Pocket Con: Today Oct. 8 at Chicago Cultural Center

group-02Today you can find me, Dragon and Goat at Pocket Con, a free comics convention at the Chicago Cultural Center.  Focusing on Creators of Colour and Indie Comics Artists the convention aims to empower young creators to bring new voices into the medium of comics and beyond.

I’ll be giving a workshop for Comics Brainstorming (so bring your 20-sided dice!) at 1.30pm on the 4th flr, so try to squeeze in if you can.

Calling All Comics Nerds

group-01Tomorrow is the second day of the Graphic Novel Symposium at Moraine Valley Community College.  Last year I gave a presentation, workshopping my Random Comics Generator 2.2 system and this year the speakers are Gene Ha and Anne Elizabeth Moore.  I’ll have a table at the Library atrium  from 9am-3pm for the mini-con with other comics peeps like David and Rene from Instant Press Comics.  Hope to see you there!

There Will be Wizards- Wizard World Chicago 2016

We’re getting geared up for Wizard World Chicago tomorrow and hope to see you there!  Dragon is furiously printing books and Goat is hammering buttons together, so be sure to stop by and see Adam at Artist Alley Table H5.  This year Adam’ll be taking commissions for drawings of Dragon and Goat in whatever cosplay or scenario you want….well, within reason. D&G-Supes&Spidey

Printer’s Row Lit Fest Day II: Adam Fotos’ comics for All Ages (that means Kids and adults)


Today’s weather should be completely perfect for the 2nd day of Printer’s Row Lit Fest in Downtown Chicago.  Stop by my table at the Third Coast Comics tent for a selection of comics for kids and adults drawn and written by a Chicago artist.  The tent is the 3rd in from the festival, so you can’t miss it!

My new book Beyond Paper Walls is finally available as well as a selection of Dragon and Goat books and my graphic novel The Panopticorn.

Brave the Heat to Check out Beyond Paper Walls at Printer’s Row Lit Fest Chicago

BeyondPaperWalls-15-aToday Beyond Paper Walls  debuts at Printer’s Row Lit Fest in Chicago.  It will be as hot as Kyoto, but the fest has lots of indoor events as well.  I’ll be braving the heat at Dearborn and Harrison downtown (visit the Festival website for more info). I should be at the 3rd tent from the corner of Dearborn and Harrison going South, but look for the Third Coast Comics tent.

If you can’t make it to  Printer’s Row the book is available for order from the Dragon and Goat Website, so check out our new shop: http://www.dragonandgoat.com/?product=beyond-paper-walls

Beyond Paper Walls Debuts at Printer’s Row Lit Fest June 11 & 12

BeyondPaperWalls-56This weekend I’ll be (finally!) debuting my newest comic book Beyond Paper Walls at Printer’s Row Lit Fest in Chicago June 11 & 12.  The fest is at Dearborn and Harrison downtown (visit the Festival website for more info). I should be at the 3rd tent from the corner of Dearborn and Harrison going South, but look for the Third Coast Comics tent.

The comic essay explores the boundaries between an Imagined and Real Japan through an autobiographical recounting of me and my wife hiking up Fushimi Inari Mountain in Kyoto. If you can’t make it to  Printer’s Row the book is available for order from the Dragon and Goat Website, so check out our new shop: http://www.dragonandgoat.com/?product=beyond-paper-walls or if you’re in Chicago you’ll be able to get a copy next week at the Book Cellar and some other area bookstores as I drop off more copies.

Terminal Summer- Laid Off until Fall (If Classes Run?)

Yesterday I was officially laid off from my teaching position at Chicago State University (CSU). I am, or was, a full-time lecturer at Chicago State where I have been teaching in Chicago’s Southside the past seven years. Usually when I tell people in Chicago or Chicago-land area where I teach, they have no idea where CSU is, but now they say or sigh something like “…My condolences.” People know who we are now because we have been and are still at the center of Illinois’ budget crisis.

This entire year my school has been on the financial brink not because the State can’t afford to fund CSU but because the political powers that be can’t agree and pass a budget so that funds can be released. Chicago State has been embroiled in a symbolic battle between a Governor hell-bent on gutting State agencies and unions and a House Speaker who refuses to compromise. Both sides are functioning ideologically, forgetting the human side of these budgetary numbers that keep getting batted around.

Because CSU serves mostly African-Americans (we have the highest percentage of African American students in the State), we have been central to the Democrats’ argument against the Governor’s cuts. The President of our school threatened closing and we lost our Spring Break to end the school year one week earlier to save money. CSU was allowed to function as a symbol of the government’s failures to provide for the African American and other minority communities.

Though now Chicago State is out of danger from closing, what will the school look like when it opens in the Fall?

On Friday I had to hand in my keys and clean out my office, which for art faculty is a pain, having lots of painting and drawing materials and books. I had to do this despite being slated to teach my regular classes in the Fall. Originally I thought this was yet again a symbolic gesture- laying off teachers, but doing so on the last day of their contract. I thought it was probably just a political ploy, inconvenient but without real impact, so I was surprised how emotional I was going to the school for the final time this summer.  I realized it was still very real.

Since I am not tenured or tenure-track, low enrollment will bump me from teaching since the tenured faculty are to carry a full load, and if their classes get cancelled they’ll have to take over the classes now taught by our six or so full-time lecturers. With the layoff the school now has no obligation to give me a new contract until they know my classes will run, and that will depend on enrollment, which has been declining since before the school’s current fiscal crisis.

With continued cuts to MAP grants for our students of highest need and the bad press it will be difficult to retain current students who are uncertain if they should continue investing in classes when their school may fall victim to political gambling. Thanks to all the bad press, new students will likely think twice before jumping into a state university that does not have the support of the State.

Yet all of this is the result of cold ideology- two parties that are at cultural war rather than thinking of their constituents, the real people who they are actually supposed to serve.

I have invested a lot in the CSU community, in teaching its students and working with colleagues committed to working with students who have largely been underserved by public education most of their lives. Our students are a mostly African American school but there is great diversity of experience and backgrounds in our students from African American communities as well as our Latina and Asian and Asian-American communities as well. We have just out of high school freshman, mothers and grandmothers juggling childcare and work, young men and women working night shifts and coming to school when they would otherwise be sleeping. Many of our students are transfers who land at CSU to finally complete their degrees. We serve veterans and many older people who are coming to school for a diploma that means more to them than just a slip of paper to just get a job.

When people come down on CSU for having a low graduation rate, think about the real people behind those statistics. Our students are not the same as students from University of Illinois. They come from economic and social situations that makes it harder (or take longer) for them to climb the ladder to the American dream thanks in no small part to the institutional racism that pervades our state and country. The US does a poor job of providing for those in greatest need of social supports who so often happen to be minorities. Yet Chicago State is an institution centered on getting under-prepared students the education they deserve. Sure it might take them longer than the white kids from Champaign, but our students have to have the opportunity to get degrees when they would not fit in with a traditional school.

A recent editorial in the Chicago Tribune says that “[Chicago State] has cheated young people, many of them from low-income homes, of chances for a college degree and a better life.” I can’t see where this statement is coming from. We haven’t cheated anyone, but politicians have put our school in jeopardy. The article cites the new graduation rate of 11% after a year of our school nearly being strangled out of existence. How did everyone expect students to perform with the new added stress of their school closing on top of the stresses and pressures in their own lives?

If this “cheating” is referring to how the previous administration mismanaged the institution, state it plainly. Let’s remember that there are others who are working with students beyond the institutional bureaucracy. The faculty have long contested and protested internal issues, so haphazardly saying the educational institution is failing misses the mark. The article also mentions that faculty have not been laid off- but this is not exactly the case. Friday was the last day that contingent faculty like myself had to turn in keys- the same day the article came out. Had the editorial board done any research this would have been apparent.

Perhaps it was overlooked because our contracts ended yesterday so a termination on the same day may have seemed to be a moot point, except that we are no longer eligible for benefits, health insurance or otherwise through the school. It has a real effect on real people’s lives.

So now I am looking at a three-month layoff and hoping to get rehired. I have been scrapping the adjunct and contingent faculty game for a while and am used to lean times. But now I have a house and a baby who I have to provide for. The prospect of losing my position has higher stakes for me now, but even higher stakes for my students.