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Comics A.M. | Comic sales in December, Nick Lowe promoted

Batman: The Dark Knight

Publishing | Diamond’s December numbers for sales in comics shops are out, and the picture is grim. Diamond reports that it sold 89,985 copies of the top selling single-issue comic, Batman: The Dark Knight #1—the lowest number for the month’s top seller since ICv2 started tracking the numbers in 2001. In its more detailed dollar analysis, Diamond sees comics sales down and graphic novel sales up for a slight overall increase, both in December and in the last quarter of 2010 as a whole. [ICv2]

Publishing | Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada announced that Nick Lowe has been promoted to senior editor. Lowe edits Uncanny X-Men, Generation Hope and New Mutants, among other titles. [Comic Book Resources]

Publishing | Douglas Wolk boils down the 2010 comics sales data into some easily digested bullet points, for the benefit of those who don’t like to spend all day squinting at sales charts. [Techland]

Pop culture | Apparently inspired by Tiger Mask, a character from a manga popular in the 1960s, people in Japan have been quietly dropping off gifts for children in orphanages and other institutions. [Inquirer.net]

Digital comics | Johanna Draper Carlson tries out the comiXology app for the Android OS and is somewhat underwhelmed. [Comics Worth Reading]

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Straight for the art | Jeff Smith’s ‘Read’ poster for ALA

Jeff Smith's poster for the American Library Association's "Read" campaign

Jeff Smith's poster for the American Library Association's "Read" campaign

The American Library Association asked Bone creator Jeff Smith to participate in its “Read” campaign, which promotes the joy of reading. The result is this original art of Smiley Bone, available from the ALA website as a poster or a bookmark.

ALA, award-winning Skim draw scorn of conservative commentator

Skim

Skim

Using the award-winning graphic novel Skim as ammunition, a conservative columnist has launched a preemptive strike against the American Library Association’s 2010 Youth Media Awards.

In a post at Newsbusters, a website devoted to “Exposing & Combating Liberal Media Bias,” Carolyn Plocher pursues the bugaboo of the ALA’s “not-so-hidden gay agenda,” and tells parents to look forward to “dozens of books with themes about ‘coming out,’ pedophilia, trans-gender issues, and sodomy laws.”

As an example of what we may expect from the Youth Media Awards, Plocher turns to Skim, the 2008 graphic novel by cousins Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki about a 16-year-old Wiccan at an all-girls school who falls for her (female) drama teacher. Mariko Tamaki has described Skim as “a gothic Lolita lesbian story” told from the perspective of the Lolita.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Plocher describes the book differently, if with more detail: “The protagonist of the graphic novel, Kim Cameron — nicknamed Skim because she’s not slim — participates in séances, channels the spirits, swears judiciously, discusses porn and handjobs, and skips class to smoke. The major plot of the story revolves around Skim’s relationship with her flaky drama teacher, Ms. Archer. When Ms. Archer catches Skim skipping class and smoking a cigarette, she sits down for a drag herself, which eventually leads to a romantic relationship depicted in a double-page tableau of the two kissing in the woods.”

A double-page tableau! Of kissing! How … scandalous?

But you see, it’s all part of the ALA’s devious plot to use highfalutin terms like “authentic literature” and “literary merit” to take up the twin causes of “normalizing homosexuality and advancing the gay agenda.”

“The ALA claims that ‘authentic literature’ like Skim more accurately portrays the gritty, real American life, and therefore, has more literary merit,” Plocher writes. “It’s a manipulative tactic that has effectively stocked library shelves across the nation with pro-homosexual books that inevitably fall into children’s hands.”

If you’ve fully recovered from your shock by Jan. 18, you can follow the ALA Youth Media Awards via live webcast here.

Last chance to get your votes in

The Secret Science Alliance

The Secret Science Alliance

David Welsh reminds us that October is the last month to nominate a title for the Young Adult Library Services Association’s 2010 Great Graphic Novels for Teens list.

The list of nominations — which you can read here — so far includes titles like Alan’s War, Stitches and Secret Invasion. You can nominate the book of your choice here. Books must have been published this year, or have a copyright date between September and December of 2009.

My personal pick? The Secret Science Alliance by Eleanor Davis.


Even Banned Books Week has its detractors (surprise?)

Fun Home

Fun Home

I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about Banned Books Week until I read this somewhat-maddening column in The Wall Street Journal that paints the American Library Association as a well-funded, reactionary bully attempting to silence “a few unorganized, law-abiding parents.”

Yes, those awful, awful librarians!

The opinion piece, by Mitchell Muncy of the Institute for American Values, goes on to characterize citizens who challenge books as underdog patriots “petitioning the government for a redress of grievances” — granted, a poem by challenged YA author Ellen Hopkins provided the fuel — while librarians hand down “hidden verdicts” as they stigmatize any who dare oppose them (presumably while rolling, Uncle Scrooge-style, in a money-filled room).

Oh, and then there’s the whole table-turning moment, when Muncy asks who’s actually the censor: the mean librarian or the ordinary citizen. Hey, it’s to be expected. You don’t win sympathy, or rouse the faithful, by portraying yourself as Goliath (no matter what your cause is).

What really irked me, though, is this part: Without a hint of irony, Muncy tsk-tsks the ALA’s use of “loose language,” then asserts that books aren’t truly banned in this country because if you can’t find a title at the local library or bookstore, you can always track it down elsewhere: “Not even the most committed civil libertarian demands that every book be immediately available everywhere on request — though in the age of Amazon that’s nearly the case.”

If I were playing Muncy’s game, I might portray him as a big-city elitist with little appreciation for the child whose small town may not have a Borders, and whose family budget may not permit participation in “the age of Amazon.” For that kid and others, the forced removal of a book from the local library is, truly, a banning.

More outrageous still is the implication that the wishes of the complaining party take precedence — hey, let everybody else be inconvenienced — and that having a book pulled from the shelf is an acceptable alternative to monitoring what your child is reading and explaining why a title might not by appropriate for that child.

Banned Books Week continues through Saturday. Celebrate by going to your local library and checking out a title on the ALA’s frequently challenged books list. While you’re there, donate some books, and thank a librarian.


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