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The second annual Kids’ Comic Con will take place Saturday, March 29 from 10 to 6 at Bronx Community College. The event, a comic book convention focused exclusively on kid-friendly comics, will feature a variety of guests and hosts the Kids’ Comic Con Comics Awards.

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The recent appearance on Amazon of The Carl Barks Collection, a multi-volume series comprised of slipcased sets of books reprinting Carl Barks‘s complete Donald Duck comics in chronological order, has inspired anticipation, questions, and commentary in various quarters.

The series, due to be published by Gemstone (current American license holders for Disney-related comics material) is planned to be an American edition of a series initiated by Egmont and already published in various European countries. Barks’s complete comics had previously been published in the United States by Another Rainbow in a now-out-of-print series of black and white hardcover books. This collection would not only bring Barks’s work back into print in a complete edition, but would be the first such offering in full color.
On the Metabunker website, Matthias Wivel notes that Egmont has undertaken a digital re-coloring of the stories rather than an archival reproduction of the work as originally published. The collection, he opines, is “thoroughly undermined by the colouring of the strips,” which he calls “fundamentally misconceived.”

Posting to the Disney Comics Forum, Gemstone’s David Gerstein notes that publication dates for the proposed American edition remain tentative, and that “our publishing schedule, and the use of Egmont’s material, color, etc., all decisions are still up in the air.”

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The Miami Herald reports on the increasing use of comics in school libraries to develop skills among reluctant readers. Says Nautilus Middle School media specialist Roberta Kaiser, “I have to limit them to one at a time, but there are students who come in two to three times a day to return one and get another.” She further notes: “Some of my comics readers are reading other stuff, but some of them would not be reading at all if they were not reading comics.”

The piece also includes commentary from TOON Books Editorial Director Françoise Mouly: “My husband sacrificed his comics to fatherhood, but it was a good cause, and it allowed Dash to find a path to success… It made us both realize how much of a magic bullet comics could be. Children will learn if there’s something in it for them and if it’s pleasurable.” An accompanying visual slideshow includes preview pages from Agnès Rosenstiehl’s Silly Lilly.

The piece is supplemented by a recommended reading list of comics for reluctant readers.

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The Cartoon Snap website reprints in full a five-page Milt Gross “Count Screwloose” story, originally published in a 1948 issue of The Killroys.

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Kristy Valenti begins a series of columns for the Comixology website examining connections between gender and reading habits, especially vis-a-vis comics. The first installment focuses on boys, and Valenti quotes educator Christine Welldon’s advice for encouraging reading habits among boys:

First, select the titles boys love to read. Be sure to get Captain Underpants, because the cartoon format and simple-but-crude plots are perfect for boys. Graphic novels are also popular and the simple comic book is great for reluctant readers.

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James Kochalka is interviewed by both Comics Book Resources and Publishers Weekly about his latest kids’ comic, Johnny Boo, published by Top Shelf. Kochalka, who has also recently published Squirrely Gray through Random House, tells Comic Book Resources about the difficulties involved in getting a children’s comics into the hands of young readers:

I think that the readers, the people that read the rest of my comics, will find something to enjoy in it. But we’re trying to get it into the hands of actual kids. [Top Shelf has] been working very intently with the various book distributors to make sure they can get it to kids. We got a great quote from Harry Bliss, who’s the illustrator of the bestselling “Diary of a Spider.” That should signal that this is something they should buy and stock. That’s the thing, you can make a great kids book, but there’s one buyer for each of those big chains. One buyer can say no. That’s what happened to my first children’s picture book, “Squirrely Gray.” One guy from Borders looked at it. They said it was great, and they were passing on it.

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The TOON Books website has been updated to include previews of our Fall 2008 books among other new additions. The website also features a new interview with Benny and Penny author Geoffrey Hayes, who discusses his career, his relationship with his brother, the late underground cartoonist Rory Hayes, and the genesis of his forthcoming TOON Book.


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The March 15 issue of Booklist features comics with a suite of articles on the topic, including a list of “Top Ten Graphic Novels for Youth” from the past year. The issue also includes starred reviews of Benny and Penny and Otto’s Orange Day.

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Kazu Kibuishi’s webcomic Copper will be published in book form by Scholastic, ICv2 reports. Kibuishi is also the author of the Amulet series, also from Scholastic, and the editor of the Flight anthology series from Villard. Flight Explorer, a kid-friendly iteration of the series, has just been published and is previewed online.

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The Doc Lehman blog posts several photographs of comics-laden newsstands and comics readers from the late 1930s and early 1940s.
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Adding to a long list of awards and nominations from various corners of publishing, Shaun Tan’s The Arrival was nominated for a 2008 Hugo Award in the “Best Related Book” category. Winners will be announced at the Denvention science fiction convention in Denver, Colorado on August 9, 2008. The Hugos are an annual science fiction award administered by the World Science Fiction Society.

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Lance Festerman announces that this year’s BookExpo America will include in its programming a graphic novel breakfast event on Saturday, May 31 featuring Jeff Loeb, Mike Mignola, Jeff Smith, and TOON Books’ Art Spiegelman. The event will be followed by a full-slate of comics related programming. Panel discussions will cover the following topics:
  • Designing a Graphic Novel: From Concept to Comic
  • Graphic Novel Distribution, Bookstores, and the Direct Market
  • What’s Hot, What’s Good, What’s Next in Graphic Novels
  • The New Comic Book to Film Machinery: What’s Next and Who is Buying What from Whom
  • What Retailers & Librarians Should Know About Video Games and Gamers
  • Manga’s New Generational Trade-Up: The Publishers’ Quest for New Readers
  • Emerging Voices & Artists: The Graphic Novel Edition
  • Building a Graphic Novel Section for Kids and Teens
  • Sex in Graphic Novels
  • Graphic Novel Buzz: Editors Share List Highlights
  • The New Literacy: How Graphic Novels, the Web, and Video Games are Changing the Way We Process Information

BookExpo America will take place May 29 through June 1, 2008 in Los Angeles, California.

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British comics critic and historian Paul Gravett surveys the history and current state of comics for younger readers in the UK, noting the decline of traditional children’s comics publications like The Dandy and recent entries into the field from book publishers. He also reviews The Savage, Dave McKean‘s adaptation of a short story by David Almond.

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Jon Scieszka, recently named by the Library of Congress and the Children’s Book Council as the inaugural National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, is briefly interviewed for the debut issue of Notes from the Horn Book, the Horn Book‘s new online newsletter:

What do you say to a parent who says, “My kid hates to read. What can I do?”

“Try expanding your definition of reading to include humor, nonfiction, graphic novels, magazines, fantasy, science fiction, online content, audiobooks. Your kid may just hate to read assigned reading. Ask them what they are interested in. Empower them by letting them choose to read, and to choose what to read. Allow them to not like what might be your favorite reading.”

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Geppi’s Enertainment Museum has mounted “Scrooged!”, an exhibit of work by and pertaining to the work of Carl Barks. The Baltimore City Paper reviews the exhibit, noting that the show includes the original artwork for Barks’s story “North of the Yukon,” the only Barks duck story for which complete original artwork is known to exist. The exhibit runs through May 31, 2008.

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Two debut titles from the TOON Books collection have received starred reviews in the March 17 issue of Publishers Weekly. The starred review of Benny and Penny by Geoffrey Hayes reads, in part, “These skillful drawings do just what they attempt: they lever beginning readers right into the story.”

Children’s book historian and critic Leonard Marcus pens a lengthy starred “Signature” review of Agnès Rosenstiehl’s Silly Lilly: “On the evidence of Rosenstiehl’s initial contribution, Dick and Jane may now pack up their things and leave town for good.”

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Fantagraphics notes the forthcoming softcover edition of Jordan Crane‘s kid-friendly graphic novel The Clouds Above.

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The Nickelodeon Magazine blog notes the publication’s recent “All-Comics Special,” featuring work by cartoonists including Ariel Bordeaux, Kim Deitch, Sam Henderson, Michael Kupperman, Bobby London, David Mazzucchelli, R. Sikoryak, and Jay Stephens.

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The March 2008 issue of the School Library Journal cover-features comics and graphic novels. Michele Gorman offers a lead article which makes prominent mention of TOON Books and lists 25 outstanding graphic novels for young readers, including Benny and Penny and Silly Lilly.

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Comics in the classroom continues to be a hotly investigated topic. The Open Education website examines the subject in a suite of articles. The introductory piece points out the advantages of using comics to teach reading and writing: “Because comic books are laid out in frames, it is very easy for readers to track a story. In fact, it is also easy for those readers to both jump ahead and back as a story develops. In addition, the fact that each frame contains some text and a picture makes it much easier for readers to grasp and contextualize a story.”

Next, Open Education interviews Chris Wilson, who runs the Graphic Classroom website. Says Wilson:

Comic literature is unique in that it combines text and art, which makes use of Multiple Intelligences. Students who struggle to read – students with disabilities, students with little exposure to reading at home, and English Language Learners – can all benefit from comic literature because of the duality of text and art. The two modes of input allow students to grasp meaning quicker and more efficiently. There are details in the art, which can slow the reader down and help them absorb the meaning without necessarily having to struggle to decode every word.

Lastly, Open Education lists “The Twelve Best Graphic Novels for the Classroom.”

Another website on this subject is Scott Tingley’s Comics in the Classroom and its associated blog. Tingley recently reviewed the Spring 08 TOON Books as part of a survey of comics for early readers.

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