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Your reading a what? A comic book? Don’t make me laugh!

Your reading what a comic book?

Your reading a what? A comic book? Don’t make me laugh!

These words came from my father. Words such as” lazy”, “wastrel but worse of all the sideways nodding of the head with a disapproving look! whenever he caught me reading a comic as a boy. I love reading and would devour 5 or 6 books a week when 7 or 8 but reading had started with comics and picture albums (Roy Rogers was the first one I can remember). I loved the way a story could be told with both text and pictures.

The comic! It is now an art form with Animes and Manga comics in high demand. Then it was the Beano and Dandy, Hotspur and Victor but these were never seen as “art”. Comics were shared at school and we could not wait for the next instalment of Roy of the Rovers. I still retain the image of the ball hitting the back of the net and the image of a boot meeting the ball with a mighty thwack! Great stuff!

Perhaps my enthusiasm was for everything written. I don’t think teachers thought it helping reading skills or developing an ability to extract meaning from words. Certainly no teacher, as best that I can recall, ever used comics for subject matter nor encouraged us to read them. Picture books were allowed in infants but not in the more senior schools. Reading comics certainly did not help my artistic abilities. But looking back I can see that they were very instrumental in making reading an acceptable pastime amongst my peers. Friends would share comics, discuss the stories and even re-enact storming a hill as a paratrooper. They were an important common focal point and if you didn’t read them it was not easy to be part of the school playground. I was never beaten up because I was reading a comic!

The love of a comic strip is still there with us today. You just have to look at Dilbert or Peanuts and be accepting of truths. There is something incredibly appealing about the combination of the written word with animated drawings.

The International Literacy Association published an article in the Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 59(4) January / February 2016 that describes the importance associated with Comic books for developing literacy skills. “Creating Comic Books in Nigeria: International reflections on literacy, creativity and student engagement” by Michael Bitzt & Obiajulu Emejulu. It eloquently sets out a case for using comics as a motivation for children to learn to read and write.

This makes sense to me. Visualisation combined with words on the page and extracting meaning from pictures develops creativity. Instead of drowning in a sea of words, children are given clear precise words and pictures that help them find the story and builds confidence in their ability to comprehend. That and the fact that it is an enjoyable experience.

For the record LibStor has 736 Manga eBook comics on our catalogue available to buy and download and its no accident that we have these titles available. There are many more graphic novels from a variety of publishers. Part of the catalogue is devoted to developing story writing skills and some aid the practice of creating artwork in a Manga style. The article explores the importance of a child being able to use drawing and text together to build confidence in their ability to construct logical communications. It makes sense. Amongst some of the titles are Macbeth a manga story – what a great way of introducing Shakespeare and what a story!

So when people ask me why we include Comics and Graphic Novels in our eBook collections for sale on LibStor? I don’t think I need to paint a picture.