According to the newly-appointed Minister of Education University & Research in my country, reading comics is a stupid way of spending your time, if you are a kid. He’d rather have the kids, during the summer, do their homework and
“…Better be stimulated by good readings and activities that will keep the brain active, vigilant, sharp and engaged.”
Basically, reading comics turns your brain to pudding, at least according to our Minister (that before he was a school administrator, was a Phys.Ed. teacher).
You can probably guess that I do not agree.
Mind you – reading a good book and doing something engaging1 is just great, and homework need to be done2, but this idea that comic books are inferior cultural products is so OLD.
The fact that visual narratives are today accepted as “proper culture” is something so obvious and well known that one wonders if our newly-appointed minister of Education was not kept in a freezer from somewhere in the fifties, and thawed only after the elections.
We could mention names, of course: Will Eisner, for instance. Schuiten & Peeters. Trillo & Meglia. Our own Hugo Pratt3. Jodorowski and Moebius and Jimenez. Segrelles. Tardì.
Alan Moore and Grant Morrison and Neil Gaiman, for goodness sake!
Here you get a wonderful short list of comics that will keep your mind engaged and active and all that sort of stuff during their vacations.
- Eisner’s The Spirit.
- Schuiten and Peeter’s Dark Cities.
- Ttillo & Meglia’s Cybersix.
- Pratt’s Corto Maltese.
- Jodorowski & Moebius’ The Incal.
- Jodorowski & Jimenez’s The Metabarons.
- Segrelles’ The Mercenary.
- Tardì’s Adele Blanc Sec.
- Alan Moore’s Halo Jones.
- Grant Morrison’s Kill Your Boyfriend.
- Gaiman’s Sandman.
I’d also throw in Mike Grell’s The Longbow Hunters.
And while I could point out that these are all comics that are at the same time highly entertaining and fun while also being art, and literature, someone might say that they are also “for grown ups.”
Maybe the Minister was thinking about Mickey Mouse comics, or even more childish things. Or who knows, those racy sexist “sexy” comics that were still around when I served in the Air Farce. For sure, the Minister never read Heavy Metal or L’Eternauta.
But here is the thing.
I started reading comics as a kid.
I read Mickey Mouse and Tex, the two pillars of Italian comics, but really the very first comics I read were Johnny Hart’s B.C., followed suit by The Peanuts, and later Bonvi’s Sturmtruppen and Quino’s Mafalda and Berkley Breathed’s Bloom County.
They were all strip cartoons, and they all were social satire.
It can be argued that these were not kid’s comics either, but they were extremely intelligent, and cutting, and fun.
So, all in all, I am rather disappointed with the Minister’s first day performance. But he is lucky: the summer vacations will be here soon, and he’ll have time to spend a few bucks on Comixology and do some catching up.
There will be a second test in September.
He better be prepared.