I just got back from my first San Diego Comic Con and all I can say is WOW!!!
Wow - to the 140,000 + people there daily... to all the exhibits and panels...to all the freebies and cool promotions...and to the absolutely glorious weather!
I still wonder...How did I get to do something so cool? About ten months ago I was sitting in my kitchen with my kids talking about blogging and literacy. Two of my three kids were preparing to go to the New York City Comic Con and I commented that as a literacy advocate and educator, I probably should give comics a second look - that maybe I should consider them a legitimate source of literacy and entertainment.
My kids' reactions: "DUH!!!!!!: (Articulate, huh)
My son gave me Joe Kelly's I Kill Giants (for grades 5+ see previous posts for details) and I was blown away!!!! I was amazed at the depth of the story, Kelly's creative use of metaphor, and the use of art to involve the reader. My daughter hooked me into The Unwritten (a young adult book that weaves classic literature into a complicated mystery as the main characters fight to save the free-thinking world) and I attended the New York City Comic Con with them this past October. In 2012 my book, "Teaching Content Area Graphic Novels" will be published by Maupin House Publishers.
So now, I have just returned home after sitting on a panel at the San Diego Comic Con 2011 where I had an awesome time talking to teachers and librarians on how to integrate comics and graphic novels into school libraries and curriculum. I am pumped to finish my book and am ready to start promoting my second book (more on that later).
The Bottom Line in a Nut Shell: Graphic novels are powerful educational tools promoting verbal literacy, visual literacy, social literacy and critical thinking.
- Their promoting literacy is obvious - they provide engaging entertainment as readers decode visual and verbal text.
- Graphic novels promote social awareness as readers have to "read" facial expressions and body language as well as the text to 'get' the story. This heightens their awareness of social cues.
- Finally, comics and graphic novels promote critical thinking as the readers have to construct motives, emotions, and events that occur between panels. Furthermore, many graphic novels, like Kelly's I Kill Giants are rife with metaphor which further stimulates critical (and creative) thinking.
Rust: Visitor in the Field (Archaia 2011) by Royden Lepp is set in the prairie lands of a unknown time and place, in a world that has survived a devastating war where robots were eventually built to fight instead of men. Roman Taylor, the oldest son of the Taylor family is set with the responsibility of running a struggling farm in his father's absence. Jet Jones, being chased by a giant decommissioned war robot lands on the Taylor farm and Roman thinks Jet Jones and the decommissioned robot might be the answers to his struggle. This is a beautifully illustrated story (in colors reflecting the Dust Bowl era of the 1930's) told through dialogue, flashbacks and letters to Roman's dad. This book can be used in social studies classrooms to discuss issues faced by farmers in the Dust Bowl era; the mechanics of war and fighting machines; and the art of letter writing. It is suitable for grades 4+. 20th Century Fox has picked up this novel and hired Aline Brosh McKenna (whose scripts include The Devil Wears Prada, 27 Dresses and I Don't Know How She Does It) to adapt it for the screen. Fox-based Simon Kinberg and Archaia's Stephen Christy and PJ Bickett will be the executive producers.
The Saga of Rex (Image Comics 2011) is illustrated and written by Michel Gagne - a veteran animator (who has worked for Warner Bros. and Disney/Pixar). This is a beautifully illustrated adventure, science fiction, love story about a gentle-souled fox named Rex who is plucked from his world and transported to the planet of Edernia where he meets all sorts of creatures, including his soul mate. This book contains some brief narration, but the story itself is told almost exclusively through illustration. The text provided is well written and has advanced vocabulary. While the illustrations are magnificent, cute and inviting (the young fox makes you think it may be for young kids), it takes some sophistication to construct the story and there is one scene that might be scary for young children. I therefore recommend this book for older kids (middle school and older). Finally, because there is so little text, reading this book presents a wonderful cognitive exercise as the reader constructs the story panel by panel, illustration by illustration. For more information and a "look" into each chapter of the book, please go to: http://www.gagneint.com/Final%20site/books/Rex_saga/Rex_saga_main.htm. [Note to teachers: As an educational exercise you may want to begin reading this aloud and have kids 'write' their own dialogue.]
Zita the Spacegirl (First Second 2011) by Ben Hatke is a beautifully illustrated book about Zita who must rescue her friend Joseph who was reluctantly sucked into another world after warning Zita of the dangers of touching a 'meteor' that fell to earth. Zita faces monsters, robots and magicians in her quest to save and return Joseph to their world. This is appropriate for grades 3 +. It is also a wonderful book to read aloud together. There is so much to talk about! For a cool trailer you and your kids will enjoy go to: http://zitaspacegirl.com/ or view this trailer on youtube:
It blows my mind how far comic books have come and it boggles the mind to think of where books - graphic or prose will be in another ten years....but that's a different blog post!
I hope you enjoyed these clips and would love to hear from you. In the meantime..
Here are some other posts to visit to read more about graphic novels:
http://departingthetext.blogspot.com/2011/06/visual-vs-visual-literacy-no-contest.html http://departingthetext.blogspot.com/2011/05/science-fiction-skills-chills-and.html http://departingthetext.blogspot.com/2011/03/learning-with-laughter.html http://departingthetext.blogspot.com/2011/03/kicking-back-bitwhats-all-this-about.html http://departingthetext.blogspot.com/2011/01/great-reads-for-avid-4th-and-5th-grade.html http://departingthetext.blogspot.com/2010/10/graphic-novels-at-home-and-in-school.html
I would love to know what YOUR FAVORITE comics and graphic novels are!!! Please leave them in the comments.