What You Can Learn From Superhero Comics
By Justin Pansacola
This fall, the Institute for Educational Advancement’s Academy program will be offering a wide variety of classes, including “Marvel Comics: The Hero’s Journey.” For students ages 6 through 9, this class uses the popular Marvel Comics superheroes to exercise a child’s creative writing ability. To learn more, we spoke to instructor Cynthia Perez.
This seems like it would be an attractive class for kids. Other than learning a history of these characters, what kinds of lessons are you hoping to convey? How do you use their enthusiasm and turn it toward something academic?
Students are intrigued by superpowers and can talk endlessly about which character has or doesn’t have a certain capabilities. The focus of the class is taking that outstanding history that Marvel is known for and guide a student’s enthusiasm to create a comic of his/her own with their own unique character, by designing and drawing that character and teaching them how and write actual panels for a comic using their thoughtful creativity and plotting a story and series.
In your opinion, what’s the value in learning how to create a comic book story versus creating a short story?
For those who want to plot and plan a longer narrative that is inspired by Marvel, that becomes the basis for fiction fantasy and science fiction writing. One of the most consistent comments that students will share when reading their favorite superhero or fantasy story is that there aren’t enough illustrations. In fact, mainstream fiction and stories have started to publish novels without words. To strengthen students whose strength is writing and who are influenced by Marvel, this can begin a new phase of “chapter books” that are about superheroes and can tap another market of interest among readers.
What do you think genre fiction like science fiction, fantasy and superheroes offers to writing students that maybe “classical” literature does not?
Science fiction, fantasy, and superheroes offer unknown characters who literally can do anything and can explore unknown worlds. “Classical” literature has known patterns and relationships between characters, which can be explored in different patterns and a particular time period, whereas in sci fi and fantasy and with superheroes time is past, present future, or wherever one wishes.
“Marvel Comics: The Hero’s Journey” is an online Academy class for ages 6 through 9, taught on Saturdays from 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM. For more information about the class, as well as information about registering for Academy, see our program page here.