|Posted on Friday, June 20, 2003 - 10:28 pm: |
I disagree with your sweeping commentary about all comic books being "junk". Like anything else, some of it is dreck, some is great.
And what is "junk" or "bubble gum" reading material anyway (And does that come supersize and cherry and apple flavor?)? Because I believe almost ANYTHING you read is better than reading nothing at all. It's the practice of reading, not the material itself that I would emphasize.
And your arguments appear to falsely presume that I would offer them ONLY comic books to read. No, I suggested comics as kindling to help light the fire for learning.
Look, if you know how to get young boys to consume our august literary canons, please do tell us all, my brothah. Because if you do, playah, you done struck dah mothah lode. And I'm sure EVERY fathah, sistah, mothah, teachah, professor, principal, administrator who happens upon this site would be FOREVER in your debt.
Chris, folks tried to turn me on to Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Langston Hughes when I was a shorty, but I wasn't even having it. Cause then I had the attention span of a crack-addicted bumblebee. I wasn't going to sit down long enuff to read anything unless it was something that really piqued my interest.
Enter Stan Lee & Jack Kirby. Suddenly, I was taking nearly ever few cents I could get a hold of to buy comics. Then reading/spelling/vocabulary skills improved quite precipitously. While in elementary school, within about a 3-year period, I went from having substandard to nearly collegiate level exam scores.
But it wasn't just reading the comics as much as it was the comics made reading a more natural part of my recreational activities. Suddenly, when there were no fresh comic books available, I started reading Black Boy (a gift from a teacher, which had sat dusting in my chest draw for years).
You are right. There's no guarantee they will LOVE comic books anymore than they would anything else. And surely not every comic book reader will evolve into a Rhodes' Scholar. But this is the video game generation. And comic books are about the closest literary genre to what boys are enjoying doing. The characters are loud, colorful and powerful. They can do many of the amazing things that boy enjoy simulating on Sega and X-Box. So they might gravitate toward comics if for not reason but their characters appear similar to what they do Mortal Kombat ???.
Your vehement refutations of reading comics are interest to me. Who cares whether what they read is completely real, factual and verifiable? Hell, at least 1/2 the stuff that we read as adults - in newspapers, fiction, essays, et al. - is at the very least of dubious, questionable nature/veracity. At least Marvel & DC, unlike the New York Times, are not trying to convince anybody that what they publish is factually correct.
And tell me, how many kids do you know were intellectually stunted by reading about the Justice League?
Man, I am around young boys/girls ALL the time. I watch them. And what I mostly see are girls reading and boys playing. You gotta know there are millions of teachers, parent, and administrators all over the country begging and pleading with boys to read. Yet the boys are lagging WOEFULLY behind females. And this is not just a black phenomenum. It's a national one. White female college students currently outpace white males 56% to 44% and the disparity is growing.
Now we can try to trot out boilerplate doctrine over what a kid should and should not read while they ignore our pleas and watch them helpless descend into an irreconcilable state of ignorance, ineptitude, crime and death. Or we can say, "Look, WHATEVER we can give these kids to get them to read something, ANYTHING, give it to them. Then continue to offer them chances to up their literary ante with Invisible Man, Huck Finn, etc. Because if you read enuff of something you have a much better chance to be able to read ANYTHING.
Honestly, I don't care who Stan Lee or Jack Kirby tried to emulate. Most people who manage to accomplish something in life try to model themselves after those who talents likely surpass their own. And I'll just agree to disagree with your lack of regard for the quality writing/illustration. Because whatever it was or was not, it sho' nuff helped me to avoid a lot of trouble and it sparked within me a lifelong interest in and appreciation for reading.
Chris do us both a favor. Go to a local comic book store and rifle through a few recent issues of Thor, Superman, etc. I dare you to then try to honestly say that most public school 12 year olds are receiving in their schools more challenging and sophisticated forms of reading than that.
PS: I won't try to pretend to want or be able to understand all your commentary about crotchless super heroes (Actually, you are scaring me with this subject as I think you are going to go in a direction that I might have to abstain from.). But I suspected the illustrators went with the no-d' look because they feared a "bulge" might call attention to superheros' groin, thus possibly inciting some unwanted sexual, maybe even homoerotic, inferences, murmurs and fan mail.