KinderComics, alas, has been away for too long. This spring and summer, I have had to channel my energies elsewhere. I hate to admit it, but my academic-year workload does not make room for frequent blogging, and when the summer or intersession comes around, well, then I end up having to advance or complete other long-simmering projects. Lately I’ve had to cut back, refocus, and make a point of not driving myself nuts! Still, I am going to push for several reviews this summer; I want to keep KinderComics alive. The field of children’s comics is too important, and my interest in it too intense, to let go.
I’ll have a review of 5 Worlds: The Red Maze up later this week, and then a few (probably short) ones between now and Labor Day, in order to keep the engine humming. Thank you, readers, for checking out or revisiting KinderComics. I’ll keep pushing.
There has been a great deal of news on the children's comics front during my four-month absence. Would that I could go into all these stories in detail:
Besides all that news, awards have been given out:
My gosh, what a busy and exciting field. Keeping up is a challenge! I hope to do a better job going forward.
A sad postscript
When it comes to public-facing scholarship and comics criticism, one of the most inspiring figures to my mind was the late Derek Parker Royal, co-creator, producer, and editor of The Comics Alternative podcast. Derek, a major critic of Philip Roth, Jewish American literature and culture, and graphic narrative, passed away recently, leaving a grievous sense of loss in the hearts of many. He was a scholar, innovator, and facilitator of a rare kind, generous, engaged, and prolific, and will be greatly missed in the comics studies community. He brought many people into that community; for example, at the Comics Studies Society conference in Toronto last weekend, his longtime collaborator Andy Kunka spoke movingly of how Derek encouraged him to enter the field. I will think of Derek whenever I post here, and the soaring example that he set.
RIP Derek. Thank you for your scholarship, your advocacy, and your spirit.
San Diego's mammoth Comic-Con International is happening this coming week, July 18-22, once again filling the city's Convention Center, harborfront, Gaslamp Quarter, and myriad hotels with thousands and tens of thousands of pop culture fans and purveyors. I, though a CCI veteran, will be sitting out Comic-Con this year, for financial and personal reasons, but, as usual, I have been skimming the Con program with interest. It's my way of staying in touch. Studying the CCI program reminds me of the delights and frustrations of the Comic-Con experience, the sheer scale of the thing, and the uneasy overlapping of fan communities that make CCI such a beast.
I've learned to look out for specific things in the program and focus on them ruthlessly, while filtering out literally hundreds of other things. The personalized online scheduling provided by SCHED.org, with its color-coding and organization by day, venue, and category, makes filtering that much easier. This year I have a particular eye for the following:
This year I note an especially strong emphasis on progressive political issues, including questions of diversity and inclusion, representation, social justice, geek activism, the challenges of bullying and incivility, and the pitfalls of cultural appropriation. I also see, as expected, a continuing emphasis on children's and YA publishing, which have become crucial parts of Comic-Con.
What follows is a list of particular panels I'd be trying to get to if I were at Comic-Con, aside from the obvious spotlights on individual artists (Bui, Ferris, Liniers, Walden, Wang, Reynaldo) and graphic novel publishers that I admire (e.g. Abrams, Drawn & Quarterly). Clicking on the panels' titles will take you to online descriptions:
Teaching with Comics: An Interactive Workshop for Educators
See Hatfield, comics and children's culture scholar