It’s Been A While.

I must apologize for my absence over the past few months. I got caught up in the chaos of the end of the semester that translated into the chaos of the summer, and is now the chaos of mid-semester. An update is well over due.

First things first: I have a few new publications out! You can find them in Sweet: A Literary Confection (nonfiction comic), Burrow Press Review (fiction comic), SmokeLong Quarterly (art illustration). Take a peek and let me know what you think.

Also! I will be moderating a panel on Alternative Forms of Literature at AWP: Boston next March! The panel will make a case for comics, video games, and fan fiction as legitimate forms of literature. If you’ll be at AWP this year, you should definitely come by and say hello. :)

Next: When I last left you all, I was working on an application to a Graphic Novel Residency. Unfortunately I did not get into the residency, but that’s okay. I will try again next time. :)

I was also planning on writing a graphic essay for Poets & Writers, but project has been put on hold until I finish my thesis.

On the thesis: I finally have a good grasp on what I’m doing for my MFA thesis. It will be a multi-modal narrative featuring scriptwriting, comics, and prose (with illustrations). Right now the narrative seems to be nonlinear, and I’m working on transitions between modes. I don’t have any new drawings for you this time around as I’ve been trying to do all of my planning in text. I have about 30 pages of comics script that I’m going to have to revise and rewrite several times before I’m happy enough with the storytelling to put pen to paper. My thesis director has been very patient with me and has given me a lot of freedom in how I’m stumbling through this process, so I’m very thankful.

My goal is to have a finalized draft of my thesis by late December, early January for my 2nd reader (on my thesis committee) to look at and make any final suggestions. Once he’s made suggestions and I make those final changes (hopefully by the end of January), all that will be left is really finalizing the art.

I’ve run into a few hiccups with the Editor of theses/dissertations in the College of Graduate Studies. I heard through the grapevine that if I was to include images in my thesis, I would have to caption each and everyone one of them with a Figure # and Title. While this makes perfect sense for research papers in pretty much every other field, the inclusion of titles in an inherently visual creative work can destroy unity and be distracting. So now the College is attempting to find some sort of solution that adheres to the academic standards needed for a thesis/dissertation but is also acceptable for the medium of comics.

I’ve submitted five different samples of my work along with a synopsis (pitching the thesis like I would a book to a publisher) and a complete (tentative) outline of the story. Apparently I’m the first to incorporate comics into my MFA thesis, although another MFA candidate is having similar issues because she is incorporating art and playing with the way text is represented on the page. I’m not sure what her plan is if we cannot get this issue resolved, but my back up plan is to use the captions as a separate storytelling medium completely independent with the story told in the comics.

Other stuff: I’ve received what I’m going to call a “promotion” in the literary journal I work for. Last year I served as a managing editor, and even though my contract expired, I continued (and still continue) to help the journal out with their projects, organization, and publishing. Yesterday the Editor of the journal sent me an email saying that she had updated the Masthead–and lo and behold, my name was under Assistant Editor. :) So I’m still doing the same work I did before, but now I have a spiffy new title, which is nice. Hopefully I can balance that with teaching First-Year Composition (all by myself!) and the rest of my classes. I’ve also been applying to big girl jobs for post-graduation, so that’s exciting as well.

I just finished helping make 200 chapbooks from scratch. The literary journal had a contest and when the winner was chosen, we worked with a local press to produce her chapbook totally by hand. We used 100-year-old printing presses, cut and folded the paper by hand, hand bound them with string, and used archival glue to affix the books to their covers. The process was incredibly time consuming but also incredibly awesome. I learned a lot and I’m so happy I got to be a part of the process.

My next project (once I finish my thesis) will hopefully be finishing my chapter-by-chapter review of Drawing Words & Writing Pictures by Abel & Madden, and moving on to the sequel: Mastering Comics. First Second was generous enough to send me a review copy of MC, so I’d love to actually, you know, review it.  I’ll make sure you can tag along for the ride.

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