Friday, March 18, 2011

The Comic Hunter nominated for a Joe Shuster Award

Article by Scott Tingley, March 19, 2011

I thought it would be a good idea to mention an honour that has been given to one of my  local comic shops.  The Comic Hunter (Moncton) has been nominated for a Joe Schuster Award: The Harry Kremer Award for Outstanding Comic Book Retailer.

From the Joe Schuster Award website:

Named after the late Harry Kremer, original owner of Now & Then Books (in Kitchener, Ontario). Shops are recommended by the general public and a separate Retailer Award Committee reviews all materials received and select a short list of stores that has shown merit in a variety of categories such as: (1) Support of a wide variety of innovative material, (2) Overall appeal of the store and usage of space, (3) Knowledge, (4) Community activity, and (5) Adherence to standard ethical business practices.

§                     AMAZING FANTASY (Red Deer, AB)
§                     AMAZING STORIES (Saskatoon, SK)
§                     ANOTHER DIMENSION COMICS(Calgary, AB)
§                     COMIC BOOK ADDICTION (Whitby, ON)
§                     THE COMIC HUNTER (Moncton, NB)
§                     COMIC READERS (Downtown Regina, SK)
§                     GOLDEN AGE COLLECTIBLES (Vancouver, BC)
§                     HILL CITY COMICS & GAMES (Thunder Bay, ON)
§                     L’IMAGINAIRE (Quebec City, QC)
§                     PLAN√ąTE BD (Montreal, QC)

I have frequented all three of the comic shops in Moncton, but what I have appreciated about The Comic Hunter is how Remi LeClair (owner) makes his shop work.  He regularly updates his “want list” page which means he is actively looking for books his customers want AND he is giving an opportunity for collectors to trade in some of their collection for store credit giving them an affordable means of getting more stuff. 

Stereotypically, comic shops are not necessarily comfortable places for newcomers to comics and I have personally been in the store to witness Remi and his staff interact with newbies of all sorts and been impressed with their attitudes. 

My kids enjoy browsing their selection of more all-ages comics and the material that is (in my opinion) not appropriate for them is, while not hidden away, is not usually at their eye level.  The store caters to people interested in gaming, comics and just about every sort of “genre’ interest.

I think that an award for one Moncton store can be beneficial for all of the comic shops in the town.  Increased awareness for one shop can bring attention to others.  So, way to go Comic Hunter.

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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Your Life in Comics: 100 Things for Guys to Write and Draw - a review

Review by Scott Tingley, March 12, 2011

Many of the activities in this book let you fill in talk and thought balloons to complete comics. You’ll also have the chance to draw comics of your own.

If you don’t think you can create the kind of detailed drawings you might see in some comic books, don’t worry. Creating comics is all about finding the style that’s right for you. You can make really complex drawings to tell your stories if you want, but simple illustrations are okay, too.

That is the great advice that Bill Zimmerman begins his new book Your Life in Comics: 100 Things for Guys to Write and Draw. Advice I wish I had heard as a teen creating comics.

Speaking of advice for teens (see what I did there?), Zimmerman has created an “explore the stuff going on in your life” handbook that could be used to get teen boys thinking about the good and bad stuff that makes up their lives. To me though that is a nice side benefit to what I really got out of the book.

I teach grade three in a rural Canadian community, but throughout North America, elementary and, I assume, middle and high schools are using the Traits of Writing to help guide students to better writing. These traits (like organization, conventions, sentence fluency) are packaged by different publishers with some different bells and whistles and they can be very useful. From this vantage point I see Your Life in Comics as a companion to the very first trait, IDEAS. The whole book is a celebration of all the things in your life, both real (an embarrassing moment) and imaginary (when aliens landed on earth). Practically every page in the book could be expanded and turned into a larger piece of writing, either for a comic project or traditional text assignment. The pages are incomplete, some encouraging writing, other drawing and others encourage both.

Tyler Page provided the illustrations for Your Life in Comics and he does a very nice job. He gives a professional look to the book without being too showy and out of reach for the boys using the book. I was halfway through it when I noticed how diverse the teens are. There is every nationality and body shape present, but not in a “hey, we need a ____ kid here” kid of way. It felt more natural than that to me.

Finally, I like the blank pages with the various panel layouts that readers can use to create their own comics. There are a LOT of pages available for downloading on Zimmerman’s website but there is only one of the blank panel pages. It would be nice for there to be more. Do note that Your Life in Comics is not a comic creating manual (there are a lot of great and not so great books out there for that: see Drawing Words and Writing Pictures as an example of a great one).

IDEAS. You can’t fool kids into learning – kids actually really like learning things (something that is sometimes forgotten in our cynicism), but they do want to learn in a way that they enjoy and value (who doesn’t?). Your Life in Comics: 100 Things for Guys to Write and Draw presents the trait of IDEAS in an interesting way which means that I highly recommend this book for upper elementary and beyond. Do me a favour. If you are an upper elementary or middle/high school teacher, look at that sample pages HERE and let me know if you think they appear useful to you. Thanks.


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