Tuesday, December 20, 2016

What about classic comics?

Comment published in NY Times comments section on "Forget ‘Pat the Bunny.’ My Child Is Reading Hemingway" (Dec. 18, 2016).  http://tinyurl.com/jlgjuty

Stephen Krashen


Several of those who have commented on this article point out that classic comics tried to do something similar to re-casted classics for tots: Make classics more comprehensible to younger readers.  
There is evidence that they were not very popular with children.
Wayne (1954) asked 297 seventh-grade students to indicate which comic types they preferred; each student was asked to choose four from a list of 15. Classic comics ranked ninth out of 15.
When are asked which comics they prefer, without a list to choose from, class comics are never mentioned (for a review of these studies, seeWitty and Sizemore 1954).
Michael Dirda shares his enthusiasm for comic books, but tells us “I never really cottoned to the earnest and didactic ‘classic comics’ … Who would pick up something called The Cloister and the Hearth ….?” (Dirda, 2003, p. 56).
Some Classics Illustrated comics are still appearing: The Last of the Mohicans was published in July 2016.  It was not listed, nor were any other classics, in the November 2016 list of the 371 best-selling comic books in the US (http://www.comichron.com/monthlycomicssales/2016/2016-11.html).

Dirda, M. 2003. An open book. New York: W.W. Norton and Company.
Wayne, R. 1954. Survey of interest in comic books. School Activities 25: 244.
Witty, P., and R. Sizemore. 1955. Reading the comics: A summary of studies and an evaluation, III. Elementary English 32: 109-114.

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