Most of the readers of this blog probably read comics on a pretty regular basis. Tomorrow, Aug. 28, go ahead and do so in public. Why? It’s “International Read Comics in Public Day!”
From the “About” page of “International Read Comics in Public Day:
Comics are now widely accepted as a legitimate and vibrant art form—so why do I still feel a bit embarrassed to let strangers know about my not-so-secret passion?
My fellow Daily Cross Hatch editor Sarah Morean suggested that we turn the joke into something a bit nobler—and perhaps more permanent. And thus, the first annual Read Comics in Public Day was born.
The concept is fairly simple: we’re asking that everyone take an hour or two out of their day on August 28th (also the birthday of Jack “King” Kirby, incidentally) to read a comic book in a public setting—a park bench, a beach, a bus, the front steps of your local library (we do ask, however, that you be mindful of local loitering laws). Let strangers see you reading a piece of sequential art.
I thought this was fantastic, though I thought it was also not a huge deal. I read comics all the time, and it’s 2010, it’s not like anyone thinks comics cause illiteracy anymore, in fact, the opposite has been proven in many studies. And then I saw this:
Nancy King is running for re-election as a state senator in Maryland. Her campaign indicates that the consequences of her not winning re-election would be teacher layoffs, which would lead, naturally, to kids reading comic books (and the Marvel Previews, apparently). Chris Sims at Comics Alliance responds for those of us who actually learned to love reading at least partially from comics:
“The message King’s sending to her constituents — and to me, Dean Trippe and our entire industry — is that comics are a terrifying consequence, that reading them is the equivalent of not having teachers. That they are, in fact, the opposite of education. It’s a “This could happen… TO YOU!” scare tactic that, again, literally uses children reading as the consequence that we have to elect her to avoid, and that just blows my mind.
What’s the worst that could happen from kids reading comics? Watch out, they might learn to enjoy reading! Be careful, they could learn new words like “sepulchre” or “fission,” two that I picked up as a kid reading Batman stories. They might even learn to use their imaginations to create stories of their own, and then what a world we’d be living in.”
That’s a great response. I’d love to see an actual response from King… but I doubt that will happen. Dean Trippe, mentioned in Sims’ response, also wrote an open letter to King.
So, I’ve decided to participate in “International Read Comics in Public Day.” I probably won’t do so with my college diploma taped to my chest, but, reading comics taught me a lot of vocabulary and fostered a love for reading that helped lead me through my entire educational process. Maybe comics have farther to go than I thought to correct those who don’t understand that words and art in harmony can be a beautiful and educational thing. But let’s take a step tomorrow to begin having that discussion.
Happy Read Comics in Public Day! And if you read a comic in public tomorrow, please, send me a picture!
- Matt Price