They traffic in the graphic … novel

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Welcome to the first Open Studio episode of the new WESU-FM season!

Last September, I did an episode about the graphic novel featuring interviews with two professors who teach the form. Because there’s so much to the graphic novel — and because I’ll be teaching a course in it for the first time at the college where I teach, the University of Hartford’s Hillyer College, I thought we’d revisit the subject.

Graphic novels, for those unfamiliar with the term, take the comic book into the deep end of the pool. One graphic novel you may have heard of is Art Spiegelman’s Maus, set in Nazi Germany. Another is Alison Bechtel’s Fun Home, which was made into a Broadway musical.

As with last year’s guests, both of today’s, interviewed via Zoom, have developed creative approaches to reading, analyzing, and even creating graphic novels.

Prof Patrick Gonder, left, teaches at the College of Lake County in Illinois and Rocco Versaci teaches at Palomar College in California. Both specialize in the graphic novel.

Here are their syllabi:

Prof Versaci has used this transcript of the Tennessee hearing on banning Art Spiegelman’s Maus from the curriculum.

One of Versaci’s students, an art major, was inspired to create this as a gift to his professor:

Prof. Gondor uses this page from Files on the Ceiling to illustrate how graphic novels can tell a story more effectively than film or novels:

Some titles mentioned in the episode:

Blankets, by Craig Thompson; Flies on the Ceiling by Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez; Hot Comb by Ebony FLowers; Kingdom Come by Mark Waid and Alex Ross; Mr. Miracle by Tom King and artist Mitch Gerads;100 Bullets by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso; Fables by Bill Willingham; This One Summer by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki; Unflattening by Nick Sousanis; Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing series; Ms Marvel by G. Willard Wilson; Syllabus by Lynda Barry; and of course Maus by Art Spiegelman and Fun Home by Alison Bechdel.

Taking in the Middletown Arts Fest: a walk & talk on Main Street

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Rachel DeCavage, owner of Cinder & Salt, and a founder of the Middletown Arts Fest, which just wrapped up its second summer season, marks off sidewalk spaces before vendors start arriving.

Today, we caught up with Rachel as she did last-minute prep for the August festival and then we took in the event itself, talking with artists and musicians and vendors and shoppers. For those of you who didn’t get to any of these summertime first Friday events – and, sorry to tell you, it’s too late for this year – it was an opportunity for artists and craftspeople to display and sell their wares on the wide sidewalks of Middletown’s wide main street, for performers to strut their stuff, and for visitors to discover and rediscover what a cool and creative community Middletown is.

This was the last installment of this year’s series about making Middletown more of an arts destination. Find the previous two — and last year’s — in the blog’s archives.

Images from the event