Reading Comics

So, I found this dusty old comic book in behind some other junk during a classroom clean-up.

It gave me something new to read during class, and I was reading it when I came across this corny Jane of the Jungle cartoon.

I wonder, I thought.

I invited someone who reads independently at a level 3 to try it. She didn't think it was too funny, but she understood most of it. "Slope" and VOLCANO" were the only words she asked after. Of course, given their place in the punch line, that sort of deflated the joke.

I offered it to someone who reads independently at a high one / low two. She found Panel five hard. She read the "Later..." directly into the "What's this? SMOKE... FIRE?" treating the whole as one long sentence. She knew it sounded wrong, but didn't know how to decode the punctuation to make it sound right.

And that's what I found really interesting. These two hadn't read enough comics to be comfortable with their conventions of... what? Grammar? Typography? Something....

That something you get from a 1000 hours laying in a backyard tent or the garage loft or the back seat of the family car, reading and re-reading comic books.

I'd like to know about that. I'd like to talk about it in a workshop or at a conference.

But I don't mean one of those conferences-for-dummies where they say things are "Comic books can provide alternative reading materials for adults or youth who dislike reading." We all know that. We know that. Let's talk about how we can use comics, in specific, grown-up, professional ways? What are the pluses and minuses? What are some titles that work (or titles that don't work)? Where do you find comic books these days?

That would be an interesting, worthwhile workshop.

(Tomorrow or the next day I'll tell you why I'm grumpy about the workshops we get offered, again, and again.)

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