Comics, comix, graphic novels or graphic literature?

When I started my dissertation research, I was surprised by the many names used to describe sequential pictorial stories- comics, comix, and graphic novels. Each name is good, and very specific sub-genre, but none really captured the essence of the genre. For example, in general comics and comic books represent the most traditional form- serials designed in a specific comic style filled with super heroes, talking animals, and several other recognizable characters. On the other hand, comix often are edgier in both art and stories, and are often counter-culture.

Graphic novels fall into two categories- one is serial comics with extended stories and complex narratives, and the other, often recognized as graphic novels are often one volume, with more complex narratives that are often personal memoirs, and stories about history, events, and/or society. These are, of course, very general descriptions, and can be argued for one way or the other, but work very well for the purpose of this blog.

Up to now, these titles represent the general categories. Of course there are differences among fans, creators and scholars. For example, there is a an art professor in one art school who states that all pictorial narratives are comics- from the cave paintings in southern France and northern Spain, to Australian Aboriginal paintings, to the Mona Lisa and artists like Van Gough. In a way, he is correct in that these are all image based narrative art. Yet, something about this just does not feel complete. In reflecting on this, I remembered something that I learned a while back, when studying art at UCSC, which is the word “intentionality”. I had an amazing teacher (actually, I had several amazing teachers), who would drill me on the intention of my work. She would quiz me on the meaning as well as what I was doing. Was it a formal, meaning was it exploring some of the formal issues of painting, such as composition, or color, or light and shade? Was it illustrative- telling a story by capturing a moment in time? Identifying and defining the intent is one of critical elements of painting and of art. This is why the notion of defining the cave paintings at Lascaux, the Mona Lisa, Monet’s Water Lilies, or Pollack’s action paintings as “comics” seems to fall short. I somehow think that the artists at Lascaux could have predicted comics, or the Abstract Expressionists of the 50s and 60s would be making comics, especially considering that at that time, comics were generally looked at as base, and without any merit, save for entertaining teen-age boys. I am thankful that this art form developed to the point of acceptance that it is a unique, and powerful media that can be used to express elaborate ideas and narratives, tell meaningful stories, have complex characters in rich relationships (or not), be fiction, or non-fiction, and can be presented in abstract or real ways for multiple audiences. In short, they are just like all other traditional text-based narratives, except that images are all critical components of the story.

Which brings us back to this blog’s title, and what we should call this genre, what it the top-level descriptor. And I discovered the answer last week, when visiting this great bookstore in the Los Feliz neighborhood called Skylight Books. There, in their art and comics annex were two large bookcases filled with comics. One side was labeled “Serial Comics” and had titles published by Marvel, DC and other serial based comics. The label on the other bookcase is “Graphic Literature”, a term that really describes the genre, and includes serials, but really focuses on the unique, innovative, genre-buster stories that are often personal memoirs (such as Satrapi’s Persepolis, or Sacco’s Palestine), history, society, war (Spiegelman’s Maus or Uriarte’s The White Donkey) narratives that explore the medium, such as Nick Sousanis Unflattening, Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics, or of any of the other genre-bending and/or personal reflections on life, and morality such as Will Eisner’s Contract with God. Graphic literature certainly describes many of my favorite stories, the ones that do not have talking animals (well, except for Maus, or Sfar’s The Rabbi’s cat), or super heroes (although the Monkey King does play an important role in Yang’s American Born Chinese). We can see clearly that the intent of the characters in these examples is different from Superman or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I think that it is important to remember that there is no judging here, only the recognition that there are different kinds of narratives and that they all fit under the rubric of Graphic Literature.

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Comix, kids, trauma, and war

Graphic novels are a great way to read and learn about history. Not so much the grand narratives in history books and textbooks. These books describe big events, and as described by Wikipedia “as the memory, discovery, collection, organization, presentation, and interpretation of information about these events.” When we read history, we read about large movements, both physically and metaphorically. We read about global wars, economics, great people who influenced and led these events and movements. But what I have always found missing in these books is the intimate- about the lives of the populous whose lives are affected by the decisions and philosophies of those who have achieved positions of leadership, of “power”. While learning about the grand events, intimate stories are missing. We read about mass migrations, global wars, the spread of disease and sickness, but only as abstractions, and these abstractions prevent us from learning about empathy- it is simply too difficult and challenging for an individual to feel empathic about the millions of victims of war and other historical horrors. This does not mean that we do not feel, or are not affected by reading about genocides- we do. But the level of abstraction creates a schism between the words and the reality, and unless we have personally experienced them, or know someone who has, they remain abstract.

Some movies have explored some of the horrors of history, such as Steven Spielberg’s intensely powerful and deeply emotional film, Schindler’s list. But, unless you have experienced the Shoah directly, we are left with only the reflection. This is not a bad thing, as we have experienced too many genocides on this planet. But even when watching a movie that draws us into the story, and we become emotionally involved with the characters and the narrative, we also are aware of the general tension with the movie and our basic understanding that in the end, it is just a movie, with actors dressed in costumes, standing in movies sets, saying their lines, often out of order of other lines. We know that no matter how horrible and intense the narrative, each day the actors shower, and change clothes and go home or a hotel to relax and prepare for the next day’s shooting schedule. This knowledge does not mean that as viewers, we will not be emotionally and psychologically involved with the story. Simply put, it is good for our souls to remember that we are not seeing real.

What this means when returning to the grand historical narratives that we read, is that again, we are left without a direct and authentic way of understanding the results of these grand events on humans on an intimate, human scale. Books about historical fiction, and memoirs can provide paths to understanding these grand events. Reading personal stories by people who have lived through and experienced some of the tragedies of life is both valuable and critical for people to understand the effects of grand events on large populations, by personalizing the effects of the events. But, they often leave out a place for the reader to learn and feel empathy. Just reading the words can remove the context of the story. The personal narratives the authors of many graphic novels, along with the merging of text, and images, provide a historical context for the personal. We read, we see, and we learn about the impact of broad historical events on individuals. We begin learn to feel empathy with others, who through no fault of their own, are made into victims, and hopefully, with this understanding, we can start to take the steps needed to initiate the changes that bring about social justice. And graphic novels are a great way to start.

Some of the most powerful books that I have read, look at the effects of war and global trauma on children, describing their lives in and after war, about how they learned to survive unnatural situations by adapting a wide range of coping skills, from games of denial to active participation. No matter the method, the stories that these survivors are real, and compelling and challenge us to rethink our actions as well as the actions of some of our leaders. Another benefit of graphic novels as a media are that they are less expensive to produce and distribute than movies, or even books. They can be created using online tools and distributed using the web. By giving a voice to those with stories to tell, and spreading the word, perhaps people can learn about similarities between different cultures and communities around the world, and we can learn about the empathy that will guide change.

Maus and Persepolis are two of the primary books that tell about results of war and conflict, but there are others that are memoirs of people who have directly experienced and survived and teach us through their own stories. Below is a short list of six of my favorite books.

  • A game for swallows and I remember Beirutboth by Zeina Abirached are her memoirs about growing up directly on the border between the Christian and Moslem neighborhoods in Beirut during the time of the civil war. Although the war completely surrounded them, her two stories are more about how she, her family, friends and neighbors learned to cope with being in the middle of a war-zone, where gun-fire, bombs and explosions, food and power shortages were part of their daily regime. We become acquainted with Zeina, her family and neighbors and see how they manage their day to day lives, struggling to retain any sense of normalcy. The artwork is not detailed, but effective and engaging for the reader.
  •  War brothers: the graphic novel by Sharon E. McKay and Daniel LaFrance, is although not a personal memoir, is an extremely powerful story that is based on true accounts of Ugandan child soldiers that the authors gathered in hospitals and rehab centers for these children in Uganda. This is the story that nightmares are made of, as it covers the experience of the children watching their parents killed by Joseph Kony’s  Lord’s Resistance Army, then being conscripted in the army and taught to kill, maim, and every and any other activity prohibited by the Geneva Convention.
  • We are on our own is Miriam Katin’s memoir about her experience running away from the Nazis  in Hungary with her mother. Katin, now a citizen of America and a respected graphic artist and animator, tells a compelling story of escape, but really focuses on issues of faith during a time when the horrors of the Holocaust caused people to challenge and question their faith and religious beliefs- then and now. She tells her story with artwork in both black and white (then) and color (now).  A deeply personal and meaningful story.
  • In Paracuellos, Carlos Giménez tells about his own experiences growing up in the orphanages of Francisco Franco’s Spain. These were not simply orphanages, as we might understand them, but more like the orphanage of Dicken’s Oliver Twist, but on steroids and managed by the uber-facist government of post-WWII Spain. Powerful is too weak a word to describe his experiences and those of all of the other survivors of these terrible church and government-run  “orphanages”.
  • Barefoot Gen, is a Japanese Manga by Keiji Nakazawa and his a memoir based upon his experiences as a survivor of the atomic bomb blast that destroyed Hiroshima. Told through the eyes of a young boy who saw and survived the blast, and saw its immediate results and affects on the civilian population, such as the shadows on the streets of vaporized people, the walking dead with their skins hanging off of their bodies.  This book should be required reading for all students about the un-winnable, horrific nature of nuclear war.

These six books, and many others expose students to the results of war on human beings, beyond the voices of politicians and historians, but from viewpoint of people who experienced and suffered from war first-hand, and on no desire of their own, but rather from people, “leaders”, far away from the real results of their policies. There are many other books, and please feel free to comment and tell me about them.

Posted in Civil rights, Comics, Education, Graphic Novels, Hiroshima, Holocaust, Joseph Kony, Paracuellos, Peace, Social Justice, War | Leave a comment

Comix in the classroom are cool!

Simply put, comics in the classroom are cool! Everybody knows that they are fun and engaging, But they are so much more, and provide a plethora of benefits for students, especially in high schools and colleges.  For starters, it is easy to see graphic novels promote visual literacy- after all, they are called graphic novels. But there is evidence that shows that many weak readers get turned on to traditional literature through exposure  and assignments with  graphic novels.

The content is rich and varied. There are examples of:

There are two sub-genres of graphic novels that that really interest me. The first are  personal memoirs by immigrants and war refugees, social commentary, and recent historical events. Graphic novels are extremely powerful and effective ways to tell the human side of history. In general, history is taught as big waves, events and movements, but pass over the most basic elements- the effects of these grand narratives on individual humans and communities. Movies are also powerful media for big events, and bring to mind Schindler’s ListSaving Private Ryan12 years a slave, The Loving Story, Argo, Stand and deliver, and more. All extremely powerful films, especially when seen in a theater with an audience. Books are another leg of learning, but as the old saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words”, and graphic novels are the perfect example when combined with words. They provide an intimate observation into the lives and experiences of those who are living in history, struggling to survive, to find safe havens in order to live, work, raise a family and to live without fear. Along with basic literature, many of these titles can be integrated into the curriculum in many class subjects, such as journalism, sociology, community and ethnic studies, and history. But, it is also possible to design complete classes around graphic novels, especially about the American experience of refugees and immigrants.
Some of my favorites include:

Books about the global migrant and refugee experience:

Memoirs about living in war zones and resolutions:

The American experience

My other favorite sub-genre are Jewish graphic novels. The narratives in these books represent the complexity and richness of the Jewish people, and tell stories about history, personal events, spirituality and religion. The great Will Eisner is probably the first author who tackled the Jewish experience straight on, beginning with his book Contract with God (considered by some to be the first modern graphic novel), and The Plot: The Secret Story of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. This was followed by Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize winning book, Maus. It is interesting to note that for many years, Eli Weisel’s classic memoir Night was the primary source in HS classes about the holocaust, until the publication of Maus, which became the prime resource. But there are other titles about topics other then the Holocaust, such as:

  • The Rabbi’s Cat by Joann Sfar. This story is about an Algerian rabbi, his beautiful daughter, and their talking cat, who engages in religious debates with the rabbi, especially his desire for a bar mitzvah.
  • Tales of the wild east, also by Joan Sfar, about the adventures of an itinerant group of Klezmer and Gypsy musicians in eastern Europe.
  • How to understand Israel in 60 day or less by Sarah Glidden
  • Exit Wounds by Rutu Modan (one of my favorite authors)
  • The Property by Rutu Modan
  • Jerusalem: a family portrait by Boaz Yakin (an engaging story about a family’s experience in Jerusalem during the 1940s that tells more about the the tensions between different Jewish communities than about the Jewish-Palestinian issues.
  • Greenberg the vampire by J.M. DeMatteis (the title alone makes it worth reading!).

There are also the meta-books about graphic novels told in graphic novel form, such as:

There is a plethora of other titles that are graphic memoirs, reflections and journalism about critical issues that are engaging and informative and affect global societies. These books are appropriate for a range of classrooms from middle and high schools, and  up to colleges. Data shows that graphic novels promote visual literacy, text-based literacy, and critical thinking skills. One interesting example gleaned from my dissertation came from a HS teacher in South-Central Los Angeles. The teacher assigned daily assignments of 20 minutes of free reading in his class. The students could read anything that they wanted, including comics and graphic novels. Most of the students chose to read comics, and would breeze through series that the teacher had placed in his classroom. But, then things got interesting. After getting hooked on a series, they discovered that the classroom collection was incomplete, and that they needed to go to the library to continue. High school students began to flock to the library, a room that they had never set foot in, to find the continuation of the series. And then, they discovered the world books and literature. who had never set foot in a library began to floc that Data also shows that there are many practical skills that can be lesarned, such as storyboarding (there applications for this skill in multiple fields), professional presentations, and other positions in media and communications.

 

Posted in Civil rights, Comic Con, Comics, David Greenfield Dissertation, Education, Graphic Novels, John Lewis, Learning, March, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What can the world teach California about arts engagement?

Reporting from another excellent event sponsored by Zocolo. Some notes and thoughts from the conference.

What is a community of shared experiences. A memorable experience is created by surprise. Visitors come to an institution or arts event with an idea in mind, or with specific expectations, but are completely surprised by something else, something unexpected. This is a shared experience that will remain in their mind and soul.

One speaker said that good art that impacts visitors is about debate, conflict, pain and dialogue. My question is: What about delight?

Randi Korn said an important component done by  arts administrators and educators is to help visitors  articulate what they feel.

Many administrators and arts educators feel that a lot of current art is about “share-ability”, and that the current generation chooses activities that they can share in instigram or Facebook.

Art should be about creating a deep experience instead of broad experience.

Steven Tepper, the Dean of ASU Herberger Institute for Design & the Arts said that the millennials are more about living lives of purpose than that of the “me” economy and that we need to create open-source institutions. Regarding art, we need to look at  art as process not as a product. We need to show people how its made. In the past, people made their own music in their homes, or art or even read Shakespeare on their own, in their own living rooms. More pianos were sold in the early 1900s than ever before or since. Everyone had their own piano or guitar.

Artists are trained to to ask questions, in critical thinking and in design methodologies. Even if an art student does not continue as an artist, their training can be used in other disciplines  to great benefit. Artists are imagination partners for every sector in the world.

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Some thoughts about graphic novels in education

As a visual thinker, a lover of the printed word, and a passionate social activist, encountering this new genre had a profound impact on this author, and he began to seek out, read and acquire new titles, each more interesting than the previous. Like Maus or I was there (about the bombing of Hiroshima), some books are serious meditations on the horrors of the past century. Other books were humorous, such as Greenberg the vampire, found their way into my personal collection. Each year, the popularity of graphic novels increases, and authors explore innovative ways to tell their stories. Some are very personal memoirs, such as American born Chinese, others, like The pride of Baghdad are surreal narratives about current events, such as this story, based on a true event during the Iraq war when a pride of lions escaped the Baghdad zoo, and ran around the city until they were killed by American forces, told from the viewpoint of the lions. These books are engaging and informative, and allow the reader to stop and explore complex images in individual panels or contemplate interesting dialogue, thereby creating a very different kind of experience than a movie, or book.

It became apparent to me that one of the most important and unique attributes of graphic novels is that their point of view more than often describes intimate, human experiences (even lions in the Pride of Baghdad shares this sensibility). When school textbooks big describe historical events, they do so in a sterile, linear manner, often outside of how human beings have experienced these events. Movies can describe similar events, but in a manner that prevents the viewer from being able to stop and reflect on the story, events and characters. Additionally, because of the size, special effects, music and sound effects, the story become a spectacle, with oversized heroes, and villains, and often disconnected from the intimacy of human experience found in graphic novels. In the graphic novel, the reader can stop, reflect, and move around the story, returning to earlier parts to explore story elements that may have been missed.

It is interesting to consider one of the most salient points that Marshall McLuhan describes in his book, The medium is the message is the relationship between a story, the manner in which it is told, and the medium used to tell it. For example, listening to Orson Well’s 1940 radio play The War of the Worlds was a very different experience to listeners than that of reading the book, or watching the movie. Understanding the particular media used to tell a story, its unique qualities and strengths, the history of how the specific media has developed over time, make a richer, deeper experience for both the creators and the users. This is particularly true with the genre of graphic novels, a fairly recent addition to narrative genres. It is these attributes that make Maus, Persepolis, March, and other titles such powerful books, because the sheer scale of their subjects can be so overwhelming that the narratives of the individual people, who survived, are often lost to readers. Graphic novels are an intimate, personal media, making them an extremely persuasive media to convey difficult narratives that inform and affect modern readers. They are engaging, economical, easy to translate and distribute (real of virtual publication).

More to come.

 

 

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Some reflections on graduation

On Saturday, May 20th I completed an 8 year journey to complete my EdD, and walked with a whole bunch of classmates to receive our hoods. And there were even more students receiving their MAEDs. It was really cool and became very emotional day for me, and I am sure of my colleagues and peers. I felt that I was almost having an out-of-body experience, although that may because it took us 2 hours to travel up the PCH parking lot. I was totally happy to be wearing my Pepperdine royal blue robes. But I knew that I should have worn short pants and Berks or something. We were all like little personal sweat lodges- it was so bloody hot. But to look around me, and see the smiles of diversity, so joyful, of a feeling of completion of an academic walkabout. Perhaps I am over-dramatizing this, but my journey seemed to take me along a sometimes Job-ian path of opportunities masquerading as challenges. I had more of some of these opportunities then I would have liked, but I got to learn about broken collarbones, different hospitals. Huntington was really great for emergency,  UCLA was good for pneumonia (except for their cable TV that showcased the Alligator Channel), Kaiser for all kinds of other stuff (like the insertion of Bert and Ernie, my two stents).  There were parts of this journey that took me pretty close to the seas of despair and worry. Some of it was received from the news, some of it was the lack of steady work. But the love and support from family and friends prevented me from drowning and let me pursue this dream. I am truly grateful to all for all from a smile to a beer to a good word to a month and another. What a journey! Whew! One thing about this journey is that you really need persistence, and a sense of humor. Yep, definitely a sense of humor!

Three stages of dissertation: The elevator pitches. 
Stage 1– Using available technologies to develop innovative partnerships between schools and different arts institutions to provide year-round arts education in underserved and distant communities.
Stage 2– Using MOOCS as a platform for Number 1. Massive open online classes, built on the Community of Practice described by Lave and Wenger. Way cool. Imagine students anywhere and everywhere gaining to access to organized courses at LACMA, the Norton Simon, the Louvre, National Gallery, or theater schools, in year long programs. Parts as lecture and parts as interactive experience. There are models about, like the University of the People.
Stage 3, my dissertation– Using graphic novels and comics in schools to teach social justice and identity issues.

To be continued.
Graphic Novels and comics are really……

Posted in Comics, David Greenfield Dissertation, For all mankind, Graphic Novels, Innovation, Learning, MOOCs, Museums, Social Justice | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

March, the excellent graphic novel by and about John Lewis

I just finished the last book of the trilogy “March”, by and about John Lewis, and can say that I highly recommend it. It is a powerful and engaging book, with a compelling and true narrative, and B/W illustrations that draw the reader completely into it, making it a total binge read of all three books.

Book 3 is frighteningly relevant to events happening today- to so many hyphenated Americans, perpetrated by ugly white men.This is a series that should be required reading in all high schools and colleges. It is a compelling read that shows how far we came, as well as how far that we need to go. There are excerpts of several important speeches by Senator Lewis, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Mrs. Fannie Lou Hammer, Nelson Rockefeller, and even President Johnson.

This books shows the America that trump wants to return us to, and it ain’t pretty.

March in Wikipedia
Link to teacher’s guide to Book One
Link to NEA lesson plans

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We we came in peace for all mankind….

Over the past 3 days, I’ve been rewatching “The Dish“, a  little gem of an Australian movie about the first Apollo mission to the moon. It is a delightful, and quirky film of a “a somewhat fictionalised story of the Parkes Observatory’s role in relaying live television of man’s first steps on the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969.” (Wikipedia says it better than me). The words cam to mine are great cast, humorous, engaging and inspiring. Towards the end of the movie, footage of the actual moon landing is shown- with global audiences (actual footage and the actors), watching. Footage of the reactions of Walter Cronkite and other great journalists smiling and weeping with true awe, and emotion is shown.

We hear the astronauts read the words on the engraved plaque that remains on the moon.
We came in peace for all mankind
Then we hear Commander Eugene Cernan’s farewell, “As I take man’s last step from the surface, back home for some time to come – but we believe not too long into the future – I’d like to just (say) what I believe history will record. That America’s challenge of today has forged man’s destiny of tomorrow. And, as we leave the Moon at Taurus–Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind. Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17.”

Hearing those words, some 47 years later, is truly awe inspiring, and made my eyes water…. They mentioned that some 600 million people around the world watched it on live tv, describing it as one moment in time, in the history of the planet where all of humanity stopped and watched in awe.

With these feelings, I was suddenly thrust back to the moment, and I wondered, how in the hell did we slide from that moment to where we are now? How did we go from such great and wonderful world of change, and hope and wonder, visions of a better future, sending brave men in tin cans to see if we could do it. And we did. What happened? How did we end up with a bunch of ignorant, small minded, fearful and arrogant people with no vision, and no imagination (beyond the tip of their nose)? People who want to go back to a “simpler” time… Beyond the basic question, simpler for who and when? These people forget that all through time, humans have been developing and progressing, inventing and innovating, trying to improve the human condition. I think that it is really funny to think that people who want to return to “simpler” times could really go back, they would find people who would be happy to trade with them, to be given the opportunity to move to today. Humanity is past those stages, we can actually let go of a lot of our myths and create new ones, ones whose heroes are not warriors, but creators, healers, innovators. There are crazy ones on this planet, and there always have been. But, in reality, there are more of the latter, so why are we letting them run the show?

Posted in Eugene Cernan, For all mankind, Innovation, Learning, Moon, Moon Walk, Neil Armstrong, Science, Social Justice, The Dish | 1 Comment

The power of comics…

A picture is worth a thousand words, especially when it is Superman!

(I nabbed this from a Facebook posting)

Posted in Comics, Graphic Novels, Learning, Social Justice, Superman | Leave a comment

Learning and watching @ Stan Lee’s LA Comic Con (aka Comikaze)

The newly renamed Stan Lee’s LA Comic Con (aka Comikaze) at the LA Convention Center was a blast! All comics and graphic novels, people of all ages, genders, ethnicities, all having fun! It made me think of a comment about Star Trek that appeared in the movie “Trekkies 2”. One of the major fans said that the reason that she liked Star Trek because it was about a time and place where people accepted and respected each other. This is my experience at Comic Con, which makes it a perfect venue for moderating a panel about Comics in the Classroom.

Although I had scheduled two high school teachers who used comics, Peter Carlson and Johnny Parker II, Peter invited two really cool and knowledgeable colleagues- Rosie O. Knight, a delightful poet and writer from London, who taught comics to underserved kids over there, and Mom, from Ladybugs, the Los Angeles Women’s Comic Creator League, making a really interesting and dynamic panel.

The discussion was lively and interesting, driven by experience, passion (for comics) and the deep desire to make a difference to society. We talked about content titles, types of assignments, and learning objectives. But, there are comics and are more then just super heroes and talking animals, and many of the stories are about more than just super adventures. Following the tradition of great workd literature, we discussed how many titles and comics represent archetypes of literature, and metaphors for action and meaning. For example we talked about how the conflict between Magneto and Professor X represent the philosophical conflict between Malcolm X and Marten Luther King.

Another idea that we spoke about was how comics can introduce non-, or weak readers to all sorts of great literature in some very unusual ways, such as R. Crumb’s brilliant version of Genesis. Crumb used some excellent translations of the story to inspire and guide his book. Peter spoke about how this kind of book can shift the cognitive lead to feed the students’ imaginations instead of simply reading. One of the panelists added this books like these allow students to test the boundaries found in static interpretations of this story, as well as others in classic literature from a black and white understanding, to more of a gray, that allows students to interpret using their own imagination, experience and knowledge.

Towards the end of the session, one of the most important take-aways was brought up. That is that comics in the classroom are not only consumed and used, but are also made by students. Assignments are similar to those that are associated to full-text compositions that are given in literature, history or other purely text-based subjects. But comics are much more dynamic, and personal. They empower students of all levels to personalize their narratives, promote critical thinking associated with the cognitive development of text-image interpretation and understanding, and make the stories real. Students are often overwhelmed with the state of the world, feeling helpless about the possibility of change. They know that they do not have the superpowers of the characters that they read about. But, in making their own comics, sharing their own narratives that define who and what they are, they can shift that sense of being helpless to change the world, to being empowered by being able to serve and save their communities, helping to create a snowball effect.

To my colleagues on the panel- Thank you for participating and I hope that I did your astute comments justice, and look forward to future conversations.

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