Saturday, February 09, 2008

The Graphic Classroom


When I was a kid, the family who lived across the street owned a Ben Franklin store. Kurt Sandflavin was the kid's name and his mother's name was Betty and his dad's name was George. They were the first adults I could call by their first names. I thought I was hot stuff, being able to call an adult by their first name. I was probably 9 or ten years old.

Because his grandparents owned the store, Kurt always had the best toys. He got them from his grandfather who actually owned the store. He had tractors and trucks and lead soldiers and toy guns, a warehouse full of toys in his house. His grandfather drove a big black buick, 1958, I was 9. I remember it now.

Several years earlier, Senator Kefauver presided over congressional hearing against comic books: how they were corrupting the youth, leading us into juvenile delinquency, homosexuality, beastiality, communism, etc, etc, etc. Comic books got a bad name. And they only cost a nickel or a dime.

Anyhow, Kurt's grandfather or father would bring home these comic books with the title of the comic cut off the front cover. I know now these were unsold copies and the Sanflavin's mailed back the title page instead of the whole comic to save postage. The rest of the comic was supposed to be destroyed. Instead, they brought them home. My brothers and I would sit in Kurt's garage and read comic books, endless hours spent reading comics.

My mother thought the comics were the devils took and reading them made us lazy and fogged our brains. She knew this because she believed the state or our room reflected the state of our minds. We were in the neighbor's garage reading comic books, trashy pulpy comic books and our rooms were messy. Ergo our minds were messy also....the ready the comic books cinched the deal for her.

She forbid us to read those comic books in Sandflavin's garage. So, we would bring them home to our backyard clubhouse, to the summer house, we would bring them to school and hide them in our workbooks. The nuns would confiscate them but we had a never ending supply. And we weren't reading them in Sandflavin's garage. I realized that mom didn't say we couldn't read them, she said we couldn't read them in Sandflavin's garage. So we didn't read them in Sandflavin's garage. I thought I was pretty smart to understand that interaction. We quickly learned not to read them in our rooms for they were subject to spot inspections.

At school the only comics the good sisters would let us read were Classics Illustated and only then if we had our parent's permission. My mother would only give us permission if our rooms were clean.

So when a friend of mine told me about a new website called the Graphic Classroom I took a peek. The link is here. The Graphic Classroom is a resource for teachers and librarians to help them stock high quality, educational-worthy, graphic novels and comics in their classroom or school library. Chris Wilson reads and reviews every graphic novel or comic on the blog and gives it a rating as to appropriateness for the classroom.

Chris Wilson, the guy who does the website, has a place for us to submit comics for review and inclusion on his website. Head on over to Ozark Offbeat for a sample of comics I found stimulating back when I was a young man and never been kissed...

1 comment:

Chris Wilson said...

Thanks Bus-man.

BTW, Classics Illustrated is back and they are very good. I will post a review of Wind in the Willows soon.

http://www.papercutz.com/classics/windwillow/willowhome.html

Your list of comics cracks me up. Night Nurse is especially interesting.