Archive | July 2013

Comics, Classrooms, and Caricatures

Good afternoon, friends. I came across this article from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and thought I’d pass it along. It discusses how graphic novels can be used as educational tools, taking a specific look at the graphic novel American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang.

American Born Chinese uses racial stereotypes as one way of addressing discrimination and identity in America. While the book is not banned, some consider this inappropriate. Given that I have not read it, I cannot say how race and racial stereotypes are handled. Thus, I was wondering what you, my lovely readers, thought about it.

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Geek Parenting: Comics for your Teen Titans

Trying to raise your nerdlings right but not sure what’s age appropriate? Having trouble finding that happy medium between Tiny Titans and Saga? Though people think of comics as the domain of children and teenage boys, it can actually be quite the challenge to find comics suited for the 9-15 crowd. Terrible marketing flaw there, guys. Fear not, good nerd parents, Reviews by Lantern’s Light is here to save the day.

I know, I know, it’s strange for me to push “appropriate reading material” for the “young and impressionable”, given the mission of my blog. But though you can have my comic books when you pry them from my cold, Black Lantern hands, I can understand if parents aren’t quite ready to expose their child to the Joker beating Jason Todd to death with a crowbar or Dick Grayson getting sexually assaulted (Jesus, Batman, protect your kids).

In addition, graphic novels/comic books are so frequently the subject of library challenges and moral panic because parents aren’t sure what comics are geared towards what ages and don’t always read them beforehand. Thus, they end up handing their ten-year-old Elfquest, resulting in their panic and outrage when they realize what exactly is going on with those polyamorous warrior elves. So, to avoid further book challenges, awkward conversations, and lifelong fears of clowns, here are some suggestions from an expert. There’s even an overview of what content you can expect, allowing you the parent/teacher/librarian to decide what is appropriate for your child, your family, and your peace of mind.

Take a deep breath. Even Batman knows raising kids is harder than saving Gotham. Have fun, talk to your kids, and remember: knowledge is power, and with great power comes nerdparent responsibility.

Reviews by Lantern's Light

Vader's Little Reader

Despite the insistence of people who haven’t picked up a comic since Adam West was on the air, comics aren’t really for kids anymore. Modern comics are full of sex, violence, and all manner of problematic details that a parent might not want their kid seeing. There are, of course, ‘all-ages’ comics, but not all of them live up to that name. Many are aimed at the very young and can leave older readers feeling patronized, while others are simple stories full of easter eggs that go over the head of the supposed target audience and bore pickier comic-fans.

With that in mind, I thought I’d do my part to aid those in the world’s most important profession and give some suggestions to those looking to bring their little nerds up right.

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A Swiftly Derailing Story

The HP set were mine to inherit, the Time Quartet paperbacks were not. Please enjoy this Shannonless cover.

The HP set were mine to inherit, the Time Quartet paperbacks were not. Please enjoy this Shannonless cover.

Hi, folks. So, I was almost done with this review, but then when I went back to finish it, all of my work from the day before had vanished, despite me saving it multiple times. Alack the day! So, here is my second attempt at writing this thing. I blame the Echthroi. They clearly don’t want me remembering what “Might Have Been Written”.

THE DEFENDANT: A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Madeleine L’Engle Read More…

Nothing to Prove – Geek Girls & The Doubleclicks

Hi, readers! Sorry this week’s review is behind schedule. It’s been an interesting week. As an apology, please enjoy this video and let your geek flag fly. There are some familiar faces you might appreciate…

Take Back the Knight

Today is the anniversary of the Dark Knight Massacre in Aurora, Colorado. This day had a profound effect on me for a number of reasons. For starters, the knee-jerk reaction to blame Batman and comics and the attempts to ban costumes from theatres is part of what made me finally get around to starting that banned books blog I’d been thinking about for a year. This outraged me, not only because it does nothing to address the problem, because it is yet another example of scapegoating youth/fringe media, or even because of my lifelong resistance to censorship and arbitrary rule enforcement.

It was because I grew up on Batman. And I saw firsthand how this amazing community of fans, whether casual or diehard, rose up with a strength of spirit that moved me to tears. This community, which people looking for an explanation were so quick to blame, showed us the true meaning of Batman, of fans, and of heroes. Read More…

Saga: A New Hope for Comics?

In case my review wasn’t enough to convince you how awesome Saga is, yesterday io9 too sang its praises. Without further ado here’s 10 Reasons You Should Be Reading Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga:

I mean really, it has sex, spaceships, and anthropomorphic seals. What more do you need?

The Continuing Saga of Censorship in Comics

The dude slathered in blood killing someone right on the cover, meanwhile, is just wholesome fun.

The dude slathered in blood killing someone right on the cover, meanwhile, is just wholesome fun.

Hey, folks! Today’s review is of Saga, Vol. 2. As Saga is a comic for mature readers, some of the images discussed and contained within this review are graphic in nature. So, maybe don’t read this while at work or having tea at your grandmother’s house. Unless of course your grandmother has a sock drawer full of smutty genre fiction she wrote back in the 70s and is grooming you to take over the family business, in which case be my guest. And no, you’re not hallucinating, I reviewed Saga, Vol. 1 back in March. If you’re interested, said review can be found here. It seems Saga just can’t stop courting controversy. Let’s discuss what got people hot and bothered this time, shall we?

THE DEFENDANT: Saga, Vol. 2, Brian K. Vaughan, artwork by Fiona Staples, Image Comics

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I Knew Charles Wallace Should Have Stayed Home Today

Shhh, I'm reading!

Hello blog-readers, it’s me again! Don’t worry, Shannon will return you to your regularly scheduled programming soon. I had to take this opportunity to talk about one of my favourite series growing up: The Time Quintet by Madeline L’Engle, and specifically Book Two, A Wind in the Door.

THE DEFENDANT: A Wind in the Door, Madeline L’Engle

THE VERDICT: A Wind in the Door has never been challenged as a lone book, but being the second book in the series after A Wrinkle in Time, it is often included in the challenges against the entire series.

THE CHARGES: Like A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door addresses the concept of good and evil, has a female protagonist, references a Christian belief system, and contains terrible threats to the stability of young minds by talking about magic and science.

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Freedom to Read

Happy Independence Day! Please enjoy this lovely historical reenactment.

America has a complicated relationship with banned books and intellectual freedom. It seems we are caught in an endless tug of war between independent thinkers and those afraid of independent thinkers (continuing the themes discussed in last week’s A Wrinkle in Time review).

Thus, I wish you all a happy day of BBQs and fireworks and hope you’ll consider picking up Common Sense (actually read it, unlike the members of a certain political party) or “Action Comics #1” (Superman beating up abusive husbands and exposing the corporate greed behind war, what’s not to love?) or any number of books we’ve discussed on this blog for a glimpse into America’s long history of censorship and controversial ideas.

“Let us welcome controversial books and controversial authors.”

– President John F. Kennedy

Mirror, Mirror: a glimpse at race in children’s books

We talk a lot about gender representation in the media on this blog, so I wanted to share an article by The Mary Sue about racial representation in children’s books. Despite the growing presence of non-white and mixed race people in America, they make up only 8% of the characters in children’s books. Far from improving, it seems children’s book authors and publishers have taken two steps back from their first, sometimes awkward attempts at widening their racial and cultural perspectives back in the 80s and 90s. Read More…