Picture books. Everyone has read one as a child, and that is exactly what they are: books for children. Or are they? Picture books, comic book, and graphic novel tend to be grouped together and all tend to be stereotyped as books for children, but recently the idea of using graphic novels as a source of education for teens in high school and even for adults in college has popped up. The book Maus II by Art Spiegelman is a graphic novel in which the reader follows Art’s father Vladek through Nazi Camps. The fact that Art used a graphic novel format was ground breaking and the idea that it was a historical reference made it even more unique. There are some comics that do show the history, but not in the same way as Spiegelman’s book. Maus II’s graphic novel structure actually helps the story. Visually, the reader can see changes the would not be so obvious as a traditional book would make it. Having Maus I and II be a graphic novel opens new doors to visual ideas and a new way to discuss history.
Superheroes and History
Comic books, graphic novels and comic strips have all been used to show ideas in different ways. When most people hear ‘graphic novel,’ they automatically think Superman or Captain American. But comics have been used to portray history and change public opinion. The X-men, for example, actually portray the civil rights movement in the 1950’s and 60’s. These crime-fighting mutants are often the victims of prejudice for being different. And the mutants are broken in to two groups: those who want to join and be accepted into society and those who want to leave it. And who leads them, well Professor X, a.k.a. Martian Luther King Jr, leads the ones who wa...
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... eat. Now, American is the dog, which makes sense because they come in and save the Jewish people from the Nazis. They stop the cats from eating the mice. In Tom and Jerry, there is a dog named Spike, who comes in and saves Jerry in certain situations. Like Tom, the Nazis came up with an elaborate plan to catch all of the Jews (and other), but in the end the plan always fails. In some of the episode, Spike is the one who stops the plan, but only after Tom annoys him, which is what happened to America. They did not get involved until Germany took a shot at them. This gives the reader a different view of the camps and it simply could not be done if it was a traditional book.
Graphic novels are not merely picture books. They can be used as historical references that will help student understand the actually emotion of events, not just memorize timelines.
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