2014 off to a Kickin Start with Some Social Justice on the Side

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Our 1st meet up of the year and we dove right into the deep end of the pool with a character and story building session based on a DIY game called 1000 Blank White Cards . We started out by cutting 5 index cards in half so each player starts with 10 blank cards, we added crazy titles to these, illustrations underneath and then the amount of  blessings or damage each card could do. Easy peasy, also hilarious.  Miles had one card where the player had to demand apple juice until someone gave them apple juice and all of Lucy's cards started out with a sneeze.  I've enclosed a few of our favorite cards in the gallery below.  We'll start next week out with playing a couple rounds of the game and adding more cards if we'd like then draw comics based on the game play.  It should be a great exercise since the characters will be facing odd challenges and some even being brought back from the dead. Along with our drawing and comic creation over the last few weeks we've been having more serious conversations about the lack of diversity in comics and how characters of color and sexual orientation are portrayed.  A heavy subject for kids but something they've brought up themselves talking about quite a bit in other classes and ideas of justice in larger society which they are beginning to wrap their heads around.  We've invited a couple guest speakers in the comic industry to come in and visit with us in the next few weeks as this conversation continues.  I'm enclosing links to a couple great articles which I'll be sharing with the kids as well looking at approaches to promoting equity.

Tom Heintjes wrote a fantastic article last year about Charles Schutz's introduction of Franklin, an African American boy to the cast of Peanuts characters and how he was motivated to include based on conversations with an impassioned school teacher.  It's a great read and I'm looking forward to sharing it with the club. Our future guest speaker, David Walker blogged a great story yesterday about one of the most important ways to affect change, financially.  It truly is something every industry understands, the power of the dollar, if we want to see a diverse group of artists creating our content, then we need to support them by buying and promoting their work.

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How comics are addressing sexual orientation also came up in our discussions.  Since our club has kids in a wide range of ages I tended to steer our conversations around sexuality into smaller group discussions.  Our middle-school girls are very eager to chat and the elementary boys are still really focused on blowing up alien planets.   How people are portrayed in comics is a pretty important subject though since mainstream comics continue  to depict women in hyper fantasized proportions with very little clothing, not to say men get off easy and their body shapes are also fantastical but the culture of misogyny within the history of comics is hard to sweep under the table.  Rather than getting weighed down   by examining all the injustices within our medium, I'd love to point out places where comics are doing it right.  Raina Telgemeir's Drama is a beautiful coming of age story perfect for our middle school kids.  With a very diverse set of characters and a spunky young heroine a number of vingettes are interwoven including characters who are gay which help drive the plot forward into a very rich teen story.  The New York Times has a glowing review of the comic here.