Danny Caine — Teacher of the Year!

I returned home last Friday to find a wonderful surprise waiting for me. Inside a manila envelope postmarked Smithville, Ohio, was a packet of letters from Danny Caine’s 10th-grade English Class at Smithville High School. Mr. Caine explained that he had recently assigned A.D. to his class, and that it had been a rewarding experience for all involved.

As Mr. Caine wrote, "My students were 11 when the storm hit, and so it felt pretty current to them. Yet they were still too young to understand the weightiness of the situation, and A.D. opened their eyes." Because of budget issues, Mr. Caine chose to use the original, online version of the book (on "SMITH Magazine’s fantastic website"): "… Online reading is a novel yet relevant way to experience text; as nonlinear web reading becomes more common, your online presentation of A.D. (with informational links for many panels) matched the style of literacy that students are comfortable with. In addition, the links lent gravity to the material, and served as important reminders that this was indeed nonfiction."

I’m really overwhelmed by this package. Not only does it thrill me beyond words to know that A.D. on SMITH has continued life, but to think that actual students are taking advantage of all the site’s resources is more than I ever could have imagined. (After all, I put most of those links together!) And the individual letters from the kids are really touching — filled with questions, comments, and appreciation. I still haven’t worked my way through them all, as I’m savoring each one individually. I’m so grateful to Mr. Caine for exposing his students to the unique educational potential of comics in general, and A.D. in particular. And of course for taking the time to let me know about his class’s experience.

I plan on sending the class a personalized hardcover of A.D. And of course letting Mr. Caine know that, should he care to teach Katrina through A.D. again in the future, that there’s a free teacher’s guide online, and that the more economical A.D. paperback is due out in August.

Three cheers for Danny Caine!

Extra Bored to Death

Last week I was an extra on the set of Jonathan Ames and HBO’s Bored to Death. Along with a cohort of other Brooklyn cartoonists — particularly Dean Haspiel — I got to play myself at a fictitious comic convention. It was easy to get into character. Just like a real comic convention, it was crowded, repetitive, and no one buys anything!

Although exhausting, it was altogether a fun experience. In addition to getting to hang with Dino for a couple of days (an all-to-rare occurrence nowadays), I got to banter with Ames and Jason Schwartzman, and ogle Zach Galifiniakis and Ted Danson. Look for the episode to premiere some time in September or October.

I can’t say I remember (or recognize) fellow cartoonist Gabby Schulz from the shoot, but he was set up behind me and must have kept to himself. He didn’t mention me either! But he wrote an excellent synopsis of the experience: http://www.gabbysplayhouse.com/?p=1124

P.S. Despite my joke above, in addition to getting paid as an extra, and for providing “set dressing” for the show, at the end of the shoot I ended up selling eight or nine copies of A.D. to members of the “Bored to Death” production staff. Three income streams from one event!

P.P.S. As is S.O.P., I did a (rather uninspired) sketch of the actors. Wonder Woman is a character created just for this episode. Particularly egregious is my "Ted Danson." Apologies to all involved.

Bored to Death

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