Monday, March 28, 2011

Comics in College?

Kathleen Dunley is the faculty chair for the English department at Rio Salado College and holds a doctorate in English from the University of Colorado with a concentration in contemporary American and experimental writing. Sounds very academic, right? Not the type of person you would expect to find hanging out at Comi-Con, right? Riiiiight….
As a matter of fact, Dunley was a speaker at last year’s ComiCon where she caught the attention of internationally recognized cartoonist, designer and historian, Seth. This guy is so cool he doesn’t even use a last name!
Dunley and Seth will be sharing the stage for the headlining panel at the San Francisco Comic Arts Conference. The conference is being held in conjunction with the WonderCon event taking place from April 1-3.
Dunley describes the opportunity as “an honor to me both as a fan of his work and as a scholar since I wrote about his work extensively in my dissertation and have done multiple other scholarly talks about his various graphic novels.”
Dunley has been a fan of comics ever since she started reading Archie as a kid. In her teens she became interested in graphic novels such as V for Vendetta, Sin City, and The Watchmen.
“It was different and a little subversive,” Dunley said about her choice of reading materials.
Dunley would like to integrate comic arts into courses at Rio Salado. “One of the courses on my short list to develop, now that I’m here, is a course in literature and film,” she said, “but I need to have a comic in that course. “
According to Dunley, courses in comic arts are “gateway courses” that introduce students to more advanced storytelling concepts and literary ideas. Although Rio does not currently offer any comic arts classes, she said she hopes to be the one to change it. “It would give us a niche.”
If you’d like to hear Dunley speak but can’t make it to San Francisco, she will be in Scottsdale on April 5th and 7th to give two talks on the Multicultural Impetus in Comic Books for the Cross Cultural Communications Series at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. She has also been endorsed by the Institute for Comic Studies to participate in the Phoenix Comi-Con in May.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Top Military Advisor Visits EVVEC

Col. Sutherland meets veteran and student David Jackson.
A top military member visited the East Valley Veterans Education Center (EVVEC) on Wednesday to observe how the new facility is working to assist Arizona’s veterans and their families. 

Col. David Sutherland, Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met with EVVEC leaders as part of his efforts to seek out best practices in veteran and family services.

“When I saw this center, it resonated with me,” Sutherland said. “Veterans have challenges when they come home. They face isolation. They need to connect with other veterans and with community services that enable education and meaningful employment.”

The EVVEC, hosted by Rio Salado College, opened last month as a "one-stop-shop" where veterans can get practical information about the educational resources available to successfully pursue a college education.

Touring the facility, Sutherland noted the importance of community partnerships in the successful transition from military member to student.

“I’m on the road 22 days a month, going into communities to pull together the efforts of educators, nonprofits and service providers,” Sutherland said. “By bringing in community partnerships, you enable veterans to connect with each other and to the support they need.”

The EVVEC hosts monthly educational and employment related workshops in conjunction with their community partners, and also offers veterans assistance with applying for VA benefits, referrals to community resources, and cultural events/activities to ease the transition to college life.

Community partners include the Arizona Departments of Veterans Services and Economic Security, the Phoenix VA Regional Office, Phoenix VA Healthcare System and the Veterans Upward Bound Program.

“Military members are leaving behind bonds that exist on the battlefield,” Sutherland said. “Whether it is in Africa, Korea, Afghanistan, Nellis Air Force Base or Iraq, the bond is unlike any other. You deploy, fight, and redeploy as a family. When you return, you are looking for something to fill that void.”

To learn more about the programs and services available to veterans and their families visit

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sun Sounds of AZ Fundraiser at Tempe Beach Park on Saturday

The 23rd annual Great Arizona Beer Festival is scheduled for Saturday, March 5 from 2 to 6 pm at Tempe Beach Park. The event is the largest of its kind in the southwest and features over 200 artisan beers, food vendors and live entertainment.

All proceeds from the event go directly to support the work of Sun Sounds of Arizona which provides access to print media for blind and print-impaired listeners. Volunteer readers throughout the state make content available 24/7 by reading these materials aloud via radio, phone, internet and cable TV.

The Great Arizona Beer Festival is the primary fundraising event for Sun Sounds of Arizona and is made possible through the donations of participating brewers, sponsors and the work of hundreds of volunteers.

This year’s event will include several exciting new components including the integration of smartphone technology that will allow visitors to quickly access information about participating brewers and their products.

“Every year we look for new ways to keep making the festival better and more exciting, and this year we’ve added two new events leading up to the festival, to really reach out to fans of craft beer, as well as some exciting new contests online,” says Sue DesParte, chair of the 2011 event. “I’m also looking forward to raising as much money as possible, since every nickel we earn goes directly to Sun Sounds of Arizona.”

Sun Sounds of Arizona is a service of Rio Salado College’s Division of Public Services, along with NPR affiliates KJZZ 91.5 FM and KBAQ 89.5FM, and Maricopa Colleges Television.