Wrapping up my comic — Walking the Web — didn’t feel right without this final metacomic …
Peace (in the comic in the comic in the ..),
And so, it ends. Sort of. The boys in my comic — Walking the Web — have made it back home. I wanted to reference the movie, Looper (and if you know the movie, you know how this last comic could have gone), but could not bring myself to go that far. So, I do have the boys meeting themselves, and left it at that. But it made sense to have the soundtrack of Timbuk 3 running in your head as the series comes to an end. (Depending on your interpretation of the lyrics, that could be good or bad.)
Peace (on the web),
PS — I have one more comic to run tomorrow. It’s not technically part of the series, and yet … it is.
One of the items on my teaching/technology bucket list was to use Skype as way for my students to interact with published authors. But, for whatever reason, I had never gotten around to it. Luckily, graphic novelist Stephen McCranie reached out to me as part of my online network (via The Nerdy Book Club), and as part of his own journey to bring comic art into classrooms and work with young people, he visited my sixth grade class yesterday afternoon. McCranie writes and illustrates the wonderful Mal and Chad series, which is about a boy trying to fit in with peers even though he is brilliant, and Mal (the boy) has a talking dog (Chad) as his best friend and companion. The two graphic novels that McCranie has published so far (a third is on the way) are perfect for the elementary school age, capturing both the imagination of the age and the difficulties of fitting in without losing our own sense of identity. Oh, yeah, plus there is a lot of adventure and humor in Mal and Chad.
During his visit to my classroom, McCranie did a few important things: he talked about the development of story and character in partnership with the use of art, and he explained how important those two elements are in a graphic novel. He also discussed comic art as he drew in front of us. We were all pretty much mesmerized as we watched characters and ideas to come to life on the screen, even as McCranie chatted and answered a barrage of questions from my students (some more on topic than others). He created this character — Ninja Cat — with suggestions from the audience. He also nicely sent me a PDF of the work that he did with my class, so that I can distribute that out to them this morning. That was nice touch!
As my students got ready for the bus to go home, they were still buzzing with energy, and both of my Mal and Chad books were “borrowed” for the night. I also reminded them, after McCranie talked about how he used to publish his comics on the web (which how he got noticed by publisher), that we have our classroom Blog site and it is open for any and all of them to create and publish their own comics. I’m hoping a few take me up on that offer.
Now that this Skype experiment is over, I admit that I am hungry for more. Time to jump into the Skype for Education site and see who is out there, and how I can bring more of the world into my classroom. I feel like this is one of those areas that I could easily (with some scheduling and organizing) make happen and as a result, extend out my students’ sense of the world and their place in it.
Peace (in the visit),
If you spend enough time reading articles or watching interviews with the folks behind the major sites in the Web’s history (most of which lines data ghost towns), you realize that one phrase keeps popping up in the mouths of the site leaders, and often, it spells the beginning of the end of the site. (Are you there, Friendster? AOL? Yahoo? MySpace? And will you survive, Facebook?) The boys in my comic — Walking the Web — notice it, too.
Peace (outside those portals),
I won’t claim to know all that much about programming but clearly, the Ruby on Rails suite of web developer tools has opened a lot of doors for interactive web-based ideas. So, it made sense to introduce a personified Ruby to the boys in my comic, Walking the Web, as they explore the history of the Web.
Peace (on the rails),
The boys in my comic — Walking the Web — think they see a dangerous creature. It’s the open-source Mozilla, springing from the ashes of Netscape, and gearing up to launch Firefox. Google Chrome can’t be too far down the road, right? When you think of it, the browser wars have been an interesting, and unexpected, development, right?
Peace (in the browser wars),
I admire Bill Gates for his push into philanthropy (but not so much his push into education). The boys in my comic meet Gates right at the moment when Microsoft realized, a bit too late, that the Web was the place to be, not the desktop. Oh well.
Peace (in the strip),
Before folks launch into me here, I know that Marc Andreessen has done other things since he and his partner, Eric Bina, created the Mosaic browser (which became the basis for Netscape). Ning is just one of Andreessen’s many ventures. But the boys in my comic, Walking the Web, only see his role in history as helping to develop and release Mosaic because, in historical terms, that is his one great achievement, and all done while still very young and living on pizza and cookies and milk (according to various bios).
Peace (in the browser),
We’re so used to graphic interfaces that we forget that the first generation of browsers were all text-based applications. The boys in my webcomic Walking the Web find that interesting … but the lack of flash is kind of boring to them.
Peace (in the text),
While I am sure the boys in my Walking the Web comic are excited to meet folks who were key to development of the World Wide Web, you have to imagine that they might get bored every now and then. This is not a knock against Tim Berners-Lee or anything, but I wanted to have one of the characters dream of their favorite snack, Ding Dongs.
Peace (in the snacks),