08/10/2008

Bringing Back The Classics

I mentioned in a previous post that at BICS I saw two innovative uses of comics that, inspired me and made me feel good to be a fan and avid supporter of such medium. The first being PJ Holden's Eyecandy, iphone comics, the second being the company Classical Comics.

“A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.” - Mark Twain

This is never more true than at school between 9 - 16 when anything with more than 150 pages felt just as daunting as being picked last for rugby. The Classical Comics solution? By their own admission, "Bringing Classics To Life", with full colour graphic novels. Now stop that, stop rolling your eyes, this isn't Christmas maths fun, these are genuinally quality graphic novels, drawn by quality name artist and adapted in several ways for everyone to enjoy and to address the original source in a respectful intelligent manner. Choose from reading the original text, the plain English text for the Shakespearean adaptations and quick text, a reduced, simplified dialogue of the original text for easy understanding at a much faster pace.

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Classical literature has always been an important part of our curriculum, whether it be English Literature and Language, History, Art or Drama, getting the importance across to students hasn't always been an easy task. Yet here you have a way that comfortably engages various age levels and abilities keeping them on the same page at the same pace by using the different levels of text, yet all with the same wonderfully illustrated imagery in front of them. The idea of comics in the class room would also create a more balanced interest, capturing the attention of the more reluctant readers as well as giving male readers a more consistent interest, going against the grain that sees boys typically working less than girls.

Classical Comics is not only offering the books themselves, but also have to offer free-to-download teachers' resources and study aids that cover in Key Stage 3 English set plays, which for 2009 will be Romeo and Juliet and The Tempest as well as support for the previous years Much Ado About Nothing and Richard III. Including a "no-text" version of the plays with empty speech balloons for students to fill in the dialogue and a teachers resource booklets including lesson plans and general activities, which, coming in .pdf files means you can work on computer, or using an electronic white board or simply print out what and as you need. Just check out the free previews.

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This isn't all Shakespeare and education, at the heart of these graphic novels are excellent comic adaptations of classics that everyone can enjoy, old or young, comic fan or not. With quality artwork, appropriate for the source material including artists such as Gary Erskine, Mike Collins and Staz Johnson. Working on such excellent peices as Dracula, Frankenstein, A Christmas Carol, Romeo And Juliet and The Canterville Ghost, books everyone has heard of and many may have read, but now you can see it in full colour graphic novel.

There are so many testimonials both in the material I've read and on their site, citing the excellent quality and genius of the concept, but I'm glad to say I got to flick through, see and read these books myself as they are fantastic and in putting this excellent concept into action they've just blown me away, I would've killed for a chance to have these in front of me during my school days! I had a brief chance to meet these guys and they clearly love what they do and I hope they have every success in the world, for them, for kids and for the classics.

Links:
Classical Comics
Previews

Avaliable from all the good places you buy books online, Waterstones, Amazon, Forbidden Planet, WH Smiths, Play.com.

1 comment:

max said...

Hi,

I grew up as a reluctant reader. Now I write action-adventures & mysteries, especially for tween boys, that girls and boys hate to put down. My web site is at http://www.maxbooks.9k.com and my Books for Boys blog is at http://booksandboys.blogspot.com I also have a short story in a new book called LAY UPS and LONG SHOTS, published by Darby Creek Publishing. I'm also featured in an article in the 2009 edition of Children's Wrtier Guide.

My other books are all ranked by Accelerated Reader

Max Elliot Anderson