Monthly Archives: June 2012

The Big 7 Trip

So this coming school year will find Brett in the 7th grade. Uh…wow. When did THAT happen? As one of the coming of age rituals that FBC does, all the incoming 7th graders get to take a trip—thus, “The Big 7 Trip.” As a dad, I got to go, too! To be honest, I’d been working so much lately, that when BJ asked me and said that it was so I could go with Brett, I said yes automatically without even asking what it was. Truthfully, it probably wouldn’t have mattered—I would have wanted to go with him anyway.

When it came time to go, I finally asked what it was. We made our way to Stone Mountain, GA. and got to participate in the AtlantaFest, a three day long music festival. In between watching some cool shows, we got to go play around Stone Mountain. Needless to say, it was a lot of fun. Brett got to stay in a hotel room with his good buddy Bryce, chaperone free! Dangerous, yes? They did great…except for the fact that Bryce drank a 20 once Coke…and apparently that causes him to NOT sleep…and their air conditioner didn’t work the first night and the two of them burned up!

There were several acts, but the highlights were Toby Mac and Jeremy Camp. We got to see the Skit Guys live, and Coach Mark Richt was one of the speakers. I’m not really a Georgia fan, but I’m a big Mark Richt fan. Hearing him tell his story was pretty cool. He nearly converted me to a Georgia fan.

Okay, not really, but he was a good speaker.

The group of us rode the tram up to the top of Stone Mountain, played around a bit, then rode back down…except for me and Brett and Bryce. We decided to walk down and around the mountain to return to the park. On our way back, the three of us hid in the bushes when the tour train went by and we whooped and hollered like wild Indians. Pretty sure it didn’t fool any of the passengers, but it was pretty funny anyway. Brett and Bryce then did a high ropes course while I sat and watched.

Brett and I got to walk around some and snagged us some AtlantaFest swag. I discovered that Brittany can’t stand that I use that term. Seems she thinks her generation created it…or something. Whatever. We got to watch a short preview of the film Hellbound, picked up a free CD of B-SHOC, got a free bandana from Christian Connections and had our picture taken by them, then talked to Lauren Jones, the president of Reactiv Wear, a company that creates some spiffy designer apparel with the idea of challenging believers to rise above the situation and react as Christ would. Some pretty cool stuff, be sure to check out their website. And while the entire thing was new to me, I learned the AtlantaFest has been going on for over 20 years! Maybe next year they’ll invite one of my favorites, like Guardian or Petra. Brett even mentioned he’d want to return if Petra played!

I want to mention again the two upcoming conferences where I’ll be teaching. The first is Karitos at Wheaton Academy in the Chicago area. It’ll be July 12-14 and I’ll be teaching several sessions there in the literary track. This is the first year to be at Karitos, but my old college pal Justice Carmon will be there and I’m excited to see him and be a part of the conference. The second is the Gideon Media Festival. It’ll be August 11-16 and it’s my second year to be there. Added this year is a comic writer and artist contest and a comic gala. There were threats to try add a ComicCon there, but I think it was too much to try to add so quickly. Maybe next year. Anyway, check out the conferences and make plans to go if you can. You won’t regret it.

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The Rise of the Graphic Novel

When I first started my blog, I figured I’d be reviewing books about once every fourth entry or so. That was every two weeks when I was writing here twice a week. Now that my entries come once a week, that’s only once a month. You’d figure I could stick to that since I read more than that.

I would promise you I’d get better…but I’d be afraid I’d break that promise. So, I’ll just say that I’ll try (not that any of you are screaming for more book reviews from me).

So, Full Sail recently hired Dr. Simone Caroti to teach in the Creative Writing BFA program. Dr. Caroti is an old school chum of Dr. Tof Eklund (who also teaches here), and both have a strong academic interest in the comic/graphic novel medium. They have provided me with a mighty large supply of “new” material for me to read.

My first read was actually a book on Kirby, but the one I’m going to talk about here is The Rise of the Graphic Novel by Stephen Weiner and published by NBM. If you were to ask me to guess—and I know ONE of you would have—I’d say this was probably written for a different format initially, maybe some academic journal? The book itself isn’t that long, only about 60 pages long. Each of the 14 chapters are only a few pages long, making for a very quick read.

That said, it still seems pretty thorough. The “origin” of comics seems very short, but once he hits the 1950s, Weiner pretty much discusses every major “period” in comics. In fact, the first half of the book is pretty much just “comics.” While academically nearly everyone gives Will Eisner credit for producing the first “Graphic Novel” as well as coining the term, I find it odd that none of them, Weiner included, mention the Marvel graphic novels, which—I suspect—was the real introduction to the format for most fans. In the same irritating fashion as the “literary” publishing world, it seems academics are quick to ignore the things that sell well and are popular with fans and instead focus on the things that struggle to operate in the black (if at all).

The Rise of the Graphic Novel by Stephen WeinerI don’t want to give you the impression I don’t think Eisner deserves this credit. He does! He was a pioneer and his work is studied by many professionals today (including me). I simply think that most fans were introduced to “graphic novels” not by Eisner, but by the Marvel line of graphic novels. Additionally, I think most non-traditional comic fans were introduced to graphic novels via Pulitzer Prize winning Maus, which probably did more for the format than any other single publication or event. Weiner also emphasizes the important of Maus.

One thing that is still not clear to most readers is how loosely the term “graphic novel” is applied to a whole host of publications. Ideally, one would think of a “graphic novel” as a long form story told in comic sequential art style. The problem is that more often than not, publications deemed “graphic novel” are in reality a compilation of generally four of more standard sized comic books (22-28 pages published in a monthly format).

Regardless, this is a good read for serious comic fans and for the really-really curious non-traditional comic reader.

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Advice to the pregnant (or new parents)

I’m inspired to write this after learning my cousin Travis and his wife Erin are expecting their first baby. It’s very exciting! Of course, Travis and Erin probably already have enough advice from his brother Landon and his wife Katie; at 3 kids, they’re practically old pros at it! Regardless, it got me thinking…and you know how dangerous that is!

My sister, Angie, told me the story once of sitting next to a young, new mother on the airplane. She accidentally bumped her baby’s head and the poor thing commenced to crying (I probably would have, too). As the baby cried, moms from all around the plane suddenly started popping their heads up and offering suggestions on what to do and how to handle the baby. The mom, Angie said, was fine except for all the well-wishers, and she was concerned the baby was bothering them.

But that made me remember all the advice BJ and I got before Brittany was born. We were told things like don’t buy aTravis and Erin girl pink colors and Barbie Dolls. We didn’t…and wouldn’t you know, Brittany’s favorite color—for a long time—was pink, and she absolutely loved Barbie Dolls!

We were advised on things like breast-feeding or bottle feeding, short naps vs. long naps (and even no naps), sleeping with the baby or having the baby sleep alone, talking and/or singing to them, etc. etc. Rarely did any two people ever give the same advice. Our doctor generally told us to ignore them all…which we pretty much did.

However, one thing no one told us but we were fortunate to have already done—quite by accident, mind you. Buy a video camera. I know, I know, they’re not cheap. They’re cheaper now than when BJ and I first bought one. But to have that video of the baby being born, or smiling, or taking their first steps … is just priceless. In fact, I believe in this so strongly that I say you should buy this before buying something like a stroller (you MUST have a car-seat these days) or a bouncer for your living room. Buy a video camera.

And then, when your baby is 17 or 11, you can pop in a video and wonder where all the time has gone…but be thankful you captured so many memories on video.

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