in all blogs
Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: History, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 1,590
Blog: Sylvan Dell Publishing's Blog
(Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
Sylvan Dell Posts
, balloon trees
, cinco de mayo
, deductive detective
, nature recycles
, Add a tag
photo by D. B. King
On May 5th, around the United States and Mexico, colorful decorations will hang, mariachi bands will play, and people will party in the street to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. This holiday celebrates Mexican culture – the music, the traditions, the food, but why, exactly, are we celebrating on this day? Some people think that Cinco de Mayo marks the day when Mexico became independent from Spain, or when the Mexican Civil War ended. Nope! Actually, Cinco de Mayo celebrates a battle in a war that Mexico lost!
Mexico had a tough start as a country, enduring war after war, first against America in 1846, then against themselves in the Mexican Civil War. When all this was over, the country had spent so much on war that there was very little money for regular people to spend in their lives; in other words, the economy was hurt. As countries sometimes do, Mexico borrowed money from other nations in order to help itself. And, as friends sometimes do when you borrow a toy or book from them, those countries got tired of waiting for Mexico to give their property back and came over to collect. No, their moms didn’t drive them over in the van or anything like that; fleets of warships representing England, Spain and France crossed the Atlantic Ocean, entered the Mexican coastline and demanded that Mexico pay them back.
Mexico didn’t have the money to pay them though! What’s a young country to do?! All they had were vouchers to give to the representatives from these countries, papers that double-super-promised to someday pay them back. This satisfied England and Spain and they went home, but to France, this meant war! Sacre bleu!
Under the command of Napoleon III, France invaded Mexico with the intention to totally control it. They marched from the coastline to Mexico City, and on the way passed the small Mexican state of Puebla. The Mexican soldiers at Puebla were vastly outnumbered, but in this fight on May 5, 1862, called La Batalla de Puebla, Mexico somehow overcame the odds and defeated the French forces! Now that’s reason to celebrate!
France eventually managed to occupy Mexico, but they were delayed a whole year by this surprising Mexican victory. The shocking, underdog victory at Puebla has come to symbolize the Mexican spirit of resilience and tenacity. Therefore, on its anniversary every year, Mexico and places with many people of Mexican descent play Cumbia music, wave the Mexican flag, eat tamales, hit pinatas, and generally celebrate all things Mexico!
Of course, at Sylvan Dell we celebrate Mexican people and culture every day! Each and every one of our dozens of titles are available in Spanish, such as Los árboles de globos and La naturaleza recicla—¿Lo haces tú? and El detective deductive!
Their Skeletons Speak: Kennewick Man and the Paleoamerican World Sally M. Walker
We're almost done looking at the long list for YALSA's Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. Sally Walker had two books on the list this year-- big congratulations to her!
Like her Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland, Walker looks at the history and science and significance of several sets of remains. This time, she focuses on the oldest skeletons found in the Americas.
The book mostly focuses on 9,000 years-old Kennewick Man, how we was discovered on a riverbank in 1996 and how much we have discovered about where we came from.
I'm a huge fan of Bones and so I love of Walker shows us how the reconstruction and renderings work in real life. I find such things fascinating. I also like how Walker looks at a range of finds and how they all relate to each other in forming a unified theory of early human life in the Americas. I hope Walker continues to write books on using forensic science and history-- wonderful stuff.
Today's Nonfiction Monday round up is over at Stacking Books. Be sure to check it out!
Book Provided by... the publisher for awards consideration.
Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.
By: Heidi Thiessen,
For those of you concerned, I did not die. I simply got drawn away from my passion and wasted many weeks doing things such as checking Facebook, and watching movies, while wondering why I have been so bored. Its funny how one can get into such a state of apathy. It becomes the usual to sit around, and think about doing something, only to leave it until the tomorrow that won't ever come. Well no more I tell you! I will not do it. I am never happier then when I am busy and so I am getting back on this blog, poor Mary has been waiting to continue her marriage, and I have been denying her.
I guess it is fitting that I had such a long state of absenteeism before I started talking about Phillip. For Phillip spent most of their marriage away from Mary. But we will get there. Because the marriage caused panic in the country, a marriage contract was drawn up to try and ease the peoples minds. This contract allowed for Phillip to have the title of King of England but only while Mary I was alive. Everything he proposed had to be accepted by her first, and England would not be required to spend money on wars to benefit Phillip and his family. Obviously these restrictions were not the most appealing to Phillip but the benefits of such a marriage outweighed these cons and so he conceded.
|Coin used in Mary's time|
Photograph by Lara E. Eakins
Phillip was in the marriage purely for political reasons, while Mary had fallen hard for Phillip based on his portrait before she even met him. She was searching for a loving husband, who could perhaps fill the void, that had been empty of love for years. After it was decided that she would marry the spaniard plots to put Mary's sister Elizabeth on the throne started propping up endlessly. The main participants of these plots included Sir Thomas Wyatt the younger, and Henry Grey. Yup you read that correctly, the same Henry Grey who had been released from the tower after plotting to put the nine day queen on the throne. Mary realized that she perhaps was to lenient with those involved with Lady Jane Gray, and so she went to the other end of the spectrum. She had around 100 traitors hung, her sister arrested, and Lady Jane beheaded. Although it should be noted that she forgave over 400 of the other people involved in these plots.
|Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger|
Eventually the marriage took place, July 25th 1554 to be exact, and Mary reached one of her goals. And like many women her other main goal was to become a mother and continue Catholicism in England. It did not take long for Mary's doctors to announce that she was pregnant. The happy queen began to swell in September. Thinking she had her successor in her belly Mary turned towards her final big want, to bring England back into Catholicism.
|Mary I and Phillip II|
The heresy laws were reinstated, meaning that anyone could be declared a hieratic and burned at the stake. And in January the first three men were found guilty and condemned to their toasty fate (yes, I know that was distasteful). However, England had many protestants who did not want to ever return to Rome's teaching. Instead of the burnings causing fear and subjection in her subjects they simply increased their hatred. But even if her country hated their queen she still had the child on the way. Or so she thought.
|Burning at the Stake |
For some reason people thought that a pregnant woman, of royal blood, needed to sit in a dank room for the final months of her pregnancy and Mary followed this custom. The babies due date came and went and still Mary lay there waiting to give birth. Soon another month passed and no signs of a delivery were to be seen. It is believed that Mary, wanting to be pregnant so much, caused herself to have what is known as a phantom pregnancy. Her body displayed all the signs of being pregnant but no child was within her. Mary was heartbroken and her spanish husband didn't help matters. That August, after those at court were well aware of Mary's failed pregnancy, Phillip left the country. A distraught Mary would write to him, almost daily, in order to beg for him to return to her.
|False Pregnancy |
Eventually Phillip did return, but shortly afterwards another war against France was declared. I think they should never have declared peace between the two countries, for it would have saved a lot of time. And as if the hatred for Mary was not enough, it would only increase when England lost Calais there last bit of land in France. Mary's reign was now officially regarded as a complete failure. Mary did have some good news, however, she announced that she was pregnant once again. This time convinced it was the real deal.
It wasn't. Another phantom pregnancy took place, but this time Mary would not recover. Her health deteriorated until she had no choice but to declare her half sister, who she had imprisoned for treason, and who was a stanch protestant, as her heir. On November 17th 1558 Mary died, ending her short reign and sorrowful life.
|Queens' Mary I and Elizabeth I Tomb |
And finally one final slight occurred to Mary when her tomb became so covered in rocks that her half sister was placed above her and they now share a tomb, rivals even in death.
*Most of these pictures are in the public domain. If I have failed to give credit where credit is due, please let me know. The first cartoon has an artist that I don't know of.
I had to whip up something quick for my daughter’s Wax Museum Day at school. This is a grade-wide project where the students read a biography, dress up like their historical figure, and prepare remarks to present to visitors.
The students are supposed to stand still like wax figures until a parent gives them a ticket. Then they animate and introduce themselves as “so-and-so.” It’s so totally cute I can’t even tell you. I’m partial to the costumes involving mustaches.
Little Miss wanted to be a princess, of course, so she chose Russian princess Anastasia Romanov. We went to the thrift store and chose some pieces to alter.
The key elements, we decided, were a white flowy dress with a square neckline, plus pearls. I flipped the blouse backward, sized it down, and made a square neckline using a tutorial I can no longer find. It wasn’t as difficult as it might sound—-actually pretty easy. The skirt I just sized down but left otherwise as-is.
Then I added, at her request, a sash made from blanket binding. It was once a part of this costume but got accidentally ripped off. I also made a little medallion from lightweight cardboard and sequins.
She did a great job with her presentation and is now reading everything she can about Anastasia. I guess we should try that movie that was made in the 90s, although I’m sure it’s more fiction than not.
Did you go away for spring break? We visited family in California and went skiing. It was a blast, but coming back to East Coast time is not. Oh well, it was worth it!
* The Anastasia image is from Wikipedia.
Blog: Children's Books, and Other Cool Stuff
(Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
, time travel
, middle readers
, fairy tales
, Great books
, Add a tag
By: David D Bernstein,
Middle Grade Books
1) “Children of the Lamp (The Akhanaten Adventure)
- by P.B Kerr, published by “Orchard books, and imprint of scholastic Inc.
New York 2004.
What if you find out that you are descendants from a long line of Dijon, human-like beings created from fire.
They are able to grant wishes, and take on different animal forms.
This is exactly what happens to two twelve-year-old twins, John and Phillippa, after they get their wisdom teeth pulled.
The children are sent to London to their Uncle Nimrod's home where their amazing adventure begins. This venture takes the reader on a magic carpet ride through a fantasy Middle Eastern World.
This journey teaches the twins that granting wishes is not only dangerous for themselves, but for people who desire wishes as well.
2) “Peter and Star Catchers”-
by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, illustrated by Greg Call.
Published by Disney Hyperion paperbacks for children New York 2004.
How was never-land discovered?
How did Peter Pan become a boy forever?
This book helps the reader find answers to those questions and many more.
Peter Pan is a never aging boy, who visits children at night and takes them to fantasy island called Never-Land where magic lives.
Through the use of vivid language and pencil illustrations, the authors introduce us to how Peter Pan became a part of a world, full of amazing creatures, and magic. This story reveals the mystery of magic dust and how Children can make it real by looking within and tapping into their own imagination.
3) “Infinity Ring book three the trapdoor”-
written by Lisa McMann, published by Scholastic Inc.
New York 2013.
The next book in this interactive serious takes our heroes Dak, Sera and Riq to Maryland in 1850 just before the Civil War.
The main character in this book travel back it time and fix History Breaks, that has been caused by an evil corporation with intentions to take over the world.
The time period in this book describes how new law has been passed that allows any white American to report free blacks, and then make them slaves. The children's mission is to stop this law, and to save the civil right leaders from a prison Dream like landscapes, humor and adventure take the seriousness of the topic at hand, and twists it into a fun read for everyone.
4) “The 13thReality, the Journal of curious letters. -
Written by James Dashner, illustrated by Bryan Beus, Published by Shadow Mountain Press an imprint of Worzalla Publishing Co.
Stevens point, WI. 2008. One day a nerdy boy, Atticus Higginbottom receives a strange letter from Alaska.
After this boy’s life changes from a boring one to life full of mystery and questions that, need to be answered.
Twelve clues help him understand that the world he lives in is just one of many parallel worlds, which still need to be discovered and saved.
If a child likes to solve problems through clues, they would love this book.
A story progresses Atticus goes from zero to hero.
The pencil illustrations and secrets surrounding the boy’s life will keep your middle graders turning the pages.
A powerful looking Ron Ely, star of the TV’s “Tarzan”(1966-1968) and “Doc Savage: Man of Bronze” (1975) spellbound his audience at WonderCon Friday, relating his fight with a wild tiger. According to Ely, “The Script read: Tarzan sees tiger, Tarzan fights tiger, Tarzan and tiger walkaway in opposite directions with mutual respect.” Instead of firing the writer and walking off the set as would likely happen these days, the actor concerned himself with how to achieve the scene. Contacting the San Diego Zoo, Ely and his producer’s were able persuade Zoo officials to detour a recently captured tiger from India to the set of “Tarzan” in Burbank. Gaining the big cat’s trust by his attending every feeding, Ely and the Tarzan production crew took precautions to insure no one would be hurt. By forbidding a gun on the set, Ely was also insuring the tiger’s safety.
“When we were set to film I hit him on the nose and he gave me a look like ‘Is that the best you got?’ I hit him again and he ignored me. There was only one other thing I knew to do to rouse him–if I turned my back.” Sure enough, the tiger went flying over Ely’s head to pounce and they wrestled. “To a tiger, its just play,” Ely said with equanimity. Much to Ely’s own astonishment, the scene came off as written.
You can enjoy Warner Bros. Archive Collection of “Tarzan” and “Doc Savage” available at http://www.wbshop.com/category/wbshop_brands/warner+archive.do.
Also being released by WarnerBros. Archive Collection: “Bomba, the Jungle Boy” (1949) and “The Adventures of Superboy, Season 3″ In coming months there will be additional releases of other Boomer generation Televison shows. One such is “Maya,” starring Jay North. The star of “Dennis the Menace”, now a teen, searches the jungles of India for his missing father aboard an Elephant named Maya. The show was a milestone for TV at its time in that it was filmed on location in India.
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
(Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
, Top News
, Al Jaffee
, Asbury Park Comicon
, herb trimpe
, Peter Sanderson
, Stan Lee
, stan lee hair
, Torsten Adair
, Add a tag
by Peter Sanderson
While WonderCon, one of the nation’s largest comics/multimedia conventions was going on in Anaheim, last Saturday New York and New Jersey area comics fans were listening to comics greats speak in the more intimate setting of the Wonder Bar at the Asbury Park Comicon, now in its third year.
The convention took place in Asbury Park, New Jersey, along the celebrated Jersey Shore. Founded in the 1870s, the town still has picturesque Victorian architecture. But the town is now most famous for its prominence in popular music history from the 1970s on, most notably the early career of Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band.
Only a year ago founders Cliff Galbraith and Robert Bruce held the Asbury Park Comicon in Asbury Lanes, a combination music club and bowling alley. But this year the main venue for the con was the grand old Asbury Park Convention Hall, part of an enormous complex that includes the Paramount Theatre and was constructed in the 1920s on the boardwalk along the beach. Exhibitors filled two floors of the Convention Hall. The theatre and arcade are connected by an arcade, where a 1960s style Batmobile and a Back to the Future DeLorean were displayed; the arcade was also the site of the Comicon’s cosplay competition. If anyone wanted to take a break from con activities, they could gaze out the windows to see the light glittering on the Atlantic Ocean on a beautifully sunlit day.
Panels were held across the street at the Wonder Bar, decorated with images of Tillie, a grinning cartoon figure who is an icon of Asbury Park history. Starting roughly forty-five minutes after the Comicon opened at 10 AM, the remarkable line-up of panels ran until closing time, with the Beat’s own Torsten Adair as master of ceremonies. This was a pleasant venue, with a stage on one end, but food and drinks were being served at the other end of the tavern, and the noise from people talking down there rose in volume during the course of the day, becoming a problem by late afternoon.
First up was “Of Clerks and Comic Book Men.” Asbury Park is not far from Red Hook, New Jersey, the location of Kevin Smith’s comic book store Jay and Bob’s Secret Stash, the setting of AMC’s reality television series Comic Book Men. Present on this first panel of the day were Ming Chen, Bryan Johnson, and Mike Zapcic, all regulars on the show, and Brian O’Halloran, the lead actor in Smith’s films Clerks, Clerks II, and the forthcoming Clerks III. The panelists bantered entertainingly, sometimes aiming funny but affectionate insults at one another, while reminiscing about how they first met Kevin Smith. It came as something of a shock when it was pointed out that the original Clerks is now nearly twenty years old. Asked how he got the role of Dante in Smith’s film, O’Halloran started by claiming he “had some provocative pictures of his [Smith's] mom,” but then told the story seriously, how he auditioned to be an extra and unexpectedly ended up getting a lead role. As for Clerks III, which Smith is now writing, O’Halloran said that from what he knows about it, “I think it will be one of his best written pieces.” Johnson pronounced it “pretty amazing” and “really funny.”
Asked about Stan Lee’s appearance on Comic Book Men, Johnson noted “how nice” and “cool” Stan is. Then he recalled how when he was riding in a limousine with Lee during the making of the episode, he asked Stan “if he was that excited about always getting comic book questions.” After getting an unexpected response, Johnson said, “I swore to him I would not tell his answer.” Was it “shocking,” he was asked. “A little bit,” Johnson replied.
Then came the Comicon’s keynote address by Michael Uslan, an executive producer on all the Batman live action movies from director Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman onwards and author of the memoir The Boy Who Loved Batman. This keynote was a variation on Uslan’s familiar, well-crafted presentation, recounting his life starting with being a young boy engaged in the then lonely hobby of collecting comics, who saw the debut of the 1960s Batman TV show, was appalled that it was a comedy, and vowed (not unlike the young Bruce Wayne, as he says) to devote his life to showing the world that Batman could be done as a serious hero. And then Uslan recounts how he achieved his dream, teaching the first academic course on superhero comics, becoming a writer at DC Comics, and after ten years of struggle to make a serious live action Batman film, finally triumphing with the Burton blockbuster.
What made this version of his speech different were his many references to the Jersey Shore. As a boy Uslan lived in nearby Ocean Township, but regularly came to Asbury Park. “It is so cool to be back home,” Uslan declared. It was in “a place twelve miles from here,” a flea market called Collingwood Auction, that Uslan said he began amassing his colossal collection of Golden Age comics, paying only a nickel for each. He also recalled driving around “the Circuit” in Asbury Park in the late 1960s, trying to pick up girls; unfortunately, Uslan said he wore a Batman helmet to try to look cool, and “it didn’t work.” Uslan said that the last time he had been in the Wonder Bar, where he was giving his speech, was when he had his very first drink!
At noon comics historian and publisher Craig Yoe, introduced by Torsten Adair as “the Indiana Jones of comics archaeology,” interviewed cartoonist Bob Camp. “I have him up on a pedestal,” Yoe said about Camp. “And I’m afraid of heights,” replied Camp, setting the tone for this witty look back at his lengthy career in comics and animation.
As for just when he started cartooning, Camp said, “I don’t remember not drawing. It’s all I ever did,” joking, “It’s why I have no other skills.” He was fascinated by animated cartoons as a boy, especially Warner Brothers cartoons, but also “any cartoon I could watch,” singling out Famous Studios’ Herman and Katnip series and Terrytoons’ Gandy Goose and Sourpuss. Camp likened Gandy and Sourpuss to two famous characters he later worked on, Ren and Stimpy., “One mean guy, one happy-go-lucky guy, and they’re both gay.”
Camp talked about learning his craft by drawing caricatures in Provincetown on Cape Cod. He said he knew nothing about comic books when he started working at Marvel. “Blame Larry Hama,” he said, since Hama hired him, and Camp began cartooning for Marvel’s humor magazine Crazy. He also did art corrections in Marvel’s Bullpen, where, he said, he learned to imitate the styles of every 1980s Marvel artist, including John Byrne and Bill Sienkiewicz. Camp also confessed that editor in chief “Jim Shooter scared me,” and reminisced about the stories inker Vince Colletta would tell about crime.
Camp then segued into recounting his career in animation, talking about working with animator Bruce Timm on The Real Ghostbusters, working alongside “the greatest guys in animation” on Tiny Toon Adventures, and meeting animator John Kricfalusi, leading to their collaboration on Ren & Stimpy. But, quoting Charles Dickens, Camp referred to his time on that show as “the best of times, the worst of times,” describing what he saw as Kricfalusi’s self-destructive relationship with the Nickelodeon network and his own falling out with Kricfalusi.
Camp ended by talking about his current work, including a Kickstarter project that he and Larry Hama have launched for an animated cartoon called “Hard Heart an Strong Arm.”
Next, at 1 PM, came “Al Jaffee: 57 Years of Going Mad.” Jaffee, now 92 but as sharp as ever, provided his characteristic snappy answers to the far from stupid questions put to him by comics writer and editor Danny Fingeroth. “I have never hosted a panel in a bar before,” Fingeroth began, adding, “Is everyone drunk?”
Fingeroth and Jaffee explored Jaffee’s life going back to his childhood in Savannah, Georgia. “I think I started cartooning a day after I was born,” Jaffee said. His mother took him to live for years in what Jaffee called “the Siberia of Lithuania.” There comics proved to be “critical” to his survival, Jafgfee said, explaining that “It was like the 18th century where I lived in Lithuania,” but his father sent him a collection of Sunday and daily newspaper comic strips from America every six months. “My brother and I spent hours copying all the cartoons.”
Returning to America “in the depths of the Depression,” in 1936 Jaffee entered the High School of Music and Art, newly founded by New York’s legendary (and comics-loving) Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. “I think he saved all our lives,” Jaffee said, whose best friend there was future Mad co-worker Will Elder.
Unable to get work from advertising agencies, Jaffee and other artists turned to comic books instead, and Jaffee started by selling his idea Inferiorman, which he called “a shameless takeoff on Superman,” to Will Eisner, who put him to work in his studio.
Then Jaffee started a long relationship working for Stan Lee at Timely Comics, the company we now know as Marvel. “Stan was 19. I was 20. I immediately saw what a firebrand Stan was. He had just taken over from Simon & Kirby” as editor of Timely Comics. For Timely Jaffee wrote and drew Ziggy Pig and Silly Seal, and later took over Patsy Walker. Under Fingeroth’s questioning, Jaffee also recounted how he took over another Timely funny animal series, Super Rabbit, and gave the character believable problems, even “fits of depression,” and Fingeroth pointed out this prefigured Spider-Man. Jaffee said his “relationship with Stan Lee was not close, but it was warm,” and Lee never edited him, giving him a free hand.
Referring to the Senate hearings condemning comic books as causes of juvenile delinquency, Jaffee declared “In my opinion the U. S. Senate was causing juvenile delinquency,” to applause from the audience.
Jaffee began discussed his work with Harvey Kurtzman, whom he called a “strange genius,” on the short-lived magazines Trump and Humbug, and then his going to work for editor Al Feldstein on Mad. Fingeroth and Jaffee went through the familiar and surefire stories of how Jaffee created his best-known Mad features, “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions” and the Mad Fold-Ins. Jaffee had thought his first Fold-In “was a one-shot gag,” and believes that if Kurtzman had still been editing Mad, there never would have been a second one, since Kurtzman was always looking for new ideas. But Feldstein directed Jaffee to come up with a second one. “And that was 49 years ago,” concluded Jaffee, who has been doing Fold-Ins all during those years, and teased the audience by telling them the set-up for the one he is woking on now—but not the punch line.
At 2 PM one of the Comicon’s organizers, Cliff Galbraith, interviewed underground cartoonist John Holmstrom, who in 1975 co-founded the magazine Punk, which chronicled the punk rock movement in its heyday.
Then at 3 PM it was back to the Golden Age of Comics, with Fingeroth back onstage, this time interviewing another of the few survivors of that period, artist Allen Bellman. In 1942, when he was a teenager, Bellman started working for Timely Comics, as Marvel was known in the 1940s, drawing backgrounds for artist Syd Shores’ work on Captain America. Bellman was hired by artist Don Rico and did not meet Stan Lee until two weeks later. His initial image of Stan was as a young man following around his uncle Robert Solomon, the brother-in-law of Timely publisher Martin Goodman. Bellman recalled that the Timely Bullpen was divided into two separate rooms, one for “the animators,” his name for the funny animal artists, and the other for “the illustrators,” the superhero artists such as himself. The first series that Bellman drew on his own was The Patriot, but he also worked on Marvel’s trinity of stars, The Human Torch, Sub-Mariner, and Captain America.
Perhaps surprisingly, Bellman never met Jack Kirby and never met Joe Simon until 2007. At the Comicon earlier that day Bellman was reunited with Al Jaffee. “I was so happy to see him.”
Bellman was one of the hundreds of comic book professionals who were forced to leave the business thanks to the outcry against comics in the 1950s. Referring to Dr. Fredric Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent, Bellman said, “That book put me out of commission.”
Bellman is well aware that he is one of the few survivors left from the Golden Age of Comics. After reminiscing about the late Gene Colan, Bellman commented, “There’s not many of us left.” And at the end of the panel, asked about his former colleagues, Bellman said simply, “They’re all gone but me.”
Following at 4 PM was “Marvel Days,” a panel surveying the history of Marvel Comics from the 1960s onward. Moderated by Christopher Irving, the author of Leaping Tall Buildings, a book of interviews with comics creators, the panel also included Sean Howe, author of the recent history Marvel Comics: The Untold Story. However, the discussion was dominated by Herb Trimpe, longtime Marvel artist who started collaborating with Stan Lee on The Incredible Hulk back in the Silver Age of the 1960s, and Papercutz editor Jim Salicrup, who rose from messenger to editor at Marvel, where he became best known for editing the Spider-Man titles.
Oddly, both Trimpe and Salicrup had anecdotes about Stan Lee’s hair. Trimpe said that when he first worked at Marvel, Stan, who was in the process of undergoing a hair transplant, “hated” Trimpe’s thick hair. In recalling his early days at Marvel as a messenger, Salicrup recalled going on a mysterious mission to an East Side town house to pick up an equally mysterious package, which turned out to be Stan’s toupee!
Salicrup got his foot in the door at Marvel by sending in a postcard and getting hired by Roy Thomas, just as Marvel was starting a massive expansion in the early 1970s; as Salicrup observed, it is hard to believe that anyone could get hired this way by today’s corporate Marvel. “I loved it when Stan was there, for the first ten years I was there,” before Lee moved out to California to promote Marvel properties as potential TV shows and movies.
Trimpe explained that the “problem he had at Marvel” was that he considered himself a artist more in the cartoon-like style of Jack Davis, who instead had to try for a “classic look” like that of Marvel mainstay John Buscema. Trimpe turned to the work of Jack Kirby. “As far as I know, Stan never ordered anyone to copy Kirby’s stuff,” Trimpe said. “Kirby’s stuff had a language to it” that was “very powerful stuff. He is the central comic book artist.”
Asked about office politics at Marvel, Salicrup said that he was aware of it at the time, but preferred to avoid it. “Marvel was big enough that I could easily get lost in it,” he said. “I was just enamored about being a kid from the Bronx who was in this Oz-like place like Marvel Comics in the 1970s.”
Questioned by Irving, Salicrup gave his take on the now familiar tale of how Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s “The Dark Phoenix Saga” evolved, and how editor in chief Jim Shooter ordered that the ending be changed so Jean Grey would die, thereby, in Salicrup’s view, transforming the saga into a classic.
Salicrup also spoke of Shooter’s emphasis on “clarity of storytelling” and noted that nowadays “some DC and Marvel books can be very hard to read” for newcomers to the medium, such as the kids who read Salicrup’s Papercutz comics. Hence, Salicrup said, “Sometimes I feel like I’m deprogramming” artists from Marvel and DC, by “having to explain the real basics of storytelling” in comics, like leaving enough room for the word balloons!
Finally, from shortly after 5 PM till the convention’s closing time, Jon B. Cooke, editor of the magazine Comic Book Artist, interviewed Jay Lynch, a leading member of the original generation of underground comix creators. In 1968 in Chicago Lynch launched and edited Bijou Funnies, one of the pioneering underground comix. He was also one of the principal artists for Topps’ Garbage Pail Kids and Wacky Packages.
Lynch recounted how he first saw Harvey Kurtzman’s original version of Mad in 1953. “When I saw Mad, I decided to be a cartoonist.” But Lynch said he initially did one-panel gag cartoons. “I didn’t start doing comix until Zap came out,” Robert Crumb’s landmark underground comic. Lynch likened underground comix to other cultural phenomena of the 1960s, including the Free Speech movement and the taboo-breaking comedy of Lenny Bruce. Lynch recalled how he, Crumb, and another underground comix pioneer, Gilbert Shelton, would trade their comic books, with each other. Thus enabling them to keep in touch with each other’s work. Lynch also explained that President Richard Nixon launched a pornography investigation that made publishers nervous about possible prosecution, thereby sending sales of underground comix into decline.
Turning to Lynch’s work for Topps, Cooke asked, “Is that what you’re best known for—Garbage Pail Kids?”
“No,” replied Lynch, “I think my performance of Swan Lake.”
Nowadays, Lynch said, he is doing paintings which he sells on eBay.
Lynch wound up the panel by recounting an anecdote which captured some of a sense of the good and bad sides of the 1960s. It was the day that the Beatles’ White Album came out, Lynch was working for Topps, and “everyone on the subway has a copy of the White Album.” Lynch went to see fellow underground cartoonist Spain Rodriguez, who was living in a building in an area ridden with crime and drug addicts. Lynch went out and bought pizza for both of them, but on his way back was accosted by thugs, who asked him what he was carrying. Lynch lied and said it was the Beatles’ White Album, whereupon one of the thugs, impressed, said, “Okay, we’ll let you go.”
Photo © Danny CenturyMany more photos of the con in the link.
Before we get to the reviewing, just a reminder about my other project, YA Reading List, where I post a themed reading list EVERY SINGLE DAY.
The Impossible Rescue: The True Story of an Amazing Arctic Adventure Martin W. Sandler
I'm covering the books that were on the 2013 long-list for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction. For those who don't know, I was on this committee and I really want to highlight these other titles that we loved.
Off the coast of Alaska, the winter of 1897 came early, trapping eight whaling ships in the ice. There was a small settlement on shore, but between the ships and the settlement, there were not enough provisions to get through the winter, and no way to get more. (One ship managed to not be trapped, and was able to let people know what was going on, but there wasn't enough time to get back via ship for a rescue effort before winter hit full force.) President McKinley had a plan and sent three men to get them food-- they'd travel through the state and buy reindeer herds along the way, and herd the reindeer to where the men were stranded. Meanwhile, at the ships, morale and discipline were running just as low as the food.
Sandler does an excellent job of describing the conditions and tensions that run through this story. From a modern vantage point, the situation is hard to wrap your head around, but Sandler explains it really well and will have you on the edge of your seat, shivering through the Arctic reader with the whalers and their rescuers. There are several photographs and primary sources illustrating the text. It also gets high marks for some truly excellent maps and excellent back matter-- including a comprehensive "what happened next" for the people involved.
Today's Nonfiction Monday is over at Wendie's Wanderings. Be sure to check it out!
Book Provided by... the publisher, for award consideration
Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.
Women’s History month is wrapping up, but we at The Beat don’t feel we celebrated it properly, so for the next 24 hours most of the Beat staff is collaborating on “24 Hours of Women Cartoonists” to spotlight some of our favorite creators.
* * * *
First up:Helen E. Hokinson, a single panel cartoonist and illustrator from the mid 20th century — a period where the contribution of women to comics seems to have been mostly uncredited or in parallel fields such as picture books. The New Yorker of the period was not without female contributors, however, and among the most renowned was Hokinson (1893-1949) who contributed 68 covers and over 1,800 cartoons to The New Yorker. She was the definitive delineator of the stuffy Turtle Bay matron, a rarefied creature of habit and privilege. She was well known in her day producing half a dozen books of her own cartoons and illustrating many more. She died in a mid-air collision in 1949.
Hokinson’s reputation has perhaps suffered from reports that she illustrated staff captions rather than writing her own cartoons—a common practice at the time. There’s much more about her and other women cartoonists at The New Yorker in Liza Donnelly’s history book, Funny Ladies: The New Yorker’s Greatest Women Cartoonists And Their Cartoons
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
(Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
, Top News
, Carol Tilley
, Craig Yoe
, Danny Fingeroth
, David Hajdu
, DC Comics
, Denny O'Neil
, Dr. Frederic Wertham
, Heidi MacDonald
, James Reibman
, Joe Shuster
, John Ordover
, Karen Green
, Marvel Comics
, Roy Thomas
, Seduction of the Innocent
, Sharon Packer
, Soho Gallery of Digital Art
, The Comics Code
, The Joker
, The Library of Congress
, Add a tag
As the first of several “Comic Book Roundtable” events to be held at the Soho Gallery of Digital Art under the auspices of gallery owner John Ordover and former Marvel editor, author, and educator Danny Fingeroth, this event exploring the life and legacy of Dr. Frederic Wertham was planned for the occasion of Wertham’s 118th birthday, but in the lead up to the event, recent developments in scholarship about the controversial comic reformer shed new light on the evening’s subject matter. In February 2013 Librarian, professor, and scholar Carol Tilley discovered, after examining Wertham’s papers held by the Library of Congress, that some of Wertham’s methods and reports were questionable, sparking debate in comics scholarship and among comics fans.
“Surely You’re Joking Dr. Wertham” hit the controversy head-on by bringing together a distinguished panel for discussion, including Tilley, comics writer, editor, and educator Denny O’Neil, author and educator David Hajdu, practising physician, psychiatrist, and author Sharon Packer, and author, editor, art director, and cartoonist Craig Yoe. The Soho Gallery provided excellent accompaniment to the event in the form of Wertham-related images and quotes displayed as a digital exhibit, and hosting a reception afterward.
The evening opened to a thoroughly packed-in audience, among whom were many scholars and authors who have shown a public interest in Wertham’s career and legacy, including James Reibman, the official Frederick Wertham biographer designated by Wertham’s estate. Host and moderator Danny Fingeroth provided an introduction to Wertham in the form of slides including pictures of Wertham in and out of official capacity as a clinical psychiatrist working with children, and also reminded the audience of the other books Wertham authored aside from his now legendary Seduction of the Innocent, a critique on the “influence of comic books on today’s youth”, published in 1954. This placed Wertham within the context of other cultural reactions of the time that questioned the sex and violence being depicted in comics as appropriate for young readers.
Tilley started off the panel discussion by explaining exactly what her recent research has uncovered about Wertham’s work. While her original intention was to locate materials relevant children’s education, she found “other things” that she didn’t expect to find among Wertham’s documents which she found “well-organized” in a “couple of dozen plus boxes” at the Library of Congress. The documents included copies of Wertham’s other research papers and speeches spanning his career, among which she found “discrepancies” and “some indication that he did things like combine the testimony of kids” or “broke apart” the testimony of one child “into four or five” in order to use quotes. This practice also resulted in evidence of “deleted or added” phrases from the children’s testimony that Wertham presented in Seduction of the Innocent and other works. This resulted, Tilley said, in a general “perception” of evidence in Wertham’s book that was “not the same as the actual case” of his research materials. When questioned about whether these changes were negligible or whether they altered the meaning of the children’s testimony, she confirmed that these “additions and word changes did change the meaning of testimony”. While Wertham’s book has often been criticized for its “lack of attribution” in footnotes or bibliography, Tilley feels that she has “seen personally” that his use of sources was not exacting enough. For those interested in Wertham’s legacy, this was something of a bombshell, though Tilley has been public about some of these findings previous to the evening’s discussion.
Hajdu then commented on Wertham as a figure, reminding the audience that Wertham is often a “handy symbol” of a wider movement against comic book excesses, and even a “personification” of the “cynicism toward comics in the late 40’s and 50’s”, even though he didn’t start this trend personally. Hajdu explained that even “newspaper comics incited criticism” prior to Wertham’s career and were often perceived as “crude, anti-literate” and examples of “defiant behavior” that raised public concern. The Catholic Church, particular, he noted, were active in inspiring state legislation against comics, due to their belief in the “power of aesthetics and the power of art” for both positive and negative influences on human behavior.
[Packer, Yoe, and Fingeroth]
O’Neil, himself raised Catholic, confirmed that his “first encounter with the (comic) witch hunters was in the pages of The Catholic Digest” and that he, as a young person “read and believed” that superhero comics, particularly, were potentially harmful. He related, to the audience’s amusement, that former Marvel editor Roy Thomas “as a kid” had participated in a book burning in Missouri where he “burned comics he was not interested in”, but rescued others he liked. Tilley briefly added that she had discovered evidence that librarians, too, had participated in comic burning and attempted to keep them out of libraries during this period because they were seen as “disruptive”.
Packer suggested that Wertham’s book title, Seduction of the Innocent, might have spoken particularly to a Christian demographic because of its suggestion of the massacre of the innocents by King Herod related in the New Testament of the Bible. This led to a reassessment among the panellists of Wertham’s title, since its original version was “All Our Innocents”. Fingeroth pointed out that this change made the title “very pulp sounding” and therefore more sensational.
Yoe’s background on the subject of juvenile delinquency as an author, and also his discovery of the “fetish art” of Joe Shuster confirmed that there were real-life implications for the more violent aspects of comic art, such as the case of the Brooklyn Thrill Killers who killed indigent people and molested women and when interviewed by Wertham as an expert witness, confessed to being inspired in their deeds by Shuster’s artwork. Yoe, however, prompted a wide-ranging and at times heated discussion on the subject of exactly how and when Wertham’s papers at the Library of Congress had been made available for research purposes. Both Yoe and Hajdu, upon requesting access in the past, had been denied use of the papers since they were “sealed” until the children who participated in the studies had passed away. “In many ways, I respect Dr. Wertham”, Yoe said, but “the Library of Congress is our library” and its contents “should be seen” regardless of the circumstances behind their compilation. Outspoken attendee and Wertham biographer Reibman, who was granted access to the papers at a much earlier date in order to work on his book, disagreed with Yoe’s statement in favor of “freedom of information”, arguing that sealing Wertham’s papers at the library was part of the “terms of the gift” to the library. Reibman’s frequent interjections on behalf of Wertham during the event contributed to a rather heated atmosphere.
Yoe questioned further why some individuals, and not others, were then granted access despite the terms of the gift. Hajdu chimed in that he had requested access “dozens of times” but had been denied despite his academic credentials. Yoe asked Tilley if, based on her experience as a librarian, this discrepancy was “unusual” or not. Tilley confirmed that in her experience, the sealing of the papers while at the Library of Congress and then granting access to only those individuals sanctioned by the estate of the deceased, was indeed “unusual”. Attendee Karen Green, Graphic Novels Librarian at Columbia University, also commented that while “archives can be restricted”, for public documents this practice is “not usual”. Tilley provided further information about the situation by explaining that she was obliged to sign an agreement with the Library of Congress about the materials she accessed, even though a large portion of the Wertham papers consisted of “newspaper clippings” which “shouldn’t be restricted” anyway. Yoe brought some levity to the rapid fire questioning and often terse dialogue between he and Reibman by pointing out that Hajdu closely resembled a young Frederic Wertham and ought to have just turned up at the library, saying “I am here to see my papers”. Though Hajdu found the comparison amusing, he said “That’s the most offensive thing I’ve ever heard”.
[O'Neil and Hajdu]
Fingeroth then gathered the reigns of the discussion as moderator to direct attention back to the panelists and away from the discursive arguments breaking out among audience members. Fingeroth asked O’Neil, specifically, if he had felt any “lingering hesitation” about comics after his experience with The Catholic Revue in childhood. O’Neil related that Wertham’s legacy, but particularly the Comics Code had impacted his career in comics. He was involved in “several public arguments” with administrators at comics publishing companies, wherein comics supporters felt the need to argue “comics are good, not evil anymore”. O’Neil’s personal feeling has always been, and still is, he said, that “If it’s censorship, it’s bad”, and often felt frustrated by the “vagueness of the language” in the Code itself, often leading comics creators to create elaborate avenues to get around the letter of the Code. He related a particularly frustrating incident where an IRONMAN story involving a “six story tall monster” crushing a police car was censored because it “showed disrespect to the police car” even though it also showed policemen being very brave in their fight against the monster. This kind of “idiocy” in the Code he particularly objected to, and added his motto that “blind worship of authority figures whether or not authority figures had any authority” should never be supported.
At this point, it was relevant to clarify that Wertham was not the founder of the Comics Code, though his work certainly paved the way for its development. Yoe reminded the audience that Wertham was, in fact, a progressive who was in support of the freedom of the press. It was more that Wertham “created the climate”, O’Neil supplied, which led to the Senate hearings, which led to the drafting of the Code. Both Yoe and O’Neil agreed that comics publishing was, in fact, in a very low economic position at the time of the Senate hearings anyway, due to the rise of paperback novel sales and TV watching. Yoe and O’Neil continued to discuss whether a “rating system” couldn’t have been created, rather than the unilateral Comics Code, in order to steer children away from more disturbing comics. Hajdu pointed out that the rating system was not in effect in Hollywood, by comparison, until the 1960’s, so there was not a particularly clear model to instate for comics at the time.
Fingeroth asked the panelists, and in particular, Packer, whether Wertham’s research was purely “anecdotal” or whether he furnished “hard statistics” when working with children. Packer provided some context as a clinical psychiatrists about the methods of the time during Wertham’s career. She compared Wertham to Sigmund Freud and pointed out that though “Freud was celebrated at that time”, “much of his original psychological literature” was “just as baseless” as Wertham’s methods. Tilley added that her survey of Wertham’s papers revealed that his “data was rich”, but it was just “how he used it rhetorically” that was “questionable”. Yoe commented that even though his rhetorical use of his data might lead us to view Wertham with increased suspicion, in the big picture, Wertham made a “pretty good case. Many comic books were not good for young children” in term of their content.
[Tilley and Packer]
Fingeroth took the question to a finer point. Did Wertham, he asked, in the opinion of the panelists, “take too many liberties” or not? Tilley stood her ground by asserting that “scientific investigation” requires accuracy, and a failure of accuracy is troubling from a scientist. Tilley added that her “personal sense” from working with the papers is that Wertham “cared more about getting rid of the comic book industry” than about his public cause of helping children develop in a psychologically healthy atmosphere. Though he certainly “cared for kids”, she reminded, she still felt that Wertham used children as “leverage” to achieve this greater goal of attacking the comics industry. One of the things that gave her a less than sterling impression of Wertham’s personality was discovering detailed transcripts that he “noted meticulously” of phone conversations that contained potentially harmful gossip about people who he saw as enemies in his career. He “collected information”, she said, “looking for weak spots” in the lives of people he wanted to undermine, particularly people who acted as “consultants for the comic book industry”.
Fingeroth asked about Wertham’s movement, in his later career, toward criticism of the film industry and whether Wertham might have seen “comics as a stepping stone to a higher agenda” as a “career path”, but the general consensus among panelists seemed to be that comics were more easily attacked as a less profitable industry early in Wertham’s career, and that the tide of criticism had generally turned toward film around the time of Wertham’s developing interest in film. Film itself had, by the mid to late 60’s, become more overtly violent with works like Bonnie and Clyde.
The rather charged atmosphere during the panel discussion gave way to an extensive question and answer period involving the audience and spanned a number of subjects. Did the distaste the comic book industry came to feel for Dr. Wertham result in a generally negative portrayal of psychiatry within comics? Yoe agreed that there are certainly plenty of “sinister psychiatrists” portrayed in comics tradition, and Packer supplied examples from Batman mythology including the Arkham family. O’Neil added that the character Harley Quinn was originally assigned to “cure” the Joker of his madness and instead was “driven nuts” herself. A more pointed question was posed about whether the possibility that Wertham skewed his evidence really made the questions he was asking about the role of comics at the time irrelevant. Hajdu fielded this question by commenting that the “weakest criticism of Wertham is that comics can’t affect minds and hearts”. As an art form, Hajdu argued, comics certainly do have impact and can “transform people”. “Comics have that power”, he reminded.
O’Neil weighed the issue by confessing that as a comics creator “You launch a given work and you have no way of knowing how it’ll bounce” and he often worried during his early career what impact particular comic stories might have on “kids already imbalanced”. O’Neil gave and example of his decision-making when he declined to include a “martial arts move” in one of his comics because it was “simple and damaging” and judged that kids might too easily learn to implement it. The audience, of course, immediately wanted O’Neil to demonstrate the deadly move, but he refrained in the interest of safety. For the same reason, O’Neil never allowed Molotov cocktails in his works, sure that it was too much of a “temptation” for kids to “see if it would work” building their own.
The Beat’s own Heidi MacDonald asked a rather burning question from the floor, one that continues to puzzle readers and comics historians alike: “Why do you think he attacked comics specifically? What did he hope to get out of it?”. The panelists answered in various ways. Yoe felt pretty strongly that Wertham was, in fact, motivated primarily by the fact that he “cared about kids” and was worried about the impact of comics. Packer analyzed Wertham a little by pointing out that Wertham himself, despite being married for many years, had no children of his own and this might have created a kind of “displacement” of concern for children that drove him to extremes. Hajdu simply stated that he felt Wertham to be “attracted to sensationalist cases” whether as an expert witness in extreme criminal cases or his research. He was, Hajdu said, a “publicity hound” at heart. Even Yoe added the admission that without a doubt Wertham had a “raging ego” driving his career.
Questions continued to circle back to the central role of Tilley’s new research on Wertham’s inconsistencies. How do we reassess Wertham based on the incorrectly conveyed details of his research, which clearly skewed his information in order to more sensationally and fundamentally support his thesis, when the “big picture” of his message, that extreme violence and sex in comics can be inappropriate for child readers, does seem sensible? Fingeroth presented a list of Wertham’s more “progressive” tendencies, stating that it’s possible to “go through a checklist of Wertham’s beliefs and agree except for comics” and respect many of his social contributions.
The final assessment of the panelists revealed some consensus out of a wide-ranging interrogation of Wertham’s method and legacy. O’Neil reminded the audience that Wertham was certainly not the “black-hearted villain” that many comics fans feel him to be, but he did detrimentally present those working in comics, “demonizing” them and making them out to be the “seducers and corruptors” of society, a crusade that damaged comics for decades to come. Yoe felt that the fundamental problem with Wertham’s whole approach to his subject was not necessarily the assumption that comics could be damaging to young minds, but that he “didn’t see that comics could be an art form”, and never commented on their positive potential as an “educational” resource. Yoe left the audience with the question, a lingering one, “Why couldn’t he see that?”. If Wertham had seen the potential of comics as a positive force, no doubt our current view of his work would also be more balanced on the whole.
[The panelists and their moderator]
A predictably lively, but amicable, discussion period followed during the reception for the event, but if attendees expected definitive answers about the implications of Tilley’s new research on Wertham, they were left to their own devices. The panel discussion did provide solid context for Wertham’s life, work, and even a little for his motivations, as well as some solid information on what exactly Wertham’s failings as a researcher might be. Whether audience members were “pro-Wertham” or “anti-Wertham” initially, the discussion opened up new facets of his personality and work for further thought. Frederick Wertham may be less of a mystery now in the light of new research, but if anything, he’s even more of an enigma, confirmed as a complex figure. Learning more about Wertham changes perception of comics history, and that’s bound to change even more as scholars pay closer and closer attention to the records left behind in collections, personal archives, and thankfully, libraries.
The Comic Round Table events will continue this Spring at the SOHO Gallery for Digital Art with another hot topic in comics right now, the openly anti-gay position of Orson Scott Card and his work on SUPERMAN entitled “The Man of Steel vs. Orson Scott Card” on April 10th.
Hannah Means-Shannon writes and blogs about comics for TRIP CITY and Sequart.org and is currently working on books about Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore for Sequart. She is @hannahmenzies on Twitter and hannahmenziesblog on WordPress.
Abina and the Important Men is a compelling and powerfully illustrated “graphic history” based on an 1876 court transcript of a West African woman named Abina, who was wrongfully enslaved and took her case to court. The book is a microhistory that does much more than simply depict an event in the past; it uses the power of illustration to convey important themes in world history and to reveal the processes by which history is made.
The above is from the publisher’s description of Trevor Getz and Liz Clarke’s Abina and the Important Men: A Graphic History which has just been honored by the Africana Awards as one of its “2013 Best Books for Older Readers.” It is an outstanding presentation of the complexities of slavery in late 19th century West Africa as well as remarkably clear and thoughtful consideration of the difficult work of doing history. Additionally, it also brings to us one of the “silenced,” the many in history we just don’t learn about because there isn’t enough of the primary source paper trail that we tend to rely on when piecing together the past.
Here’s what I just wrote about it on goodreads:
Outstanding. This book seems to have gone under-the-radar in the broader world and it shouldn’t have. I had seen something about it a while back and finally had the time to read it and it is fantastic. It is, as the subtitle indicates, a graphic history. That is, it is a history book and one unapologetically didactic. And as far as I know, pretty unique.
The book consists of several parts. The first is an illustrated “graphic history” (so described in the flap copy) based on the 1876 court transcript of an attempt by Abina, a young West African woman in what is now Ghana and was then termed the Gold Coast to convince the “important men” of the court (jury, judge, lawyers, etc) that she was a free woman not enslaved. It might seem to have been a simple case, but it was not. What the author and illustrator do remarkably well is articulate the complexity of the situation. That is, while slavery by then had been long ostensibly been outlawed in the British Empire (of which the Gold Coast was part) there had also been tacit overlooked versions of it being maintained by wealthy men who helped supply the palm oil then eagerly wanted in Europe. The graphic novel part of the book is moving, compelling, and riveting. The art is well done and artist and author have done an excellent job weaving together what they know with what they imagined about the case and Abina. ( The author says this isn’t historical fiction and I suppose it isn’t a novel, but he and the illustrator have had to imagine things so I’m not sure what it is then.)
But that isn’t all. it is followed by a facsimile of the transcript, and then a section titled “Historical Context” that provides a clear series of essays on a variety of relevant topic such as “The British Civilizing Mission,” “Slavery in the Gold Coast,” and “The Atlantic Slave Trade and Abolition.” Next comes a section titled “Reading Guide” that is fantastic. The author unpacks the many troubling aspects of attempting to consider the many aspects of the story. And so he considers “Whose Story is This?,” “Is this a ‘True’ Story?,” and “Is This ‘Authentic’ History?” Finally, there is a section on “Abina in the Classroom” with different ways of using it. While the focus is on college teaching, it is clearly accessible to high school students too. The book closes with excellent back matter including the preliminary sketches by the artist for the comic.
There are many, many reasons to find and read this book and to get it into the hands of teens, those who teach high school world history, and more. Not to mention it seems perfection for those needing to address Common Core issues. (For those interested in classroom use I recommend exploring H-Net’s Abina Forum which has a number of posts related to its use in the colleget classroom.)
The most important reason for me is that this is a smart and beautifully done attempt to bring to life one of the silenced. As the author notes, history is told by use of material that we have about the past and too often we don’t have anything about so many because they did not leave paper trails. We happen to know about Abina because someone left a transcript of her court case. And because Getz made it his mission to get it out to us.
Highly, highly HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
ICE!: THE AMAZING HISTORY OF THE ICE BUSINESS, by Laurence Pringle
/Boyds Mills 2012)(ages 8+). Before mechanical refrigeration, there was ice, which had to be harvested during the winter, stored, transported, and then delivered to customers. ICE! offers a fascinating glimpse into a lost industry and illuminates a portion of day-to-day life a century ago. Photos and sidebars offer additional information and insights.
Now Playing - You Wish by Nightmare On Wax
<!--[if gte mso 9]>
<!--[if gte mso 9]>
Okay he was only the head of Marvel for six months during Ron Perelman’s murky march to bankruptcy—in fact he was the guy in charge when Marvel filed—but former Marvel CEO Scott Sassa has been canned from his current gig at Hearst after steamy texts from a Las Vegas stripper showed up somewhere they shouldn’t.
“She was texting him sexy pictures, and he was responding using words you absolutely would not want your bosses to see,” a source said, adding, “He was also communicating with many other girls in New York, and wrote crazy things to them.”
But the LA stripper, helped by a boyfriend, then tried to blackmail Sassa — a single father of two daughters — saying she’d expose their raunchy messages if he didn’t give her money. A second source said, “She made a list of demands.”
When Sassa didn’t pay up, the boyfriend e-mailed the sex-text exchanges to horrified Hearst honchos, including CEO Frank Bennack Jr., Hearst Magazines president David Carey and Michael Clinton, president of marketing for the magazines.
Poor Scott Sassa. Doesn’t EVERY CEO send racy texts to their ladies on the side? He got caught doing what every school girl and school boy in the nation does.
Sassa headed Marvel for a brief, disastrous period in 1996, before ankling the gig for NBC.
Sassa’s other jobs over the years include CEO at Friendster, president at the Turner Entertainment Group, president and COO at Andrews Group and a job at Fox that ended badly. How does a person get to be CEO of so many troubled companies? That is a mystery of the finance world. On the plus side, he did greenlight Freaks and Geeks, so he was put here for a reason.
By Lea Hernandez
[Toren Smith passed away on March 5, a pioneer of manga in America whose name was probably best known to those who were around when he was helping launch the global manga phenomenon. Jonathan Clements has a wonderful reminiscence of Toren's career here, from his early days translating manga at Viz to his selling Studio Proteus to Dark Horse in 2004. I saw some personal comments artist Lea Hernandez posted on Facebook about Toren, and wondered if she could expand on them here—as an employee at Studio Proteus and one of the unsung manga pioneers herself she not only gives a picture of the early days but of how friendships evolve...and end. -- Editor]
My long-time friend Toren Smith has passed away, and I’m heartbroken. I worked for him over the course of seventeen years as part of the elite Studio Proteus team; doing retouch on adult comics, and rewriting titles like 3×3 Eyes, What’s Michael? And Oh! My Goddess!. If Toren had lived another year, I would’ve known him for exactly half my life.
Toren is the great unrecognized godfather of manga in the U.S., better than all the preening purists who followed him into manga in English combined. No matter how you trace the roots of manga becoming a viable market in the U.S., you’ll find yourself back at Toren.
Toren made the business of manga in the U.S. what it is today by getting reluctant (and outright hostile) comics retailers (notoriously hard nuts to crack) to carry manga by giving it to them in a format they were comfortable with: reading left-to-right (as opposed to their native right-to-left), in monthly “floppies.” This paved the way for all the manga released in the U.S. that followed, no matter how far afield companies wandered in quality. Once manga caught on in comics stores, publishers like Dark Horse (who published a great deal of the manga Toren packaged) began pushing into bookstores, opening the way for many more publishers.
Toren paid his translation, writing and lettering team good rates, he put out books (even the adult titles), with tremendous craft and respect for the creators. He paid royalties on writing and retouch. While Tokypop was producing manga translations by microwaving tankouban (collections) to melt the glued bindings in order to remove the printed pages for scanning, Toren stuck to his guns and kept making the best manga translations in the market. Toren rightly decried (as did I) selling a generation of fans on the idea that shit production and sloppy translation was “100% authentic.”
I met Toren for the first time at San Diego Comic-Con. He was an intimidating, tall guy carrying around a cardboard box of books like Johji Manabe’s Outlanders. He said he was going to publish translated manga. I realized he was the guy who put out the legendary BayCon ’86 Japanese Animation Program Guide, and it was exciting to meet him. I mentioned I was going to work for a company that he didn’t like (with good reason). Toren got loud in his disapproval. He was a little scary. I had a dream of working on manga and making graphic novels, and he was telling me I was already doing it wrong. I decided that maybe I didn’t like him too much.
I wanted to work on manga and anime more than anything else. I was mad for anime and manga. I loved the look of it, the episodic drama of series, the artists. My now-ex held the first anime con, Yamato-Con, in Dallas in 1983. We ran a fan club together, I edited a fanzine devoted to manga- and anime-influenced and inspired erotica. When I found out a letterer lived close to me was retouching manga, I cadged a job as his assitant.
In spite of my first impression, I stayed in touch with Toren. I wanted to work on Studio Proteus books. I visited Toren in San Francisco to learn lettering from X-Men and Appleseed letterer Tom Orzechowski. I drew cover roughs, hoping to do a fill-in cover for Outlanders or Appleseed. I had a uphill battle, and fell into a deep funk.
Toren convinced his friends Okada (president) & Takeda (vice-president) of Gainax to hire me as the VP of their new company, General Products USA. One of my first jobs as VP was to hire a chairman and get the ball rolling on AnimeCon (which became AnimeExpo). On Toren’s advice, I hired John McLaughlin, AnimeCon was go, and I returned to the business of beginning a vice-presidential nervous breakdown and deciding comics was pretty easy after all.
Just when I was wondering about a paycheck, Toren reappeared in my email inbox after one of his long absences (which I’d gotten used to) and asked if I wanted to rewrite a book again. He felt like he wasn’t the right person for it. Of course I wanted write a book! I got busy re-learning the Studio Proteus script style through patient corrections by Toren.
A couple weeks ago, Toren emailed me. He said he was feeling sick that day and decided to go through his garage in preparing to sell his house and return to Canada. He praised me for my work on 3×3 Eyes and What’s Michael? in Super Manga Blast, and on Oh! My Goddess!. I was over the moon.
One of the things I wanted more from Toren than almost anyone else in my career was for him to think I was good, completely missing he never would’ve hired me if he didn’t think I was. He admitted he’d been sparing in his praise, I (and boy do I feel like a dick now) agreed. But I loved that he noticed, I thanked him, because I’d busted my ass to live up to a standard in presenting manga that no one even tried to match. It was good to know that if I worked for Toren, I was one of the best.
Toren only saw my daughter, Summer, when she was young because we moved from Alameda (across the bay from San Francisco) to Texas when she was five, but throughout her childhood, he emailed her pictures of funny plane crashes when he found out they cracked her up. If it blew up or flew into telephone wires, Torenshared it with Summer. After my son, Fox, was diagnosed with autism Toren shared stories with me about his autistic cousin.
When I told Toren I’d been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, he sent me the best books on the subject from Amazon. He told me how he’d struggled with it himself.
Toren gave me extra retouch work and advanced my pay so I could make a down payment on a house. We’d both had bad experiences as renters, and he hated being a renter more than I did. He said rent “was like pounding sand down a rathole.”
I was angry about life (which was a common mode for me at the time because I was inconsistent in Good Life Decisions) and decided I was going to go out withToren and Adam (Empowered) Warren, (someone I’ve known as long as Toren) and get drunk. I succeeded magnificently in getting superdrunk on May 5th, and throwing it all back up on May 6th.. The sun that morning was very bright.
When I heard Toren had died, I got a bottle of wine, and called Adam. Over four hours, I cried and talked and laughed, and drank the whole bottle of wine and most of a box of Cheez-Its. Unlike 1989, I didn’t have a hangover. The Cheez-Its gave me heartburn. As my fiance, David, held me, I fought sleep and asked for pie, cupcakes and a Subway sandwich.
On the drive up Highway 5 to San Francisco for Toren’s funeral, as Summer and I entered the Techahapi Mountains, we saw light snow on the peaks. Then we were being snowed on. As we got higher in the mountains the snow got heavier and was so close to the road, we could’ve stopped and touched it. (You know, if we also wanted to get creamed.) We opened the sun roof to let the snow in. Just past the snowiest deep blue mountain, the snow thinned out, the universe’s on-the-nose metaphor for aging ended, and we were in the San Joaquin valley and on our way to getting pelted by bees as we passed through vineyards and orchards.
Toren’s funeral was small. I was 10 minutes late, hampered by the Bay Bridge, aggressive cabbies and untimed lights. Lateness from unplanned circumstances, the story of my career. I had the honor of sharing with Toren’s parents and sister and brother-in-law that their son and brother, who could do anything (he’d had a full scholarship for college to be a doctor), had chosen to change Western pop culture. He’d been good to me and my kids.
I held hands with Dana Lewis, one of Toren’s oldest friends and a mighty mighty translator, and she rested her head on my shoulder. I hugged Toren’s ex-wife and amazing letterer and illustrator, Tomoko Smith. I missed Adam, who couldn’t get a flight out.
The long trip back to LA started with driving Summer through the neighborhoods where I crashed with Tom Orzechowski and letterer L. Lois Buhalis, where Torenhad his first office, through the first neighborhoods I saw in 1989, when I already thought I was too old to make my mark in comics.
I couldn’t find Toren’s old apartment or rented house. (One evening he returned unscooped dog poo left in front of the house to the dog’s owner by means of picking it up and slapping it onto the owner’s jacket. Typical Toren.)
Summer and I went to Japantown to shop. (Her, Pokemon, me, a a swath cut through Daiso. Kitchen tools, a timer shaped like a chicken, a plain glass bell.)
Outside Kinokuniya Books, a performance of a man summoning ghosts was just ending.
I realized I was not on Highway 101, but on 17, and too far down it to turn back. The two-hour detour took Summer and I through isolated landlocked towns of almost-new condos, then into remote strawberry farm country. I pulled off the road to get a picture of a faded-to-gray Victorian farmhouse that was both repellent and fascinating. I respected the signs that said to stay off the property and took pictures from the road, even though I wanted very badly to get close.
Summer and I listened to music, and it struck me how much Toren’s and Adam’s taste in music influenced mine. Def Leppard, They Might Be Giants, songs from anime.
Strawberry country was lonely, and I had lots of time to meditate. I had too much damn time to meditate. The sunset was pink and early because of the hills, and it felt like Toren fading away. I listened to an interview with the drummer Dave Grohl where he talked about not living in the past, echoing Adam who warned me against living in the same while I drove through San Francisco and cried over regrets.
After days of not finding a house for Gainax to rent for their U.S. Office, and being stood up yet again for a house showing, I had a meltdown. With the “for rent” ads still clutched in my hand, I put quarters in a pay phone and started calling about rentals nearby so my long, hot trip to Oakland didn’t go to waste. Toren told me he admired the way I could cry and get right back to work.
Monday, March 11
It’s my 49th birthday. I pulled off on a dark, safe spot in the Techahapi Mountains to look at the stars. I wondered what it was like to see them for the last time.
Summer and I finally got home to L.A. We’ve seen ghosts, friends, people we’ll probably never see again, stars, strawberry fields. The car was a mess from flinging around comfort food like chocolate croissants, Carl’s Jr., coffee, almonds from Mercy Creek, palmiers, and stuffing it with books and 100-yen goodies.
I started crying again when David welcomed me home. I thought about how Toren admired the way I could cry then pick myself up. I started breathing again. I decided I was done crying, and I slept.
Toren was not the easiest person to know. We butted heads. We yelled at each other. We hung up on each other. I was not always the best freelancer. He was not always the most understanding boss, but he was smart, thoughtful, engaged. He cared deeply, and he was a tough guy who was easily hurt. Toren was one of the most difficult people I ever worked for, but he was also the most honorable.
Toren had just treated me to my first sushi lunch. We were walking out of the Castro, and I was (to use Toren’s turn of phrase), bitching bitterly about how little time I got to visit with a friend.
I said, “A day isn’t enough!”
Exasperated, Toren said, “Fifteen years wouldn’t be enough!”
Neither was twenty-four years, as it turns out.
Rest in peace, Toren.
Cartoonist Nate Powell (left) along with Rep. John Lewis and writer Andrew Aydin—all collaborators on the upcoming graphic novel March—walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma AL, March 2013, where in 1965 600 marchers protesting for civil rights, among them Lewis, were tear gassed and beaten with clubs by police.
Photo by Sandi Villarreal.
Hat tip Tugboat press
Author: Therese Ambrosi Smith
Publisher: Blue Star Books
Genre: Women’s Historical
Buy it at Amazon
Pearl Harbor changed everything. As men left factory jobs to fight in World War II, women were offered the opportunity to replace them. Former waitresses and store clerks suddenly became welders as ships needed to be built quickly. Rosie the Riveter was born.
In Wax, three young women take on their new responsibilities at the Kaiser shipyard in Richmond, California. Away from their own families, they bond as a new family unit, becoming good friends. After the war, their relationships continue to grow as new opportunities come their way.
This wonderful 1940s historical novel explores topics of women’s roles in society, sexuality, and long-buried family secrets. Wax is a real page-turner, hooking the reader from the very beginning. If you’ve always admired the courage of World War II women who ventured out into the work force, you will enjoy this interesting and enjoyable story.
Reviewer: Alice Berger
Author: Jan Pinborough
Illustrator: Debby Atwell
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Genre: Children / History
Buy it at Amazon
It’s hard to imagine a world where children had very little access to books. In the early 1900s, libraries were for adults, and children were not welcome to enter, let alone touch or check out a book. But Anne Carroll Moore thought otherwise, and set about creating a special place where children could experience the joys of reading.
The New York Public Library was open to new ideas, and Miss Moore had a wonderful vision. After designing a bright and cheery room with kid-sized tables and chairs, she welcomed children inside with story hours and book borrowing privileges. The collection was reviewed carefully, and Miss Moore chose only the best and most interesting books for her children’s library.
Miss Moore Thought Otherwise shows us an extraordinary librarian who encouraged children to read. Although she may have faced obstacles, she created a model of children’s libraries that has lived on. This fascinating story will inspire kids to reach for their own dreams and dare to do something special to change the world.
Reviewer: Alice Berger
Haunted Histories: Creepy Castles, Dark Dungeons, and Powerful Palaces by JH Everett, illustrated by Marilyn Scott-Waters.
I'm taking a break from the covering the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction longlist to bring you something else that I just read.
Virgil is a ghostorian-- a historian with a magic time-travel device that allows him to go to any place in any time and talk to ghosts to get a good sense of what really happened there.
He uses these powers to take us to many castles around the world to show how hard (and disgusting) life really was, especially for the many people who WEREN'T royalty, but still lived there.
In a lot of ways, this is very similar to the You Wouldn't Want to Be... series, but for a slightly older audience. The content isn't that older, but the trim size and presentation will make it appeal to readers who might dismiss the You Wouldn't Want to Be... books as looking too young.
It's a fun look at the dark and gritty side of castle life, focusing on why castles tended to exist in the first place-- fortresses to protect and defend during war time. It also spends a lot of time on dungeons and torture.
I'm not sure on the who "ghostorian" angle-- it wasn't played up a lot and so when it did happen, I was like "wait, what? OH YEAH! THAT!" I think they could have done A LOT more with that bit. Or cut it entirely.
I do really like that it covered castles outside of Europe. I also really liked the "funny" castles. Hellbrunn Water palace was a designed by the Prince Archbishop, and was a way for him to play a million water-based practical jokes on visitors.
It's not a book you'll quote in a research paper, but it is a fun book that may inspire you to pick up some more on the topic.
Today's Nonfiction Monday is over at Shelf-Employed.
Book Provided by... my local library
Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.
(Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
, economic crisis
, financial crisis
, Financial Decline of a Great Power
, financial system
, Guy Rowlands
, Louis XIV
, War of the Spanish Succession
, Add a tag
By Guy Rowlands
When great powers decline it is often the case that financial troubles are a key component of the slide. The vertiginous decline of a state’s financial system under extreme pressure, year after year, not only saps the strength and volume of financial activity, it also proves extremely difficult to reverse, and the great risk is that a disastrous situation is worsened by misguided and ultimately catastrophic attempts on the part of a government to dig itself out of its hole. So great does the eventual debt become that there is little hope of repaying even a majority of the capital, even with decades of peace and low spending ahead. The protracted financial and economic crisis that began in the West in 2007 provides an appropriate contemporary backdrop for a fresh examination of the decline of France’s financial system in the early eighteenth century under just such a mountain of poorly-backed debt. In the final decades of the seventeenth century France had been the leading great power in the European states system, indeed the only superpower capable of projecting significant force on multiple war fronts. Yet within a quarter of a century it had lost this comparative international advantage, as its financial strength degenerated alongside its military power.
France got into such a terrible mess in the final two decades of Louis XIV’s reign. While war was the essential cause of heightened state spending, as the largest economy in Europe France should have been able to sustain a protracted and extensive conflict, but it could not. The underlying problem was the combination of two classic, fatal ingredients: a weak fiscal base, and a precarious and expensive credit system. The tax base was chronically enfeebled by vast numbers of exemptions and privileges that the government only began to tackle in 1695. But tentative attempts to make the elites — the top 2-3% — contribute more to the costs of the state would, over the following 90 years, prove politically contentious and divisive, sapping the legitimacy of the monarchy. As for the weakness of credit, this arose not just from the problem of weak fiscal backing and the fact much of it was supplied by those entrepreneurs charged with tax collection. It also stemmed from the inherent unreliability of a government dominated by an absolute monarch, which at times was willing to threaten dealers in the foreign exchange and public debt markets with prison and professional proscription for pricing financial instruments on a realistic but unfavourable basis. Compounding these issues were huge concerns over the undependable and sclerotic legal framework for lending money at interest. France was, in short, overregulated, but capriciously so.
In the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-14) this system unravelled spectacularly. As tax yields declined the government pursued dangerous expedients, including the manipulation of the value of the coinage and the issuing of vast quantities of Mint bills: a hybrid of paper money and short-term credit notes. Furthermore, rather than relying overwhelmingly on well-organised advances on tax proceeds from leading tax collectors, the government turned the paymasters of the armed forces into state creditors on a giant scale. Louis XIV’s government became so dependent on these men and other entrepreneurs supplying the army and navy that they were able to make exorbitant demands. Some of them even penetrated the corridors of power as junior ministers, in an early form of military-industrial complex. All this came at a very high price indeed. The financiers and suppliers were rapacious, though they also needed to protect their own solvency and operations by ramping up costs as a form of insurance against arbitrary state management and the increasing number of revenue sources that were failing. These revenue failures played havoc with the system of appropriating revenue sources to expenditure, which was already being disastrously mismanaged by senior officials, and this earmarking chaos in turn threw the state even further into debt in a desperate attempt to keep the failing war effort going. This war effort was pursued much of the time beyond France’s borders, putting yet further strain on the state: Louis XIV needed vast amounts of foreign exchange to pay and supply his armies and allies in Spain, Italy, Bavaria, the Low Countries, and even Hungary. The volume of foreign currency required would naturally have pushed up its price, but the turbulent and deteriorating monetary and fiscal backdrop led international bankers to build astronomical costs into their exchange contracts for moving state money abroad. The failure to control their transactions, the separation of risky payment sources from their additional instruments of guarantee, and the short-selling of this paper precipitated a monumental crash of the exchange clearing system in early 1709 in Lyon, from which the city never really recovered.
By the time of Louis XIV’s death in 1715 French state debt had risen more than three-fold from the size it had been thirty years earlier, and much of that increase was down to a few short years between 1702 and 1708 — the early modern period may in many ways have seen a much slower pace of life than we experience, but financial crises could unfold roughly at a similar pace. The real danger is that it can take as long or far longer to effect a stabilisation and recovery, thus tempting governments into dangerous policy decisions to try to generate swift recoveries. In the years after 1715 the Regency government for the boy king Louis XV took exactly this course, seeking to liquidate much of the state debt by swallowing the snake-oil solution peddled by John Law of hitching debt to a national bank backed by vast speculation on the highly uncertain economic future of overseas trade and colonisation. The subsequent liquidation of Law’s System forced the government into inflicting enormous haircuts on creditors, further eroding confidence in the monarchy, while future generations were still saddled with levels of debt that the state machinery was not designed to cope with. It also condemned the French body politic to a series of destabilising political struggles over state finance that culminated in final breakdown and revolution.
Guy Rowlands is Director of the Centre for French History and Culture at the University of St Andrews, and author of The Financial Decline of a Great Power: War, Influence, and Money in Louis XIV’s France (Oxford, 2012). He is also the author of The Dynastic State and the Army under Louis XIV: Royal Service and Private Interest, 1661-1701 (Cambridge, 2002), for which he was co-winner of the Royal Historical Society’s Gladstone Prize (2002).
Subscribe to the OUPblog via email or RSS.
Subscribe to only history articles on the OUPblog via email or RSS.
Image credit: Louis XIV and His Family circa 1710. Wallace Collection. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
The post The financial decline of great powers appeared first on OUPblog.
As Dave Sim noted the other day, Wendy and Richard Pini, creators of Elfquest, the pioneering indie comics fantasy, held on to all of their artwork. And now they are bequeathing it to Columbia University's archives. The PR below explains all you need to know, but we should note that Columbia's tireless librarian and comics-scholar Karen Green has been busy indeed.
The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum Blog has a nice post onJackie Ormes, creator of Torchy and the first African-American woman cartoonist of note. And she did get note in her day:
Well here’s a must do: a chance to see Carol Tilley, the heroic professor who proved Dr. Fredric Wertham was a fraud, in person with Paul Levitz, David Hajdu, Craig Yoe, Sharon Packer and Danny Fingeroth at a talk celebrating Wertham’s 118th birthday on March 20th.
“Surely you’re joking, Dr. Wertham!”
ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION WITH PAUL LEVITZ, DAVID HAJDU, CRAIG YOE, CAROL TILLEY, SHARON PACKER AND DANNY FINGEROTH
WEDS MARCH 20, 2013
The Soho Gallery for Digital Art
138 Sullivan Street (between Houston and Prince)
New York, NY 10014
Sign up in advance: $10
Pay at the door: $15
For info and to register:
In 1954, psychiatrist FREDRIC WERTHAM’s book “Seduction of the Innocent” was published, enshrining the famed psychiatrist’s attacks on comics and their publishers. While Wertham’s motives were more complex than many gave him credit for, his efforts decimated the comics industry and, some say, stunted the medium’s development. As seen in a February 19th NEW YORK TIMES article (http://nyti.ms/VvHBJX) based on research into Wertham’s archives by PROFESSOR CAROL L. TILLEY, Wertham’s own notes show he claimed far more data than he had and distorted that which he did have.
On March 20th at 7pm, CAROL L. TILLEY will be joining a distinguished panel of comic book professionals including PAUL LEVITZ, DAVID HAJDU, CRAIG YOE, SHARON PACKER, and DANNY FINGEROTH at THE SOHO GALLERY FOR DIGIAL art to discuss her findings, as they dig in to how Wertham changed the comic book industry and what it might have been like without him.
Besides the panel, the evening will consist of a screening of rarely seen videos of Wertham, readings from Seduction, and displays of pages fromthe comics Wertham found most objectionable. There will be a Q & A and a signing session with the panelists. Copies of their books will be available for purchase.
More details at: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/321249
At this panel, on the occasion of Wertham’s 118th birthday, PAUL LEVITZ (Legion of Super-Heroes), DAVID HAJDU (The Ten Cent Plague),CRAIG YOE (Zombies), SHARON PACKER (Superheroes and Superegos) and DANNY FINGEROTH (The Stan Lee Universe) will discuss Wertham’s legacy close to 60 years since the publication of his controversial work. Fingeroth will also serve as moderator.
By: Keith Schoch
Blog: Teach with Picture Books
(Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
, Warsaw Ghetto
, Lee and Low
, World War II
, Holocaust Picture Books
, Add a tag
After many requests, I've finished compiling an annotated list of Holocaust books. I resisted the urge to categorize them by grade level, as I feel they can be used effectively in both upper elementary and middle grades.
First, however, I wanted to make special mention of one of the newer Holocaust picture books available. Irena's Jars of Secrets by Marcia Vaughan, illustrated by Ron Mazellan, is a wonderful and important addition to the canon of children's literature on the Holocaust (see the full list below), and certainly one worth adding to your own library.
In Irena's Jars of Secrets, Irena Sendler learns compassion at an early age from her father, a Catholic physician who treated Jewish patients at a time when most Christian doctors would not.When her father contracts typhus treating these same patients, he tells Irena on his death bed to "help someone who is drowning, even if you cannot swim."
Irena takes this advice to heart, and begins administering to the Jews imprisoned within the walls of the Warsaw Ghetto by occupying Nazi forces. Beginning in 1940 and continuing for the next two years, Irena smuggles in food, clothing, and medicine. She realizes, however, that this isn't enough. As the Nazis begin transporting the Ghetto inhabitants to concentration camps, Irena joins a secret organization called Zegota, and makes plans to smuggle Jewish children to safety.
But what parent will give up their child? Only after Irena swears to provide new identities and preserve the real names of their children do the Jewish parents reluctantly release them to her. The book chronicles the close calls of the smuggling operation, as well as the capture and near execution of Irena.
After the war's end, Irena unearths her buried jars which contain the real identities of the children that were saved. Most of the children's parents have been killed in the camps, but the lists allow the Jewish National Committee to locate living relatives for many of the children. An afterword provides additional information about Irena Sendler, who never considered herself a hero. Instead, she said this in a letter to the Polish Senate in 2007:
Every child saved with my help and the help of all the wonderful secret messengers, who today are no longer living, is the justification of my existence on this earth, and not a title to glory.
Rich, wonderful paintings by Ron Mazellan (who also illustrated the Holocaust title The Harmonica) help to capture both the tragic and triumphant moments of this book. His subjects and scenes are dramatically lit, and in his own words "moody and mysterious," putting the absolute perfect finishing touches on this title.
- Why are names so important? Ask students to interview their parents and find out how their names came to be.
- Pair Irena's Jars of Secrets with Irena Sendler and the Children of the Warsaw Ghetto. What information do both books share? What information is provided by one book but not the other? Why might we want to consult multiple sources when conducting research?
- Check out Discussing Historical Fiction and the Definition of Courage with Marcia Vaughan and Ron Mazellan at Lee and Low's website. Both creators discuss how this topic relates to their own experiences, and the processes they underwent to bring this story to life.
- At this same site you'll also find some wonderful discussion questions in Lee and Low's collection of Teacher's Guides.
- For this particular picture book, as well as any that mentions the Warsaw Ghetto, I'd recommend Children in the Ghetto, an interactive site which describes itself as
"...A website about children, written for children. It portrays life during the Holocaust from the viewpoint of children who lived in the ghetto, while attempting to make the complex experience of life in the ghetto as accessible as possible to today’s children.
Along with the description of the hardships of ghetto life, it also presents the courage, steadfastness and creativity involved in the children’s lives. One of the most important messages to be learned is that despite the hardships, there were those who struggled to maintain humanitarian and philanthropic values, care for one another, and continue a cultural and spiritual life."
By examining artifacts, writings, and first hand interviews, students gain an understanding of the "anything-to-survive" mentality which the ghetto created and demanded of its inhabitants. Students can either explore freely, taking advantage of the interactive elements, or additionally respond in writing using the printable handouts. I chose to download the handouts, available in Word format, and tweaked them according to my students' strengths and needs..
Once they've completed this exercise, students will have a mental bank of sites, sounds, stories, and symbols from which to draw upon, greatly increasing their understanding of this period in history.
Annotated List of Holocaust Picture Books
Embedded below you'll find an annotated list of Holocaust Picture Books.Using the provided controls, you can share, download, print, or enlarge this pdf. I hope you'll find this useful when searching out the best books for your own studies. Feel free to leave a comment to let me know which books I missed!
View Next 25 Posts
Via Sean Howe’s invaluable Marvel tumblr, this photo of future Marvel editor in chief Jim Shooter at age 14. At that age he sent a spec script to DC editor Mort Weisinger and was hired to write the Legion of Superheroes at that age. While the world of superhero comics was not quite as harsh as it is now…it was still probably no place for a boy, as Howe writes in MARVEL: THE UNTOLD STORY:
Unfortunately, praise was limited to the occasional article in the Pittsburgh newspaper or segment on the local TV news. “My father probably said four or five words to me the whole time I was growing up,” said Shooter. “One of the greatest men to ever walk the earth … but not at connecting with people. He made no comment whatsoever.” And Weisinger didn’t just withhold praise—he cruelly berated his teenage employee, calling from New York every Thursday night, following the weekly Batman television broadcast, with a litany of complaints: It’s not on time. It’s over the page limit. How the hell can we get a cover out of this? Why can’t you write like you used to? He referred to Shooter as his “charity case.” “He caused a kind of pathological fear of telephones in me,” Shooter once told an interviewer. “I felt more and more inadequate … and my last chance to be a kid was slipping by.”
Holding down an adult job—and, at six feet seven inches, now towering above his classmates—scarcely anything about him, save a serious case of acne, marked him as a teenager. He tried to fit it all in, to “get good grades so I could nail down a scholarship, and have a little fun, like football games, dances, parties and stuff. But it was too much, and it all suffered.” He missed sixty days of his senior year of high school, his grades fell, and his productivity for Weisinger decreased.
That’s kind of f*cked up.
Along the same lines, future DC president Paul Levitz was hired, at a later period, at the age of 16 to assist at the DC offices by Joe Orlando. While funny books weren’t the serious business they were to become, one can only imagine the developmental crucible that allowed both these men to eventually run the two biggest superhero comic companies…and come to think of it hiring teenaged boys to work in the comics just has this weird vibe to it.