The Joplin Writers’ Faire Returns!

After a year-long hiatus, we’re back for 2021! The Joplin Writers’ Faire is scheduled for Saturday, October 9, 2021 from 10am-noon here inside the library.

This year’s line-up includes:

Billie Holladay Skelley

Catherine Valentine

Chad Stebbins

Chris Mitchell

Elton Gahr

F.C. Shultz

Izzy B

Larry Wood

Laura Lynn Wright

Pub Hound Press

Randy Turner

Robert Dopp

S.V. Farnsworth

Sandra Ruddick-Darr

Small Harbor Publishing

William & Doris Martin

The Joplin Writers’ Faire is a free, public event co-hosted by Post Art Library and Joplin Public Library each October. The aim of this event is to connect all sorts of writers to their existing and potentially new audiences while encouraging community support of local and regional writers. Questions? Call Jill at 417-623-7953 x1041.

Please note that social distancing will be observed at this event.

Joplin High School Cartoonist Club titles

This was almost the shortest book review submitted here: “Read them!  They’re wonderful!”  Because that’s all you really need to know about the books published by the Joplin High School Cartoonist Club.

It’s easy to gush about the delightful results of local students’ creativity and hard work.  And, it’s loads of fun to see a new batch of artwork every year then watch audiences enjoy it, too.  Forgive my shameless fangirling, but these books are the most consistently fun, intriguing, surprising series I’ve read in a long time.

The JHS Cartoonist Club, helmed by sponsor Seth Wolfshorndl, is in its thirteenth year and has grown tenfold from a starting group of five students.  During the school year, club members meet to learn new drawing techniques, stretch their creativity, and explore storytelling through pictures as well as words–all while having fun in the process.  Each spring the Club publishes a new volume in its two ongoing series.

Clash of Champions, perhaps the more visible of the series because it plays out annually on the Club’s Facebook page, is the culmination of a lengthy comics tournament.  Beginning in the fall, club members create teams of characters who are matched against each other, bracket style, in weekly duels.  Members draw panels of “smack talk”, comics which are designed to show how and why a particular team would win a duel. Each duel’s outcome is voted on by club members.  The last team remaining at the end of the tournament wins.

Volume 8 of Clash of Champions showcases the 2019-20 school year’s tournament which was completed prior to the pandemic shutdown.  In it, 16 teams and 41 creators showcase their talents during a storytelling battle of epic proportions.  Introductions come first via the “Team Gallery” where characters’ poses hint at their personalities and where readers discover the artists behind the teams.  I love how the gallery pages are bordered in what looks like an embossed metal frame that lends a goth-steampunk vibe at the start.  The team names alone made me want to keep reading: Krankenhaus Hoodlums, Beam Battalion, Sparkle Sqawd, The Four Crustmen of the Apocalypse, and Why Not?   The battle panels reflect a wide range of aesthetic influences (from anime to He-Man to 1960s beach party movies) and a variety of media (inked-in pencil sketches to digital drawings).  After the winner is declared, the final chapter gathers fan art that club members have made of each others’ work.

There’s no playing favorites in the competition although I’m a fan of the smack talk segments.  For me, the best part of Clash is following the growth of the artists, watching their work develop over the semester, seeing who is on their game and who is challenged by the deadline in any given week.  A black-and-white format can sometimes lay bare too much when compared to the distraction of color, but here it’s an opportunity to learn and to appreciate the skill involved in creating new material quickly.

Scribbled Stories takes a different approach to self-expression and storytelling.  Club members submit tales with subjects and characters of their choice.  Although Scribbled Stories publishes an issue annually, every four years the issues are gathered in a single volume.  The students choose a theme for the bound volume and often reflect the theme in their submissions.

Also published in the 2019-20 school year, Volume 3 of Scribbled Stories collects works from 2016-20 under the theme of surrealism and shows off a new twist.  This time the Cartoonist Club collaborated on a story and main character.  Club artists made a cast of minor characters and brainstormed a plot which became a script written by Mr. Wolfshorndl.  Pages of the story were assigned to the students, and the result is a rollicking, action-packed spin through dreamland amid a host of artistic styles.

It’s the variety, ingenuity, and scope of the work that pulled me into Volume 3.  The “Character Sketches” section highlights a cast including a monocled soap bubble sporting a top hat (Mr. Fancy Bubbleman), a talking cup of coffee (Joey), and a rosy-cheeked doll who looks Rainbow Brite-meets-Chuckie (Surrealist Sophie) and is anything but boring.  Scripts of the student-submitted works are witty and poignant, thought-provoking and heart-breaking.  Although “Wake Up” uses only one word, it conveys the horror and pain and isolation of a person consumed by screen time.  “Just for One Day” explores memory and loss by arranging photographs comic-panel style with brief, superimposed text.  “Nightfall/Daybreak” spins a myth of the sun and moon with poetry in words and pictures.  There is so much to see and enjoy here!

I highly encourage you to try the fun, awesome comics by the Joplin High School Cartoonist Club.  Whether it’s Clash of Champions or Scribbled Stories or both, read them!  They’re wonderful!

Route 66 – Highway to the Stars

Route 66 – Highway to the Stars, an educational exhibit created by local history detectives and authors William and Doris Martin, is showing now through July 31 in our Genealogy, Local History, and Post Reading Room wing. The Martins discovered a connection between William’s mother’s family and astronomer Edwin Hubble’s mother’s family, who were living in Marshfield, Missouri many years ago.

When William’s 91-year-old aunt told them, “This story needs to be told,” they wrote and self-published a book entitled Dreams and Adventures: The Edwin Hubble Story (2015). It’s an inspiring, never-before-told story about the amazing astronomer for whom the Hubble Space Telescope is named.

After publication of their book, the Martins continued to research astronomy and space exploration. William began creating original storyboards about Edwin Hubble and many other astronomers, astronauts, observatories, and planetariums. Many of these people and places, as it turns out, have connections to Route 66, such as astronomer Harlow Shapley and astronaut Janet Kavandi.

Discover the dreams and adventures of Edwin Hubble, learn about Harlow Shapley – the man who determined our solar system’s place in the Milky Way – visit some planetariums and observatories, soar with astronauts, and reach for the stars as you travel along Route 66 – Highway to the Stars!

Join the authors for a book signing from 10am-11am on Monday, July 22, 2019 in the Local History room. Note: Books will be available for purchase at this event; CASH ONLY.