North Tonawanda Library

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weneeddiversebooks:

Read This: Gene Luen Yang’s rousing comics speech at the 2014 National Book Festival gala
From the Washington Post, article here.
GENE LUEN YANG, Library of Congress, Jefferson Building:
Good evening. Thank you, Library of Congress and National Book Festival, for inviting me to share the stage with such esteemed authors, and to speak with all of you. I am deeply grateful for this honor.
I’m a comic-book guy, so tonight I’d like to talk about another comic book guy. Dwayne McDuffie was one of my favorite writers. When I was growing up, he was one of the few African-Americans working in American comics. Dwayne worked primarily within the superhero genre. He got his start at Marvel Comics but eventually worked for almost every comic book publisher out there. He even branched out into television and wrote for popular cartoon series like “Justice League” and “Ben 10.”
Dwayne McDuffie
Dwayne McDuffie is no longer with us, unfortunately. He passed away in 2011, at the age of 49. But within comics, his influence is still deeply felt.
I was lucky enough to have met him once. About a year before his death, we were on a panel together at Comic-Con. I had the opportunity to shake his hand and tell him how much his work meant to me.
In a column Dwayne wrote in 1999, he talked about his love of the Black Panther, a Marvel Comics character. The Black Panther’s secret alias is T’Challa, the king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda. He has super senses, super strength, and super agility. He’s an Avenger, though he hasn’t yet made it into the movies.
The Black Panther wasn’t created by African American cartoonists. He was created in July of 1966 by two Jewish Americans, Stan Lee (who was born Stanley Lieber) and Jack Kirby (who was born Jacob Kurtzberg).
By modern standards, the Black Panther is not a flawless example of a black superhero. In their first draft of the character, Lee and Kirby called him “the Coal Tiger” and gave him a goofy yellow and black costume. Even in his final form, his superhero alias includes the word “Black.” This is true of many early African and African American superheroes, as if what makes them remarkable is neither their superpowers nor their heroism, but their ethnicity. Most problematic, though, was that Marvel made their most prominent black superhero the star of a series called Jungle Action.
All of these flaws were lost on Dwayne McDuffie when he first encountered the Black Panther in 1973, at the age of 11. What struck him was the character’s commanding sense of dignity. The Black Panther wasn’t anyone’s sidekick. He wasn’t an angry thug. He wasn’t a victim. He was his own hero, his own man. As Dwayne describes it, “In the space of 15 pages, black people moved from invisible to inevitable.”
Dwayne’s love of the Black Panther eventually blossomed into a love of comics in general. Dwayne was a smart guy with a lot of options in life. He’d earned a master’s degree in physics. But he chose to write comics as his career. I would argue that without the Black Panther, this flawed black character created by a writer and an artist who were not black, there would be no Dwayne McDuffie the comic book writer.
Dwayne wasn’t just a writer — he was also a businessman. In the early ’90s, he teamed with a group of writers and artists to found Milestone Media, the most prominent minority-owned comic book company that has ever existed. The Milestone universe have since been folded into DC Comics, so these days characters like Static Shock and Icon – characters Dwayne co-created – fight crime alongside Superman and Batman.
In the early ’90s, I was finishing up my adolescence. I visited my local comic-book store on a weekly basis, and one week I found a book on the stands called Xombi, published by Milestone Media. Xombi is a scientist who became a superhero after he was injected with nanotechnology. He allied himself with a secret order of superpowered nuns. One sister was known as Nun of the Above, another Nun the Less. Together, they protected the world from all kinds of supernatural threats.
Xombi was inventive and fun, but he stood out to me because he was an Asian American male carrying in his own monthly title. And even more notable – he didn’t know Kung Fu. Xombi wasn’t created by Asian Americans – his writer was white and his artist black – but he did make Asian Americans a little less invisible.
We in the book community are in the middle of a sustained conversation about diversity. We talk about our need for diverse books with diverse characters written by diverse writers. I wholeheartedly agree.
But I have noticed an undercurrent of fear in many of our discussions. We’re afraid of writing characters different from ourselves because we’re afraid of getting it wrong. We’re afraid of what the Internet might say.
This fear can be a good thing if it drives us to do our homework, to be meticulous in our cultural research. But this fear crosses the line when we become so intimidated that we quietly make choices against stepping out of our own identities. After all, our job as writers is to step out of ourselves, and to encourage our readers to do the same.
I told you the story of Dwayne McDuffie to encourage all of us to be generous with ourselves and with one another. The Black Panther, despite his flaws, was able to inspire a young African American reader to become a writer.
We have to allow ourselves the freedom to make mistakes, including cultural mistakes, in our first drafts. I believe it’s okay to get cultural details wrong in your first draft. It’s okay if stereotypes emerge. It just means that your experience is limited, that you’re human.
Just make sure you iron them out before the final draft. Make sure you do your homework. Make sure your early readers include people who are a part of the culture you’re writing about. Make sure your editor has the insider knowledge to help you out. If they don’t, consider hiring a freelance editor who does.
Also, it’s okay if stereotypes emerge in the first drafts of your colleagues. Correct them – definitely correct them – but do so in a spirit of generosity. Remember how soul-wrenching the act of writing is, how much courage it took for that writer to put words down on a page.
And let’s say you do your best. You put in all the effort you can. But then when your book comes out, the Internet gets angry. You slowly realize that, for once, the Internet might be right. You made a cultural misstep. If this happens, take comfort in the fact that even flawed characters can inspire. Apologize if necessary, resolve do better, and move on.
Let your fear drive you to do your homework. But no matter what, don’t ever let your fear stop you.

weneeddiversebooks:

Read This: Gene Luen Yang’s rousing comics speech at the 2014 National Book Festival gala

From the Washington Post, article here.

GENE LUEN YANG, Library of Congress, Jefferson Building:

Good evening. Thank you, Library of Congress and National Book Festival, for inviting me to share the stage with such esteemed authors, and to speak with all of you. I am deeply grateful for this honor.

I’m a comic-book guy, so tonight I’d like to talk about another comic book guy. Dwayne McDuffie was one of my favorite writers. When I was growing up, he was one of the few African-Americans working in American comics. Dwayne worked primarily within the superhero genre. He got his start at Marvel Comics but eventually worked for almost every comic book publisher out there. He even branched out into television and wrote for popular cartoon series like “Justice League” and “Ben 10.”

Dwayne McDuffie is no longer with us, unfortunately. He passed away in 2011, at the age of 49. But within comics, his influence is still deeply felt.

I was lucky enough to have met him once. About a year before his death, we were on a panel together at Comic-Con. I had the opportunity to shake his hand and tell him how much his work meant to me.

In a column Dwayne wrote in 1999, he talked about his love of the Black Panther, a Marvel Comics character. The Black Panther’s secret alias is T’Challa, the king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda. He has super senses, super strength, and super agility. He’s an Avenger, though he hasn’t yet made it into the movies.

The Black Panther wasn’t created by African American cartoonists. He was created in July of 1966 by two Jewish Americans, Stan Lee (who was born Stanley Lieber) and Jack Kirby (who was born Jacob Kurtzberg).

By modern standards, the Black Panther is not a flawless example of a black superhero. In their first draft of the character, Lee and Kirby called him “the Coal Tiger” and gave him a goofy yellow and black costume. Even in his final form, his superhero alias includes the word “Black.” This is true of many early African and African American superheroes, as if what makes them remarkable is neither their superpowers nor their heroism, but their ethnicity. Most problematic, though, was that Marvel made their most prominent black superhero the star of a series called Jungle Action.

All of these flaws were lost on Dwayne McDuffie when he first encountered the Black Panther in 1973, at the age of 11. What struck him was the character’s commanding sense of dignity. The Black Panther wasn’t anyone’s sidekick. He wasn’t an angry thug. He wasn’t a victim. He was his own hero, his own man. As Dwayne describes it, “In the space of 15 pages, black people moved from invisible to inevitable.”

Dwayne’s love of the Black Panther eventually blossomed into a love of comics in general. Dwayne was a smart guy with a lot of options in life. He’d earned a master’s degree in physics. But he chose to write comics as his career. I would argue that without the Black Panther, this flawed black character created by a writer and an artist who were not black, there would be no Dwayne McDuffie the comic book writer.

Dwayne wasn’t just a writer — he was also a businessman. In the early ’90s, he teamed with a group of writers and artists to found Milestone Media, the most prominent minority-owned comic book company that has ever existed. The Milestone universe have since been folded into DC Comics, so these days characters like Static Shock and Icon – characters Dwayne co-created – fight crime alongside Superman and Batman.

In the early ’90s, I was finishing up my adolescence. I visited my local comic-book store on a weekly basis, and one week I found a book on the stands called Xombi, published by Milestone Media. Xombi is a scientist who became a superhero after he was injected with nanotechnology. He allied himself with a secret order of superpowered nuns. One sister was known as Nun of the Above, another Nun the Less. Together, they protected the world from all kinds of supernatural threats.

Xombi was inventive and fun, but he stood out to me because he was an Asian American male carrying in his own monthly title. And even more notable – he didn’t know Kung Fu. Xombi wasn’t created by Asian Americans – his writer was white and his artist black – but he did make Asian Americans a little less invisible.

We in the book community are in the middle of a sustained conversation about diversity. We talk about our need for diverse books with diverse characters written by diverse writers. I wholeheartedly agree.

But I have noticed an undercurrent of fear in many of our discussions. We’re afraid of writing characters different from ourselves because we’re afraid of getting it wrong. We’re afraid of what the Internet might say.

This fear can be a good thing if it drives us to do our homework, to be meticulous in our cultural research. But this fear crosses the line when we become so intimidated that we quietly make choices against stepping out of our own identities.
After all, our job as writers is to step out of ourselves, and to encourage our readers to do the same.

I told you the story of Dwayne McDuffie to encourage all of us to be generous with ourselves and with one another. The Black Panther, despite his flaws, was able to inspire a young African American reader to become a writer.

We have to allow ourselves the freedom to make mistakes, including cultural mistakes, in our first drafts. I believe it’s okay to get cultural details wrong in your first draft. It’s okay if stereotypes emerge. It just means that your experience is limited, that you’re human.

Just make sure you iron them out before the final draft. Make sure you do your homework. Make sure your early readers include people who are a part of the culture you’re writing about. Make sure your editor has the insider knowledge to help you out. If they don’t, consider hiring a freelance editor who does.

Also, it’s okay if stereotypes emerge in the first drafts of your colleagues. Correct them – definitely correct them – but do so in a spirit of generosity. Remember how soul-wrenching the act of writing is, how much courage it took for that writer to put words down on a page.

And let’s say you do your best. You put in all the effort you can. But then when your book comes out, the Internet gets angry. You slowly realize that, for once, the Internet might be right. You made a cultural misstep. If this happens, take comfort in the fact that even flawed characters can inspire. Apologize if necessary, resolve do better, and move on.

Let your fear drive you to do your homework. But no matter what, don’t ever let your fear stop you.

(via naturallysteph)

Filed under gene luen yang national book festival dwayne mcduffie

2,799,693 notes

Don't ever hesitate. Reblog this. TUMBLR RULE. When you see it, REBLOG IT.

The original post only has US helplines. I've added UK helplines underneath. It would be great if people could add numbers from everywhere in the world.
Depression Hotline:
1-630-482-9696
Suicide Hotline:
1-800-784-8433
LifeLine:
1-800-273-8255
Trevor Project:
1-866-488-7386
Sexuality Support:
1-800-246-7743
Eating Disorders Hotline:
1-847-831-3438
Rape and Sexual Assault:
1-800-656-4673
Grief Support:
1-650-321-5272
Runaway:
1-800-843-5200, 1-800-843-5678, 1-800-621-4000
Exhale:
After Abortion Hotline/Pro-Voice: 1-866-4394253
Child Abuse:
1-800-422-4453
UK Helplines:
Samaritans (for any problem):
08457909090 e-mail jo@samaritans.org
Childline (for anyone under 18 with any problem):
08001111
Mind infoline (mental health information):
0300 123 3393 e-mail: info@mind.org.uk
Mind legal advice (for people who need mental-health related legal advice):
0300 466 6463 legal@mind.org.uk
b-eat eating disorder support:
0845 634 14 14 (only open Mon-Fri 10.30am-8.30pm and Saturday 1pm-4.30pm) e-mail: help@b-eat.co.uk
b-eat youthline (for under 25's with eating disorders):
08456347650 (open Mon-Fri 4.30pm - 8.30pm, Saturday 1pm-4.30pm)
Cruse Bereavement Care:
08444779400 e-mail: helpline@cruse.org.uk
Frank (information and advice on drugs):
0800776600
Drinkline:
0800 9178282
Rape Crisis England & Wales:
0808 802 9999 1(open 2 - 2.30pm 7 - 9.30pm) e-mail info@rapecrisis.org.uk
Rape Crisis Scotland:
08088 01 03 02 every day, 6pm to midnight
India Self Harm Hotline:
00 08001006614
India Suicide Helpline:
022-27546669
Kids Help Phone (Canada):
1-800-668-6868, Free and available 24/7
suicide hotlines;
Argentina:
54-0223-493-0430
Australia:
13-11-14
Austria:
01-713-3374
Barbados:
429-9999
Belgium:
106
Botswana:
391-1270
Brazil:
21-233-9191
Canada:
1-800-448-3000
China:
852-2382-0000
(Hong Kong:
2389-2222)
Costa Rica:
606-253-5439
Croatia:
01-4833-888
Cyprus:
357-77-77-72-67
Czech Republic:
222-580-697, 476-701-908
Denmark:
70-201-201
Egypt:
762-1602
Estonia:
6-558-088
Finland:
040-5032199
France:
01-45-39-4000
Germany:
0800-181-0721
Greece:
1018
Guatemala:
502-234-1239
Holland:
0900-0767
Honduras:
504-237-3623
Hungary:
06-80-820-111
Iceland:
44-0-8457-90-90-90
Israel:
09-8892333
Italy:
06-705-4444
Japan:
3-5286-9090
Latvia:
6722-2922, 2772-2292
Malaysia:
03-756-8144
(Singapore:
1-800-221-4444)
Mexico:
525-510-2550
Netherlands:
0900-0767
New Zealand:
4-473-9739
New Guinea:
675-326-0011
Nicaragua:
505-268-6171
Norway:
47-815-33-300
Philippines:
02-896-9191
Poland:
52-70-000
Portugal:
239-72-10-10
Russia:
8-20-222-82-10
Slovenia:
(Telefon za otroke in mladostnike - TOM) 116 111
Spain:
91-459-00-50
South Africa:
0861-322-322
South Korea:
2-715-8600
Sweden:
031-711-2400
Switzerland:
143
Taiwan:
0800-788-995
Thailand:
02-249-9977
Trinidad and Tobago:
868-645-2800
Ukraine:
0487-327715

Filed under information is power

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Manga Club is back for the school year, and we’ve moved to Mondays due to popular request!
Our first meeting is on Monday, Sept. 15th from 3:30-5:30pm in the meeting room.
We’ll watch Sailor Moon Crystal, discuss our favorite manga, and decide what to do for the rest of the year. 
Anyone 13+ is welcome and new members are encouraged.

Manga Club is back for the school year, and we’ve moved to Mondays due to popular request!

Our first meeting is on Monday, Sept. 15th from 3:30-5:30pm in the meeting room.

We’ll watch Sailor Moon Crystal, discuss our favorite manga, and decide what to do for the rest of the year. 

Anyone 13+ is welcome and new members are encouraged.

Filed under NTmanga sailor moon

2 notes


Fiction Friday!  To celebrate the new school year, we decided to round up some of our favorite books prominently featuring schools.  For more reads with schools, teachers, and homework assignments (both good and bad), check out our display in the teen section. 
 Sleeping Freshman Never Lie ~by David Lubar: Scott decides to write a high school survival guide for his soon-to-be-born sibling, but he also has no idea how to navigate high school and really just wants to sleep most of the time. 
 Alanna: The First Adventure ~by Tamora Pierce: Turns out, some classes in knight school are very similar to those in public school.  But at least you get to use swords, deal with a magical cat, and hide your gender at knight school.  
 Roomies ~by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando: OK, so this book takes place before school starts, but learning about your college roommate is just as important as actually taking classes, so we’re counting it. 
 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone ~by J. K. Rowling: We thought about keeping this book off the list—for about five seconds.  Seriously, we all want to attend Hogwarts.

Fiction Friday!  To celebrate the new school year, we decided to round up some of our favorite books prominently featuring schools.  For more reads with schools, teachers, and homework assignments (both good and bad), check out our display in the teen section.

 Sleeping Freshman Never Lie ~by David Lubar: Scott decides to write a high school survival guide for his soon-to-be-born sibling, but he also has no idea how to navigate high school and really just wants to sleep most of the time.

 Alanna: The First Adventure ~by Tamora Pierce: Turns out, some classes in knight school are very similar to those in public school.  But at least you get to use swords, deal with a magical cat, and hide your gender at knight school. 

 Roomies ~by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando: OK, so this book takes place before school starts, but learning about your college roommate is just as important as actually taking classes, so we’re counting it.

 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone ~by J. K. Rowling: We thought about keeping this book off the list—for about five seconds.  Seriously, we all want to attend Hogwarts.

Filed under Fiction Friday Sleeping Freshman Never Lie Alanna Roomies Harry Potter NTreads