Monday, June 15, 2015

Comic Books: The Holocaust, The Civil War, The Depression and More

I have been asked a number of times if there are comics that are good for the modern classroom.  I've also been insulted by professors of university who asked my opinion of what books to include on a syllabus and I mentioned a graphic novel and was mocked or laughed at.  Comic books and their extended and collected form cousins the "Graphic Novels" are looked upon differently in the present.  Perhaps this is because they have so changed the movie world with their success, or maybe because comic books for the last 40 years have not been aimed mostly or much at children as the readership.   

I think the key for the best works in a classroom is to not aim it at the classroom.  Well written fictional tales help the reader, of any age, become part of the story.  When the story happens in a setting that the classroom is devoting time towards, then the teaching becomes all that much more easy to do.

The use of history as a backdrop for a drama is very powerful, since I am a historian by Master's Degree (NDSU) I enjoy this a great deal due to my personal interest.  But it also is useful for teens and adults who think or feel that history is a collection of names and dates and events that mean something for some reason and you memorize them and ones you puke them out on paper you never have to remember them ever again.  In fiction, and in historical fiction and non fiction that is illustrated and well told, the reader is able to absorb the events, and then they will understand the event, and to hell with the dates, names and numbers.  If the purpose of education, the comics posted here in pics will help show the evil that was the Holocaust, the horror that the banality and mundanity of a nation becoming evil was.  While it can be said that a number of past leaders of the world were evil, here was a case of nationalist racist hatred that was adopted and accepted by a vast majority of the people.

My son, 16 years old now, talked to me about how the history classes he has taken addressed various times of humanity's story.  A great deal of it would have been enhanced by reading material such as Chuck Dixon and Gary Kwapicz's Civil War Adventure. The idea that people can from words alone see pics in their head is not enough.  Seeing the events unfold through the gift of story telling is far more effective than simple lecture, or simple photographs or maps.  Chuck Dixon and Gary Kwapicz know what they are doing as well. 

Osprey Publishing released a number of fact based war stories that hit the mark for quality, and for wildly entertaining stories.  Sadly, they landed on the market with a thud.  Osprey is a great, amazingly awesome publisher.  So I highly recommend this books.  They can likely be found cheaply, and they will entertain fans of the genre.

Joshua Dysart is a fine writer and his take on the formerly stodgy and old character Unknown Solider was eye opening.  His stories are found in the real world, in Northern Uganda where war crimes, atrocities and discoveries of terrible secrets occurred.  Among the secrets discovered, child soldiers fighting for the leaders with their own, heartless, agendas.

War Brothers covers the story of child soldiers.  As such it is a real life horror story, and one that should be read by anyone thinking that the wars in Africa are not worth your time to know about.

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