Sunday, August 21, 2011

High School, Blankets, and Graphic Novels...

This past week I taught students from Yeonchun High School. Most of the lessons/activities I taught were the same as those I teach for other groups. There were just two big differences. At the beginning of the week, when the students had just arrived, I interviewed half of them to determine how fluent they were in English.  That was new. Then, at the end of the week, I helped them prepare presentations that they were to give in English. I also helped critique their presentations. That was also new.

When I found out that I was to be teaching a group of high school students, I wasn't all that excited. For the last month, I have been working the 1PM to 9PM shift, which means that my primary responsibility was leading group activities and games while encouraging the students to participate in English. One of these activities is a dance party, where the students learn many different dances, like the Macarena, the Cupid Shuffle, a dance to "YMCA" and many others. When I was in high school, I would not have wanted to have anything to do with that particular activity. 

I was pleasantly surprised by how much these students enjoyed the activities, even the dancing. Of course, the night previous to Dance Party, we had watched "Iron Man," but didn't have enough time to finish it, so I promised the students that if they danced, we would finish the movie.  That may have had something to do with their participation.

They were fun students and I am glad I got the chance to spend a week with them.

Quick side note: yesterday I bought a printer. It wasn't too expensive and I felt it necessary as when I write I like to edit my own essays on a printout. I felt uncomfortable with using the English Village's printers for this purpose, so figured a printer was a decent investment. End side note.

Every now and again I browse through Amazon's recommendations for me. This is generally rather amusing as my tastes are very eclectic, but now and then I find something I am excited about. 

I found out that Top Shelf publications just put out a hardcover edition of Craig Thompson's Blankets, which is in the running for "Adam's Favorite Graphic Novel" (not an actual prize). Yesterday I went across the street to the Village's bookstore and asked if they could order it in for me. Yes, I could have ordered it from Amazon, but I like supporting local businesses, and the bookstore, as far as I know, is not run by the English Village.

I am very excited to own a hardcover copy of this book.

When I say Graphic Novel, what I am referring to is a work of fiction related to a comic book. However, a Graphic Novel is a single work, generally much longer than a comic book. In the case of Blankets, the work is 600 pages long. It took Thompson years to write, draw and publish the book. 

So, in my definition, a Graphic Novel is an original work of fiction that is composed of two principal elements. 1: Pages composed of panels of artwork that tell a continual, visual (graphic) story. 2: Written elements that can provide insight into what a character is thinking, or provide additional perspective to what is presented in the drawings. Graphic Novels tend to come out once, unless they are released in series, which then are released often several months, or years, apart. Good examples, besides Blankets, include Stitches by  David Small, Maus by Art Spiegelman (which, incidentally, won a Pulitzer, if that sort of thing impresses you. It does me.) and Fun Home: a Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel.

Comic books are serialized monthly, and these are most often 22 pages or story. The monthlies are (now) collected into volumes that usually include six issues. Sometimes more, sometimes less. Superheroes tend to fall into this category. Sometimes these collected editions of comic books are called Graphic Novels, but I believe this is misleading. They used to be called Trade Paperbacks, but they are now released in hardcover editions as well. I don't know that there is one perfect term to call them. I refer to them as Collected Editions. I'm working on a better title.

I believe that Graphic Novels frequently have profound artistic merit. Collected editions, not so frequently, but it still happens. 

But that's just my opinion...

1 comment:

Brandon said...

While I have a hard(er) time reading graphic novels, one of my favorite books is called "The Arrival" by Shaun Tan. There are no words to it either, but it tells a great story.