21 September 2016 Book Links www.booklistonline.com/booklinks
The vignettes are mostly centered on
people; I strive in all my books to keep
people front and center. I believe it
makes the information more accessible
to the reader.
KARP: How do you use research and
reference materials, especially for se-
quential art visuals?
BROWN: I double-, then triple-check
the accuracy of the text. Of course, mistakes still happen, leaving me scratching
my head and wondering how I missed
The art is a different matter. I’m a
cartoonist; you will never be able to
build a Sopwith Camel biplane by
looking at one of my drawings of it.
But I believe reader and graphic novel-
ist strike a bargain that allows for all
manner of art, including cartoons, as
long as the graphic novelist can deliver
a compelling narrative arc.
KARP: What place should comics and
graphic novels have in classrooms?
BROWN: There’s no reason to keep
comics and graphic novels out of
the classroom. They are distinctive
art forms whose immense cultural
• Read The Great American Dust Bowl and
Drowned City. In discussion, compare
and contrast how each one tells its story.
Give particular consideration to how information is conveyed, how the events’
effect on human beings is transmitted,
how the story provokes an emotional
response, and the ways that visuals are
used to present things that text would
normally be responsible for.
• Allow each student to choose and
research a historical event. Ideally, there
should be a wide range of subjects
chosen, but don’t allow the students to
focus on a historical figure—biographies
shouldn’t be an option for this project.
Have the students choose six hard facts
and relate them in comic form. Each
student should produce this “sequential
report” in a 1-page, 9-panel grid, in any
medium. Encourage them to use not
only the illustrations but the panel
shapes and layout to transmit the
information. Have students present their projects to each other
for a wide-ranging sense of how
information can be conveyed in a
mainly visual way.
• Read The Great American Dust Bowl
and/or Drowned City. Note how Brown
uses certain illustrations to tell us what it
actually feels like to live through certain
things. Have students research an environ-
mental disaster anywhere in the world and
draw a 2-page comic of 12 to 18 panels
on the subject they’ve chosen, focusing
on what they think it felt like to be caught
in those catastrophes, eschewing the
hard facts in favor of the human
perspective. Encourage them to
use not only the illustrations but
also the panel shapes and layout
to transmit the emotions. Have
students present their projects
to each other for a wide-ranging
sense of how empathy can be
activated in a mainly visual way.
• Read Drowned City. Note that the perspective is deeply immersed in the plight
of the ordinary citizens of New Orleans
affected by Hurricane Katrina and the
sociopolitical breakdown that followed.
Choose a scene and assign it to the class
or allow the students to choose their own
scenes (though there will be a fair amount
of duplication in any case), and have
them re-create the same events in
comic form, but from the perspective
of the authority figures. Some good
choices are on pages 34 and 35,
page 45, pages 54 and 55, page 59,
pages 72 and 73, and pages 82 and
83. Encourage the students to find
accessible motives in their authority
figure’s perspective, though it may appear
callous and unfeeling. The students’ com-
ics should be between 1 and 3 pages, 18
to 27 panels. Have students present their
projects to each other to illustrate how
the history that we’re taught is actually
made up of many different perspectives.
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