Archive for rania telgemeier

odds and ends

Posted in commentary, odds and ends with tags , , , , , on January 14, 2011 by Christopher Pearce

Hey, have you heard about the New Engand Comic Arts in the Classroom Conference (NECAC)? If you haven’t, you should click here. The website does a FAR better job than I would describing the event.

Everyone here knows what a huge proponent I am about getting comics in the classroom, especially for those lower level reluctant high school readers. The NECAC looks like an amazing step in that direction… and look! Among the many special guests is Rania Telgemeier, author of my favorite graphic novel of 2010, Smile! You must go! I mean… I cannot go, because I live out here in Ohio and I’ll be working… but YOU! You must go!

I should also selfishly mention that the NECAC is putting together an anthology of comics about teaching and learning titled “Show and Tell” that you can support through their KickStarter project. It looks like a worthy publication and you should definitely check it out. I may be contributing some of my journal comics, which would be the first time they’ve seen print anywhere beyond a Xerox machine.


Much has already been said about the controversial decision of  NewSouth Books’ decision to edit Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn for modern audiences by removing words that are perceived derogatory by today’s standards. Or, I should say, a modern YOUNG audience, as this book purports to be for teachers use in an effort to avoid some of the derogatory racial language used by Twain.

I don’t agree with NewSouth’s editing choices, but it also doesn’t bother me much as it seems to bother the majority of people I’ve encountered on the Internet. I have quite a bit of faith in people’s B.S. detectors and simply cannot imagine this re-edited version getting much of a foothold. The original Huck Finn has stood the test of time so far and no matter what a bunch of attention-seeking editors do to it, Huck Finn will continue to stand. Even as an educator for whom this book may be intended for use, I think the editing is a stupid idea… but like most stupid ideas, it will go away when people stop paying attention to it.

I will point you to this VERY funny edition of Ruben Bolling’s Tom the Dancing Bug for some commentary on the ridiculousness inherent in needlessly changing classic stories to reflect modern sensibilities. Ruben says it better than I ever could. I’ve always felt that Tom the Dancing Bug is one of those comics that should get a lot more attention than it seemingly does, as it’s terrific. I would LOVE to be able to buy a nice collection of all of Bolling’s “Louis Maltby” strips in one volume.


Normally this is where I do some kind of book/comic/movie/TV recommendation, but I haven’t been consuming a whole lot of stuff lately. I’ve yet to start on any of the books gifted to me over the holidays, I haven’t seen any movies to speak of and television is largely in reruns.

I did finally see Inception last week and had about the same reaction as most folks- I enjoyed it immensely and half of the time had no idea what was going on. Thomas Hardy was the stand-out in an already stellar cast and if you haven’t seen it, you should… but I believe my wife and I were the last two people in America NOT to have seen Inception, so that’s not much of a recommendation. Sorry! I’ll do better next week.

odds and ends

Posted in commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 17, 2010 by Christopher Pearce

By a wide margin, the best comic I’ve read this year is Smile by Rania Telgemeier. I just love the book to death and I cannot recommend it highly enough. I’ve previously enjoyed Telgemeier’s adaptations of The Babysitters Club for Scholastic, but Smile just stands heads and shoulders above those books. Detailing the author’s teenage years through her struggles with braces, Smile takes that device and runs with it. Each chapter brought a new crimp in Telgemeier’s unfortunate and uncomfortable problems with her teeth and how those literal aches were criss-crossed with the growing pains any young adult feels while making their way through middle and high school.

The cartooning in this book is tight and expressive. Telgemeier does an amazing job of evoking a time and a place while still managing to stay firmly rooted in today, a trick that must have been harder to pull off than she makes it seem here.

I also want to say how UNBELIEVABLY amazing the color in Smile is. Colorist Stephanie Yue knocks it out of the park and this is one of those comics that really underscores how important color can be to a book. The colors are bright but saturated in a way that makes the pages pop from start to finish. As much as I love Telgemeier’s cartooning, Yue OWNS this book and I don’t think I would have enjoyed it half as much as I did without her contribution.

A must read, a must buy, and if you’re looking for a great book to reach out to young readers, look no further.


Speaking of comics, I’m going to a comic book convention this weekend! The Cincinnati Comics Expo is, from what I gather, the first comic convention that the Queen City has seen in awhile. All sorts of guests are going to be at this convention including Michael Uslan (producer of the 1989 Batman movie), Tony Moore (original penciller on the Image Comics series The Walking Dead), a bunch of Golden and Sliver Age superhero artists, and a whole list of other people whose names I don’t recognize but will chalk that up to being behind the times on comic book stuff.

Ellen and I went to the Mid Ohio Comic Con last year and had a fun time, so I’m hoping for more of the same (on a smaller scale). I don’t plan on doing much shopping but hopefully I’ll be able to find some cool/weird comics for cheap. I have the weirdest/stupidest collecting goals right now, including trying to get all of the first 25 issues of Marvel Comics’ ALF comic book, which was a favorite of mine when I was a young ‘un.