Slice of Life, Chapter 18

(This is part of the Slice of Life Project)

Sometimes, buried treasures comes in cardboard boxes.

Our recent discovery was one of a cache of comic books that arrived via FreeCycle (the site where people get rid of stuff and other people bring stuff home — we’ve unloaded cribs and received a beautiful dining room table through Freecycle). The box was loaded with books, always a good thing for a house like ours, and there at the bottom, was a thick pile of comic books of all shapes and sizes.


We immediately divvied things up. I grabbed the Baby Blues, which chronicles a couple raising children (perfect). One son took the Foxtrot while a friend went through The Far Side (still a big hit with kids and adults, I find). A plethora of Garfields lay scattered on the floor (no doubt, a comfortable repose for the fat cat).

A little while later, I surveyed the scene. Even the three-year-old had grabbed a Garfield book and was fully engrossed in the colorful pictures. The living room was silent. And it remained silent (except for the sudden “guffaws” now and then) for almost 20 minutes, which is quite a long time in our house. There is something about comics and humor that pulls most people in, isn’t there? I know we can often dismiss comics as juvenile but there is something about the narrative structure of telling a story in just a few frames, with visuals, that can be a powerful reading (and writing) experience.

Not long ago, my older son developed his own comic strip character called “The Ugly Peanut” and he wrote dozens of comic strips about the adventures of the strange little creature. Some of the jokes (excluding the obligatory fart jokes) were pretty advanced (although he later admitted that he “borrowed” from the books that he had read and adapted for his character, which I told him was perfectly acceptable for the starting of a character).

I will leave you with a look at his creation, The Ugly Peanut:

Peace (in frames),

  1. I’m sighing. I have a student (undiagnosed ADHD boy) who reports that he can’t take home any of the graphic novels in my library– his mom won’t let him read them. What she doesn’t realize is that he’d read more and more willingly if she’d let him. *sigh* (The other part of the story: I’m perfectly happy to be the “ignorant teacher” and keep letting him read them in my classroom. I’m not going to invite open conversation/blame/conflict!)

  2. Oh Gosh
    That is sad.
    Now, there are some graphic novels that are overly violent, but many are just wonderful and I would hope, as the librarian, that you could be a resource that she would turn to for advice.
    And yes, be the ignorant teacher that he remembers fondly as letting him enjoy the kind of books he wanted to read. Perhaps those graphic novels will then move his interest into other genres.
    My wife, a library administrator at a Voke High School, stocks the library with Shakespeare graphic novels, now, too.

  3. Ah, the sound of reading silently. It’s bliss to a teacher’s ears! I always knew I’d done something right when I could look out over my classroom and see my kids engrossed in reading something, anything– a good read is the best classroom management tool I’ve found! 🙂

  4. What a great treasure. Cool idea as well. I’m behind. I’ve lost my #2 spot on this slicing. I need to get busy. Just shot a lot of Tel Aviv in the streets. I’m off.

  5. What a score! I have to pay more attention to Free Cycle. My husband learned to write from reading comic books in the 80’s. I was surprised by how well written they were. Anyway, recently, we were able to arrange a meeting with one of the creators of Spider Man comics. My husband was agog to meet his writing hero!

  6. Hope you’re feeling better, Kevin. This is a great slice. I’m a big fan of comics. I loved old-school X-men, and Neil Gaiman’s Sandman graphic novels have pride of place on my book shelves to this day!

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