Teen Magazine Update -- Ahead of the Game

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Do you enjoy being one step ahead of the game? Name dropping and looking cooler than your friends? Then this month's teen magazines are for you!

Wizard Magazine starts off this party with the "Wizard 20" -- a list of games, movies, artists, authors and comics that you should probably already know about. We are lucky enough to have many of these pearls of awesome here at the AADL -- such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer graphic novels. Not to be missed in this edition -- the ten worst superhero girlfriends of all time!

This month's issue of Rolling Stone Magazine features two old school masters of awesome -- Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck, two of rock music's most amazing guitarists. Also in this issue, comedian Tracy Morgan discusses his hard-knock life, and Matt Taibbi tells us how Wall Street is setting the entire country up for a fall. Good times.

For the awesome girls out there, Justine Magazine features bios of Elissa Bernstein, author of the scrumptious blog 17 and Baking and 17-year-old tennis star Melanie Ouden. And, talk about being one step ahead of your friends, this issue also features a ten-step prom countdown and a guide to job hunting, from resume to interview.

Comic Artists Forum in March

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Looking to share your work and get some fresh ideas for your next comic or graphic novel creation? Join the monthly forum. Bring your favorite drawing tools and drop in for a few hours of drawing, learning, and sharing. This month’s guest artist will be Mark Rudolph. Check out his Closing Doors and Other Yarns.

Comic Artists Forum | Sunday, March 7 | 1:00-3:00 PM | Malletts Creek | Teens and Adults

Bill Watterson Lives!

Bill Watterson, the cartoonist who created the beloved comic strip "Calvin and Hobbes,” is a notorious recluse – so much so that he has been called the J.D. Salinger of the cartooning world. Watterson hasn’t been seen or heard from since he announced his retirement – and the end of Calvin and Hobbes – back in 1995. So it came as a surprise yesterday to see that Watterson allowed himself to be interviewed by the Cleveland Plain Dealer in a story published on Feb. 1. This is his first interview since 1989. When asked why he ended his strip after just 10 years of newspaper publication, Watterson said “It's always better to leave the party early. If I had rolled along with the strip's popularity and repeated myself for another five, 10 or 20 years, the people now "grieving" for "Calvin and Hobbes" would be wishing me dead and cursing newspapers for running tedious, ancient strips like mine instead of acquiring fresher, livelier talent. And I'd be agreeing with them.”

Nevin Martell is one person who disagrees with that sentiment. He recently published the book Looking for Calvin and Hobbes, in which he chronicles the story of the strip and details his personal quest to track down Bill Watterson. Martell never got the chance to interview Watterson (his letter of request went unanswered), but he did interview many other people close to Watterson who could provide insights into the cartoonist’s life, inspirations, and motivations. The lack of Watterson’s voice makes the book largely speculative, but it is fun to read other cartoonists praising Watterson and recounting their love for the 6-year-old boy and his tiger. Notable fans of Watterson’s include humorist Dave Barry, author Jonathan Lethem, and cartoonist Bill Amend (creator of the strip FoxTrot). In fact, nearly every contemporary cartoonist or graphic novelist considers themselves to have been influenced or inspired by Watterson. I think that speaks to the legacy of Calvin and Hobbes – a legacy that Watterson himself downplays, desiring only to return to his quiet, private life in the Cleveland suburbs. Fortunately for his millions of fans, Watterson has donated his original artwork to the Cartoon Library & Museum at Ohio State University in Columbus. In museums and in comic books, Calvin and Hobbes will live forever.

February Comic Artists Forum

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If you’re a beginning or experienced comics/graphic novel artist looking to hone your skills while mingling with other artists, join the next Comic Artists Forum on Sunday, February 7. Several participants are creating a 6-8 page mini-comic. Those who complete their comic by April can sell their work at the Kids Read Comics Convention in Dearborn June 12-13.

Basic supplies (paper, pencils/pens, rulers, erasers) will be provided. To get your creativew juices flowing go online and visit Art & Story: Talking Shop with Comics Creators Mark Rudolph and Jerzy Drozd.

Comic Artists Forum | Sunday, February 7 | 1-3:00 PM | Malletts Creek | Guest Artist-Jerzy Drozd | Teens and Adults

Teen Stuff: Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan

Floating somewhere between graphic novel and short story collection is the fantastic Teen Fiction book, Tales from Outer Suburbia, by Shaun Tan. "Outer" describes these stories fairly well, for their quirky and sometimes other-worldly cast of characters may inhabit a very familiar suburban setting, but what happens within each tale is definitely outside the neighborhood norm.

Take one of my favorite tales called "Stick Figures" -- which as the title denotes -- is about a group of innocuous stick-figure beings with tufts of grass for heads who regularly get beaten into pieces by neighborhood boys. Also intriguing is the story "Alert but Not Alarmed," where every house in the community is issued a home missile to keep at the ready, except that day never comes, so the residents find other uses for the government's arsenal. The illustrations are essential to the stories and are incredibly diverse, ranging from (what appears to be) found poetry snippets to lavishly detailed charcoal sketches that allow this outer suburbia to come alive in many imaginative ways.

Comic Artists Forum-Sunday, January 3

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If you’re a beginning or experienced comics/graphic novel artist looking to hone your skills while mingling with other artists, join the next Comic Artists Forum on Sunday, January 3 at the Malletts Creek Branch. The first forum participants set a goal to create a short comic book/graphic novel by early April. Those who reach this goal will be able to sell their work at the Kids Read Comics Convention in Dearborn June 12-13.

Basic supplies (paper, pencils/pens, rulers, erasers) will be provided. Bring ideas for your characters and a short description of the story line. Need help? Go online and visit Art and Story: Talking Shop with Comics Creators Mark Rudolph and Jerzy Drozd. (Dino reprinted by permission of Jerzy Drozd.)

Sunday, January 3 | 1-3 PM | Malletts Creek | Guest Artist-Jerzy Drozd | Grades 6-Adult

Honey and Clover

One of the best and most charming graphic novels I have recently been reading is the shōjo manga Honey and Clover. Takemoto, Morita and Mayama are three young men attending art school in Tokyo, living together in a cheap apartment with paper-thin walls. When they're not thinking about food (meat in particular) or trying to get to class on time - they're usually thinking about girls. Takemoto’s life turns upside down when he meets Hagu, a fairy-like and mysterious art prodigy in her first year at the college. Wacky and bizarre, but also dramatic (love triangles!) and even touching at times - I can't wait to read more of this series.

Honey and Clover was also adapted as a live action feature length film in Japan in 2006.

Comic Artists Forum for Teens and Adults

No matter whether you’re a budding or veteran comic artist stop by Malletts Creek this Sunday for a chance to share your work and get fresh ideas for your next comic or graphic novel project. Bring your favorite drawing tools and drop in for a few hours of drawing, learning, and sharing. For beginners we’ll provide basic supplies (i.e. paper, pencils, erasers, rulers). Jerzy Drozd will be our guest artist sharing a drawing or publishing tip.

Comic Artists Forum | Sunday, December 6 | 1-3 PM | Malletts Creek | Grades 6-Adults

Beatnik Chicks

I didn't want to write another blog about a graphic novel, but.... it's the end of the semester, and they make a nice genre to read in between work and writing papers.

Harvey Pekar is most famous for his long-running comic book American Splendor, but he also writes interesting little graphic histories of topics that are near to his heart, usually falling at the intersection of radical politics and great American literature. Students for a Democratic Society is an anthology spear-headed by Pekar with graphic vignettes about the SDS and its place in the counter-culture of the 60's.
Now, he has given us The Beats:A Graphic History: a similar collection of short historical pieces about key figures in the Beat Movement. Written by Pekar himself and a group of other writers, the book of course treats the main figures of the movement like Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs. These biographical pieces are brief, so I agree with many reviews I found online that complain of the thinness of the material. But I would say that it gave me a view of the beat landscape and definitely conveyed Pekar and his cohort's passion for their writing. Honestly, I have not read a lot of the books of these iconic writers, but Pekar's short biographies made me curious to know more about the wild lives that they lived and why their work has been so influential. I was especially glad to know more of some of the other names from the movement: Phillip Whalen, Gary Snyder, Michael Mcclure, Amiri Baraka, Philip Lamantia as well as many others. This is not a comprehensive history of the beats, but not a bad place to start.

But, why did I title this blog "Beatnik Chicks"? Pekar's wife Joyce Brabner writes a section about the women of the movement who, as often so sadly happens, are not given proper credit for their contribution. Knowing how famous these men are, it is refreshing to know about the women who were part of this vibrant artistic scene and lived expressive, passionate lives. Women like Diane Di Prima, Carolyn Cassady, Joyce Johnson, Hettie Jones, and Jay DeFeo seem like fascinating people, and Brabner's short but fiery tribute to them is well worth the read.

If you know someone looking to know more about the Beats, tell them about Pekar and Brabner.

Documentary Alert: Trouble the Water

If you’ve read Zeitoun, Dave Eggers’ account of one family’s “adventure” during Hurricane Katrina (which I highly recommend), you may enjoy this Academy Award nominated documentary, which won Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.

Trouble the Water begins 24 hours before Hurricane Katrina fully hit New Orleans, with 24 year old aspiring rap artist Kimberly Roberts’ hand held video camera footage of the initial onslaught. She and her family decided to stay and brave the storm rather than evacuate with the rest of city. The film interweaves Roberts’ personal footage with that of documentary film makers. The footage is truthful, heartfelt and horrific. The film follows Roberts, her husband, and nearby neighbors before, during and after Katrina, where some of them view the tragedy and severe loss as a doorway to a new life.

I also recommend A.D.: New Orleans after the deluge, a graphic novel by Josh Neufeld. Similarly, it tells true survival stories of seven individuals before and during Hurricane Katrina, as told through fabulous illustrations by the author.

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