Everything I know today, I learned from comic books. Well, almost. They gave me a good start on my education, anyway.
I especially loved the superheroes found in the DC Comics stable: Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Green Hornet, J'onn J'onzz the Martian Manhunter and many more.
Spending all that time poring over comics, I couldn't help but pick up an education of sorts. The fact that I can remember so much from those monthly magazines and can't remember what happened yesterday shows you what an impression they made on my young mind.
Let me show you how comic books augmented my formal education:
PHYSICS: By their very natures, comic book superheroes bent, redefined, even broke the laws of nature. They defied gravity, flew at faster-than-light speeds, wielded death rays and flaunted abilities such as invisibility, X-ray vision and elasticity. Reading those tales made it more interesting to listen up in class to see what mere Earthlings could and could not do.
HISTORY: I remember a story in which an American woke up in medieval Europe; he couldn't figure out how he had gone back in time and eastward by several thousand miles. Then he noticed people eating potatoes. He remembered that potatoes were native to the New World and that Columbus would not set sail for centuries. It turned out, I believe, that he had been kidnapped by Hollywood-types filming a movie about knights.
CIVICS: What better example of a good citizen was there than Superman, an illegal alien who adopted Earth (America, especially) as his own and did his best to take care of its population?
LANGUAGE: Before I knew the difference between an adjective and an adverb, I learned the meaning of "invulnerability," "interstellar" and "subterranean." In one comic, archvillain (another word I learned) Lex Luthor was described as "dismayed," yet was laughing. I looked up the word in the dictionary and found that it meant the opposite of what it appeared. Comics taught even when they were wrong.
LOGIC: I'll give you a couple of examples from the Superman saga to show how comics challenged me to think. First, anything from the planet Krypton, including the baby Kal-El (Superman), was indestructible, yet the couple who adopted him sewed his costume from his baby blanket after cutting it with scissors! Second, all Superman had to do to keep the world from knowing his identity was to put on a pair of eyeglasses? Please!
GEOGRAPHY: There was a story in which the hero had to find the villain "where the sun rises in the west and sets in the east." The answer turned out to be Panama, where the isthmus twists so much that the sun rises over the Pacific Ocean and sets over the Atlantic.
OBSERVATION: A DC comic book ran a contest in which the book contained only one "D" and one "C." Readers had to find those two letters to win the prize. No matter how many times I read the stories, I couldn't find them. Where were the "D" and the "C"? At the bottom of a page: "Story continued on Page 9."
LITERATURE: There was a line of comics called Classics Illustrated that translated famous books to child-friendly form. Stories by Twain, Dickens, Verne, London, even Shakespeare, got youngsters interested in the classics while skipping hundreds of pages.
ECONOMICS: Reading comics was a lesson in handling money. Even though comics cost only a dime, and later, 12 cents, in my day, that was a lot of money. We would read our favorites titles, then trade or sell them on the playground at recess.
We wouldn't have had so much fun if we had known we were getting an education.
Reach Glynn Moore at (706) 823-3419 or firstname.lastname@example.org.