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

Posted in Civil rights, Comic Con, Graphic Novels, John Lewis, Learning, March, Social Justice | Leave a comment

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 | Leave a 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.

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