Tag Archives: michigan state university

Grad School Stuff: The Light at the End of the Tunnel!

Michigan_State_Spartans2For those of you that know me, you’re probably aware that I’m currently sludging my way through grad school. What you may not know, at least if we’re not in constant daily contact, is that if all goes according to plan, I’ll be finishing up my Masters degree at the end of May. Wild right? I can hardly believe it.

I mean where the heck did these two years go? However, before I don my second cap and gown and blow out of East Lansing for parts unknown, there are still a couple of important obstacles I must overcome. Specifically I need to submit a five to seven piece portfolio for review by my graduate committee as well as reflective essay tying the pieces together, and answer two specific committee ok’d questions at 10 pages a pop.

Doesn’t sound too bad right? That’s cause it’s not. At least I don’t think it is. I think I can do this! The beautiful thing about the portfolio review is that it’s already finished. I mean not totally finished, but the component parts are done. I’m thinking about including:

And I’m even looking forward to my reflective essay. It’s going to be fun tying all of these pieces together because very rarely do we get to articulate what our work means to us to an audience that’s willing to listen. Here I can trace a narrative through my time here at MSU and hopefully show my growth as a student, scholar, and writer.

I also turned in six questions to my grad committee, of which they’ll choose three, and I’ll choose two of those to write on. They went a little like this:

  1. Use the work of three rhet/comp scholars, specifically those who do work in digital rhetorics, to articulate one or two potential futures for digital comics.
  2. Choose a particular web comic and using it as an example, explore what digital rhetoric is in light of this web comic. How do the different modes of meaning-making in this web comic (e.g., visuals, audio, interactive experiences) change our understanding of digital rhetoric?
  3. How do technical communicators use comics? What industries utilize comics? What is valuable about comics that is able to translate across industries and disciplines?
  4. Due to the financial disparity between print and webcomics, most webcomic creators can’t afford professional editors to edit their work; thus they rely on family, friends, and fans. How do these non-professionals change what it means to be a comics editor? What sort of tasks do they engage in, what literacies to they bring to the table, and how does the immediacy of the internet and fan culture change the editorial experience?
  5. Editors are tasked with a multitude of duties and employ a variety of skill sets to accomplish their work. How has your own editorial understanding and philosophy grown, changed, or been influenced by experiences in the Writing Center and DRPW coursework?
  6. Look at your AL 805 final project, your Personal History of Rhetoric. AL 805 was the first class you took as a graduate student. In light of that, what have you learned about rhetoric and writing in the following three semesters? Specifically, address the five main points outlined in the Personal History: Questions, self-consciousness, appeal to classmates, an attempt at understanding historical contexts, a connection with comics.

And then I’ve just got to write ten pages on those bad boys and we call it a day! I’m not particularly fond of the third question, but I really like my fifth and sixth questions, and one and two are pretty awesome as well. Best part? I’m nearly ready to answer all of these, right meow!

Basically I just wanted to get all this stuff out into the ether so I can take a look at it. I’ve got some crazy busy weeks ahead of me, a conference to prepare for, big assignments due and everything, but like I said, I got this. Wish me luck folks.


MSU Comics Forum Starts NOW!

MSU Comics Forum Poster
MSU Comics Forum Poster

What’s going on everyone, I just wanted to make sure that if you’re in East Lansing this evening you’re gonna drop by the MSU Comics Forum. Tonight it’s all going down in the auditorium beneath Snyder/Phillips Hall. The inimitable Nick Bertozzi is giving our kickoff keynote speech starting at 7 p.m. Then tomorrow we start right back up at 11 a.m. for Panel Discussions and our incredible Artist’s Alley.

We’ve had tons of awesome press supporting our event. You can check out an awesome article in CityPulse magazine by Lawrence Cosentino that details some of the coolest aspects of the Forum. There was also an article in The State News detailing The 99, a international comic starring Islamic Heroes, and the movie screening that went down in the library yesterday evening. Yours truly even got interviewed for the article. Cool beans.

So check out the Panel Schedule, take a gander at the Artist’s Alley lineup, come hang out with us tonight at SnyPhi, and make sure you drop by tomorrow when the Forum really gets cooking.

The MSU Comics Forum is NIGH!

MSU Comics Forum Logo


That’s right folks, the coolest comics conference on campus will be here in just a little over a week and I want to make sure that you know exactly what to expect when you show up. To that end I’ve ganked the Forum’s schedule that me and my compatriots worked so hard to on. Want to know who’s presenting scholarly panels and when? Got you covered. Want to know anything else? Go to our website! And now that we have our Artist’s Alley lineup finalized, you’re definitely going to want to see who’s dropping by. You know, so you can pick up awesome swag!

Feb 18th – Mar 1st , 2013:

Gallery Exhibition – Comic Books and the 1950’s
Location: Residential College in the Arts & Humanities LookOut! Gallery, Snyder/Phillips Hall 2nd floor, Michigan State University

The exhibit will feature examples from The Comic Art Collection housed in Michigan State University’s Special Collections. The Comic Art Collection holds over 200,000 items and is the primary library resource for the study of U.S. comic book publications.

Thursday, Feb 28th, 2013:

Documentary Screening – Wham! Bam! Islam! – 7:30pm
Location: MSU Main Library North Conference Room (4th floor West), Michigan State University

Wham! Bam! Islam! tells the story of Naif Al-Mutawa and his venture to create the first team of superheroes from the Muslim world called THE 99. Following the tumultuous journey of THE 99 from concept to reality, from acclaim to censure, from the edge of bankruptcy to a multi-million dollar animation series, Al-Mutawa dodges cultural minefields and confronts the harsh realities of the global marketplace in pursuit of his vision to bring new heroes to children around the world.

Friday, Mar 1st, 2013:

Keynote Address with Nick Bertozzi – 7:00-8:30pm
Location: Residential College in the Arts & Humanities Theatre, Snyder/Phillips Hall Basement, Michigan State University

Nick Bertozzi, award-winning comics creator and professor will deliver this year’s keynote address.  Bertozzi received a Xeric Grant and multiple Harvey Awards and Ignatz Awards for his cartooning. He is the writer and artist of the graphic novel Lewis & Clark (First/Second).  He collaborated with Jason Lutes on the graphic novel Houdini: The Handcuff King (Hyperion/CCS) and drew Glenn (The Colbert Report/Daria) Eichler’s STUFFED! (First/Second).  Bertozzi is author of The Salon (St. Martin’s Griffin) a graphic novel about Picasso, the discovery of Cubism, and magical absinthe.

He is hard at work on a cartoon biography of Lenny Bruce for Houghton-Mifflin, written by Harvey Pekar and you can read his ongoing sci-fi/fantasy cartoon, Persimmon Cup, for free every week at ACT-I-VATE (http://activatecomix.com). For the past several years Bertozzi has been teaching cartooning at NYC’s School of Visual Arts, as well as teaching stints at Rhode Island School of Design and at The Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont.  For more information visit his website at: http://www.nickbertozzi.com/

Saturday, Mar 2nd, 2013:

Artist Alley and Panel Discussions – 11:00am-5:00pm

Location: Residential College in the Arts & Humanities LookOut! Gallery, Snyder/Phillips Hall 2nd floor, Michigan State University

The Forum will feature an Artists Alley with dozens of creators exhibiting their work in comics. For more information on individual artists featured, please reference the Artists Alley page on this website.

Panel: Comics Redefined
Time: March 2nd, 2013 from 11:00am – Noon
Location: Snyder/Phillips 2nd floor classrooms
Description: This panel explores new approaches and ideas in comics through elements of culture, creator, and character.
Presenters and Presentation Titles:
Zack Kruse – Steve Ditko, Spider-Man, and the Romantic Hero
Justin Wigard – It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s Edward Cullen!
Andre F. Peltier – (De)Constructing Masculinity in Fan Boy (and Fan
Girl Cultures)

Panel: Golden Age: Comics and Graphic Novel Resources in Libraries
Time: March 2nd, 2013 from 12:15pm – 1:15pm
Location: Snyder/Phillips 2nd floor classrooms
Description: Have you ever wondered how your local library feels about comics?  Librarians deliver a lively and informative presentation on what is available to comics readers at different kinds of libraries across the country, followed by a question and answer session.
Lisa Rabey (Librarian)
Kristin LaLonde (Librarian)
Andrew McBride (Librarian)

Panel: Artist Spotlight
Time: March 2nd, 2013 from 1:30pm – 2:30pm
Location: Snyder/Phillips 2nd floor classrooms
Description: Do you want to break into the comics industry? Are you curious about the trials and tribulations of self-publishing? Do you have process, craft, or other technical questions about comics creation? We have you covered. Our artists will share their wisdom and answer any question you might have.
Nick Bertozzi – (2013 MSU Comics Forum Keynote Speaker, Lewis and ClarkHoudini the Handcuff King)
Josh Neufeld (University of Michigan Knight-Wallace Fellow in journalism, A.D.: New Orleans After The Deluge)
Jerzy Drozd (Cartoonist and Teaching Artist, The Front)

Panel: Comics and Journalism: Practice, Publish, Innovate
Time: March 2nd, 2013 from 2:45pm – 3:45pm
Description: A star-studded roundtable of industry professionals will discuss the developing field of comics journalism with a focus on key learnings for up-and-coming creators.
Darryl Hollida (Writer and Founder of the Illustrated Press)
Josh Neufield (University of Michigan Knight-Wallace Fellow in journalism, A.D.: New Orleans After The Deluge)
Erin Polgreen (Co-founder, editor, and publisher of Symbolia)

Panel: Documentary Screening of Comic Book City, Portland, Oregon, USA
Time: March 2nd, 2013 from 4:00pm – 5:00pm
Location: Snyder/Phillips 2nd floor classrooms
Description: Comic Book City is a documentary film from Shaun Huston which explores the community of comics creators who live and work in Portland, Oregon. It is grounded by conversations with artists and writers about their creative processes and their choices to locate in Portland.
Shaun Huston (Comic Book City, Portland, Oregon, USA)

The 2013 MSU Comics Forum!

MSU Comics Forum LogoGuess what’s coming up in a month and a half? That’s right, this year’s annual MSU Comics Forum, coming to you live from the Snyder Phillips Lookout Gallery in beautiful East Lansing, Michigan, March 1st and 2nd! I have to say, I’m really geeked to be working with Ryan Claytor (elephanteatercomics.com) and Jay Jacot (J2 Comics) again this year as the Forum’s Panel Coordinator. I can’t wait to see all of the undoubtedly incredible submissions you guys are going to send my way!

Wait, rewind, you don’t know what the MSU Comics Forum is? Michigan State’s own little comic convention that brings creators, scholars, and the public together for a couple of days of comicy goodness? We have hours of panel discussions and round tables presented by the best and brightest minds in comics scholarship. The Forum also features Artist Alley, showcasing uber-talented Michigan creators and artists hailing from other exotic locales. You can grab free swag, buy some of their amazing work, and learn what it’s like to be a legit comics creator.

Oh man, and did I forget to mention that our keynote speaker is Nick Bertozzi? Unfamiliar? USE THE INTERNET SON! I’ve ripped a little info from our main page, but you should definitely check out this gentleman’s great work.

“Bertozzi received a Xeric Grant and multiple Harvey Awards and Ignatz Awards for his cartooning. He is the writer and artist of the graphic novel Lewis & Clark (First/Second).  He collaborated with Jason Lutes on the graphic novelHoudini: The Handcuff King (Hyperion/CCS) and drew Glenn (The Colbert Report/Daria) Eichler’s STUFFED! (First/Second).  Bertozzi is author of The Salon (St. Martin’s Griffin) a graphic novel about Picasso, the discovery of Cubism, and magical absinthe. He is hard at work on a cartoon biography of Lenny Bruce for Houghton-Mifflin, written by Harvey Pekar and you can read his ongoing sci-fi/fantasy cartoon, Persimmon Cup, for free every week at ACT-I-VATE (http://activatecomix.com).”

Want to submit a presentation for consideration at the Forum? The deadline is fast approaching, Jan 31st, so head on over to the official MSU Comics Forum Panel Submission page to download the full call and to brush up on all of our rules and regulations.

I’m looking forward to see you all there!

MSU Comics Forum Call for Submissions

As some of you know, and most of you don’t know, I’m this year’s MSU Comics Forum Panel Coordinator!  WOOHOO!  We’re actively accepting submissions from a wide variety of disciplines but I suppose it’ll just be easier to let my Call for Submissions speak for itself.  Looking forward to hearing from you!

Michigan State University Comics Forum – Call for Submissions

The Michigan State University Comics Forum – http://www.comicsforum.msu.edu – is an annual event that brings together scholars, creators, and fans in order to explore and celebrate the medium of comics, graphic storytelling, and sequential art.  This year’s event is scheduled to take place February 3-4 at the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities in Snyder/Phillips Hall on the campus of Michigan State University.

This year the Forum is proud to announce that Jessica Abel, comics creator, editor, and professor, will be our guest of honor and keynote speaker on Friday the 3rd.  Abel is at the forefront of comics in higher education, authoring the textbook, Drawing Words & Writing Pictures, written in collaboration with her husband, the cartoonist Matt Madden; and the graphic novel La Perdida (Pantheon Books). Abel won both the Harvey and Lulu awards for “Best New Talent” in 1997 and La Perdida won the 2002 “Best New Series” Harvey Award. She teaches at New York’s School of Visual Arts, and Madden and Abel are also series editors for The Best American Comics.  She has been creating comics for over 20 years and continues to be an active creator today.  For more information, visit her website: http://www.jessicaabel.com

On Saturday (Feb. 4) the Forum will feature scholarly presentations in a variety of formats as well as an artist’s alley spotlighting the best and brightest comics creators from Michigan and around the United States.

We seek proposals for presentations, which may include but are not limited to:

  • Individual Submissions
    • Will have 15 minutes to discuss topic, 5 minutes for questions
    • Presenter will be grouped with other participants into a panel
  • Panel Sessions
    • The session will run for one hour
    • Must include at least 3 presenters
    • Presenters must discuss similar or connected topics
    • Presenters are responsible for finding their own panel session members
  • Roundtables
    • The session will run for 45 minutes to an hour
    • Must include at least 3 participants
    • Presenters must discuss one specific topic
    • Presenters are responsible for finding their own roundtable session members

Comic book and graphic novel related presentations from a broad range of disciplines will be considered.

Individual submissions require a 250-word (maximum) abstract of the topic as well as name and affiliation.  Panel sessions require one 250-word abstract for the overarching topic and a unique abstract for each presenter’s specific topic, including name and affiliation, emailed together.  Round table proposals should include an abstract, 250-word, that includes an explanation of the topic and the names and affiliations of participants. All proposals should be in PDF format.  Proposals are due December 1 by 5 p.m.

Please submit proposals to Ben Chabala at theprettiesthaymaker@gmail.com

For more information visit comicsforum.msu.edu


Post-Grad School Acceptance Stuff pt. 2

Alright, so now that I’m back to making this magic happen we’ve got part dos of Post-Grad School Acceptance Stuff, which just so happens to be the most important stuff of all!

4. A Personal Statement
Man oh man, this was by FAR the most difficult part of the MSU application for me.  Honestly, you really need to put some serious thought into your Personal Statement.  Why?  Because that’s you making your case for why the Graduate Committee should pick you!  In the case of my program, here were the requirements –

“The Graduate Committee wants to know: Why do you want to pursue this degree at MSU? What interests, qualifications, and, most importantly, professional goals of yours will be served by completion of this degree? How do you see the program at MSU specifically helping you to meet those goals?”

Wootah!  It might not sound like too much but my personal statement was 950 words or so and it took me weeks to fine tune into a perfectly tailored testament to my abilities, my conviction, and my dedication.  I’ve got a link to it here –  Personal Statement.  I don’t want to break this thing down too much but definitely take a look at it, it helped me get accepted.

5. At Least Two Writing Samples
The graduate committee was looking for one writing sample, of anything and one example of a single-authored academic style paper.  I had been writing non-stop for Marvel.com as a freelancer so providing one sample, especially one that was actual professional writing was easy.  The academic paper though?  That was FRICKIN hard!  I hadn’t written something scholarly in nearly two years and I knew none of my college papers would
cut it so I had to write something completely new, something completely different.  Luckily, I had something in mind.

I used one of my Unlimited Highlights for the first sample, this blog as the second, and my paper DC Editorial Research Paper as the third.  I wrote the research paper on my own and honestly, I think it’s crap.  I think the ideas are rock solid but I forgot how to write a research paper.   I spent a lot of time underground in the MSU Special Collections looking at old issues of Superman and other DC comics so if anyone cares, I think I’m going to actually copy and paste my paper into an all new post if you don’t want to download it.  That way it gets published and I get something else to talk about 🙂

What’s really important here though, is submitting things that are pertinent.  I must sound like a broken record but if you are gearing everything to your desired field of study you’ll look that much more committed.  Everything I submitted dealt with comic books.  I think that was one of the strengths of my application.

6. Three Letters of Recommendation
Letters of rec are absolutely pivotal to your acceptance into grad school.  They give the graduate committee evidence of your abilities as reported by professionals, and that’s huge.  This is what MSU requires –

“Three letters of recommendation from professionals in a position to evaluate your potential for graduate study. At least one letter, ideally two, should come from former faculty members (or instructors) who can address your qualifications for academic course work at the graduate level and also your skills as a professional writer, or as a potential teacher if you are applying for the MA in CSLP. (If you have taken rhetoric or professional writing courses, it is most helpful to have letters from your instructors in those courses.)”

When I asked my advisor why I got into the program he told me that the college was a great fit for my interests and one of my letters of rec was amazing.  I have to thank Kelly Roman for that.  Luckily I’m good friends with one of my former professors so that helped to take care of my professor quota, and my last letter came from my freelancing boss over at Marvel.com.  Honestly, I think those were perfect.  Hopefully you guys have something similar.  Work those contacts!

So that’s the end of my two-part series on my grad school application materials.  Hopefully this gives some of you an idea of what it takes to apply.  Obviously some schools might have more or less rigorous apps but if you’re prepared it won’t matter what they throw at you.  Good luck!

Post-Grad School Acceptance Stuff

In case you haven’t heard, I’ve been accepted into MSU’s Digital Rhetoric and Professional Writing Masters program.  I just wanted to write a post or two showing everything that I supplied for acceptance which turned out to be:

  1. A Completed Application for Graduate Study
  2. One Copy of Each Transcript From Every College/University I Attended
  3. A Curriculum Vitae or Resume
  4. A Personal Statement
  5. At Least Two Writing Samples (one should be a single-authored research paper)
  6. Three Letters of Recommendation

1. A Completed Application for Graduate Study
This is the easiest portion of the acceptance process because you’re just filling out standard clerical information: name, age, schools attended, blah blah blah.  There is also an essay portion in which you tell the graduate committee about yourself, your motivations, and the rest of that jazz.  I was able to skip that part because my college asked for a personal statement (#4) instead of using the application essay method.  Get this done early and get it out of your mind!

2. One Copy of Each Transcript From Every College/University I Attended
Alright, maybe this was the easiest part of the process because I literally had to do nothing.  I applied to my undergrad university for grad school and the college supplied my transcript.  Done and done.  However, if you aren’t applying to your undergrad college make sure you get on your advisors to get your transcripts out!

3. A Curriculum Vitae or Resume
If you’re applying to grad school do yourself a favor and make a curriculum vitae.  If you’re applying for something as academic as a masters program a CV is absolutely a better way to go than a resume.  Graduate committees don’t care about your job history, you most likely provided some of that in the official application, they want to see the academic stuff you’ve done!

Things like teaching assistantships, research assistantships, academic papers you’ve written and any of your work that has been published, put them on there!  I’ve included my CV below to give you an idea of what one looks like – Ben_Chabala_Curriculum_Vitae.  The format can be played with, there’s really no right or wrong way to do these things, but your Research Experience (if any) and Professional Experience should all reflect or at least indicate an interest in what you’re applying for in the program.

In my CV I put a heavy emphasis on all of my comic book job experience and professional writing experience.  I was an editor on The Art of War graphic novel, I’ve been a freelancer for Marvel.com for over a year now, and I was a Web Editorial Intern in the summer of 2009.  I was a waiter too but why would they care?  Include only pertinent info!