For Free Comic Book Day, I was able to take my students on a field trip to Big Adventure Comics in Santa Fe. Since it was a day trip and required some discussion of the comics over lunch, I offered to excuse one of their absences just for coming and offered them extra credit on their blogs if they wrote a review and/or response to their free comic book and the trip.
College students are funny in that they rarely get excited for field trips, and while I can understand that to some extent (since college field trips often occur on their precious weekends), "free" was the magic word when I was a student. Last semester, the film professor and I organized a trip to see two 3D films for our Movies in the Classroom Learning Community, and only four students came. So I was pleasantly surprised we had a packed bus for the trip!
In general, they seemed to really enjoy it. Many were shocked by the number of people in attendance; an entire little league softball team was waiting to get in when we arrived, and the owners told me that I wasn't the only teacher to offer students extra credit for coming. Others dipped into their own pockets for the $1 back-issues. And of course, there were the haters who couldn't understand why I was the first person of our group into the store and the last one out--in my defense, I've only been to a comic book store twice this year!
Originally, I had planned on sharing my own thoughts on this year's offering (if you didn't pick up the hardcover Mouse Guard one-shot, you missed out) but decided to just let my students' work do the talking. And now that the blogs have rolled in, I thought I'd share the highlights, and encourage you to read their reviews (and comment). Jessica, for example, is an Avengers fan in-the-making after picking up Avengers Age of Ultron Point One:
I enjoyed reading this comic. It was interesting to be able to read the beginning of what sounds like a great story. Some of the characters I did not recognize though. For example, I did not know there was a Spider Woman, and I did not recognize one of the woman superheroes, but later found out that she was Ms. Marvel. I honestly want to read the rest of the story, because I was left hanging in the middle of the beginning.Leo noted,
Free comic book day was a great experience for me as I had never really been into comic books. I can also see how the day is used as a way to attract a new audience as they give free comics to increase their popularity once again.A SpongeBob fan made a connection to her research paper:
Considering my research paper was on how comics need to take a different approach on getting their audiences' attention, I decided to get a comic book with SpongeBob Squarepants because I included him in my paper...This was not any ordinary comic where there was a superhero saving the day or anything like that. Just like McCloud says in his book Understanding Comics, the writers of these comics need to change the way they are attracting their audiences. One way could be this exactly, making comics like shows on television and attracting different types of people.And Tsering took her New 52 Special Edition as an invitation to keep researching what publishers are doing to revitalize the industry:
With dwindling sales, in 2010, some of DC Comics lead executives and creative talents came together to discuss how to put a jolt of energy into their entire comics line. They decided to launch New 52, a line-wide prelaunch of all their titles. The initiative was an effort to get people excited about comics, attracting new, current, and old readers with easy jumping on points with 52 new #1 issues. As my paper research paper was based on comic book sales and how comics should have more action related to famous superheroes, this is exactly what DC comics are showing in these issues. This comic had really good illustrations and a page of an insight to the next issue that is going to be very heated. This was a great superhero comic that I read from page to page; I will be eagerly waiting to read the issues in “The near future”.By now, you're probably thinking that I'm using my students' responses to tout my amazing ability to brainwash my students into comic book nerds. And sure, I love running into students months after they've taken my course to hear that they picked up the Witchblade Omnibus or read Maus or Persepolis or lent their copy of Understanding Comics to a friend. But the real side effect of my course that I'm going for is increasing awareness about and appreciation for comics. And that can lead to an exciting future.
Questions? Quibbles? Controversies?