CLMOOC: Hopeful Explorations

Hope is a Four Panel Comic

Within the CLMOOC community, some of us are starting to chat about how to launch a collaborative project around the idea of “hope” as counter to the darkness of the world right now. A few of us are toying around with the theme in different ways (comic, above).

More info to come later .. I hope …

This picture (below) was a hope-themed response to a Daily Create via DS106 yesterday that asked for a picture or gif with a girl, a cow and the moon.

Hope is a Girl with a Moon for a Guide

Peace (is where we begin),

Comic: Revival, School or Circus?

Revival, Circus or School

I really appreciate that our principal worked to get our school a bunch of large tents for outside mask breaks and learning areas as we deal with social distancing. But the school grounds look strange with all of the tents.

Peace (breathe it in),

Book Review: Long Story Short (100 Classic Books in 3 Panels)

Three Panel Review of Three Panel Comics

It seemed appropriate for me to make a comic with three panels as review art for a book of comics of three panels (for the most part) of classic novels. Artist Lisa Brown uses whimsy and brevity for her small collection that summarizes classics like Moby Dick, The Handmaid’s Tale, Lord of the Flies, and more.

As both an avid reader and a lover of comics, as well as an appreciator of popping the balloon of pretension, I thoroughly enjoyed Brown’s small book and humor, and insights, too, that come from trying to find the most important thread from which to spin a comic piece of art. Long Story Short is a fun diversion and witty companion the serious novels of the so-called “literary canon.”

Note: there are references to sex and death in here (it’s a theme of many novels, as you might know) so if you are teacher wondering about the possibility of using this book in the classroom, you might want to pick and choose pages from Brown’s book, or at least, give it an entire read (you should anyway) and determine appropriateness for your students.

Peace (in three frames),


Comic: All Those Protocols

Covid Protocols

School began yesterday with staff training, and two hours of protocols on staying safe with students and teachers in a building re-opening in a Pandemic was eye-opening and exhausting. Shout out to our school nursing staff, though, who are doing a phenomenal job with sharing information and guidance.

I’ve been making comics since Spring about the Pandemic and its impact on education — you can view the entire collection of nearly 60 comics here.

Peace (take a breath),

Comic: The Insomnia of Teachers

Educator InsomniaThe school year starts today, but the year begins with state-sanctioned 14 days of professional development before students begin (our school is doing a phased-in hybrid model). But this is when the sleep of teachers gets regularly disrupted, and the Pandemic makes it worse, of course.

I’ve been making comics since Spring about the Pandemic and its impact on education — you can view the entire collection of nearly 60 comics here.

Peace (resting up),


Comic: Shifting Perceptions of Educators in a Pandemic

Perception of Teachers

This comic oversimplifies the sense I am getting in listening to our School Committee meetings, observing local social media postings of residents and local elected officials, and reading the news — but it does seem as if the goodwill towards that educators that came in the Spring when the Pandemic hit, and we working non-stop to reach and engage our students via remote, has shifted to more finger-pointing and negative tone as plans to re-open developed, at least where I am.

Some of the comments in the second panel are actual versions of things I have heard said or read in the last few weeks, and while I know this represents only the vocal people who are worried about how to balance it all and that the quiet ones may be supportive, it’s still disheartening that educators are becoming targets of scorn when it is a lack of a national effort to deal with the virus that has put us all in this spot.

Also, it is important to acknowledge that the current landscape is complicated for everyone, whatever their views. It may be that I am defensive in what I hear because it feels like educators are targets in a political scene, fed by the president.

I’ve been making comics since Spring about the Pandemic and its impact on education — you can view the entire collection of more than 50 comics here.

Peace (together),

Graphic Book Review: The Machine Never Blinks

From the prison thought experiment of the Panopticon (where every cell is visible to the guard) to today’s video street surveillance that uses face recognition algorithms, people have long and rightly worried about how to protect their privacy. In this graphic non-fiction book — The Machine Never Blinks: A Graphic History of Spying and Surveillance by Ivan Greenberg and Everett Patterson — the steady erosion of our privacy in public spheres is made evident and alarming.

Greenberg and Patterson have a progressive agenda here — it’s that the government should never be trusted with our data and that citizens must act against invasion of privacy and remain vigilant against such intrusions — and the stories of generations of spying on citizens is nothing new. Gathered in this one book, the collective stories become a powerful indictment of how technology has increased the pace of our loss of privacy and data — some of which we have willingly given up (social media, etc.) and some of which we have allowed our government to do in the guise of safety.

I’m not convinced the graphic format is the right format for this topic, however. In this book, the pages are crammed with text, reducing the reader’s ability to absorb the visual information. Which is why one would use a graphic novel format in the first place. I wish they had done more to leverage the use of the visuals on the page. In too many frames, it’s just people talking with speech bubbles or overflowing text boxes. I understand there is a lot of information to get out, but  better use of symbolic visualization and experimental art would have helped make the point, in my opinion.

And the point of the book is important and for those of us concerned about privacy and data, The Machine Never Blinks is another look at the topic. This book would appropriate for high school students but might be too dense with concepts and vocabulary for younger readers.

Peace (pushing back),


Poem: Reading the Morning Newspaper

Advice From An Old School News Reader

Read the paper backwards,
from the funnies
first to front page
last so as to begin
the ink with a laugh
and end the reading with rage

Note: My eyes go to the front page of our delivered morning newspaper (yep, we still get the local newspaper during the week and the Sunday Boston Globe on Sundays) but I often begin my time with the comics and funnies, and then wind my way back to the hard news.


Peace (keeping it light),

PS — this poem reminded me of a remix activity from a few years ago

Sunday comix remix