto-novella" THE LAST LONELY SATURDAY, on sale for only $5.33. Or perhaps the more brazen LUST, Ellen Forney's kinky on-line personal ad illustrations from Seattle alternative paper The Stranger, complete with insightful, and occasionally hilarious, interviews. $19.95
Ladies love the work of Camille Rose Garcia. THE MAGIC BOTTLE combines her arresting imagery with the tale of Lulu, whose bleak world changes when she discovers a magic bottle with a pirate map inside. A real treasure on sale for $9.97. Young buccaneers will enjoy THE LITTLEST PIRATE KING, David B's adaptation of the classic French high seas adventure by Pierre Mac Orian. A full-color hardcover for $16.99.
Get the guys MUZZLERS, GUZZLERS AND GOOD YEGGS — timeless tales of misfits and miscreants from visionary artist Joe Coleman. Only $13.00 while they last. Speaking of visionary artists, pick up a copy of TROSPER, a full color CD booklet by genius Jim Woodring with musical accompaniment by Grammy-winning guitarist Bill Frisell (spotted last Saturday at our festive 4th anniversary celebration.) Just $14.95!
For our secular celebrants there's KAFKA, the inspired collaboration of R. Crumb and David Zane Mairowitz, which seamlessly weaves biographical context into some of the famed author's most compelling stories. The bookstore's best selling title at the low price of $14.95.
Then there's LITTLE MAAKIES ON THE PRARIE, the latest collection of Tony Millionaire's seemingly sophomoric, yet strangely sophisticated comic strip. A handsome Chip Kidd production at only $19.99.
Lest we show exclusive fealty to Fantagraphics, the bookstore also carries a full line of alternative comics and classics from our esteemed colleagues. We like THE 120 DAYS OF SIMON, which chronicles a 4-month tour by Swedish cartoonist and rap star (?) Simon Gärdenfors. Unlike the cloying cuddle porn that characterizes many Top Shelf productions, this book is... uhm, well... OK. It's cuddle porn, too. But it's Swedish! A good read for $14.95. We're also fond of DIARY OF A MOSQUITO ABATEMENT MAN by John Porcellino on Zak Sally's La Mano 21 imprint. In a departure from most King-Cat comics, in this book Porcellino actually does something. Spoiler alert! He abates mosquitoes. Hand crafted in Minneapolis for only $12.
We have countless other bargain books, as well as a substantial assortment of beautiful art books, prints, and graphic novels for those with slightly higher limits. We suggest the awesome DESTROY ALL MOVIES coupled with a gift card from Scarecrow Video; THE BRINKLEY GIRLS, Trina Robbins' thoughtful anthology of Nell Brinkley's sensuous ingénue illustrations; or maybe GAHAN WILSON: FIFTY YEARS OF PLAYBOY CARTOONS with over 1,000 timeless gag cartoons by the master of macabre. (The deluxe edition includes a set of Christmas cards the artist created for Playboy magnate Hugh Hefner.) The list goes on.
Drop by the store at 1201 S. Vale Street in Seattle and our friendly staff will help you select the perfect gift, with enough left over to get something for yourself. Open daily 11:30 to 8:00 PM, Sundays until 5:00 PM. We'll be open until 4:00 PM on Christmas Eve. Phone 206.658.0110. See you soon.
Here are some photos (and a video) I took at our 4th Anniversary party last Saturday night. See a whole bunch more (including photos of the entire "Medieval Thinkers" art exhibit) over on our Flickr page.
If you weren't able to make it, be sure to drop by the store to see the art show, peruse hand crafted publications by exhibiting artists, check out amazing new releases from Zak Sally's La Mano 21 imprint, and wonderful new offerings from Fantagraphics books, natch.
The store is open every day 11:30 to 8:00 PM, Sundays until 5:00 PM. We have delightful and affordable gifts to suit just about any taste. Ask our friendly staff for suggestions. See you all soon.
[Photos by "Medieval Thinkers" contributor Matt Tamaru — see more on his Flickr page. – Ed.]
Register and Login to receive full member benefits, including members-only special offers, commenting privileges on Flog! The Fantagraphics Blog, newsletters and special announcements via email, and stuff we haven't even thought of yet. Membership is free and spam-free, so Sign Up Today!