When we were kids back in the 1980s, if the teacher caught us reading comic books instead of our boring school textbooks, we were likely to get a rap on the knuckles with a ruler and our precious comics confiscated as contraband. My, how things have changed! Ryan K. Lindsay, writer of such comics as Beautiful Canvas, Eternal, and Negative Space, has taken to Patreon, the monthly crowdfunding service, to produce and distribute a series of comic book study guides that will help teachers bring comics into the classroom, not keep them out.
New study guides will be released every 2 weeks for basic $3 per month subscribers, to be used for personal enjoyment, intellectual enrichment, or as a teaching aid in the classroom. Lindsay is making one full season of the guides, running through June 2019, with at least 24 guides promised and the potential for more, depending on stretch goals. A $5 per month level will grant patrons access to a monthly podcast.
To learn more about this exciting new venture, we traveled to the mysterious Land Down Under, a place where, legend has it, women glow and men plunder, and also the home of Ryan K. Lindsay, comic book writer and man twice-nominated for the ACT Primary Teacher of the Year award. After riding for three days through the rugged outback on the back of a kangaroo, we finally located Lindsay, who was right in the middle of what appeared to be a life-or-death struggle with a crocodile. Except, he was smiling. Despite the razor-sharp teeth of a killer reptile centimeters from his head, Lindsay still bid us "G'day" and agreed to answer a few questions about his Patreon.
Oh okay, we just emailed him. Sue us for trying to make this job sound more exciting than it is!
What unique traits do comics bring to the classroom?
The visual literacy of images and words is huge – you get storytelling unity, you get juxtaposition, you get words and art and colours and letters and page layout and everything else to analyse. You get to apply design principles to audience manipulation. And you get a hell of a lot of fun, right alongside some of the best stories written in the last century.
Have you used comics in your own classroom? If so, which ones, and how did it go?
I've taught heaps of comics, and in lots of different ways. I teach children, so most of it is all ages stuff, and some of the best lessons I've taught have used HILDA AND THE TROLLS, THE RETURN OF THE DAPPER MEN, BONE, and even pages from the Aja/Fraction run on HAWKEYE.
I recently did an art analysis unit using Spider-Gwen and Abe Sapien, which was spectacular.
Do your students know you have a secret identity as a comic book writer?
They absolutely do, but they also know I've told them not to google me because most of what I write is 100% not for them, haha. But some think it's amazing, and some think it's just another aspect of me, nothing special.
I remember telling my class I was writing a My Little Pony one-shot and this boy stood up and said, "What? Mr Lindsay, I thought you were a man." To which another boy up the back said, "He's not a man, mate, he's THE man." To which I responded like that gif people use when someone absolutely destroys someone with a burn. Ah, good times.
Did comics play a role in your own education?
I grew up reading them a lot, so they helped build layers of literacy within me. But at school, not so much. sadly.
What age group are your study guides intended for?
These study guides, I think, would be most helpful for people aged about 10-101 – depending on the comic studies, of course. Maybe don't give 10 year olds 4 KIDS WALK INTO A BANK. Actually, I take that back, give that comic to all the 10yo's!
Besides Eternal, what other comics do you plan to produce study guides for?
I'll make a few more for my own works like BEAUTIFUL CANVAS and NEGATIVE SPACE, but I'm also putting some other choices in like GHOSTS from Raini Telgemeier, 4KIDS from Tyler Boss/Matthew Rosenberg, and some from Marvel, DC, and beyond. I want people who back to maybe also get some exposure to new titles, if possible, too.
If you want to know more, or you already know you want these and are just waiting for us to shut up and give you the link, head to the Patreon page here.