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Thread: SEB-standard 27: Comic Book 101

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    SEB-standard 27: Comic Book 101

    It’s Wednesday and you know what that means?

    Ok, yeah, it means new comics come out…

    Yes, yes, it is “hump day” and we’re midway through the work week…

    What’s that? Yes, you’re right, it is named for the Norse God, Odin, also known as Woden or Wotan.
    (Can you guess which Norse God THURSDAY was named for?)

    Huh? Wednesday’s child is full of woe? I suppose…

    OK, FINE! I admit it, Wednesday doesn’t automatically mean the new SEB-STANDARD column the way Tuesday means a new BOLTS & NUTS, ok! I haven’t exactly been very punctual with these things.

    So sue me.

    I’ve been busy. Busy with the start of a new school year, which also finds me in a new school, so there’s been some adjustment, OK? Give a guy a break, I’ve been teaching.

    But that got me thinking about this column and comics in the classroom.

    See, I’m a FIRM believer in the use of comics in the classroom. And, since I happen to teach, I get to make it happen.

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    This year I’ll be using ALL STAR SUPERMAN #1 as a class project, since my boy, Evil Rick Shea (he’s not really all that evil), owner of Famous Faces and Funnies, hooked me up with a class set of the AFTER THE WATCHMEN edition. In the past I’ve used the FCBD edition of SUPERMAN/BATMAN # 1 (also a Rick donation) but they’ve fallen apart over the years. Kids can be so cruel.

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    Anyway, with the SUPERMAN/BATMAN I was able to cover the elements of literature, such as PLOT, EXPOSITION, RISING ACTION, CLIMAX, FALLING ACTION, RESOLUTION, THEME, TONE, MOOD, SETTING, CHARACTERS, and CHARACTER VOICE. We’d read the comic together, so as to avoid first time panel order confusion. We take it for granted how to read a comic, but be honest, some of those page arrangements can confuse even the oldest comic veteran, so imagine it’s your first time and it’s a graded assignment! Then, they would read it to themselves, and chart out the plot, list and describe the characters and settings, find a theme, and describe the tone & Mood of the book.

    That was the fun part. The tone and the mood. Tone is the emotion or feeling the author tries to convey within the work, MOOD is the emotion or feeling the reader takes away from the work. How was this fun? Well, we would combine this with CHARACTER VOICE, the distinct personality of a speaker or character. We would do a whole compare and contrast essay (complete with preliminary Venn Diagram, that MasterCard logo shaped visual aid, with two overlapping circle for charting differences and similarities) between Batman and Superman. This worked wonderfully, because in the early SUPERMAN/BATMAN issues, Jeph Loeb would show the story through both Batman and Superman’s P.O.V., complete with bright yellow captions for Supes, and dark blue boxes for Bats. Often they would have the same thought, only the tone would be different, or they would express the exact opposite feeling about certain thing, Batman complaining that the city was too bright and Pristine, whereas Superman found it to be a beautiful morning. It was great because it worked on all levels. The “gifted” students would find whole nuances to lose themselves in, the “regular” students were more than up to the task, and the “special needs” students weren’t threatened by the comic as they were by a textbook, and everybody was able to get into it.

    I would also use comic strips, both actual ones from the paper, and student created ones, to teach sequential order of events. It’s amazing how difficult some students can find the concepts until they draw out a three panel comic strip showing an a series of events in order.

    Later in the year, we do a project that involves the students working in groups to convert chapters of public domain stories that we read in class, The Odyssey for the 9th graders, etc… from prose to comic. They go through their assigned chapter and break down the plot, settings, and characters, and then they come up with a script. I bring in BLUE LINE pages and they draw and ink their section of the story. You know what kids of every age, 6th grade through 12th grade find fascinating? NON-PHOTO BLUE pencils. Really! When it’s all said and done, we can even have them printed up.

    And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Don’t get me started on the vocabulary that students learn from comics. Not only are they exposed to new and intelligent words and concepts, but it comes complete with panels full of visual context clues. More and more graphic novels are being used by reading teachers and reading coaches. SCHOLASTIC’s full color BONE trades, by Jeff Smith, are higher level reading that kids choose themselves. Various reading institutions are producing CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED style trades as reading texts.

    So, the next time you hear a parent or teacher telling some kid, “Now, over the break I want you to read something…but a REAL book, not a comic,” you tell them, “Hey! Comics ARE Real books!”
    Last edited by SebastianPiccione; Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 04:15 PM.
    "Living Robert Venditti's Plan B!"

    CAT. 5



  2. MattGrant Guest

    I think this is great!

    Its funny because by your last line, I was picturing the all-too-familiar image of a kid pretending to read a book, while hidden inside is a comic book.

    You'd think it wouldn't have taken so long for people to realize, okay kids LIKE TO READ COMICS, to the point where that image was a commonplace thing. If we want to get kids to read, why would we discount what they LIKE TO READ? So its nice to see that you're embracing that. And from a CAFP (rip) perspective, even better because I'm willing to bet that, these days, more adults read comics than kids, and so you're putting comics in front of people who have never read them before. To that I say woo-hoo!



  3. tiggerpete Guest

    holy crap Batman! a new seb-standard? is it August already? jk, glad the comics are working for your classes, I almost got a Graphic Novel class this semester, but it was full when I got around to registering, which sucks because I probably already have the required texts.



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    HAHA! MATT! I was thinking of COMICS ARE FOR PEOPLE when I wrote this!

    Yeah, half the battle with teaching kids to read is getting them to read in the first place. I can't help them if I don't see what they are having trouble with, and comics can get some of the most stubborn kids to read. Plus, they read on a more relaxed and natural level than I'd normally see, as the comics are less threatening and stress inducing than the idea of a text book is to these kids.

    Pete, I teach middle and high school kids, but I also adjunct at one of the local colleges...man, what I wouldn't give to teach a GRAPHIC NOVEL elective...:cool:
    "Living Robert Venditti's Plan B!"

    CAT. 5



  5. tiggerpete Guest

    yeah, I keep getting it rubbed in my face that I missed out on it, I guess I finally found a real cost of procrastination probably won't get another shot at it either, since I only have a year and a half left, and I believe a class like that is either every other year or a one shot.



  6. Join Date
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    Even more reason for me to teach one, then. I'd hate to think of the gaping whole in the lives of countless fanboy college students who have yet to take a class like this!
    "Living Robert Venditti's Plan B!"

    CAT. 5



  7. tiggerpete Guest

    what college do you teach at (sometimes) I could transfer.



  8. Join Date
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    As soon as BCC lets me do the Graphic Novels class, you'll get a flyer!
    "Living Robert Venditti's Plan B!"

    CAT. 5



  9. tiggerpete Guest

    could you maybe offer it online? I would probably do the reading, and participate in discussion (unless I were to be distracted by pfb)



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