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September 20, 2007

Comic Book Assignment That Led To Teacher Resigning Was Eightball #22

imageIn a surprise development, the comic book assigned to a 14-year-old freshman in Guilford, Connecticut that led to the quick resignation of the teacher involved, Nate Fisher, is reported to be from the series by the award-winning alternative cartoonist and screenwriter Dan Clowes. The book in question is reported to be Eightball #22, the Ice Haven issue, which was later made into a stand-alone book by Pantheon. This article names the series rather than the individual issue and carries a lot of quotes from angry parents, including an all-time quote of its type from a fellow school employee who declared the teacher might have received a beating from her husband had the student in question been their daughter.

The fact that it's Eightball #22 comes as something of a surprise. The Eightball series runs a range of comics from blunt, explicit satire like "Needledick the Bugfucker" and the sexual imagery-laden "On Sports," to much more subtle and formally complex work like the "Ice Haven" story. While technically there are a few panels of nudity, references to criminal acts and a peeping tom, and few would argue the wisdom of giving such a story to a minor in these prickly, easy-to-outrage times, it's also somewhere on the spectrum from laughable to insulting to treat the comic as something solely defined by those elements, let alone assert that the comic is something far worse when broken down to a list of such elements than the average movie aimed at teen-aged audiences. The teacher deserved to feel pressure that resulted in him leaving his job about as much as any parents that dropped their teenager and a 14-year-old friend at Rob Zombie's Halloween deserves to lose custody of their child.

The Eightball series is one of comics' most honored, winning 15 Harvey awards and four Eisner awards. The Ice Haven story was widely praised when it came out. Clowes has become one of comics' most respected authors, and one of the more highly regarded authors, period. He began a serialized story in the New York Times this past Sunday.

Dan Clowes and Fantagraphics both declined to comment on the story by the time it was filed, feeling they had not received enough information.
posted 2:06 am PST | Permalink

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