Junior Mad Scientist – Lab Notes

Comments are GO! (really)

April 30th, 2010 by Weber

Thanks to Webmaster MIKE and whatever voodoo he worked the other day. Since then, WordPress has been catching spam like dolphins in a tuna net. The only exception so far is an advert for a “russian roulette online game” [sic].

Wasn’t there a version of that in one of the Grand Theft Autos?

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Comments are GO! (again) (for now)

April 22nd, 2010 by Weber

Webmaster MIKE tells me he’s been teaching himself a few things about WordPress — specifically about how to block the hurricane of spam breaking down my levies and flooding my parish. (Too soon?)

This morning he gave me the go-ahead to reactivate comments.

So: Gentlemen, Start Your Blather!

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Zombie crosswords and word finds

April 22nd, 2010 by Weber


Try to imagine your surprise that I belong to Yahoo!’s Group Of The Living Dead.

Jan Kozlowski is a fellow group member, writer, and compulsive creative type. Over at her site, she’s posted two new bits of zombie fun: a crossword puzzle and a word search.

Check ’em out here.

Posted in Gadgets and Toys, Kid's Stuff, Weridness, Zombies | Comments Off on Zombie crosswords and word finds

What is a Superhero? — take the survey

April 22nd, 2010 by Weber


Dr. Robin Rosenberg needs your help. She teaches and speaks about the psychological phenomena revealed by superheroes and has taught at MIT on “Superheroes and the Life Lessons They Teach Us.”

As part of her research she’s got an online survey asking people’s opinions about What is a Superhero?.

It’s got twelve questions and, if you don’t over-think them like I did, should take about seven minutes to finish.

Click on over and help her out. Do it.


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Night of the Living Trekkies

April 21st, 2010 by Weber

A little something I snagged from the nice Quirk Books people at C2E2. The card pretty much says it all:


click thumbnail for full description
(click thumbnail for full description.)

This will be in stores sometime in September. I might be getting an advance copy for review. Maybe. Still not sure on that one. I’ll let you know if/when it hits the doorstep.

Posted in Book Reviews, Zombies | 1 Comment »

World’s Greatest Kids’ Menus

April 21st, 2010 by Weber


Click here to download (1.2MB PDF)

All right!

It took some finagling, but this is worth it. Download the .pdf, print it up and take this super-awesome kids’ menu and activity sheet to your next boring meeting. It’s got something for everybody, including a maze, word find, and lots of tasty food. The menu is designed for 11″ x 17″ paper, though it’ll fit on 8.5″ x 11″.

I’ll be starting the Mother’s Day edition early next week and the one for Shiraz On The Water once we get the new menu confirmed.

Have fun!

Posted in Art, Coloring Books, Kid's Menus, Kid's Stuff, Work For Hire | Comments Off on World’s Greatest Kids’ Menus

posting comments

April 21st, 2010 by Weber

Still decompressing from C2E2 and the 6-week lead-up to my presentation on “Shakespeare In Comics.” More about that in upcoming posts.

But, to the issue at hand:

I had reopened comments to anyone not registered to the site and was immediately hammered with spam. It was more trouble than it was worth to keep grooming the comments, so they’ve been shut down again. Maybe it has to do with being associated with WordPress, or maybe the titles of my posts. I don’t know and I don’t have the time to decipher it right now.

So, if you have a comment, please send it via the email address noted in the ABOUT tab. Thanks for playing along.


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C2E2 Programming Update

April 14th, 2010 by Weber


This just in:

For those of you who thought I was making this up, here’s the official description for the Comics Studies Conference presentation at C2E2. There’s been another time change, so note it and the room number — then double check it when you get to the Con.

Saturday, April 17
4:00pm – 5:30pm, ROOM E266
SESSION #8: Crossing Cultures—Eric P. Nash (New York Times Magazine) examines the origins of Japanese manga in kamishibai or paper theater, including the Golden Bat, who was created in 1930 and may be the world’s first costumed superhero, predating Superman and Batman by nearly a decade. Charles Coletta (Bowling Green State University) examines how the war comics icon Sgt. Rock has been presented and reinterpreted as we moved further in time away from World War II. Bradley Weber (juniormadscientist.com) discusses the successes, failures, pitfalls — and potential — of translating William Shakespeare’s plays to the paneled page, from Classics Illustrated to the latest manga.

And so you can get more of your weekend planned, below is the complete list of other CSC programs. Don’t forget about the other worth-your-while, non-CSC sessions going on as well. Click here for that list.

As far as I know, I’m still doing two panels on Sunday:

Sunday, April 18 12:30pm — 1:30 PM ROOM E267
Graphic Novel Events For Your School Or Library: The Benefits And How-To’s Of Creating Clubs, Presentations, And Workshops

Sunday, April 18 3:00pm — 4:00pm ROOM E267
Getting Your Graphic Novel Collection Started: How To Select, Shelve, And Promote Great Lists For Kids, Tweens, Teens, And Adult Collections

These times and locations are fresh from the C2E2 site, so they should be good for the weekend. But it’s worth verifying on site.

Just sayin’.

Here’s the complete run of eleven CSC programs, as promised. Lots of fun stuff! See you all there!


Comics Studies Conference-Chicago 2010
First Annual Comics Studies Conference-Chicago
Held in conjunction with the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo (C2E2)
McCormick Place, Chicago, Illinois, April 16-18, 2010

Friday April 16

6:00-7:00, ROOM E267
COMICS STUDIES CONFERENCE SESSION #1: Teaching: Comics and The Comics Industry—Todd Allen (Columbia College Chicago) uses standard Internet business research techniques to explore the economics of webcomics and the business of comics on the Web. David Allan Duncan (Savannah College of Art and Design) investigates how the comics studio course trains future cartoonists despite industry uncertainty about the future of comics.

7:00-8:00, ROOM E267
Empowerment—Josh Elder, (Reading With Pictures) investigates the use of comics for describing, understanding, and influencing students’ literacy skills through usage of comic books in classroom and library settings, investigations of the cognitive activities that underlie processing of comics, and development of educational interventions that rely on comics to foster interest and learning. Christopher Deis (DePaul University) focuses on the dynamics of using the graphic novel as a means of exploring politics, particularly focusing on national trauma with 9-11 and Marvel’s Civil War and the politics of race in Maus, Captain America’s the Truth, and Scalped.

8:00-9:00, ROOM E267
COMICS STUDIES CONFERENCE SESSION #3: Supervillains—Brian Miller (How I Became a Supervillain) explores in detail the definition of what it means to be a supervillain, across four levels of discussion—literary history, psychology, methaphysics, and ethics. Roman Colombo (Rosemont College) explores the role of the Joker as defined by the characteristics of the medieval morality play character Vice through representations of the character in both film and sequential art.

Saturday, April 17
11:00am – 12:30pm, ROOM E266
COMICS STUDIES CONFERENCE SESSION #4: Comics and Visual Language—Benjamin Frisch (Savannah College of Art and Design) analyzes how comics can be organized along the space-time spectrum—some comics are more spatial, and some comics are more temporal, depending on their utilization of space and time with regards to panel placement, pacing, and other criteria. Anthony Fisher (Savannah ¬¬¬¬¬¬¬College of Art and Design) elucidates the Theory Visual Relativity in Sequential Art provides that a mathematical rationale in measuring comics can aid in effective perception in sequential art. Côme Martin (Université Paris IV – Sorbonne) shows how comics without any sort of sounds or music are still impregnated with a musical rhythm and can be read like a musical partition.

12:45pm – 2:15pm, ROOM E266
David Olsen (Saint Louis University) uses Derrida to challenge much of the prevailing logic of comics criticism by revealing that Watchmen deconstructs nothing—paradoxes and aporias have marked costumed heroes from the outset. Bryan Peters (Jefferson College) analyzes how cancer comics–Harvey Pekar and Joyce Brabner’s Our Cancer Year, Marisa Marchetto’s Cancer Vixen, and Miriam Engleberg’s Cancer Made Me a Shallower Person work as alternative, subversive writing, shifting the paradigm from hero to antihero to overthrow regimes of oppression and ignorance. Scott Morrison (Family Physicians of O’Fallon) traces the depiction of drugs in mainstream superhero comic books, from the Golden Age to the Modern Era.

1:45-2:45pm, E267
COMICS STUDIES CONFERENCE SESSION #6: Teaching and Comics—Steven Landry (Apalachee High School) and Becky Hasty (Apalachee High School) show how to use wordless sequential art narratives as mentor texts to foster student engagment, with Sara Varon’s Robot Dreams as the guiding example. Steven Givan (Fayette County Public Schools) demonstrates how to capture reluctant-student reading interest by using comics with new teaching styles. Continuing education certificates for teachers will be available for this panel.

2:30pm – 3:45pm, ROOM E266
COMICS STUDIES CONFERENCE SESSION #7: Superhero Justice—Psychologists Robin Rosenberg (Psychology of Superheroes) and Mikhail Lyubansky (University of Illinois), and attorney Amy Martin explore the nature of evil and how different supervillains’ life experiences and personal characteristics indicate various pathways to criminal behavior. The panel will also explore the implications that these various paths have for our notions of justice—and therefore how we think about the actions of the superheroes who fight the villains.

4:00pm – 5:30pm, ROOM E266
COMICS STUDIES CONFERENCE SESSION #8: Crossing Cultures—Eric P. Nash (New York Times Magazine) examines the origins of Japanese manga in kamishibai or paper theater, including the Golden Bat, who was created in 1930 and may be the world’s first costumed superhero, predating Superman and Batman by nearly a decade. Charles Coletta (Bowling Green State University) examines how the war comics icon Sgt. Rock has been presented and reinterpreted as we moved further in time away from World War II. Bradley Weber (juniormadscientist.com) discusses the successes, failures, pitfalls — and potential — of translating William Shakespeare’s plays to the paneled page, from Classics Illustrated to the latest manga.

5:45-6:45 COMICS STUDIES CONFERENCE SESSION #9: Superheroes—Josh Kopin (Bard College) examines how the death of Captain America in Ed Brubaker’s run on the character serves as a lens for examining the American nation and the meaning of Cap’s triumphs and tragedies. Mervi Miettinen (University of Tampere) examines and analyzes the subversive qualities located within the politics of the superhero, who takes on the executive power of the law without the legislative power and without the legitimacy of authority behind his actions.

Sunday, April 18

11:00am – 12:00pm, ROOM E266
COMICS STUDIES CONFERENCE SESSION #10: Forging Iron Man: The Psychological Construction of Iron Man’s Origin Story—Psychologist Robin Rosenberg (Superhero Origins: What Makes Superheroes Tick and Why We Want to Know) examines Iron Man’s various origin stories and reveals what they tell us about Tony Stark and his decision to become Iron Man.

12:15pm – 1:45pm, ROOM E266
Steve Higgins (Lewis and Clark Community College) explores and analyzes the symbolic motifs that visually manifest the hardships each character endures in Jason Lutes’ Jar of Fools. Seth Alcorn (Catholic University of America) explores the way Alan Moore inverts the structure of decadance and aestheticsim in Watchmen, Promethea, and Lost Girls. Contributors to Gotham City 14 Miles Jim Beard, Mark Waid, Ed Catto, and Mike Johnson examine why the 1966 Batman TV series matters—to the character, to the fans, and to popular culture in general.

Posted in Comics | 1 Comment »

Shakespeare In Comics at C2E2

April 11th, 2010 by Weber

Hey, all.

So they invited me to speak at C2E2 — the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Convention at McCormick Place, April 16 thru 18th. It seems the organizers liked my pitch for a “Shakespeare In Comics” presentation. So for the last three weeks, I’ve been reading like a maniac, scanning books into the computer, and generally trying to lash together something close to coherent. Besides that, I’ve been asked to speak at two other panels and have been put in touch with many new and interesting friends in the comics, graphic novel, and book business — many of whom will be introduced here over the next several weeks (which in BradSpeak tends to translate into “months,” but cut me some slack, huh?)

Another part of this is that I’ve been invited to do the “Shakespeare” show at the International Readers Association precon event at Northwestern University. That’s on Sunday, April 25th. Doors open at 9:00; presenters start around 10AM. More details on that fairly soon, too.

Also — been having some trouble uploading even the smallest images to this site and I don’t have time to look into it right now. So the other kids’ menu and other goodies have to hold for a while longer. Thanks for the patience.

Back to scanning!

Posted in Comics, Shakespeare In Comics | Comments Off on Shakespeare In Comics at C2E2

Eat Thy Neighbor (Book Review)

April 1st, 2010 by Weber


The cover of this book is from one of Francisco Goya’s Black Paintings which he painted on the interior walls of his house between 1819 and 1823. “Saturn Devouring His Son” is based on the Greek myth of the King of the Titans who ate his children from the fear that they would rise up and kill him. Which they eventually did anyway, making room for the Olympians. According to the Wikipedia entry, Peter Paul Reubens depicted the same story in the 1600s. Reubens’s painting is more classical, less cartoony, more horrifying.

It is the aspect of horror which is missing from Eat Thy Neighbor: A History Of Cannibalism. Not to say the book isn’t thick with sick and disturbing scenes. But the authors seem to delight in retelling these stories, accounting for every bizzaro detail, especially with the more recent and better documented cases.

Diehl and Donnelly start out all right: Part One (Cultural Cannibalism) is an even, intelligent, though somewhat light overview of one of the world’s last great taboos. But the deeper they slide into Part Two (Case Studies Of Taboo Breakers), the authors wind-up treating the subject matter like a couple of fifth-graders, recounting every gory detail and reveling it them. And with fifteen “case studies”, the gore and brutality goes on ad nauseum.

With a topic like this, you’re an idiot not to expect gore and brutality; they’re just part of the deal. But in this book, gore and brutality is all there is. It’s clear the authors editors lashed together newspaper accounts and some of what they saw on the History Channel, but bypassed weightier material such as court documents or psychology texts. At no point in the “case studies” do the authors pause for some much-needed analysis or discussion.

By the time they get around to their lame closing assessment of “The Future Of Cannibalism,” it’s too late for them to save their book from being considered anything but tasteless.

Steer clear of this one.

Posted in Book Reviews, Weridness | Comments Off on Eat Thy Neighbor (Book Review)

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