Today’s post is written by Reference & Instruction Librarian, Jennifer Masunaga.
Did you know that the first Saturday of every May is Free Comic Book Day? This annual promotional event celebrates one of America’s most unique genres and so this month it is only fitting to explore how comics are used in LMU’s curriculum and in the William H. Hannon Library. Graphic novels are more than just entertaining reading for kids: they have important educational and artistic value. In fact, comic books and graphic novels are increasingly used in the K-12 classroom to help struggling readers conceptualize the meaning of words through images. Graphic novels place images in context with short narratives and require the reader to navigate both written and visual literacies. They are a useful genre for explaining complex ideas in a compressed format.
Here at LMU, students engage with comics in multiple courses. Close to our heart is Dr. Dean Scheibel’s CMST 204: Introduction to Research in Communication Studies course. In this class, students are tasked with describing the process of writing a scholarly literature review in the comic format. Requiring students to describe their research visually is a unique and engaging way of encouraging students to formally conceptualize a personal and repetitious process. It helps them process and reflect on their own research fears, mistakes or triumphs and also gives Professor Scheibel an insight into his students’ personal methodologies. Students describe various aspects of the research process, such as topic development, database searching, and (of course) procrastination.
There are many ways students create their comics. Some use photographs (and include Professor Scheibel and themselves in a staring role!) while others draw each panel by hand. The result is a collection of beautiful and creative masterpieces centered on concepts of information literacy.
The library supports Professor Scheibel’s course by displaying selections of student comics throughout the first floor of the library. If you are a fan of comics then these comics are a must see! Comics from previous classes can be found in our library’s digital repository.
The library also has graphic novels for all age levels! For more information, stop by the Information Desk and talk to a librarian today.