Summer I is quickly ending and I’ve spent the month engrossed in comics, or rather Graphic Novels.  In my Reading Graphic Novels class I have learned how to enjoy reading in a different way.

Literary works for most of us are usually text only. As children we were encouraged to draw art but then when ‘real’ learning begins we are steered away from drawing and taught to focus on learning to read and to write the ABC’s so we can master the “art” of the preferred form of reading.  Drawing is for children.

Dr. Laurence Musgrove, my professor, has taken us back to the form of drawing for expression.

In his class we are given reading assignments from 4 graphic novels. Each day we turn in a response based on chapter assignments, but instead of a written response, he has made us draw our response.  It can be challenging to think of ways to express what you take away from the chapter through a picture.

So as we are reading from a true life story about the Palestinians and the conflict with Israel, we have to think about it then draw a visual about what we were thinking about as we read it. This particular story, Palestine by Joe Sacco is quite troubling. I guess I’ve never really thought about the Israeli and Palestinian conflict. Not until this book. For those that criticize graphic novels and refer to them as just “comic books” I would say, read this book and tell me how funny you think it is.  I venture to say, you’d be changed as well and would start asking your own questions about what is really happening to the refugees—the people that just want to live a normal life like you and I do.

Here are a few of my drawn responses.

Palestinian women wear the hijab...they have a choice but Hamas prefers that they wear it and it's a sign of respect as instructed in the Koran.  But women don't have to wear it, if they don't want to be disrespected.

Palestinian women wear the hijab…they have a choice but Hamas prefers that they wear it and it’s a sign of respect as instructed in the Koran. But women don’t have to wear it, if they DO want to be disrespected.

A young Palestinian girl asks Joe Sacco about his home and his way of living.

A young Palestinian girl asks Joe Sacco about his home and his way of living.

Olive trees were cut down by the Israelis as a form of punishment.  The Palestinians make their living from oil from the olive trees.  Cutting the trees prevents them from being prosperous, and leaves them hungry.

Olive trees were cut down by the Israelis as a form of punishment. The Palestinians make their living from oil from the olive trees. Cutting the trees prevents them from being prosperous, and leaves them hungry.

The Keffiyeh is worn to symbolize national unity of the Palestinian movement.

The Keffiyeh is worn to symbolize national unity of the Palestinian movement.

Tea is a part of the culture.  Over tea the men discuss stories with Joe Sacco.  They tell of the tragedies that they have suffered.

Tea is a part of the culture. Over tea the men discuss stories with Joe Sacco. They tell of the tragedies that they have suffered.

My hope is that you will pick up a graphic novel and give it a chance. There are so many stories to be experienced. With a graphic novel you can read and you can see the images the author wanted to use to express the story in a visual way. There are less words sometimes because the pictures do most of the story telling.

Sometimes it’s a good thing to see things through the eyes of children, slowing ourselves down and using pictures to understand a story.

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