Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Comic Book Education

I recently brought my comic book collection up from my basement. I noticed Catherine reading some online Neopet comics so I thought it was time. Catherine was delighted.

We opened up one of the boxes and took a comic book out of it's mylar sleeve. I should note that just because the vast majority are in sleeves does not mean I collected with dollar signs in my eyes. I made a decision long ago that the majority of my comic books were reading stock only and not to worry about creases and tears. Anyway, we opened up the book. Catherine tried reading it but seemed a little puzzled. I asked her what was wrong and she said she wasn't sure what to read first.

I''ve read comic books for as long as I could read so it never occured to me that reading comics demanded a certain skill. It was a shocking moment. Suddenly I could see the books as my daughter did and it was a little confusing. How to determine what bit of text was the narrative? Which speech bubble needed to be read first? What did the use of italics and bold mean? How do you move through the panels?

The comic book is a medium absolutely filled with symbolism and code and you need a basic understanding of those if you're going to decipher the story. I've taught my kids none of that which seems almost negligent considering how important comic books been in my life. I have talked before about how comic books were a part of our family life but in actuality it was more in respect to my drawing as well as movies and video games that draw on comic book themes. The shame of it.

This is something we'll work on. Comic book literacy skills are important in my world and something I definitely want the kids to have.


Anonymous said...

//The comic book is a medium absolutely filled with symbolism and code and you need a basic understanding of those if you're going to decipher the story.//

Interesting. I've never given much thought as to why I've never enjoyed comics. Maybe glancing over Peanuts in the Sunday paper as a child, as well as the violent, superhero types that my brother read, I decided that they weren't worth the bother. Thanks for a new perspective.

molytail said...

I might have hated logic puzzles as a kid (re other post/comment), but I sure loved my Archie comics *grin* - I wasn't into Superman or such, but I had piles of the Archie digests all over the place.. I moved too much as a teenager to save those, but I remember them fondly.

y'know, you have me thinking here... I don't think Cindy has ever read a comic book! :-o

lori said...

I agree that learning to read comics takes a little time. I grew up not really reading them at all. My husband has boxes and boxes of them - an avid reader as a kid and through college. Naturally, my husband shared his love of comics with our kids. But I'm still figuring them out.

So when I read a comic to my son, who is 7 and not yet an independent reader, at least once he has to tell me that I read the bubbles in a panel in the wrong order. And he's always right. He can follow the story so well with the illustrations alone that he knows when I screw up the text. Amazing.