been running the American comic book lesson in class for
the past week or so. I bring in some of the comic books
that I brought back with me from the States and give them
the rundown of the differences between the comics here and
there. There are a few really surprising differences. I'll
give you guys the cliff notes:
Comics in Japan are between 100 and 400 pages.
Most comics cost between 2 and five bucks.
Most comic books are in black & white.
Most comic books contain more than one story (sometimes
as many as ten), by more than one artist and writer.
Boys, girls AND a surprising number of adults read comic
There are an appalling number of pornographic comic books
(some of the porno stories are in comics that many of my
Preservation of comics in bags, boards, and/or mylar is
nearly unheard of.
Comic books are sold at kiosks and in all convenience stores.
I handed out a few comics for them to look at and pass around,
it soon became clear that these kids had no idea how to
handle comic books. I cringed as they handed them off to
the next person in front or behind, holding it so the middle
bent, or God forbid, the spine. These comics weren't my
most valuable (I'm not crazy), but even taking into consideration
the great Comic Crash of '92, they're still worth something
(though not as much as I inadvertantly led them to believe).
I asked them to be careful and told them how much some comics
were worth. They were totally shocked (no one collects comics
here) and handled them more carefully. After that, my lecture
took on a completely different bend. I told them a bit about
the history of comics, the different values of comics, the
importance of art and story in value, etc. It was pretty
cool. It was pretty far out for them, they never thought
comics could be like that. Just something to read this week
and line their pet's cage next week (OK, I'm exaggerating
now... I'm not sure if any of them do this).
passed around some real ratty comics, along with a few in
bags and boards. I wouldn't let them opened up the bagged
ones, but I told them that if they wanted a look inside
I'd show them at lunch or after school.
love talking to the students outside of class. If you try,
you can get them to understand thumbnail views of just about
anything using gestures and voice intonations. I was really
glad when this one first grader came to me at lunch and
started asking me about the comics. He was really interested.
I took him through the Ghost Rider comic book I had
#157 Why Jeff is a Bad English Teacher
The following is taken from an actual conversation held
in the teachers' room after school today between the 'ALT'
known as 'Jeff' and an anonymous first grade student who
will only be referred to as 'Kenji'.
Reader discretion is advised
OK, kid. So, this is 'Ghost Rider'.
Yup, that's right. And he's a bad ass mofo. He's got this
awesome motorcycle, which... wait. Can you say, 'baaad-assss'?
OK, close enough. So, he's got this motorcycle and when
he touches this icon right here... he turns into a dark
angel of vengeance with a fiery-skull head and this chain
which can do a bijillion things. Kore wa 'skull' desu. (This
is a 'skull'). Repeat. 'Skull'.
Yeah, good! And this guy with the big gun here is called
the Punisher. Repeat. 'Punisher'.
And the punisher is a vigilante, too. He brings swift death
to the miscreants who prey on the weak and helpless. Repeat.
Now you're gettin it! OK. So, they team up here only because
they're totally surrounded by...
you folks get the idea. He did learn something and it was
fun! He stuck it out and really tried to understand what
I was saying even though he couldn't understand the words.
Most times they just give up. And I could tell he did actually
get the gist the story.
during one of the day's lessons, I had to confiscate two
comic books. The errant student tried to conceal it by holding
it below desk level. That never fools me. I came by, snatched
it up and used it as an example of Japanese manga. I looked
back at him 10 mintues later, and he was reading another
goddam comic book! I snatched that one up and took them
both back to the teachers' room at the end of class. He
came after school to claim them. I gave them back, but not
until he said, "May I please have my comic books back?"
(In English, of course). A Japanese English teacher made
him say it another three times until he got the pronounciation
So, yesterday I was telling you
guys how Aya and I got in this big fight about free will
and Japanese culture and how she got totally pissed off
for no good reason. After all, I was right.
she came by today to apologize for getting angry and stuff...
not to say that she was wrong, but she will. Eventually.
Of that there can be no doubt.