Category Archives: The Graphic Classroom

/The Graphic Classroom/ in /Teacher Librarian/


I read through the grapevine that The Graphic Classroom was plugged in the school-library journal Teacher Librarian, reading: “Web 2.0: The growing popularity of blogs such as The Graphic Classroom,, has provided a way for people to easily share reviews and favorite web sites about age appropriate materials for young people.” — which makes me want to mention (I am sure I have before) that I am really pretty impressed with what Chris Wilson [editor] is achieving through his reviewsite. And although it is [for some ungodly reason] in the shadow of godawful reviewsites like No Flying, No Tights, I am watching for it to take off.

I think [I think] the issue may be that it is geared toward a niche audience, or maybe because it is a blog it is somehow less-worthy than NFNT‘s messy code, which–maybe like Bookslut–earns it status as an eZine. The Graphic Classroom’s multiple talented authors are thorough reviewers (academic in length and structure), and Chris has some well-earned sway among some of the early-reader/ya graphic marketers: it might not be too hard (although it’d certainly be more time consuming) to wrangle authors and illustrators in and interviewed, reports on major industry events (we already do that, but they aren’t gathered in–say–their own corner of the site, but intermingled with the steady stream of reviews).

Using Bookslut as a model and looking through the TGC archives, there are enough reviews, op-eds, features and suchlike, including the obligatory links, Chris’s killer graduate study, archives organized by recommendations, and so on to situate and usurp a NFNT’s position in the YALSA Recommended Websites list. IMHO


GIE Con. & the Graphic Classroom – and a cool bar.



So. I am trying my best to write this brief regarding the Graphica in Education conference now—already—a couple days behind us, and so much of it is already fog. If anything, gather that that’s just testament enough to the caliber of the whirlwind Chris W. and I got swept-up in this past weekend in New York City.

The SkinnyWe proposed to and were invited to present at the inaugural GIE Con. [“guy-con” IMHO] (courtesy of Fordham University) to a smattering of upper-echelon librarians, educators, journalists, marketing coordinators, and a slew of nerds-at-heart academics  our case—based on Chris’s research—for comics in the classroom. We were pretty fortunate to have an established and original niche—(The Graphic Classroom)—that briefly garnered Chris and I a sort of ad-hoc expertise (this field is ultra new), which leeched a couple of the concurrent sessions of its audience. We felt pretty low, but the fact was that even though we were among far better academicians than us, this sort of talk is so new – we just figured smart and laid-back introductory heffalumping was the right way to swagger.

 It was a part-lecture we approached primarily as fans of the genre, and the back-and-forth behind the doors made for an insightful and fun hour-plus rife with panels and anecdotes. I was just happy to get carried away and gift swag and horse around.

Some Mingling A journalist from the School Library Journal interviewed us. I was happy to meet with Random House, Diamond Bookshelf (John Shableski), Teachers & Writers, and – mm, I can’t even remember, let me look … – oh right: Dawn Reshen-Doty from For Beginners Books, who was way-too-kind, and (of course!) Gina Gagliano from First Second Books (killer). DC Comics was there, lurking, and a [the?] curator from the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art. Spoiler: she says the movie Watchmen was great. Here’s to Alan Moore’s health and wealth.

A mispacked mac cord sent us trekking up-alongside Central Park to the creepily modern Apple Store (an elevator that descends from a glass box into the store-proper). It was very cold.

Denouement Chris and I ducked into a solid dive on ninth ave and drank some beer.

 Bar Nine


See You in the Bronx (GIE Conf. at FordhamU) and Other Stuff


At the tail end of January, I am meeting up with my editor Chris Wilson somewhere in the Bronx at Fordham University. Our proposal (“Making a Case for Comics in the Classroom”) was just accepted as a 70-odd-minute workshop – yow. Here is what Diamond Bookshelf has to say about the GIE Conference:

On January 31st, FordhamUniversity’s Graduate School of Education (GSE) will host Graphica in Education: Graphic Novels come out from under the Desk, a conference to discuss a pedagogical approach to the use of graphic novels and graphica in K-12 classrooms.

The event will feature presentations and workshops on different aspects of graphica and strategies for how to incorporate it into the classroom. Confirmed speakers include James Bucky Carter, Ph.D., assistant professor of English Education at the University of Texas at El Paso and editor ofBuilding Literacy Connections with Graphic Novels: Page by Page, Panel by Panel (NCTE); Dr. Michael Bitz, Ed.D, founder of The Comic Book Project and author of forthcoming books Manga High (Harvard Education Press) and When Commas Meet Kryptonite (Teachers College Press); and John Shableski, sales manager for Diamond Book Distributors with a focus on the independent bookstore market, public and school libraries.

Evidently, there is nothing yet on the Official Agenda, but I’d rather present in the late morning. After-lunch presentations get crowded-out with drowsy and stuffed-up pinatas of people, whereas, after dark, one becomes more and more aware of the better things he or she could be doing. There is a science to it, I swear.

Yesterday, I attended an afternoon session of the FLYP (Florida Library Youth Prgoram) conference in Gainesville and subsequently gouged out my eyes after several hours of boredom. I hate to say this of my peers and betters, but Honestly, don’t read your presentations straight off of a PowerPoint. I was inclined to strangle someone with my sweatervest, just to liven things up. 

I did get to sit through a preview of a Graphic Novel Core Collection program, which was pretty fun. I whoooped at a bunch of the titles (the other Librarians were all Ooh, Aah – but I’d gotten to read the most of them years ago. I hope they’ll like them as much as I did). 

I met a new author there, but I’m sorry that I can’t remember her name. I asked the Reference at the Alachua HQ and hope to say more in a little.

I read Batman RIP. I won’t spoil it (yet), and I am working through Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother, which is greatsofar. 

I am not feeling too particularly social outside of work, which I suspect is some biological rebalancing against my inner debutante to keep me productive. So to my gang: I hope it’s not coming off as a slight! For the meantime, unless it’s real low-key, it’s going to be hard to get me excited to mingle. I am in crowds all day. But I appreciate the invites, anyway :-).

Dorian Gray, the Comic [?] & Jane Eyre, the Musical [!?]


Inordinately and comically busy, what with the Library’s Great Pumpkin Escape, the Why Waste Good Technology on Science and Medicine? open-gaming event, and planning November 15ths O-GE in honor of the ALA’s first annual National Gaming Day. Oy.

I will be attending the Gainesville Community Playhouse presentation of Jane Eyre: The Musical (what!?) sometime in this next week, [even though it’s no secret that I harbor ill-designs for all of the Brontes]. It’s morbid curiosity, honestly. I want to hear a powerful rendition of Rochester!, Rochester!

My review of the Marvel Illustrated: The Picture of Dorian Gray appeared at The Graphic Classroom last week.

Here’s the thing: the adapted Dorian Gray is really remarkable, but having the real horror of Dorian’s world brought from a monochromatic page to striking visuals – pertaining to suicide and murder (and the disposal of the body) – makes it awful poignant. I’m all for relentless gore and I generally root for the bad guy, but there is a panel in which a man hangs himself simply because he once associated with Dorian Gray, and it caught me off guard. It’s not particularly artful and it’s not like he’s disemboweled, but it is pretty sad.

You can [and should!] read the full review here.

I vow to post here regularly this month. By all means, send me hate mail to keep me on track.

The Graphic Classroom & The Bard in Two Parts


This week, Chris Wilson’s and my reviews come together at The Graphic Classroom as “The Bard in Two Parts,” where we make a sizable dent reviewing Shakespeare adaptations.

The Merchant of Venice by Gareth Hinds

The Merchant of Venice by Gareth Hinds

Shakespeare has weathered countless adaptations into prose, comics, new-theater, and films – and most of the time with mixed reviews. Generally, these efforts come of rash underlining and focus on just one of a multi-thematic reading, and consequently forget that —let’s say — the boy Hamlet’s rage conveniently dissects the royal-line from Denmark, or that Fortinbras had crossed the border with an army. While a little less popular, THE MERCHANT OF VENICE has been hammered into film history (at least six by my count!) and multiple retellings (like Arnold Wesker’s play THE MERCHANT), and — like here — into its second graphic novel.

Part of my collection-development plan here in Bradford is to punctuate a wicked-awesome graphic novel section with classic adaptations; while I don’t foster any illusions about making unaware youngins fans of The Bard, I do think it’s important to make available certain canonized works in fresher mediums – if available. I did the same with Beowulf, as it — like Shakespeare — is almost always force-fed through a dated edition to sophomores who couldn’t give a damn. Archaic language does of a student an enemy make, anon. I am, however, skeptical of adaptations, but because I had already just a solid experience with Gareth Hinds, I jumped on THE MERCHANT OF VENICE.

I wasn’t disappointed.

You can read the rest here. What’s cool is that Gareth Hinds responded, saying: “Thanks! That’s a great review — very positive and also very thoughtful and well-written. Please pass along my thanks to Michael.” Received and lauded, o’ great one. Candlewick Press will be publishing his King Lear in ’09 and The Odyssey in ’10.