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This is a test.
This will count towards your final grade, and thus will also affect your permanent record, which will determine your future socioeconomic status and how many regrets you will contemplate upon your deathbed.
Let's begin!

LITERATURE
Compare and contrast Shakespere's Hamlet with Homer's The Illiad. Was Shakespeare inspired or influenced by Homer? Consider family dynamics, intrigue, politics, and extramarrital affairs in your answer.

PHYSICS
Define the Multiverse. Give three examples.

PHILOSOPHY
What is oppposite of "Time"?

ECONOMICS
The test proctor is an underpaid graduate student. Negotiate your final grade using any economic priciples. Be certain to rationlize any and all ethical, moral, and legal decisions.

MARKETING
Scientists have discovered that skunk spray, when applied topically, rejuvenates skin. Create a brand identity and marketing plan that positions this product as a luxury item.

RELIGION
Underneath your seat you will find a picture of an obscure superhero. Create a belief system complete with rituals, hierarchies, gospel, and prophecy.
Extra credit will be given to any student demonstrating practical application during the examination.

MATHEMATICS
A two-dimensional circle has an area defined as the square of the radius multiplied by the constant Pi. A three-dimensional sphere has a volume defined as the cube of the radius multiplied by four-thirds and the constant Pi. How many circles does it take to fill a sphere with an equal radius?

BIOLOGY
If humans and chimpanzees share 98% of the same DNA, should chimpanzees be allowed to drive a car?

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Current Location: #2 train
Current Mood: grading on a spiral

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As of approximately 17:30 EST, 11 January 2009, the following titles were among the top 1000 titles as calculated by www.BarnesAndNoble.com. 

Sales Rank   
Title (with link) and EAN/ISBN      List Price / BN.com Price (without member card)   Notes

28   
Watchmen  9780930289232 (1995 trade paperback edition)   19.99 / 13.99  

490   
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns  9781563893421    14.99 / 13.49

558   
Batman: The Killing Joke  9781401216672
    17.99 / 12.59   (discount change)
 
587   
In Odd We Trust  9780345499660    10.95 / 9.85  

760    Dark Tower: The Long Road Home (Premiere Hardcover) 
9780785135739    24.99 / 17.49   (discount change)      Graphic Novel homepage

777   
Joker  9781401215811    19.99 / 13.99  

786   
Batman: Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth: 15th Anniversary Edition  9781401204259    17.99 / 12.59   (discount change)


Dropped Titles From Previous Weeks

1191   
Welcome to the Jungle  9780345507464   19.95 / 15.96   (discount change)

1309   
Naruto, Volume-33  9781421520018    7.95 / 7.15  

1642   
DC Comics Encyclopedia, Updated and Expanded  9780756641191    40.00 / 32.00    (discount change)    Graphic Novel homepage

1725   
Marvel Chronicle  9780756641238    50.00 / 40.00

2158   
The Marvel  Comics Encyclopedia: A Complete Guide to the Characters of the Marvel Universe  9780756623586    40.00 / 32.00

2371   
Watchmen  9781401219260    (general hardcover edition, 2008)   39.99 / 31.99

2812   
Fruits Basket,Volume 21  9781427806826    9.99 / 8.99    

2867   
The DC Vault  9780762432578    49.95 / 39.96    

6043   
Watchmen: The Absolute Edition  9781401207137    75.00 / 60.00    Graphic Novel homepage 

6192   
The Absolute Sandman, Volume Four  9781401210854   99.00 / 79.20

7028   
The Absolute Sandman, Volume One  9781401210823    99.00 / 79.20


Other Notable Titles

5   
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last-Straw  9780810970687    12.95 / 9.71

103  
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick-Rules  9780810994737    12.95 / 10.36

272  
Diary of a Wimpy Kid  9780810993136
    12.95 / 10.36

286    Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Do It Yourself Book  9780810979772    10.95 / 8.76  


Analysis

The numerous titles in the Top 1000 might mean that in relation to other subjects, graphic novels are selling better.  Watchmen and Batman titles continue to ride the coattails of cinematic journalism, although The Spirit shows no significant increase in sales.  (Another result of the mistake of releasing the Spirit movie in December, as any tie-in merchandising with the graphic novels was lost among the many Holiday promotions.  Had the movie launched in late Winter, like 300, DC could have merchandised select Spirit titles in parallel with Watchmen.)   Dark Knight Returns finally breaks into the Top 1000, the first time since last Summer, and this might be a result of both the Dark Knight DVD and press from The Spirit, although I place more influence on the former.

Art Spiegleman's Maus charted in the top 1000 earlier this week, before dropping back down to the 4,000 range.  I suspect this is a result of school reading lists.  One sees many classics break into the USA Today 150  list, and I expect this will appear there soon.


Methodology

From the home page of BarnesAndNoble.com, I search by the phrase "graphic novels".  Once that search loads, I select the "bestsellers" link located beneath "Browse Graphic Novels".  I then scan the first fifty titles as BN.com does not list the titles by rank.  If I find any titles posted at #30-50, I then meticulously scan the next fifty titles.  (There is also a "Current Bestsellers " panel on the right-hand side of the Graphic Novels homepage.  That listing does not correlate to the Sales Rank listed for each title, so I do not make note of it, as I do not know their methodology.)

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Current Location: Bronx, NY, USA

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As of approximately 13:30 EST, 28 December 2008, the following titles were among the top 1000 titles as calculated by www.BarnesAndNoble.com. 

Sales Rank   
Title (with link) and EAN/ISBN      List Price / BN.com Price (without member card)   Notes

33   
Watchmen  9780930289232 (1995 trade paperback edition)   19.99 / 13.99  

964    Joker  9781401215811    19.99 / 13.99   


Dropped Titles From Previous Weeks

1144    In Odd We Trust  9780345499660    10.95 / 9.85  

1215    Marvel Chronicle  9780756641238    50.00 / 40.00     (Price change)

1281    DC Comics Encyclopedia, Updated and Expanded  9780756641191    40.00 / 24.00    Graphic Novel homepage

1407    The Marvel  Comics Encyclopedia: A Complete Guide to the Characters of the Marvel Universe  9780756623586    40.00 / 32.00 (price change)

1410    Welcome to the Jungle  9780345507464   19.95 / 15.96   (discount change)

1427    Batman: The Killing Joke  9781401216672    17.99 / 14.39   (discount change)

1534    Naruto, Volume-33  9781421520018    7.95 / 7.15  

1568   
The DC Vault  9780762432578    49.95 / 39.96   (discount change)  

1640    Dark Tower: The Long Road Home (Premiere Hardcover)  9780785135739    24.99 / 19.99   (discount change)      Graphic Novel homepage

2005    
Batman: Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth: 15th Anniversary Edition  9781401204259    17.99 / 14.39   (discount change)

2105    Watchmen  9781401219260    (general hardcover edition, 2008)   39.99 / 31.99   (discount change)       

2482   
Fruits-Basket,Volume 21  9781427806826    9.99 / 8.99    

3469    Watchmen: The Absolute Edition  9781401207137    75.00 / 60.00   (discount change)  

4832   
The Absolute Sandman, Volume One  9781401210823    99.00 / 79.20   (discount change)

4703   
The Absolute Sandman, Volume Four  9781401210854   99.00 / 79.20   (discount change)


Other Notable Titles

14   
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last-Straw  9780810970687    12.95 / 9.71

357    Beowulf  9780641962806    8.99 / 1.99    After Holiday Sale

566    Diary of a Wimpy Kid  9780810993136    12.95 / 10.36  

Analysis

Well, the holidays are over, but the selling season continues onward, as retailers hope for Boxing Day shoppers in search of clearance items.  Barnes & Noble has actively marketed this period for many years, hoping to garner sales from gift cards.  In addition to the annual "New Year, New You" displays, there are also the annual clearance sale items of seasonal titles, disappointing sales from major publishers, and various bargain inventory titles which stores cannot return.  The Barnes & Noble website is no different, and offers an "After Holiday Sale", including items not found in the stores, such as home furnishings, toys, action figures, and collectibles.  (Many titles in the Top 100 are "After Holiday" titles.)  

Only two titles are in the Top 1000 this week, although Watchmen is in the Top 100.  (I suspect that Warner Brothers placed a Watchmen movie trailer before "The Spirit", which opened last Thursday.  Given the projected box office, this might not have much of an impact on sales.)

Methodology

From the home page of BarnesAndNoble.com, I search by the phrase "graphic novels".  Once that search loads, I select the "bestsellers" link located beneath "Browse Graphic Novels".  I then scan the first fifty titles as BN.com does not list the titles by rank.  If I find any titles posted at #30-50, I then meticulously scan the next fifty titles.  (There is also a "Current Bestsellers " panel on the right-hand side of the Graphic Novels homepage.  That listing does not correlate to the Sales Rank listed for each title, so I do not make note of it, as I do not know their methodology.)

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Current Location: Denver, CO, USA

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As of approximately 16:30 EST, 21 December 2008, the following titles were among the top 1000 titles as calculated by www.BarnesAndNoble.com. 

Sales Rank   
Title (with link) and EAN/ISBN      List Price / BN.com Price (without member card)   Notes

156   
Watchmen  9780930289232 (1995 trade paperback edition)   19.99 / 13.99   Holiday Gift Guide

208   
DC Comics Encyclopedia, Updated and Expanded  9780756641191    40.00 / 24.00   Holiday Gift Guide   Graphic Novel homepage

391    The Marvel  Comics Encyclopedia: A Complete Guide to the Characters of the Marvel Universe  9780756623586    45.00 / 31.50   Holiday Gift Guide

549   
Joker  9781401215811    19.99 / 13.99   

943    Watchmen  9781401219260    (general hardcover edition, 2008)   39.99 / 27.99   Holiday Gift Guide

998   
Marvel Chronicle  9780756641238    50.00 / 35.00


Dropped Titles From Previous Weeks

1030     The DC Vault  9780762432578    49.95 / 34.96   Holiday Gift Guide

1147     Dark Tower: The Long Road Home (Premiere Hardcover)  9780785135739    24.99 / 17.49   Holiday Gift Guide   Graphic Novel homepage

1211     Batman: The Killing Joke  9781401216672    17.99 / 12.59

1246     Welcome to the Jungle  9780345507464   19.95 / 13.96   

1294    
Naruto, Volume-33  9781421520018    7.95 / 7.15  

1405    
In Odd We Trust  9780345499660    10.95 / 9.85   Holiday Gift Guide

1895    
Batman: Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth: 15th Anniversary Edition  9781401204259    17.99 / 12.59 

2018    Fruits-Basket,Volume 21  9781427806826    9.99 / 8.99     Holiday Gift Guide   

3190    Watchmen: The Absolute Edition  9781401207137    75.00 / 52.50   Holiday Gift Guide

3659    
The Absolute Sandman, Volume One  9781401210823    99.00 / 69.30

4330    
The Absolute Sandman, Volume Four  9781401210854   99.00 / 69.30


Other Notable Titles

18   
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last-Straw  9780810970687    12.95 / 9.71

81    Diary of a Wimpy Kid  9780810993136    12.95 / 10.36   Holiday Gift Guide

173    Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Do-It-Yourself Book  9780810983748    10.95 / 8.76

233    Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick-Rules  9780810994737    12.95 / 10.36

347   
The Complete Calvin and Hobbes  9780740748479    150.00 / 105.00   

505    The Complete Far Side  9780740721137    150.00 / 105.00   

910    Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat  9780740722998    9.98 / 8.98    (repackaged Bargain title)    

Analysis

Thursday, December 18, was  the last day to order books for arrival before Christmas.  Friday, a banner ad offered free shipping before Christmas for all purchases over $75, and today the ad offers free deliver by Christmas for all purchases over $100.  I suppose these dollar amounts cover the cost of expeditied shipping.  This might encourage browsers to buy more, or it might encourage them to shop at their local Barnes & Noble store.

Deluxe editions are selling nicely, with the Absolute Sandman, Watchmen Absolute Edition, the Complete Calvin and Hobbes, and the Complete Far Side all posting nice numbers.  (The Harry Potter gift set, a collection of all seven hardcover editions, is currently #70, with an online price of $146.50.)

Methodology

From the home page of BarnesAndNoble.com, I search by the phrase "graphic novels".  Once that search loads, I select the "bestsellers" link located beneath "Browse Graphic Novels".  I then scan the first fifty titles as BN.com does not list the titles by rank.  If I find any titles posted at #30-50, I then meticulously scan the next fifty titles.  (There is also a "Current Bestsellers " panel on the right-hand side of the Graphic Novels homepage.  That listing does not correlate to the Sales Rank listed for each title, so I do not make note of it, as I do not know their methodology.)

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Current Location: Omaha, NE, USA

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As of approximately 15:30 EST, 14 December 2008, the following titles were among the top 1000 titles as calculated by www.BarnesAndNoble.com. 

Sales Rank   
Title (with link) and EAN/ISBN      List Price / BN.com Price (without member card)   Notes

94   
Watchmen  9780930289232 (1995 trade paperback edition)   19.99 / 13.99   Holiday Gift Guide

209   
DC Comics Encyclopedia, Updated and Expanded  9780756641191    40.00 / 24.00   Holiday Gift Guide   Graphic Novel homepage

289   
Joker  9781401215811    19.99 / 13.99   

303   
Marvel Chronicle  9780756641238    50.00 / 35.00

321   
The Marvel  Comics Encyclopedia: A Complete Guide to the Characters of the Marvel Universe  9780756623586    45.00 / 31.50   Holiday Gift Guide

345    
The DC Vault  9780762432578    49.95 / 34.96   Holiday Gift Guide

422    
Batman: Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth: 15th Anniversary Edition  9781401204259    17.99 / 12.59 

569   
Batman: The Killing Joke  9781401216672    17.99 / 12.59

664   
In Odd We Trust  9780345499660    10.95 / 9.85   Holiday Gift Guide

765   
Naruto, Volume-33  9781421520018    7.95 / 7.15  

968   
Fruits-Basket,Volume 21  9781427806826    9.99 / 8.99     Holiday Gift Guide  

989    Dark Tower: The Long Road Home (Premiere Hardcover) 
9780785135739    24.99 / 17.49   Holiday Gift Guide   Graphic Novel homepage

Dropped Titles From Previous Weeks

1152   
Welcome to the Jungle  9780345507464   19.95 / 13.96   

1408   
Watchmen  9781401219260    (general hardcover edition, 2008)   39.99 / 27.99   Holiday Gift Guide

3098   
Watchmen: The Absolute Edition  9781401207137    75.00 / 52.50   Holiday Gift Guide

3314  
The Absolute Sandman, Volume One  9781401210823    99.00 / 69.30

3527  
The Absolute Sandman, Volume Four  9781401210854   99.00 / 69.30

Other Notable Titles

27   
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last-Straw  9780810970687    12.95 / 9.71

71   
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick-Rules  9780810994737    12.95 / 10.36

77   
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Do-It-Yourself Book  9780810983748    10.95 / 8.76

81   
Diary of a Wimpy Kid  9780810993136    12.95 / 10.36   Holiday Gift Guide

392   
The Complete Calvin and Hobbes  9780740748479    150.00 / 105.00  

688   
The Twelve Terrors of Christmas  9780764937101    9.95 / 7.96    Holiday Gift Guide   

922    
MAD for Decades  9781435101289    9.98 / 8.98     (repackaged Bargain title)    Holiday Gift Guide   

946   
Complete Peanuts 1967-1970 Box Set  9781560979487
    49.99 / 34.99

956   
Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons  9780836218831    10.99 / 9.89  

Analysis

Earlier this week, the DC Vault broke into the Top 100, posting as high as #20.  Since I do not keep constant vigil on the website, it may have placed higher, but #20 is phemonal.  The book retails for $50, and considering that the Top Ten is dominated by Stepanie Meyer (Twilight) and Harry Potter, this is quite remarkable.
 
Watchmen also returns to the Top 100, posting a similar ranking on last week's USA Today Top 150.

Methodology

From the home page of BarnesAndNoble.com, I search by the phrase "graphic novels".  Once that search loads, I select the "bestsellers" link located beneath "Browse Graphic Novels".  I then scan the first fifty titles as BN.com does not list the titles by rank.  If I find any titles posted at #30-50, I then meticulously scan the next fifty titles.  (There is also a "Current Bestsellers " panel on the right-hand side of the Graphic Novels homepage.  That listing does not correlate to the Sales Rank listed for each title, so I do not make note of it, as I do not know their methodology.)

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Current Location: New York, NY, USA
Current Mood: analytical

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As of approximately 14:30 EST, 07 December 2008, the following titles were among the top 1000 titles as calculated by www.BarnesAndNoble.com. 

Sales Rank    Title (with link) and EAN/ISBN      List Price / BN.com Price (without member card)   Notes

193   
Watchmen  9780930289232 (1995 trade paperback edition)   19.99 / 13.99   Holiday Gift Guide

284   
Marvel Chronicle  9780756641238    50.00 / 35.00

523   
Joker  9781401215811    19.99 / 13.99  

553   
In Odd We Trust  9780345499660    10.95 / 9.85   Holiday Gift Guide

791   
DC Comics Encyclopedia, Updated and Expanded  9780756641191    40.00 / 24.00   Holiday Gift Guide   Graphic Novel homepage

797  
Naruto, Volume-33  9781421520018    7.95/7.15 

927  
Batman: The Killing Joke  9781401216672    17.99/12.59

Dropped Titles From Last Week

1104   
Welcome to the Jungle  9780345507464   19.95 / 13.96  

1361   Dark Tower: The Long Road Home (Premiere Hardcover) 
9780785135739    24.99 / 17.49   Holiday Gift Guide   Graphic Novel homepage

1425   
The Marvel  Comics Encyclopedia: A Complete Guide to the Characters of the Marvel Universe  9780756623586    45.00 / 31.50   Holiday Gift Guide

1522   
Watchmen  9781401219260    (general hardcover edition, 2008)   39.99 / 27.99   Holiday Gift Guide

2381   
Watchmen: The Absolute Edition  9781401207137    75.00 / 52.50   Holiday Gift Guide

2504   
The-DC-Vault: A Museum-in-a-Book with Rare Collectibles from the DC Universe  9780762432578    49.95 / 34.96   Holiday Gift Guide

2659  
The Absolute Sandman, Volume Four  9781401210854   99.00 / 69.30

3200   
The Absolute Sandman, Volume One  9781401210823    99.00 / 69.30

Other Notable Titles

39   
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last-Straw  9780810970687    12.95 / 9.71

60    Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Do-It-Yourself Book  9780810983748    10.95 / 8.76

91   
Diary of a Wimpy Kid  9780810993136    12.95 / 10.36   Holiday Gift Guide

120  
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick-Rules  9780810994737    12.95 / 10.36

393  
The Complete Calvin and Hobbes  9780740748479    150.00 / 105.00  

766  
Garfield: 30 Years of Laughs & Lasagna: The Life and Times of a Fat , Furry Legend 9780345503794    35.00 / 24.50   Holiday Gift Guide

888   
The Complete Cartoons of the New Yorker  9781603760805    19.98 / 17.98    (Bargain remainder)    Holiday Gift Guide

Analysis

This listing is relative to other titles on BN.com.  While the sales could be holding steady or increasing, there might be other titles in other categories selling even better.  (There are many juvenile and young adult titles in the Top 100, from Harry Potter and Twilight to many popular picture books.)  Wimpy Kid, a hybrid book (part comics, part chapter book) continues to sell amazingly well.

Naruto is strong, with Bleach, Fruit Baskets, and Warriors manga selling well.  No new superhero titles enter the Top 1000 list this week, and it should be noted that there are few "must-have" collections this season, aside from, perhaps, the final volume of the Absolute Sandman series.  (The Complete Calvin and Hobbes collection enters its fourth holiday season.)

Hanukkah begins on the 21st of December, so there might be a greater sales increase as Christmas approaches. 

Methodology
From the home page of BarnesAndNoble.com, I search by the phrase "graphic novels".  Once that search loads, I select the "bestsellers" link located beneath "Browse Graphic Novels".  I then scan the first fifty titles as BN.com does not list the titles by rank.  If I find any titles posted at #30-50, I then meticulously scan the next fifty titles.  (There is also a "Current Bestsellers " panel on the right-hand side of the Graphic Novels homepage.  That listing does not correlate to the Sales Rank listed for each title, so I do not make note of it, as I do not know their methodology.)


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Current Location: Bronx, NY, USA

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As of approximately 13:00 EST, 30 November 2008, the following titles were among the top 1000 titles as calculated by www.BarnesAndNoble.com. 

Sales Rank    Title (with link) and EAN/ISBN      List Price / BN.com Price (without member card)   Notes

105   
Marvel Chronicle  9780756641238    50.00 / 35.00

183    Dark Tower: The Long Road Home (Premiere Hardcover) 
9780785135739    24.99 / 17.49   Holiday Gift Guide   Graphic Novel homepage

194   
DC Comics Encyclopedia, Updated and Expanded  9780756641191    40.00 / 24.00   Holiday Gift Guide   Graphic Novel homepage

200   
Watchmen  9780930289232 (1995 trade paperback edition)   19.99 / 13.99   Holiday Gift Guide

259   
The Marvel  Comics Encyclopedia: A Complete Guide to the Characters of the Marvel Universe  9780756623586    45.00 / 31.50   Holiday Gift Guide

280   
Watchmen  9781401219260    (general hardcover edition, 2008)   39.99 / 27.99   Holiday Gift Guide

358   
In Odd We Trust  9780345499660    10.95 / 9.85   Holiday Gift Guide

409   
Joker  9781401215811    19.99 / 13.99  

540   
Welcome to the Jungle  9780345507464   19.95 / 13.96  

558  
The Absolute Sandman, Volume One  9781401210823    99.00 / 69.30

725  
Watchmen: The Absolute Edition  9781401207137    75.00 / 52.50   Holiday Gift Guide

737   The-DC-Vault: A Museum-in-a-Book with Rare Collectibles from the DC Universe  9780762432578    49.95 / 34.96   Holiday Gift Guide

769  
The Absolute Sandman, Volume Four  9781401210854   99.00 / 69.30

Analysis
DC is the big winner here, with eight of thirteen titles.  Of these eight, SEVEN are priced at $40 or more, with THREE absolute editions.  (Additionally, Absolute Sandman #2 and #3 are posting at #1399 and #2616 respectively, with the other Absolute editions selling much lower.)  This might lend credence to the "comics are recession proof" theory, which will help both comicbook and bookstore retailers.  Also worth noting is that all three regular editions of "Watchmen" are selling nicely.

It is also worth noting that many of the titles above are gift books, which appeal to two distinct markets: gift givers who wish for "something extra special" for their comicbook-loving loved one, and comicbook fans who think nothing of spending $20 for a variant issue of a $3.99 comicbook or $50 for a hardcover graphic novel.  (It should be noted that many of the titles listed above are holiday promotions, and discounted.  The listing of twenty-four holiday graphic novels can be found
here.)

[At 14:10 EST, the Marvel Chronicle posted a sales rank of #99. 
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last-Straw

was posted at #45, but will not be available until January 13, 2009.  Other titles in the series were at #56, #85, and #111.]

Methodology
From the home page of BarnesAndNoble.com, I search by the phrase "graphic novels".  Once that search loads, I select the "bestsellers" link located beneath "Browse Graphic Novels".  I then scan the first fifty titles as BN.com does not list the titles by rank.  If I find any titles posted at #30-50, I then meticulously scan the next fifty titles.  (There is also a "Current Bestsellers " panel on the right-hand side of the Graphic Novels homepage.  That listing does not correlate to the Sales Rank listed for each title, so I do not make note of it, as I do not know their methodology.)

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Current Location: Bronx, NY, USA
Current Mood: Analytical

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http://elections.nytimes.com/2008/results/president/map.html    (Click on voting shifts.)

Here's an interesting bit of electoral navel gazing...

I was born in Nebraska, one of the more conservative states in the country.  (Only Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson have ever won the state.)  We're not particularly ultra-conservative, practicing a more traditional brand of pragmatic conservatism.  We had a Populist strain back in the early 20th Century, creating a one-house legislature which cut costs and scores high among state legislatures for efficiency. 

So, yes, I was quite thrilled to hear that Barack Obama might win the electoral vote attached to the Second Congressional District in Nebraska.  (Nebraska splits its five EVs, giving two EVs to the statewide winner, and one each to the winner of each Congressional district.  The Second, comprised of Douglas County and the populous areas of Sarpy County, was an attractive possibility to the Obama campaign when they contemplated a tied electoral vote.)

So, when I read the New York Times on the subway, I analyzed the voting maps featured in the weblink above.  I was quite surprised to see the radical shift shown on the map, as McCain only won the state by 17% points.   (Yes, "only" as Bush '04 won Nebraska by 33%.  Two-to-one.)  Only one county voted more Republican than 2004, with a small 1% decrease among the Democratic vote.  (Actually, there was in increase of voters for both parties, (2008/2004) 331/301 for Republicans, 51/38 for Democrats, 8/0 for Other.  And yes, western Nebraska is sparsely populated, with less than two people per square mile in many areas.)

However, looking at the national map for voting shifts, I noticed the red swath across Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, and parts of Appalachia.  These areas voted much more Republican this year (10 - 15%), on a map which is predominately blue.  These counties are already predominately Republican (Obama's percentage in some was single digit) and voted even more Republican this election.   Some of these counties, such as those in eastern Kentucky and West Virginia, were won by Kerry.  (Select the "County Leaders" map on the left.  Toggle between `08 and `04 to compare which counties flipped and which stayed the same.  Those which stayed Republican both years AND which showed a percentage increase in Republican votes in 2008 could be argued as being, well, what's the nice way of putting this...less likely to vote for a person of color.)

Of course, if one were to investigate this hypothesis in depth, one should pull Census data for each county, showing the ethnic diversity of each.  One should also create a more nuanced map showing margin of votes cast for each winning candidate.  (Some sites have done this when discussing the "Red/Blue/Purple" nature of voters.)  I would suggest using tints and shades, with 50/50 converging on white, and extremes approaching darker hues.  Or perhaps keep the colors consistent, but add a third dimension to the map, showing the percentage as elevation.  (Although difficult, it would be very interesting if the data could be mapped by voting ward or district, to see how influence spreads from urban centers.)

This is all conjecture.  I'm not accusing anyone of being racist or close-minded or stupid.  This is just something that got me wondering.   As Alexander Pope said, "A little learning is a dangerous thing..."    As Mark Twain said, ""There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics."

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Current Location: Bronx, NY, USA
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The following is copyright 2008 Torsten Adair
Want to use it? Just ask nicely.    This is a work of satire.  If you think I'm making fun of you, please let me know, and I will be happy to discuss your feelings with you.

Battleground State     by Torsten Adair     TWAdair@yahoo.com       402 312 0645 

PAGE 1 (three panels)

ULTRAMAN RED is a muscular superhero, who wears a tight bodysuit, with cape, boots, and belt. His costume is not all the same hue, but different shades of red. On his chest is a large United States flag. His belt buckle is a dollar sign.

1 PANEL 1
Ultraman Red is at a political rally in Tallahassee, Florida, giving his stump speech to the party faithful. Signs read “Go Big Red”, “Red or Dead”, “I’ve got scarlet fever”, “Red Hot for Red”.

1 RED
--my opponent will raise your taxes, which will threaten the present economic recovery!

2 CROWD
Boooooo!

1 PANEL 2
Red gets slapped upside his head with a thick, 2x2 foot piece of metal bearing the name “STEAM GENERATION” along the top, small print in the middle, and “ACME BOILER COMPANY” along the bottom.

 
3 SOUND
ka-RAAAMMMM

4 RED
UGH!
 
1 PANEL 3
The shocked crowd turns to look up to where the boilerplate came from.


PAGE 2 (six panels)
ULTRAMAN BLUE looks like Ultraman Red, but his suit is all blue.

2 PANEL 1
Ultraman Blue is floating in midair, mocking Red.

1 BLUE
Blah blah blah-- Raise your taxes-- Make us less safe-- Weaken the military—
 
2 PANEL 2
Red is recovering from the blow, as Blue continues to berate him.

2 BLUE
Can’t you come up with something new? Like, “I’m sorry.” Or “I made a mistake”?

 
3 BLUE
Or how about: “My opponent is boring, stiff, a nerd and reads the New Yorker.”
 
2 PANEL 3
Red stands up, angry at Blue’s taunting, red in the face. The crowd is jeering Blue. A few campaign buttons bounce off him.
 
4 BLUE
But then you’re just walking in the footsteps of giants, a little kid in Daddy’s big shoes.
 
2 PANEL 4
Red flies up to be face to face with Blue. Red is steaming mad.

5 RED
You want something original?

6 BLUE
Yeah. But be quick. I have to be in Wisconsin on Sunday.
 

2 PANEL 5 Same as panel four

 

7 RED

Okay-- How about--


2 PANEL 6

Red decks Blue with a hard uppercut

 

8 RED

EAT MY SHORTS!

 

9 SOUND

WHAM

 


PAGE 3 (eight panels)

For every panel from here until the end, Red and Blue are fighting as they yell at each other, unless I say otherwise. Some panels may not have dialogue, but every panel should have violent action.

 

3 PANEL 1

Blue goes arching over the horizon, as the Red crowd cheers.

 

3 PANEL 2

Blue lands in McKay Bay, near Tampa, Florida.

 

1 SOUND

ker-SPLASH

 

3 PANEL 3

As Blue steps onto land, dripping wet, Red arrives, hitting Blue.

 

2 RED

White!

 

PANEL 4

Blue hitting Red

 

3 BLUE

Black!

 

3 PANEL 5

Red arches over 20th Street and crashes into the Florida Aquarium.

 

3 PANEL 6

Water is flooding everywhere, fish are flopping around, and tourists are panicking. 

 

3 PANEL 7

Blue hits Red with a shark

 

4 BLUE

Coke!

 

3 PANEL 8

Red hits Blue with a whale, which sends Blue flying out of the building.

 

5 RED

Pepsi!

 


PAGE 4 (six panels)

Red and Blue fighting in the Channelside shopping district, as shoppers flee, bags flying this way and that. Demolish buildings as you see fit, but have them spouting the dialog as they trade punches.

 

4 PANEL 1

 

1 BLUE

California!

 

4 PANEL 2

 

2 RED

Texas!

 

4 PANEL 3

Red and Blue fight their way onto the ice at the St. Pete Times Forum.

 

3 BLUE

Chardonnay!

 

4 PANEL 4

 

4 RED

Budweiser!

 

4 PANEL 5

Red and Blue demolishing Ybor City, a National Historical Landmark District.

 

5 RED

Corporations!

 

4 PANEL 6

Blue uppercuts Red so hard, he goes flying off into the horizon.

 

6 BLUE

Labor!

 

 

PAGE 5 (six panels)

 

5 PANEL 1

Red goes flying through the square opening of the Atlantis Building, hitting the sand of Miami Beach.

 

5 PANEL 2

People flee as Blue and Red go at it again, this time destroying the art deco buildings of Miami Beach.

 

1 BLUE

Gregory Peck!

 

5 PANEL 3

 

2 RED

Charlton Heston!

 

5 PANEL 4

 

3 BLUE

Charlie Chaplin!

 

5 PANEL 5

 

4 RED

Elia Kazan!

 

5 PANEL 6

Red and Blue’s slugfest is interrupted by

 

5 OFF PANEL

Can’t we all just get along?

 

6 RED

Oh, no—

 

7 BLUE

Of all the people—

 

 

PAGE SIX (six panels)

 

6 PANEL 1

In the foreground, we see the entwined bodies of Red and Blue, interrupted in mid-fight. Behind them, we see ULTRAMAN GREEN, standing, his cape waving in the breeze. Green has a costume similar to Red and Blue’s, except it is green, his belt buckle is the old environment “e” oval, and the flag on his chest is upside down. 

 

1 GREEN

It’s disgraceful, two grown men, fighting like boys over which team is better, the Red Sox or Yankees—

 

6 PANEL 2

Red and Blue have stood up, and are looking at Green.

 

2 RED AND BLUE (overlapping balloons, a double with two speaker tails, so that we can’t tell who said what)

 

RED SOX! YANKEES!

 

6 PANEL 3

 

3 GREEN

See? You can’t agree on anything. Think what we could accomplish if we worked together, instead of fighting over the stupidest things!

 

4 GREEN

A cleaner planet.   Alternative fuels. Healthcare for every citizen—

 

6 PANEL 4

Blue turning his head towards Red, winks slightly. Green is smiling.

 

5 BLUE

You know, Red, he’s right. If WE worked TOGETHER, we could solve all of our PROBLEMS.

 

6 RED

Huh? That’s crazy! He’s -- 

 

7 RED (connected by tail)

-- riiight. Together. On three?

 

6 PANEL 5

Green is a bit clueless, but still smiling, encouraging Blue and Red.

 

8 GREEN

That's the spirit!

 

9 BLUE

One.

 

10 RED

Two.

 

6 PANEL 6

Red and Blue connect with Green’s chin. Red with his right hand, Blue with his left.

 

11 RED and BLUE (Double with two tails)

THREE!

 

12 SOUND

ka-POW!

 


PAGE 7 (five panels)

 

7 PANEL 1

Long horizontal panel of Green, unconscious, as he arcs, face up, over the landscape of Florida. (He’s traveling westward, so the arc should lead the eye to the "sploosh" in panel two.

 

7 PANEL 2

Shot of Green’s unconscious body hitting the water of the Everglades, sending up a big splash.

 

1 SOUND

ker-SPLOOSH!

 

7 PANEL 3

Same shot, about a minute later, as we see three alligators swim towards Green’s body from various directions. (Don’t worry, he’s impervious. Of course, his costume isn’t…)

 

2   EDITOR'S NOTE (at bottom of panel)

Fear not, party faithful! Ol' Green Jeans is impervious to harm! Unfortunately, his costume is not. --EDair

    

7 PANEL 4

Back at Miami Beach

 

3 BLUE

Now— where were we?

 

4 RED

I believe it was my turn.

 

5 BLUE (connect to 2 with tail)

Oh. Right.

 

7 PANEL 5

Red hits Blue with a hard right hook, which sends Blue flying off panel to…

 


PAGE 8 (seven panels)

Disney World near Orlando. 

 

8 PANEL 1

Blue lands in the middle of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. The tourists think it’s part of the ride, and don’t panic. 

 

1 TEENAGE TOURIST

whoa.   KEWL--

 

8 PANEL 2

Red and Blue continue fighting near Main Street USA. Red hits Blue.

 

2 RED

The Wall Street Journal!

 

8 PANEL 3

Blue slugs Red near the Grand Flordian Resort.

 

3 BLUE

The New York Times!

 

8 PANEL 4

Red slugs Red near the Polynesian Resort.

 

4 RED

SUVs!

 

8 PANEL 5

Blue hits Red outside the Wilderness Lodge.

 

5 BLUE

Minivans!

 

8 PANEL 6

Red and Blue are flying and fighting inside the Contemporary Hotel, above the monorail.

 

4 RED

Ron Silver!

 

8 PANEL 7

Blue blasts Red through the wall of the hotel, and off the page.

 

5 BLUE

Alec Baldwin!

 

 

PAGE 9 (ten panels)

 

9 PANEL 1

Wide shot as we see RED go hurtling through the Spaceship Earth geodesic sphere.

 

1 BLUE (off panel) (small balloon at bottom left corner))

FORE!

 

9 PANEL 2

Red lands in the World Showcase Lagoon. [Note to letterer: if you want to be clever, you may add translated sound effects for each panel, depending on the country showcase they are demolishing.]

 

2 SOUND (or use the Japanese translation below)

ker-SPRITZ!  

 

9 PANEL 3

Red makes landfall in front of Germany. Blue hits him there.

 

3 BLUE

Far Side!

 

9 PANEL 4

Red knocks Blue into one of the frame houses.

 

4 RED

B.C.!

 

9 PANEL 5

Blue crashes into the campanile of St.Mark’s Square of the Italy pavilion.

 

9 PANEL 6

Fighting in the Italy pavilion

 

5 RED

Hemingway!

 

6 BLUE

Steinbeck!

 

9 PANEL 7

Red hurtles backwards through the U.S.A. pavilion. As Red's body goes hurtling through the USA building, we see a tableau of the Constitutional Convention. The "cast members" look up, in shock.

 

9 PANEL 8

Blue and Red at the Japan pavillion.

 

7 BLUE

Utne Reader!

 

8 RED

Reader’s Digest!

 

9 PANEL 9

Blue lands in Morocco.

 

9 PANEL 10

Blue and Red demolish the tower from the ground.

 

9 RED

Rockwell!

 

10 BLUE

Warhol!

 

 

PAGE 10 (nine panels)

 

10 PANEL 1

Red and Blue continue the fight in the France pavilion.

 

1 BLUE

Grand Prix!

 

10 PANEL 2

Red smashes Blue with the scale model of the Eiffel Tower. Blue goes flying back towards the Magic Kingdom.

 

2 RED

NASCAR!

 

10 PANEL 3

Interior shot of Blue crashing into the Hall of Presidents. Lincoln is on the left, talking, as Blue crashes into the attraction from the right side. He lands on Millard Fillmore and Warren G. Harding.

 

3 LINCOLN

--we are now engaged in a great civil war—

 

4 SOUND

CLATTER!

 

10 PANEL 4

Red and Blue use their favorite presidents as clubs. Blue uses JFK, Red uses Eisenhower.

 

5 BLUE

Richie Rich!

 

6 RED

Scrooge McDuck!

 

10 PANEL 5

Blue uses FDR, Red uses Teddy Roosevelt.

 

7 BLUE (using FDR)

The Nation!

 

8 RED (using Teddy Roosevelt)

The National Review!

 

10 PANEL 6

Blue has picked up Jefferson and is about to clobber Red.

 

9 BLUE

Mother Jo—

 

10 RED

Hey! You can’t use Jefferson!

 

10 PANEL 7

Blue is stopped in mid-swing.

 

11 BLUE

Huh? Why not? He was a Democrat.

 

12 RED

But that was a different Democrat Party. And he owned a plantation.

 

10 PANEL 8

Same scene, but Blue is using his ultrahearing to detect sound.

 

13 BLUE

But-- do you hear that?

 

14 RED

Huh? Ugh! I hate that song.

 

10 PANEL 9

 

15 BLUE

So do I. Shall we?

 

16 RED

After you.

 

 

PAGE 11 (eight panels)

 

11 PANEL 1

We see the smoldering ruin of the “It’s A Small World” castle in the background, as Red and Blue walk away in front of it, dusting themselves off, and smiling.

 

1 RED

I’ve been wanting to do that for years!

 

2 BLUE

Damn! I’ve got that song stuck in my head!

 

3 OFF PANEL

You ought to be ashamed of yourselves.

 

11 PANEL 2

Red and Blue looking off panel, in shock, towards the speaker.
 

4 RED AND BLUE (DOUBLE BALLOON)

Oh, no! It’s—

 

11 PANEL 3

This panel should use dynamic drawing to give SOCCERMOM a prominent introduction. However, SoccerMom is a fairly normal person. She is wearing sensible, affordable clothing. Her hairstyle is attractive but low maintenance. Behind her are three children: a 13-year-old boy, an eight-year-old girl, and a toddler in a stroller. [They are NOT the Simpsons!]

 

5 RED AND BLUE (off panel) (double balloon)

--SOCCERMOM!

 

6 SOCCERMOM

Children wait ALL YEAR, some their ENTIRE lives, to come here and YOU TWO SPOIL it with a STUPID fistfight!

 

7 TODDLER, BOY, GIRL (shared thought balloon)

Ut oh-- Here it comes--

 

11 PANEL 4

 

8 RED

But he started it—

 

9 BLUE

But HE called me NAMES—

 

10 SOCCERMOM

QUIET! You are two grown men, acting like children. Well, I guess I’ll just have to treat you like children.

 

11 PANEL 5

Red and Blue try to wiggle out of SoccerMom's berating.  

 

10 RED

Um—I’ve got a speech to give in Albuquerque—

 

11 BLUE

And I’ve got a vote in the Senate—

 

12 SOCCERMOM

Oh, no. You’re staying RIGHT HERE and CLEANING UP this mess!

 

11 PANEL 6

Soccermom reaches into her purse and pulls out a glowing chunk of PURPLE ELECTIONITE. Red and Blue cower when they see it.

 

13 RED

Aaaagh!

 

14 BLUE

Purple electionite! My only weakness!

 

15 SOCCERMOM

That’s right, you two. For the next five days, you are GROUNDED. WHATEVER the Disney employees tell you to do, you’ll DO IT, or I’ll come back and DOUBLE it!

 

11 PANEL 7

Blue is panicked, Red contrite.

 

16 SOCCERMOM

And if you think I’m angry now--

 

17 BLUE

NO! We’ll do it. 

 

18 RED

Yeah. We’re sorry.

 

PAGE 12  (two panels)
 

12 PANEL 1

Red and Blue are dressed as Tweedledee and Tweedledum, walking amidst the various tourists.

 

1 TOURIST

Hey, look, Paul! Someone stupider than you!

 

2 PAUL 

Ha. Ha. They kinda remind me of your cousin Rufus.

 

3 PAUL

Geez-- I feel sorry for those guys. It must be sweltering in there.

 

12 PANEL 2
 

4 BLUE (whisper)

Halfwit!

 

5 RED (whisper)

Jackass!



Other useful websites:

http://www.visittampabay.com/

 

www.flaaquarium.com

 

http://www.channelside.com/

 

http://www.visittampabay.com/pressroom/multimedia/index.php#

(see IPIX, Channelside… 360 degree view)

 

http://www.wdwinfo.com/Photos/Epcot_WorldShowcase/pages/E-Italy-00.htm

(for views of Epcot-World Showcase-Italy also good for other countries)



Useful sound effects:

しぶき(Japanese for “splash”)

Sound effects to use:

Craac! Baum! Chac!   Paaaf!

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Current Mood: impish
Current Music: Sit Down You're Rocking the Vote

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Back in the Autumn of 2004, I attended a course at NYU in comicbook and graphic novel writing taught by Danny Fingeroth. One assignment was to write a ten-page story on a type of story each student despised. The only type of comicbook story I can't stand is the self-published, drawn-with-a-ball-point-pen, minicomic. Since that's more of a style than a story, I instead opted for the nothing-but-slobberknocker fight fest.

In the back of my head, I had an idea: "What if there were two Supermen? What if they had differing ideologies? Which one is wrong? The other guy is!" So I took that, pasted it onto the classic "The Amazing Story of Superman-Red and Superman-Blue!" story printed in Superman #162, and then added Scott McCloud's classic "Destroy!" as the plot.

Written in October 2004, during the last election, "Battleground State" features two more-similar-than-different superheroes running for president. As our story opens, "Ultraman Red" is giving a stump speech to the party faithful in Tallahassee, Florida, when Ultraman Blue arrives...

Read on, and enjoy!

(One note... Using Google, I researched various images for reference. If you happen to be the owner of the image and take offense at my usage, please let me know. I am making no money from their use, and even if this comic is published, they would only be used by the artist for reference.)

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Current Mood: creative

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