Fandom, Friendship and Literacy: Which one is the odd one out?

I have come to learn very quickly that fandom and friendship go together. Friendships have blossomed almost from the moment I started blogging on tumblr on April 26th, 2012. My two-year anniversary is coming up soon, and psssst, but with so many RAPSs languishing on my shelves I think I will have to organise a massive giveaway, again. Mark your calendar 😀 (Guylty on WordPress followed half a year later.) I’ll spare you my usual goody-goody extolling of how special we – and our fandom – all are. Suffice to say I am still meeting new people, particularly behind the scenes, and now that I am shrining my way through the cinematographic A___ output.

photo (2)One such friendship has developed with the elusive, mysterious M___ who sent me lots of goodies for the shrines. Last week she did it again – another package of supplies arrived on my doorstep, containing mint tins, compacts, badges and decor stickers. M___ is actually Mimi Cruz, a woman heavily involved in the world of comic book art, both through her comic book store Night Flight Comics in Salt Lake City, UT, as well as an organiser of exhibitions and panels at various industry events. This weekend Mimi will be busy working behind the scenes of WonderCon.

Now, most of us have probably only become aware of WonderCon once Mr A’s participation at the presentation of Warner Bros. Into the Storm was announced. Mimi, on the other hand, has been involved in WonderCon and other cons for years. I am all too happy to actually oblige her with a very humble request she asked in return for her generous supply parcels. And this is where fandom, friendship and literacy overlap. The event she is organising is something I can 100% get behind. Mimi has been involved for many years in promoting literacy through comic book integration in the classroom. (I know from my own experience as an English teacher many light years ago that the combination of colourful, flashy visuals and text can be stimulating and motivating for students, so I can only applaud the initiative.) This year she is bringing a specialist panel for educators and librarians to WonderCon that focusses specifically on comic books in the classroom. From the horse’s mouth:


Photo: Mimi Cruz

For those planning on attending WonderCon • Sunday, April 20th 2014

Consider attending the Secret Origin of Good Readers specialty panel for educators and librarians.

 12:30-2:00 The Secret Origin of Good Readers— Learn how to incorporate comic books into your classroom. New York Times bestselling author Frank Beddor (The Looking Glass Wars, Hatter M), New York Times best-selling author Marjorie Liu (Astonishing X-Men, Dirk & Steele), Harvey Award nominee Anthony Del Col (Kill Shakespeare), and Mimi Cruz (Night Flight Comics) will provide insight and discuss how students can create their own comics in a classroom setting.

The Secret Origin of Good Readers reading list and resource book is a free PDF download at www.night-flight.com/secretorigin/index.html

courtesy of XMission.com.

Room 203

Note: Limited quantities of Educator comic goodie bags will be made available to participants.

If any of you are planning on going to WonderCon for drooling reasons rather than comic art appreciation – let’s be honest here – this is a panel that sounds interesting and worth-while. Plus, you may have the chance to see Mimi live and in action. Probably a tornado of activity of another kind :-D.

In other news: Looks as if Ricky Deeming has quite a few admirers.

RAPS pollRicky might pop out of an Easter egg on Sunday then. The shape of his shrine lends itself for that. Teaser:

RA shrine (27 of 34)


29 thoughts on “WonderCon

  1. I’m looking very forward to Ricky Deeming! as for comic books in the classroom, I think it’s a great idea! I had a friend in my teenage years who was heavily into comic books, and it was through him that I became familiar with all of the stories and character biographies, etc. there’s a common misconception that comic books are for little kids, filled with a bunch of “ka-boom!”s and “ker-pows!” instead of in depth storyline’s; so very, very, wrong! I think using comics as a teaching tool for teenagers would be especially useful, learning classics like “Macbeth” or “The Hound of the Baskervilles” through comic books would actually get them involved in the story, instead of just learning enough to pass the test 😉 for the younger kids I think it would help greatly with comprehension as well, and teach them at a young age that reading is *fun* 😀


    • Totally agree with you, Kel. I am not at all au fait with comic books, but Mimi is successfully corrupting me ;-). And I have checked out some stuff ever since I started corresponding with her. I was blown away by the concepts behind “V for Vendetta”, for instance, which is everything but schoolboy stuff. – I gave my kids a couple of Shakespeare plays in comic book format a few years ago, and they both loved them. My daughter was a Shakespeare expert for months after reading them. 😀 So yeah, I am all for it.


  2. I think it’s a more sound idea than substituting films for reading to teach children about the themes of literature – because there’s *reading* involved. Anything you can get recalcitrant readers to try, is a plus in y book. (although I think it would be neat if classroom time were also spent teaching kids how to watch films and evaluate the themes). Did I make sense?
    Guylty, now that I moved to Mexico ( and once I get an address -LOL) I will be first on line for the location RAPS when they’re in stick. But I may have a long wait because RA’s character list just keeps growing. Kenahora!


    • What??? You moved to Mexico? Seriously??? Well, congrats on that, actually. Enjoy the sun – lucky you! – A location-based RA for Mexico is already swirling in my head after I saw this on Linnetmoss’s blog the other day: http://linnetmoss.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/mexican.png?w=300&h=225 I am already envisaging a smiley, happy Harry Kennedy all rolled up like a burrito. 🙂
      I completely agree on the comic vs film issue. imo *any* snippet of text that a young reader is reading is good – even if it is the back of the cornflakes box. Comics are a great gateway – and more.


      • That thinking was and is a big inducement for YA literature – to give them books they want to read. Yes, I moved – I left NY and that’s why I have been shamelessly lobbying for a NYC RAPS to be put on the block. I wrote a post about it, and took it down when I was told few people *got it* –


  3. Learning to understand how all kinds of “texts” work to communicate (visual, verbal, aural, etc.) is really a primary concern of education so why not comic books? What a neat idea for a panel!


    • I completely agree. And I also like to think that initiatives like this can tip the gender balance a bit in favour of women. (Another topic that’s always been close to my heart.)


  4. Up until recently I sold books to schools for a living, and growing fast in popularity were ‘graphic novels’- very often comic style renditions of classics that don’t get read much anymore, as well as Shakespeare plays, Greek myths and legends, you name it. Lovely version of The Hobbit, as well. Some school librarians were dead against them, but most took the view that if a child picks up a book and enjoys it, they’re likely to keep on reading.


    • Oh, I must check for the graphic novel version of the Hobbit.
      I remember the (prejudiced) rejection of comics and graphic novels by librarians and teachers from my youth. I confess they are responsible for initially putting me off. I am by no means clued-in about comic books at all, but I think they do more good than bad, and can act as a great gateway for those kids who are otherwise not encouraged to read.


  5. You are a fandom super hero and I LOVE that you use your powers for good 😀 As the Momma Bear of two teenage boys I can attest to the importance of promoting literacy in creative ways. We followed their lead in unlocking the wonders of poetry and prose. The boys didn’t realize that the Macbeth comic they were reading was something other kids had no clue about or that Shakespeare was too daunting for most. They had no idea they were learning poetry or devouring the classics. In early years, and throughout their school careers, they have consistently tested high above their grade levels in reading. I have always attributed this to the multi-media approach they responded to – comics, graphic novels, audio books, picture books and novels all contribute to a love of literature. Brava Mimi! Brava Guylty!


    • *hahaha* fandom super hero. (I can picture myself in a bright red spandex outfit – and it’s not pretty!!!)
      Same experience here in regards to Shakespeare in comic book format. A complete success with my children at an age when they would otherwise have had no access to Shakespeare. I think it has opened their minds, and like yours, both my children are very book-friendly and both enjoy writing and expressing themselves verbally. A multimedia approach is definitely good – especially in times like ours where children grow up with a much higher expectation of entertainment than we had.


  6. My impression of comic style books underwent a dramatic change when I read “Maus” by Art Spiegelman. In 1992 it became the first graphic novel to win a Pulitzer Prize. Until then I didn’t think cartoons or comics were “real” writing. I’m for whatever gets kids reading.

    There were librarians who fought the Harry Potter books being in school libraries.


    • You know what, Tree – that was one of the graphic novels that swayed my opinion, too. Like you I picked it up after it won the Pulitzer.
      I think attitudes towards “popular reading” are slowly changing. A book like Harry Potter would’ve been unthinkable in my school days. Although I remember reading “The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4” in English class when I was 14. (Author Sue Townsend just died a week ago.) However, lessons for my native language always had to focus on “serious” literature. I didn’t mind (bit of a nerdy bookworm, even back then), but I know that many of my peers were put off forever.


      • Speaking from under my hat as educator — I think there’s also a component that anything one “has” to read (in school, for work, whatever) loses a certain amount of luster by virtue of where one encounters it. I read the first 1st Maus graphic novel (at the time, we called it a comic) in college in 1988 (the first part of the book was published separately, before Spiegelman completed the story). I thought it was cool “for a course reading.” I didn’t really get into them until I read Safe Area Gorazde, and I read that because I was looking for something on the topic of Ethnic Cleansing that was written in a way that wouldn’t put the students off. It worked, I think, better than the stuff I’d been using before that, but I also had students tell me that they would have enjoyed reading the work more if it hadn’t been a required reading. For me, though, it was a revelation because it was something that I was looking for.

        The real question is how to get students reading not only things they enjoy in school, but for fun in their free time — I’m totally in support of graphic novels as a possibility for doing that, and/but I think finding attractive material is one component (albeit an important one) of getting people to read.


        • Good point. It’s very hard to “enjoy” something that you are not reading out of own interest but because you are forced to. Occasionally it overlaps, I guess. the nearest we can get, maybe, is providing glimpses into different genres of literature and that way get students interested. Unfortunately a lot of it is prescribed by the curriculum. Not sure how to get around that.


  7. Wow, this is another episode of worlds colliding for me. I recently decided to focus a history of popular culture class I’m teaching this summer on comics and cartoons, and this would be a great practical application point! I am all for an integrated approach to literacy. My kids are both instinctive readers, but I know that’s not the case for everyone. I work with young adults who have never known reading to be a pleasure in any capacity, a fact that horrifies me. If comics and graphic novels in the classroom can open a door to reading for people, I don’t see a downside.


  8. I remember the Illustrated Classics comics when I was growing up. They turned “great’ literature into entertainment for kids years ago. I also liked traditional Superman and Thor stuff. I always loved to read (probably without them) but comics didn’t hurt. I was horrified to learn that Mr. Jones was forbidden by his teacher mom to read any comics whatsoever. He had to sneak his comic reading under cover of visiting a friend. He turned out to be an avid reader in spite of it, but it could have gone south easily. Mimi sounds cool. I think her work is so valuable to young readers.


    • Your husband’s story is quite typical. I have even heard similar stuff about certain types of conventional children’s literature. Not good enough etc…
      And yes, Mimi *is* cool. She’s using her knowledge and her contacts for a brilliant cause.


  9. To anyone who says that graphic novels are not “real” reading, I say read Gaiman’s SANDMAN. Reading it was one of the most interesting and intense literary trips I’ve ever taken.

    In the beginning, I was reading it to get certain people off my back. By the end of the first volume, I was hooked. The third volume includes Shakespeare, which always wins me over. I think it was somewhere in volume five that I was struck by the overt realization that I was reading really beautiful prose. (“In the pale light of the moon I play the game of you. Whoever I am. Whoever you are.”) But then there was a moment in volume seven when the curtain pulled back, and I suddenly understood that I was witnessing the work of a master storyteller who had been weaving this complex tapestry all along, so subtly that I hadn’t even noticed the threads enfolding me and drawing me onward. I sat literally in silence at the end of that volume, waiting out the shakes, because of that new awareness of how profoundly — and how early — the story had gotten into me and taken me where it wanted me to be.

    I know it’s not for everyone. There’s a lot of quite shocking violence, among other things. But there is no denying, none, the impeccable craftsmanship. There’s a reason it’s the series that broke down awards barriers for graphic novels and made its creator a modern god among sci-fi/ fantasy authors.


    • Thanks for this, Alyssa. I know very little about graphic novels and have only read very few. Reading your recommendation makes me want to try out Gaiman, whose name I have heard mentioned many times recently.


  10. I’ve been loving my WonderCon interaction with everyone here, but now exhausted with no plans to continue my caffeine fuelled drive to the next task I collapse on the bed with IPad to peek at email; let my hubby know I have not forgotten about him and avoid another cup of coffee only to find all these wonderful comments on Guylty’s blog! What a rejuvenating boost!

    For anyone interested, (sorry, I have not figured out how to post photos here yet) we have story starters, reading lists (which I am desperately trying to update, but new comics arrive every Wednesday, 52 weeks a year) and other helpful tools (free) for anyone interested. Here is a
    2012 PDF list of books which can help narrow down titles for different age groups: http://www.night-flight.com/secretorigin/

    If I could encourage every educator and librarian to read a (short 16) page comic book, I would recommend this one: http://www.night-flight.com/secretorigin/images/RisingStars05.pdf

    It is a free PDF copy of the Rising Stars ½ comic book provided by Matt Hawkins at Top Cow Publishing and written by J. Michael Straczynski

    If you have not heard of this writer, he has written for film and television as well as comic books. You may have heard or seen some of his work, to name a few of them: World War Z, The Changeling (directed by Clint Eastwood), Ninja Assassin, Babylon 5, Thor and a whole lot more.

    We have given out over 50,000 free copies of the Rising Stars ½ at our panels, but when the print run was exhausted, the publisher provided a PDF version to post on our web site in order to continue to make it available to educators. Why? Well, while it is a prelude to the Rising Stars comic series Straczynski wrote, we found it a wonderful story of how every child is important, needs to be loved unconditionally and nurtured. I am not a writer, have never aspired to be a writer, so do not sum up this story well, however, if you have the curiosity to try it, I believe you will value the message Straczynski provided while experiencing a taste of the highest form of literacy available in the wonderful world of comic books or any where else.

    If you yourself are not a teacher or librarian, but would like to read it, please do and share it with someone you think might benefit from it or help others with it in a classroom or where ever.

    I cannot thank you enough Guylty, for sharing our WonderCon panel information with everyone and for warm welcoming support you have shown. Fondly, Mimi

    Note: Not to tempt anyone, but I will be doing it again in San Diego for ComicCon International where Mr. A has said he would also be in attendance? Educators and librarians who would like to attend but cannot obtain passes, please let me know.


    • Thank you for your comment Mimi. This is great, and I hope that the subscribers to this feed saw your comment and have been able to download the resources that you are providing. Once again – I think it is a fabulous project, and it is doubly so because you have already done most of the work for the educators. Thanks again!


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