A Super-Villain Ate My Homework Using COMICS IN THE CLASSROOM
Nick KremerColumbia Public SchoolsUniversity of Missouri email@example.com
THE LINGO: • Sequential Art Narrative: a series of pictures (with or w/o text) that tell a cohesive story • Comic Strip: ~6 or less frames, on-going series • Comic Book: ~24 pages, on-going series • Graphic Novel: Full stand-alone book/album
THE PEOPLE: • Writer – writes the script (story + dialogue) • Artist – draws/lays out the script • Letterer – adds text to the drawings • Inker – darkens the pencil drawings • Colorist – adds color to the drawings • Editor – the proofreader and business manager
THE HISTORY: • History: Cave Painting, Heiroglyphics, Stain-Glass Windows, Wood Carvings, Illustrations, Political Cartoons, etc. • 1896: Richard Outcalt: Voice Bubbles + the Funny Pages (The Yellow Kid, Krazy Kat, Pop-Eye) • 1929: Picture Adventures (Dick Tracy, Tarzan) • 1932-45: Golden Age of Superheroes (Superman, Batman, Shazam, Wonder Woman, Captain America) • 1945: Rise of the Rest: Horror, Romance, Western, Crime, “Adult Themes” • 1950s: Seduction of the Innocent + Comics Code • 1956-69: Silver Age of Superheroes (DC Revivals: Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, Marvel Origins: Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Hulk, Spider-Man, X-Men, Daredevil) • 1970s: Underground Comics + Weakening of the Code, Civil Rights • 1980s: The Graphic Novel (A Contract with God, Maus, Watchmen) • 1990s: The Gimmick Age, Image Comics (Spawn), Vertigo (Sandman) • 21st Century: Corporatization and the Comic Book Renaissance
BUT REMEMBER… • Stereotypical comic books are only one genre within the large medium of Sequential Art Narratives • Texts rich in popular culture and varying formalist choices are misleadingly complex
BUT REMEMBER… • Images have to be “read” using critical literacy skills in the same manner that words do • Research shows that comics can help improve literacy with struggling readers
BUT REMEMBER… • Comics are products of their culture and reflect the social values found therein • While some comics misrepresent various demographics, others empower them
BUT REMEMBER… • Class sets, grant money, “sampling,” and scanning are cheap solutions • Comics can also be studied in single images or excerpts
BUT REMEMBER… • Contemporary curricula stress skills, not specific texts, in an era of abundant global multimedia • Comics are rich sources for literary and writing lessons
#1) Literary Elements • Comics offer short, accessible stories with lots of concrete examples of abstract literary concepts [Ex: Symbols, Point of View, Character Types, Plot Structure,…]
#2) Denotation vs. Connotation • Use comic images to practice visual literacy skills: what literally do you see, what does the image suggest, how/why does it make you feel?
#3) Deconstruction • Comics provide a visual context for discussion on how artists elicit intentional responses from readers using conventions
#4) American Mythology • American comic books reflect our own cultural values + hero myths and should be studied alongside ancient mythology
#5) Dystopian Literature • Graphic Novels are a popular medium for contemporary dystopian literature.
#6) Classic Adaptations • Comics provide visual references for classic texts (Ex: Shakespeare), aiding in student comprehension and engagement
#1) Descriptive Writing • Students can practice attempting to capture all the details of a picture in words, or having pictures drawn from their writing
#2) Storyboarding a Paper • Students can create storyboards to help organize their writing and visually chart the flow of their papers
#3) Dialogue • Students can use comic scripting as practice for incorporating dialogue into their prose writing.
#4) Hero Narratives • Comic Books provide models for students to design their own hero myths: origins, powers, battles, personal lives, etc.
#5) Sequential Art Narratives • Incorporate interdisciplinary learning into your Language Arts classroom by having students create their own comics or adapt existing literature.
Instructional Texts • Understanding Comics – Scott McCloud • Comics and Sequential Art – Will Eisner • Graphic Novels: Everything You Need to Know – Paul Gravett • Drawing Words and Writing Pictures – Jessica Abel/Matt Madden • The Comic Book in America: An Illustrated History – Mike Benton • Building Literacy Connections with Graphic Novels – Dr. James “Bucky” Carter
The Comic Book Project <www.comicbookproject.org>
The Graphic Classroom <http://graphicclassroom.blogspot.com >
National Association for Comic Book Educators <http://www.teachingcomics.org>
EN/SANE World <http://ensaneworld.blogspot.com>