How Comics Promote Delayed Gratification

Image Comics. Used for non-commercial purposes.

I just finished reading Volume 2 of Lazarus, the excellent Image Comics series from Greg Rucka, Michael Lark, and Santi Arcas. Let me be honest right up front; I am no serious comic book fan. I bought a few random issues of super hero stuff (mostly Batman) when I was kid in the early 90s, because that was what people were doing, before quickly losing interest. My recent interest in comics is mostly through The Walking Dead (which I don’t actually own), two issues of The Wicked and the Divine (which I didn’t actually like) and the Lazarus series. Not to mention that I am buying these things in “volumes” on Amazon, not actual comic books, which I know seriously hurts my street creed. I just don’t have a comic book store anywhere close to where I live, and I enjoy reading them this way for now. Essentially, reading and following comic series is a fresh, new experience for me at the age of 29.

What struck me today was the intense feeling that I needed to read the next installment of Lazarus immediately. Unfortunately for me, Volume 3 does not exist yet, and will not for at least another 3 months. 3 months?! Even if I was able to shop for the individual comics, there are only two new issues out now, with just one new issue every month. If we think about comic books as episodes, that would be like waiting a month between episodes of Game of Thrones. When I have to wait a week for a new episode of Boardwalk Empire, I absolutely lose my mind! How I am going to wait months for Lazarus?

Comics are a unique medium. Reading a good one resembles reading a novel, looking at a painting, and watching an episode of a TV show, but at the same time is nothing like any of those things. The visual sequences feel like watching a movie in slow motion, giving the reader an opportunity to really absorb and enjoy the art. The unraveling of the story, character development, and cultural relevance can rival some of our best literature.

Yet, comics are almost more unique in their distribution. I think it goes without saying (since you are reading this on the internet) that we live in a world of instant media access. When I want to read or watch something, I don’t have to wait for it. I don’t want to ever have to wait. And if I do have to wait more than 20 seconds for something, I am going to fill that time with a quick look at Twitter or Instagram. I love this world. But it frightens me to think of what it may be doing to our psyche. We may be too quick to lump comics in with this category of fast media since they are so popular and engrained in our culture through Hollywood movies. However, comics demand that you wait for them. Even if you are reading them electronically, you still wait the month for the next issue. And when they’re really great, you are brought right back into the story, the world that has been created by the artists. When we are forced to wait, different things happen in our brain.

Perhaps this delayed gratification for comic books is a good thing, a counter balance to the overwhelmingly rapid pace of information. I often cite reading a novel as an opportunity to slow down, but I will be adding the experience of waiting for comic book releases to that list. It is an important list, even though it is a short list. For now, I will embrace this long period of waiting for the next volume of Lazarus. Will it get any less painful? I don’t know, but I think that pain is good for my health.

What is your experience of following a comic series? Is there any value to this delayed gratification? Discuss in the comments.

My First Daily Creation!

For the past few months I have read about The Daily Create on Kevin Hodgson’s edublog. Today, I participated for the first time by celebrating a Happy 106 Day (I’m still figuring out what that is all about) with a dramatic trailer style video. The Daily Create posts a creative assignment everyday and collects the results on their site. I had fun doing this instead of the tasks that I feature in the video. I look forward to the next assignment.

This is something that could inform your teaching, but I see the value as just to help you as a creative professional to break up the monotony of the week and have some fun!

What do you think of The Daily Create? What do you think of my first one?

Creative Commons – The Evolution of Copyright

3421327165_ddbf65fec7_zPhoto:  LicenseAttribution Some rights reserved by Giuli-O

Creative Commons (CC) is an organization that has developed a system of licensing of creative content (images, audio, video, animation and website) for distribution online. Content creators choose one of six licenses, delineating how their work can or cannot be used. Does the artist need credit? Can the work be used in a remix/mashup? Can it be reproduced on a blog? Other people online can search CC images and use them in their digital projects. This gives creators the opportunity to share their work in the way they want to, giving internet users the chance to legally use high quality media in their own projects.

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Photo:  LicenseAttribution Some rights reserved by jorgeandresem

What I love about Creative Commons licensing is that it does not involve policy debate or legislation. It is something for content creators and users. Offering this alternative system to copyright takes out the interests of government and corporations. I become frustrated when large organizations with big money interests get in the way of what individuals can achieve. Creative Commons is a simple system to understand (if you can shed your traditional copyright-induced expectations) and provides more options than copyright law does about how to share and use content. Interestingly enough, CC accomplishes all of this while embeded within copyright protection. Technically, CC licenses are statements that qualify your copyright by communicating how the work can be accessed. The website has an easy to use tool to help you choose which license to use based on questions about the intented use of your work.

Ever since I first read about Creative Commons a couple of years ago, I have been fascinated by the concept and the benefits of the system as put into practice. I can speak about the practical side, because I use CC licensing as both a creator and user of content. In regards to photography, I would consider myself an amateur or “enthusiast.” I do not plan to make a business out of my photographs – I do it for the love of the medium and the challenges of capturing different types of images. This enthusiasm compels me to share my work with a wider audience, wider than what once was just my family and then Facebook friends. I share many of my photos under a Creative Commons license on Flickr.com. You can see how they look on this site, by clicking on any of my photos and finding the license information at the bottom right. I also feature some of these on my blog. I am now sharing my photos with a larger audience and giving that audience more options in how they may use that work. It is a rather democratic experience that I do enjoy. I think this system is balanced in how it values the rights of creators and is heavily informed by the philosophy of open access of information online.

Since I give to the community, I also take. When I write blog posts about technology, education, or other topics, I reach to Flickr and other collections of CC images to include in my blog posts. We know that pictures help us communicate ideas and hook our audience’s attention. When I use a CC photo, I copy the license type and link to the author’s page, and paste that information under the picture, as a caption. Not only is this legally and ethically sound practice, it also helps promote the work of other artists through attribution.

I understand that much of this can be compared to copyright law. Fair Use allows for work to be used in certain ways – does it not? The details of Fair Use are purposely ambiguous (according to a UPENN educational site), and unfortunately, the terms of use are determined by the government, not the creator. Creative Commons works around and within copyright law to make up for its limitations. So, although it revises and expands on copyright law, it is not completely separate from copyright. Despite its relationship with traditional copyright law, Creative Commons removes the influence of government and corporations from the equation, leaving it up to individuals to decided how they will share their work.

Must Reads: A Cool Microsoft Project? Olympic Limelight, Airport Radiation, What’s Worse than Having Cancer? The Human Jukebox, and More…

This is my weekly list of what I most want to share. What have I read that was fascinating, exciting, puzzling, or inspiring. Catch up on some things you missed from the past week. Maybe I dug up a few obscure gems that are totally new to you. Check out the brief ones now and save the more lengthy ones for later. Share and be share to…here’s the list:

Tech and Media

How Steve Jobs Created Jobs

Very cool visual art project from…Microsoft? Shame on Google for not getting there first 🙂 this seems like their type of project. Props to MS, although it is a bit hard to navigate at times.

Excellent essay on the effect of The Media and The Limelight on Gabby Douglas, and our other young olympic athletes.

Health and Politics

I am continually in awe of the human body. When we lose one of our senses, parts of the brain get repurposed to our other senses.

Scanners at the airports have always worried me in terms of radiation exposure. No matter your political position on domestic security, it is scary how little is known about the risks of these machines.

This is a small but powerful step in the right direction for supporting people exposed to chemical/industrial contamination.

Hear from a young woman battling cancer on the detrimental impact of health insurance and medical bills on the lives of patients and their families. As if the disease was not enough to deal with…

Must Watch

Amazing short talk on epiphanies and creative solutions to poverty, the economy, and environmental concerns.

The always creative and entertaining, CDZA Music brings us the human jukebox, this week. One of their best. Just plain old fun.

Must Reads

I planned on keeping this blog simple, but the ideas just keep coming. I’m just going to roll with it. Here is a new weekly series!

This is my weekly list of what I most want to share. What have I read that was fascinating, exciting, puzzling, or inspiring. Catch up on some things you missed from the past week. Maybe I dug up a few obscure gems that are totally new to you. Check out the brief ones now and save the more lengthy ones for later. Share and be share to…here’s the list:

Tech
Batteries in Spray Form – Could our electronics get even thinner?

Dropbox rewards – Dropbox.com, the popular cloud storage service, has decided to reward many of their early adopters of the premium service by giving them their storage free for life (some have acquired up to 50 gig). I think this is particularly interesting, because Dropbox seems to be treating these early adopters as investors. I wonder if anyone else will follow suite. This reminds me of Kickstarter.com, in way, since investors are given certain benefits for funding start-up projects.

Photography
Lovely Sky Monsters – What does it look like as a super tornado forms? These are some of the most beautiful and frightening photographs I have ever seen. If you look at only one set of photos today, make it this one.

Did you know that Sony makes image sensors for other camera brands? Neither did I. Some very interesting insights into how the digital camera production industry works and may work in the future.

Why I Hate My Camera – Excellent satirical execution and expression of the frustrations of the photographer who is awed by his subject. It reminds me of how poets often write poems about the inadequacy of poetry…

Literature, Culture and Education
Famous logos and what they used to look like.

“An inspiring story about the power of literature to open minds and expand horizons.” I also plan to read Orwell’s essay that is referenced.

Florida’s Governor Questions State Tests – As a Florida teacher, this is of particular interest to me. But it does have national implications. This is the first time I have ever heard a major politician or other policy maker question the frequency of standardized testing.

Book Spine Poetry – I really enjoy when she does these. This one is particularly impressive.

Dogs That Love Reading – This is just a few minutes of pure joy.

Must Watch
Italian film production company Cinecitta has teamed up with Google to digitize its collection of film from the past 70 years or so – over 100,000 films. It is also fascinating to see how far we have come in terms of image technology, but how many similar production techniques we still use from the early pioneers of film. Here are two very short (under 2 min.) nonfiction pieces.
Italian Summer Boat Races
Making Cheese

Longer Reads
For the last couple of weeks I have greatly missed the Weekend Reading post from the Cuture Desk at the New Yorker. Here is one I found there.
Until Proven Innocent – Michael Morton was convicted of his wife’s brutal murder in 1987. After 25 years in prison, he was exonerated of the crime. This riveting three-part series was originally published in the Williamson County Sun. Well worth your time.