World Book Day is celebrating its 20th year in the UK today. For two decades it has revered the wonder of stories and illustrations; a day where readers of all ages can commemorate the magic of books. World Book Day is commonly marked in schools, encouraging children from a young age to get involved with reading, providing them with the opportunity to choose their own book. It’s an essential day for all ages and can be used to actively encourage anyone to fall back in love with reading or pick up a book for the first time. I, for one. will be using it as a chance to dress up as King Max (Where the Wild Things Are – Maurice Sendak) in my workplace!
In the spirit of celebrating written tales and “everything books”, let’s spend some time today to exult graphic novels and think about how you can introduce them to your school. Sequential art is vital; like any written book it has the power to entertain, to transport us to another world or to enable us to step into the life and experiences of another. Whether you work at St Trinian’s or Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters here are three ways you can introduce graphic novels and comics to your students:
Recommend a good book
Find a good graphic novel or comic that’s appropriate for the age group you work with and get your students reading. Graphic novels can often be linked to lessons and used to prompt critical thinking and discussion. Why not introduce Art Spiegelman’s Maus to your history lessons?
Pick up a pencil and create!
Encourage your students to create comics about their day, thoughts and ideas, comics are a powerful medium and can be used to promote literacy – both reading and writing.
Visit your local library
If your school has trips to the library encourage students to check out the graphic novels and comics available there.
To celebrate World Book Day in true Broken Frontier style I reached out to the wonderful world of comics to discover the wider favourites and must-reads of writers, illustrators and publishers. Here is what they recommended and why…
Nora Goldberg (Gosh! Comics team member and Gosh/Broken Frontier Drink and Draw co-host)
The Arab of the Future by Riad Sattouf
A unique and expansive series about Sattouf’s life bouncing between France, Libya, and Syria. His storytelling gives an honest and heartbreaking account of the difficulties he and his family faced in trying to meld these cultures in their home life.
David White (Avery Hill Publishing)
From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell
A sprawling, mind-bending, epically fantastic retelling of (ostensibly) the Ripper murders, rendered with an expert command of the medium by both writer and artist in magical harmony.
Alice Urbino (Comic Book Slumber Party, Dimension and 2015 Broken Frontier Six to Watch creator)
Black Hole by Charles Burns
I think Black Hole by Charles Burns has always resonated with me. Grotesque and surreal imagery mixed with some teenage angst and a miserable atmosphere. It’s everything I like in a story.
Myfanwy Tristram (Draw the Line, Two Birds)
A Taste of Chlorine by Bastien Vivès
It’s a really, really hard choice to narrow it down to just one, but I’m going to go for A Taste of Chlorine by Bastien Vivès. Set in a swimming pool, saturated by blue light, and containing very little dialogue, this book really shows how pictures can convey space, time and feelings straight to the heart.
Karrie Fransman (The House that Groaned, Death of the Artist)
Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoët, and The Black Project by Gareth Brookes
My favourites are all the dark and psychological graphic novels. Beautiful Darkness by Kerascoët’s and Fabien Vehlmann is an amazing story of all the characters from a child’s imagination spilling out of a little dead girl’s head and trying to survive the harsh reality of the outside world. My other fave is The Black Project– Gareth Brookes’ incredible tale of a child’s attempt at building himself a girlfriend. Part DIY manual and part exploration of guilt and an emerging sexuality. Both dark. Both brilliant.
Danny Noble (Tilly and the Time Machine, Was it… Too Much for You? and 2015 Broken Frontier Six to Watch creator)
Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson
Calvin and Hobbes hurts my head with its brilliance; such wit, such heart and such great big yawning facial expressions in perfect 3-panel odysseys.
Donya Todd (Buttertubs, Bimba, Comic Book Slumber Party)
Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoët
My favourite graphic novel is Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoët. Beautiful Darkness is a gorgeous, otherworldly fairytale set within the corpse of a dead child. Bug-eyed princesses are consumed by the cruelty of the wild. The meek are buried alive. Allies are burnt, betrayed and loved – everything is harsh, everything is beautiful. A magnificent tale.
Hannah K. Chapman (Comic Book Slumber Party)
Skim by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki
Skim by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki is what brought me back to comics after a decade of feeling too old/too cool for them. I love its quietness and it’s honesty and I think everyone should read it.
Ricky Miller (Avery Hill Publishing, Metroland)
From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell
As a unified work of writing and illustration this has never been bettered and is one of the single greatest pieces of art that has ever been produced in any form.
Tillie Walden (On a Sunbeam, The End of Summer)
This One Summer by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki
My recommendation would be This One Summer by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki because to me it is the quintessential YA graphic novel. It captures a moment in two girls’ lives with perfect art and poetry and it’s a must read.
Jock (Detective Comics, Scalped)
The Ballad of Halo Jones by Alan Moore and Ian Gibson (2000 AD 1984-1986)
This was easily my favourite strip from 2000 AD – on reflection it was pretty progressive to put a female led ‘slice-of-life’ story into what was, at the time, a boys action comic, but it was always my favourite. The way Alan Moore wrote some of the scenes in ‘Book Three’ were emotionally devastating to me at the time… and with 2000 AD‘s 40th Anniversary celebrations happening right now, it’s reminding me that I must give it a reread. If you can, pick up the long out-of-print 1986 Titan Book editions from eBay, for the best possible reproduction of Ian Gibson’s beautiful line work.
Beth Tudor (Team Ketchup)
Cindy and Biscuit by Dan White
What more could you want than a strong girl with a big stick, a dog and monsters with messages underneath?
For more on the award-winning kids comics collective Team Ketchup follow them on Twitter here.
Andy Oliver (Broken Frontier Editor-in-Chief)
World Book Day in the UK is synonymous with encouraging children to read and, as such, it’s seems appropriate to nominate an all-ages graphic novel that adults and kids can peruse and enjoy together. So – (and at the risk of embarrassing this blog’s author who won’t see this choice until it goes live!) – what better book than EdieOP’s own British Comic Awards-nominated Maleficium? It’s my favourite title to come out of Avery Hill Publishing over the years and by far their most under-rated publication.
It’s the story of would-be boy wizard Huxley Leighton-Lomax who finds himself defending the familial home at night from the lurking shadows to protect his dad and little sister. A fun, mischievous adventure for kids on one level and a beautifully touching tale on the importance of family on another. You can buy it from the Avery Hill store here or as part of this offer here.
For regular updates on all things small press and Broken Frontier follow Andy on Twitter here.