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    • CommentTimeAug 15th 2008
    This morning on the Today programme (Radio 4) a government minister blamed low literacy rates in boys between 11 and 15 on ‘a lack of comics aimed at boys’. He claimed that in his day comics (I think he mentioned Dan Dare and The Eagle) ‘turned boys onto reading’. Ian Rankin (who was also on the programme representing some sort of think tank looking into these statistics) after initial bafflement added that his son had become interested in Shakespeare through reading a comic version (of Macbeth, I think).

    I’m really interested to hear what you all think about this – both the ‘lack of comics’, the literacy thing and adapting ‘proper literature’ into comic form. It is quite funny that a generation ago the minister’s predecessor was probably blaming comics for distracting boys from reading ‘proper books’ – I guess now there are greater education-destroying evils (I was very disappointed that texting only appeared as an example that SOME basic level of literacy must be present in today’s not-so-gilded youth…).

    Oh, and I couldn’t work out if he meant that girls don’t read comics, or that all comics now are aimed at girls and must therefore be full of kittens, knitting patterns and coy references to boys.
    • CommentTimeAug 15th 2008
    Lets give all teenage boys the Garth's Punisher and Transmet so we can turn out a generation who truly understand what violence can wreak upon the human soul.
    • CommentAuthorFlabyo
    • CommentTimeAug 15th 2008
    Manga is selling extrememly well, even here in the Tory heartlands, but I've no idea if it's girls or boys that are buying it all.
  1.  (3326.4)
    Could Marvels Literature adaptation help in this? I have to say i haven't picked any up, but mostly because I've read them in book form.

    I think there is a big problem in not only helping children become literate but have them actually reading certain things. I remember having to read the damnable "Scarlet Letter", hating it, but now I see/hear it used in society and it feels good to not be baffled by such references. With Libraries being closed up for baseball fields and Librarians being paid shit, it seems the adults are sending the message that books and reading are not that important.

    Then they wonder why their kids talk in text speak yet can't put together a paragraph!
    • CommentAuthorWiseEyes
    • CommentTimeAug 15th 2008
    I'm pretty sure the vast majority of the manga market is geared at girls. I've heard a friend collaborate this opinion with his general observations while visiting Japan numerous times (his mom is from there and his folks just moved back). Granted, there are definitely more male oriented lines, Lone Wolf and Cub, Samurai Executioner, Samurai Deeper Kyo, Blade of the Immortal, etc.

    Also, there's a very heavy emphasis on the sports in American schools. I think this draws unnecessary attention away from Juan's underfunded libraries. There are definitely some good libraries, great libraries, but if we tell kids it's more important to be kicking a ball around all day than reading anything, what do you expect?
    • CommentTimeAug 15th 2008
    All I know is that my children, boy, girl or both, will be forced to read batman until they feel they can emotionally take in seeing me and their father shot and killed.

    Seriously though, I can see how comics promote literacy. While other girls were reading Babysitter's Club I was reading Batman and Archie. However, a healthy dose of no-picture literature was given to me as well and then I just sort of...sprung out and found other things and here I am today as a bibliophile.
  2.  (3326.7)
    When I was a kid, I do know there seemed to be a lot more illustrated versions of classics availible, than there are now. I didn't have comics, but I recollect having a copy of White Fang (unabridged) with a pen & ink drawing on nearly every page; and my 1890s copy of The Deerslayer/The Pathfinder has several illustrations as well. Somewhere along the line, people seem to have gotten the idea that illustrations=bad!, it seems. I remember enjoying as a young child having the illustrations to refer to, as further context clues, if a passage confused me.

    I didn't grow up with comics; (heck, they're still hard to get around here!), but I did grow up with illustrated literature, from story-books to classics, then-modern to antique books that've been in the family for more'n a few generations.

    I do know that younger generations around here seem dreadfully illiterate, even at the college level. From talking to my co-workers and folks at college, it seems to me people don't feel a need to read what they can rent, or get cliffs' notes on; and besides 'reading takes too much time'.
    • CommentTimeAug 15th 2008
    My 10p, having worked my way through uni in a newsagents up to 2001 is that the number of "stories" available via magazines is minimal now in comparison to what there was. The whole kids magazine sector is driven by quantity and free gifts - if it hasn't got something stuck on the front of it, it didn't go out of the door.

    And it doesn't just apply to the fewer comics either; look at something like Match or Shoot magazines, football magazines aimed at young boys - they used to full of written player interviews and mini features, so boys could get an insight into their heroes; now they're full of "sports factoids" and glassy pictures and very little content. That argument can also be pushed across to the weekly music magazine sector (number of words / length of article in NME & Melody Maker 10 years ago to what it is now?) and to the whole Nuts/Zoo rubbish for the 16-25 sector.

    I really don't think it is just comics missing from boy's hands in the UK; I think it is a "story" in any form.
  3.  (3326.9)
    I learned how to read from comics so I'm completely with him. I've donated a large slice of my comic collection to my local library.
    • CommentTimeAug 15th 2008
    I am one of those people who has become someone who reads more novels, thanks to comics, mainly, because of Neil Gaiman. I started to follow his novels, after reading his comics, and then I started reading Terry Pratchett and it all started spinning off from there.
  4.  (3326.11)
    If you think about most children books are comics, pictures and words. The world needs something to transition the kids from 6 or 7 years old to the teenage years, when they can get into the good stuff. Those folks that made Spiderwick could probably make a decent tween comic.
  5.  (3326.12)
    My mom was a school teacher, and she used to encourage parents to get comics for their kids. She used comics as way to get kids to at least read something. And often they would go from reading comics to being more confident and better readers in class. Of course that was when you could find comics at the local gas station. Now, well, you gotta send people to bookstores or comic stores.