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Monday, March 19, 2018

Center for Cartoon Studies to Host Comics and Medicine Conference

Posted By on Mon, Mar 19, 2018 at 3:03 PM

  • Courtesy of Center for Cartoon Studies
The Center for Cartoon Studies has announced it will host the 9th International Comics and Medicine Conference August 16 to 18.

The annual gathering is organized by an international committee that includes the administrators of the Graphic Medicine website, along with physicians, artists, writers and scholars.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Alison Bechdel to Be Next Vermont Cartoonist Laureate

Posted By on Tue, Mar 28, 2017 at 4:07 PM

The passing of the cartoonist laurels - EDWARD KOREN AND ALISON BECHDEL
  • Edward Koren and Alison Bechdel
  • The passing of the cartoonist laurels

Next Thursday, April 6, Edward Koren will pass the torch — er, laurels — to his successor, Alison Bechdel, as Vermont Cartoonist Laureate. In a ceremony at the Statehouse, the longtime Bolton resident, creator of the strip "Dykes to Watch Out For," and author of Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic will become the third cartoonist laureate in the only state to regularly appoint one.

The initiative originated with the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, the professional school founded by James Sturm and Michelle Ollie 10 years ago. Bechdel succeeds New Yorker cartoonist and Brookfield resident Koren, who in turn succeeded Vermont's very first cartoonist laureate, James Kochalka of Burlington.

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Saturday, May 9, 2015

Alison Bechdel Stands Up for Charlie Hebdo

Posted on Sat, May 9, 2015 at 1:26 PM

  • Courtesy of Elena Seibert
  • Alison Bechdel
It was another news-making week for Vermont cartoonist Alison Bechdel. As Seven Days has reported, in the last year the off-Broadway musical adaptation of her best-selling graphic memoir, Fun Home, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama, and Bechdel was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, aka "genius" grant. Just last month, the Broadway production of Fun Home received a whopping 12 Tony nominations. 

This had barely sunk in when Bechdel received news about another award. Only it wasn’t for her or Fun Home. The news came from legendary comic artist Art Spiegelman. Something unprecedented had taken place at the PEN American Center — the New York City-based organization with the mission of advancing literature, defending free expression and fostering international literary fellowship. 

The group’s annual gala was scheduled for Tuesday, May 5, at the American Museum of Natural History. One of the evening's highlights was to be the presentation of PEN's Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award to French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Twelve people were killed at that publication's Paris office last January by gunmen in protest of its frequent depictions of the prophet Muhammad. 

But at the last minute, six PEN members announced they would boycott the ceremony in protest of the Hebdo honor. Spiegelman stepped in to co-host the event, and asked Bechdel and comic artist Neil Gaiman to join him. They did, along with three authors.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Cartoonist Ellen Forney Talks Memoir, Creativity and Bipolar Disorder

Posted By on Tue, Apr 7, 2015 at 4:25 PM

"Creamsicle" by Ellen Forney - ELLEN FORNEY
  • Ellen Forney
  • "Creamsicle" by Ellen Forney
Cartoonist Ellen Forney, who has won acclaim for her 2012 graphic novel/memoir Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo & Me, will visit the area this week to give talks at Dartmouth College and the Center for Cartoon StudiesMarbles is ostensibly about Forney’s diagnosis of bipolar disorder, but it is equal parts meditation on the nature of creativity and well-researched history of bipolar artists of all kinds.

Forney lives in Seattle and teaches cartooning at that city’s Cornish College of the Arts. As she was packing her suitcase for the trip east, she took a few moments to speak by phone with Seven Days about her work.

What’s the occasion for your visit to Vermont and New Hampshire?

ELLEN FORNEY: I’ve known [CCS cofounder] James Sturm since he lived in Seattle in ’93. He was the art director of [altweekly] the Stranger, and that was one of my first jobs as a cartoonist/illustrator. When I started teaching at Cornish College for the Arts in 2002, he was a huge help in my putting together my curriculum. And I still haven’t been out there, so I feel like my visit is long overdue.

You said that writing Marbles took a lot out of you. What did you mean by that?

EF: The story of my bipolar disorder was a story I hadn’t really told before Marbles. I wasn’t “out” about my disorder. So, gathering the materials for the book and then putting it out into the world just took a lot of emotional, social and professional energy. I had never done a full book before — most of my work I would consider graphic essays. So even logistically it was new.

Going through a lot of really difficult and often painful experiences, you kind of push those things under the rug as you go on about your life. Delving into them can be very depressing.

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Center for Cartoon Studies Launches Veterans Project

Posted By on Thu, Feb 12, 2015 at 9:24 AM

A panel from Jess Ruliffson's comic Invisible Wounds - COURTESY OF THE CENTER FOR CARTOON STUDIES
  • Courtesy of the Center for Cartoon Studies
  • A panel from Jess Ruliffson's comic Invisible Wounds
The Upper Valley town of White River Junction has long been just that: a junction. It’s where the rivers come together, the railroads, the highways. This month, the town will witness yet another union, this one somewhat more unlikely: cartoonists and veterans.

White River Junction is home to two important institutions that, until now, have not formally collaborated: the White River Junction VA Medical Center, and the Center for Cartoon Studies. The school has invited veterans and their families to take part in the Cartoonist Veteran Project, in which CCS students and faculty will help vets to tell their stories in graphical form.

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Friday, June 6, 2014

Alison Bechdel in the New Yorker

Posted By on Fri, Jun 6, 2014 at 10:29 AM

  • From the New Yorker

Vermont-based cartoonist Alison Bechdel created the long-running comic strip "Dykes to Watch Out For," which was carried by Seven Days and other alt weeklies across the country. Since she left the strip behind, Bechdel has found herself in a larger national spotlight. Her groundbreaking 2007 graphic memoir Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic sat on the New York Times best-seller list for weeks, won or was nominated for numerous awards and met with near-universal raves. The book landed on many a year-end best-of list.

Then it was made into a musical, which closed at the Public Theater in New York last fall after several extensions. That version, too, won popular and critical acclaim — including being named a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in drama.

This week, Bechdel has a two-page first-person spread in the New Yorker — call it a graphic mini memoir? Titled "My Old Flame: Gradual Impact," it's a lesbian love story gone wrong, and a comic gone right.

Look for more work from Bechdel in Seven Days' upcoming Cartoon Issue on July 2.

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Friday, May 9, 2014

Alison Bechdel's Fun Home at Center of South Carolina Controversy

Posted By on Fri, May 9, 2014 at 3:30 PM

  • Courtesy of Elena Seibert
  • Alison Bechdel

In punitively slashing the budgets of their own state colleges, legislators in the South Carolina House of Representatives have unwittingly given late-night comedians a great wealth of new material about narrow-mindedness, blind ideological loyalty and homophobia.

As reported in various media outlets including National Public Radio  the College of Charleston had the audacity to assign to first-year students a book that acknowledges the existence and humanity of people who are not heterosexual. That book, the acclaimed Fun Home by Vermont cartoonist Alison Bechdel  has also been adapted into an award-winning, Pulitzer-nominated off-Broadway musical.

The University of South Carolina Upstate, another school that state legislators deemed worthy of a good, hard spanking, did not assign Fun Home to first-year students, but did assign other works that dare to challenge the state’s centuries-long tradition of upholding heteronormativity.

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

CCS' 'Applied Cartooning' MFA Helps Cartoonists Think Outside the Panel

Posted By on Thu, Apr 24, 2014 at 8:32 AM

CCS alum Dan Archer lecturing on comics in journalism at the 2012 Woodstock Digital Festival - CENTER FOR CARTOON STUDIES
  • Center for Cartoon Studies
  • CCS alum Dan Archer lecturing on comics in journalism at the 2012 Woodstock Digital Festival
The Upper Valley town of White River Junction is a hub for railroads, highways and, in recent years, comics. The founding of the Center for Cartoon Studies there in 2005 marked a step forward in comics' importance in art, scholarship and communications.

The school continues to grow and diversify its programming. The latest addition is an MFA track in Applied Cartooning, which, according to a CCS press release, will explore "how comics can impact such diverse fields as health, business, public policy and education."

The central idea behind the program is that, with the growing popularity of cartoons in all kinds of communications, the future will bring an even broader array of, well, applications. With this new two-year-degree program, the school intends to better prepare its students for the workplace. 

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

'Amulet' Author and 'Harry Potter' Illustrator to Speak at CCS Commencement

Posted By on Tue, Apr 22, 2014 at 1:52 PM

The Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction just announced its 2014 commencement speaker: Kazu Kibuishi, who created the best-selling Amulet graphic novel series and illustrated the new covers for the Harry Potter series, created for the 2013 re-release of the series' U.S. editions.
  • Courtesy of the Center for Cartoon Studies

Kibuishi was born in Tokyo but raised in California from childhood. While studying film at the University of California at Santa Barbara, he began drawing comics for the student newspaper. In 2004, he launched a critically acclaimed comics anthology called Flight.

The following year, Kibuishi's debut graphic novel, Daisy Kutter: The Last Train, won a Best Books for Young Adults award from the Young Adult Library Services Association. Amulet was released by Scholastic in 2007.

In an interview with Multiversity Comics, a website run by cartoon enthusiasts, Kibuishi explained that when Scholastic approached him with the Harry Potter project, he'd initially felt surprised:

"I love the originals and thought they shouldn’t really touch those, but then I began to realize that many of the kids reading my books weren’t old enough to be Harry Potter readers (something I confirmed on recent visits to elementary schools and libraries). They are just beginning to read longer and more complex works of fiction, and what better set of books to introduce than Harry Potter?
Kibuishi will speak at CCS' commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 17, 11 a.m. at the Briggs Opera House in White River Junction.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Conscientious Cartoonist Jeff Danziger Comes to Vermont

Posted By on Tue, Apr 15, 2014 at 4:14 PM

  • Courtesy of the Center for Cartoon Studies
  • Jeff Danziger, by his own hand

Within the pages of Jeff Danziger’s recent book The Conscience of a Cartoonist, you’ll find some of the most trenchant political cartoons of the last decade and a half. But if you happened to be in need of a barbell or a cudgel, the book could fill those needs, too, in a pinch. This is a mighty tome.

“The reason it’s the size it is is that I wanted to do a complete job of talking about how the times have changed,” Danziger, 71, says by phone from his home in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen. “The times” that he’s referring to are the years since September 11, 2001, a time period that provides the book’s narrative backbone. When future historians want to write about the tumultuous political changes of this era, they’d do well to study Danziger’s book. His cartoons are particularly keen, and often vitriolic, in responding to current events.

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