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YA, graphic novels and the spaces in between

Archive for the ‘comics’ Category

O happy day!

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When I was a kid, the old and the young read comic books, cowboy stories and magazines. These reading materials would make their way around the village, read by all of the interested members of one household and then passed on to the next. The Phantom was, of course, premium.
Noel Pearson (2009) “Radical Hope: Education and Equality in Australia” Quarterly Essay, no.35, p.37-8.

On Friday I submitted my thesis. Never thought that would happen :P I had a very fun celebratory weekend and now I can blog anytime I like. Sometime (early) next year I’ll hear whether the examiners liked it, but in the meantime I have three articles (at least) to write, from my thesis and other aspects of teenagers’ reading. Right now I have to write a job application. Sadly my idyllic thesis-free life of leisure may only last until the New Year, but I’ll be enjoying it!

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Written by ClareSnow

14 December 2009 at 2:28 pm

Posted in comics, PhD, thesis

Tagged with

The literature of comics

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She said it took different skills to interpret the interplay of words and pictures in graphic novels – skills that were important in today’s highly visual world.

“You’re actually reading the pictures at the same time that you’re reading the words, so if you’re not used to it that can be very difficult. It’s something you have to learn.”

The above is a quote from Perth’s daily newspaper The West Australian and it was supplied to reporter Bethany Hiatt during an interview with me :) Last week I was interviewed about graphic novels and my research by Education Editor Ms Hiatt. My brain is mush due to thesis, but I actually made some lucid comments that gave the impression my brain is not mush :P On Saturday the article was published [1]. Some of The West Australian’s articles are reprinted online, but comics just don’t cut it. You can only read it if you’re in Perth and you’re one of those people who read the paper. What newspapers already know (and are desperately grasping for ideas on how they can make money from the younger generation who don’t read papers) I have now worked out.

I felt almost famous being in the newspaper. Unfortunately my fame is only among those older people who read the paper. I’m not denigrating the older generation of newspaper readers and I’m not sure what the cut-off age is, but when I txtd my friends to tell them to look for me in the paper, their answers were along these lines:

  • Ignore me (it happens a lot due to most of what I txt being something totally random that I think is enormously funny but no one else does)
  • Tell me to save the article for when we next met up
  • Tell me he’d look at it at work on Monday

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Written by ClareSnow

25 November 2009 at 1:29 am

Australian Comics and Graphic Novels

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Hollow Fields by Madeleine Rosca I have a list of graphic novels written or illustrated by Australians. It’s not extensive and I often discover titles I’ve missed, but finding Australian graphic novels and comics may become easier. Debbie Cox contacted me to tell about two projects of the National Library of Australia which aim to ensure the library collects published work of Australian comics creators. Collecting Australian Fringe Publishing at the National Library of Australia and The Comics Claiming Project are about the collection and treatment of comics, graphic novels, manga and zines at the NLA. The projects focus on:

  • What’s being published by Australian creators and publishers, whether published in Australia or not
  • Whether the NLA is adding them to the collection
  • If not, how the intake of these materials could be improved

How is this relevant to Australian comics and graphic novels creators?

The NLA needs help ensuring Australian comics, graphic novels, manga and zines are represented in the national collection. For creators this will mean a copy of published work is preserved in a controlled environment and made accessible to library patrons now and in the future. Information about these works will also be made available as a catalogue record to anyone anywhere with access to the internet.

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Written by ClareSnow

9 July 2009 at 7:15 pm

Survey of Australian Comics Creators

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Julie Ditrich, Director of Black Mermaid Productions and Australian Society of Authors Comics/Graphic Novels Portfolio Holder, is asking Australian comics creators to participate in a survey that will help build a profile of the comics community, as well as provide a starting point for research into Freelance Page Rates.


Dear Australian Comics Creator,

I am writing to you as a member of the Australian Society of Authors (ASA), representing the recently established ASA Comics/Graphic Novels Portfolio. I am currently undertaking research to create a Rates Card for you and other professional and emerging Australian comics creators for the purposes of commissioned works (otherwise known as work-for hire) agreements. By “comics” I mean anyone who is writing and illustrating comic books, graphic novels, comic/cartoon strips, digital (web) comics and zines (that contain comics/sequential art content). By “professional” I mean anybody who has been paid page rates by a publisher or other entity who has commissioned the work.
We are asking you to fill in a simple survey, which will only take you 10 minutes, and to provide information based upon your own professional experiences. This raw data will remain strictly confidential and will be used with the intention of formulating minimum page rates and to get an understanding of the makeup and profile of the working (and emerging) comics community in Australia. The specific minimum rates we want to develop for the Rates Card are for:
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Written by ClareSnow

28 May 2009 at 1:54 pm

Word and Image

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I previously blogged about whether reading a graphic novel is equivalent to reading a conventional book. Some of the teenagers I talked to thought this wasn’t the case, but most of the librarians agreed it was – striving through their work to ensure young people encountered a variety of genres and formats in their reading, without making judgements on supposed “quality.”

misc Pilgrim ?! by Bryan Lee O'Malley I asked every group of teenagers what they would think if graphic novels were assigned as an English class text. Some teenagers thought this would be an “easy” option and it was the visual component which led to their demotion of the format as a “legitimate” text. These teenagers also happened to be those who had limited experience of the format. (Names have been changed to ensure confidentiality.)

Fourteen year old Anna believed,

People would choose the graphic novel without like thinking about it cause they’re like, ‘Oh yeah, it’s just a comic, it’ll be easy.’ But they won’t like think about like what you have to do. And they’ll just be like, ‘Oh it’s a change. And do that.’

Marty (age 14) said, “They’re not really books” and Jeremy (age 14) agreed, conjecturing that studying a graphic novel would compare unfavourably to a conventional book because it could not be studied it in depth.

That’s why we read more thorough books like The Red Cardigan [1] and stuff.

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Written by ClareSnow

24 November 2008 at 2:17 pm

ASA Comics/Graphic Novels Portfolio

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The Australian Society of Authors (ASA) recently formed a Comics/Graphic Novels Portfolio — an advocacy group that aims to provide industry support to Australian artists and writers currently working in the comics medium and, in particular, the graphic novel format.

The major objectives of the Portfolio are to:

  1. Protect and promote the professional interests of comics creators (both writers and artists).
  2. Form a professional community of active members who operate in this specialist discipline.
  3. Liaise and cross-pollinate ideas with like-minded Australian and overseas organisations whose focus is on the promotion of the comics art form.

Dr Jeremy Fisher, ASA Executive Director, said,

The ASA wants to actively support a neglected (and often vulnerable) group of literary creators in the Australian comics/graphic novels community who have never had the opportunity to be part of a professional association or been exposed to prior formal or consistent intellectual property rights education before.

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Written by ClareSnow

29 July 2008 at 11:00 am

Princesses are tough these days

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everyone's a comic bug at supanova Last weekend I went to my first ComicCon Supanova. Sorry, I just read it was a Pop Culture Expo. Perth is not the most exciting place to visit and some of the attractions realised this and cancelled, eg. the girl from Heroes and someone from Supernatural. (Can you tell that I really know my stuff?) I told my boyfriend I was going and he said, “What sort of comics are they – Donald Duck?” Obviously he wasn’t invited! Being that I’m not much of a geek either, I needed a guide into this new and scary world. Luckily my friend Andrew wanted to see his fellow geeks in their (his) natural habitat.

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Written by ClareSnow

5 July 2008 at 3:30 pm

Australian Graphic Novels

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The Sacrifice by Bruce Mutard I’ve been waiting impatiently for more than a year for a graphic novel called The Sacrifice by Bruce Mutard to be published by Allen & Unwin (although I only knew vague details which were whispered in my ear). It was launched in April. I’m a bit slow and only just found this out from the Bughouse.

The Sacrifice draws compelling parallels between Australia then and now, and explores questions of courage, masculinity, tolerance and national identity that will resonate long after the book is read.

I’m always excited when an Australian graphic novel is published because there’s so few of them.

Perth based Gestalt Publishing started publishing graphic novels last year. Their most recent release, Waldo’s Hawaiian Holiday written by Alex Cox, with art by Chris Bones & Justin Randall, was also launched in May April in Perth and Melbourne. It’s the sequel to the movie Repo Man. Alex Cox had this to say about it:

Ten years after Repo Man, I became interested in the idea of a sequel. Specifically – what had happened to Otto, during his ten-year absence from Earth? And what would he make of the changes which had taken place in his absence? Otto, it would appear, has been held prisoner, in great luxury, on the planet Mars. Now he has returned to Earth, and changed his name – to Waldo

I had meant to blog about the Perth launch and Gestalt Publishing, but things got in the way.

Now I have some reading to do. And you might like to know that both these books are written for adults, although I’m sure there’s teenagers out there who might enjoy them.

Written by ClareSnow

6 June 2008 at 3:05 pm

“Real” reading

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There’s been a discussion on the GNLIB-L email list about whether reading a graphic novel is the equivalent of reading an ordinary book. This is something I’ll be discussing in my literature review for my thesis. (I’ve already done most of my lit review, but the rest of my thesis is still a work in progress.) A teacher librarian on GNLIB-L asked if reading graphic novels leads to reading other materials and someone from a public library asked why this is necessary,

comics and graphic novels are not just a phase that readers go through. They are a physical format that many readers enjoy, and in many cases become part of an ongoing reading experience.

Another public librarian said,

I am happy to see kids, teens, adults, reading anything.

I’ve been transcribing recordings from interviews I did with librarians about their graphic novel collections and I’ve just come across the same discussion in an interview with a teacher librarian. Like the teacher librarians on GNLIB-L, she wanted students to branch out after reading graphic novels. (I’ve changed people’s names to ensure confidentiality).

Researcher: Do you think they [graphic novels] encourage reluctant readers to read?
Renee: I don’t, no.
Researcher: Yeah?
Renee: No, I think they’re really an acquired taste. And I think what they do is they…they’re a bit of a safety blanket for students who are maybe not the keenest of readers. Who aren’t very adventurous. We’ve got a couple of Year 8s in that category who it’s really hard to get off the…[graphic novels] and get them onto other things. Having said that I had a little look at the students who tend to read only this stuff and not much else and had a look in their records to see what else they’ve read over the last couple of years. And it’s all predominantly fantasy…And often quite complex you know, quite intricately written stuff. So it’s not that they can’t read it’s just that…
Researcher: They like that genre.
Renee: Yeah.
Renee: But some of them you have to definitely push them out of their comfort zone and get them to read something else. We’ve got a scheme running in Year 8 at the moment…where they’re encouraged to read from a variety of different genres and in the early days there are two students in particular I can think of who are from an Asian background who every time it came to doing a task on a book they would pick manga and do it on those and you know, the teacher and I were sort of trying to funnel them off that channel onto something else. I mean we’ve got there now, but as soon as something else graphic comes in you know they want…
Researcher: They want that.
Renee: Yeah and they’re all searching the catalogue to see what there is and what we’ve got.
Researcher: Yeah. So you don’t think it’s like some people think, “Oh it’s fine if they only ever read graphic novels.” You do try to get them to read…
Renee: Oh, in the same way, if someone only ever read fantasy.
Researcher: Yeah.
Renee: I’d say, “Try something else, try historical fiction or try something from a different genre.”
Researcher: So you think variety is the best thing?
Renee: I think, well…I mean how do you know what else is out there if you don’t have a little try of it? Yes, it would be a bit like saying someone could only eat Italian food for the rest of their life. You know, not try any of the other things.

Renee the teacher librarian is a bit contradictory in what she says. While she thinks GNs don’t lead to reading other things, she mentioned the students who also read fantasy. But as mentioned on GNLIB-L, fantasy (and sci-fi)

are genres that still don’t get the respect they deserve from many “literary” minded people.

This interview highlights the difference between public and school libraries. A school librarian on GNLIB-L said,

as teachers we have some responsibility to help kids find out about all genres and formats.

The interview I transcribed before this was with Nathan, a former public library colleague who was also an avid reader of comics and graphic novels. He went to a new employer and was very happy to work at improving their graphic novel collection. Although a library clerk he advised the YA librarian on purchases and greatly enjoyed accompanying her to comic shops with $1000 to spend. He was passionate in saying graphic novels were equivalent to ordinary (text only) books and a legitimate part of literature, comparing the drawings to artwork and thus the books to literature.

This made me wonder if it was whether a person enjoyed reading the format themselves that lead them to think it was fine to only read graphic novels and not go onto reading ordinary books. The majority of the population doesn’t read or enjoy comics and graphic novels, and Renee the teacher librarian told me she didn’t like reading them herself, “Personally it doesn’t do it for me.” As well as the differences between school and public librarian’s goals, this could be a factor in the situation.

Of course Renee and Nathan are only two case studies and I can’t generalize from that to everyone, but it’s something to discuss in my thesis.

Written by ClareSnow

15 March 2008 at 4:47 pm

From comic to movie

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Part of the reason I chose to study graphic novels was their growing popularity. I’m concentrating on teenagers’ reading of them, but they are written and published for all different age groups and their popularity with all age groups is increasing. Movies have been made based on comics for years, but it seems there are more and more these days. Last month on the GNLIB-L email list I read about upcoming movies based on comic books.

Iron Man 1 May
Speed Racer 12 June
The Incredible Hulk 12 June. Hadn’t someone done this recently? But it seems that was too “cerebral” and this not-sequel is more “action-filled” perhaps leave your brain at home :)
Wanted 27 June in US. I don’t know when in Australia, but I saw a trailer at the movies so it must be sometime. When I saw the trailer I thought, more of Angelina Jolie the hitman – blah blah blah.
The Dark Knight 17 July. I saw the trailer for this one too, before Heath Ledger’s demise and not recognising him as the actor. I was impressed with The Joker’s mania. But Gotham City is not meant to be sunny!
Hellboy II: The Golden Army 28 August
Dragonball when the email was sent this was being released in June, but it’s now April 2009, so you’ll have to wait.

The release dates are for Australia. Five are big-budget movies based on comic books and two are anime converted to live action.

Last year the movie 30 Days of Night was released. It’s based on the comic drawn by Perth’s Ben Templesmith, who I found out studied at Curtin. I love his artwork – those gaping red maws are truly nasty. Though of course his art isn’t in the movie. I haven’t seen the movie, but perhaps I’ll have to get a copy and see how long I can last watching it. Horror movies are sometimes a bit much for me – I might just stick to comics.

And if you want to know about more comics adaptations, the Film & TV Adaptations of Comics 2007 edition by Michael Rhode & Manfred Vogel is available online.

Written by ClareSnow

13 March 2008 at 1:39 pm


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