Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Remembrance of comic past

Several of my formative reading experiences growing up were comic books, and I still dabble in the format nowadays. (I'm part way through Alison Bechdel's Fun Home.) Still toting that deep-seated experience, I welcomed an invitation from Pop Culture Classroom to attend the first day of Denver's fifth annual Comic Con last week. I learned about (and marveled at) cosplay; I reconnected with NaNoWriMo; I listened to comic-book luminary Jim Shooter; and I took away reading suggestions and teaching ideas for my classroom.

One of the latter came from Illinois teacher Eric Kallenborn, who demonstrated the simple, ingenious approach of using comics with empty word bubbles to inspire student-writers' words. The technique scaffolds experimentation with tone and voice when students try multiple drafts in different registers using the same visual frame.

The wordless panels with which we practiced brought back a vivid memory from a previous reading life. It's 1984 (back when Jim Shooter, coincidentally, was Marvel's editor in chief). I'm splayed on a friend's bedroom floor, and we're surrounded by a scatter of comic books. He flips me the latest G.I. Joe, issue #21. Titled "Silent Interlude," it broke with convention by telling the whole story via action and reaction, not a single word bubble. My eyes got wide as I read; I might've stopped breathing. This recollection sent me scrambling today to the Internet where I found this augmented version. My take-away: Comics have staying power and a place in my classroom as part of literacy's pantheon.


5 comments:

  1. Cool connection between the present and your past. You;ll really connect with kids if you tell them your story as you introduce writing assignments around this!

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  2. As mom of a comic book collector, I firmly agree that comics can engage readers of all ages. My student teacher last year also was a comic book collector, and he shared a phenomenal lesson on literary archetypes (using some well-known characters) with my students. They loved it. Sounds like Comic Con was a great experience!

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  3. As mom of a comic book collector, I firmly agree that comics can engage readers of all ages. My student teacher last year also was a comic book collector, and he shared a phenomenal lesson on literary archetypes (using some well-known characters) with my students. They loved it. Sounds like Comic Con was a great experience!

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  4. I find today's students are more visual learners than ever, and graphic novels/ comics are a way to hook them as readers!! One of my students went to Comic Con in NYC this year. He loved it!! Great slice!

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  5. There was a comic con in Vancouver (Canada), last summer just as I was heading off in a cruise with my mother and siblings. Seeing the costumes and the excitement made me question why I was on the boat. After reading this, and realizing what I missed, next time I might stay on land, or at least, see what else is happening before I book the trip.

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