• Abhilasha Iyer

What makes you 'marvel' Superheroes?

Marvel or DC? Before the fans from both universes lock horns, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that whether you’re a kid or an adult, the inner child gets starry eyed when our Superheroes from our comics fly out of the pages of our comics, zooms past all hurdles and flits into silver screens. These aren’t just fictional characters from DC Comics and Marvel Universe, but role models for strength and inspiration. Be it the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on our TVs or Neil Gaiman’s Comic Book series “The Sandman” now, comic books are an undeniable culture of pop culture.

However, we may not realize the impact of reading comic books on their lives.  Apart from sparking imagination, it helps trigger innovation, nudge in building the habit of reading, expanding one's vocabulary and most importantly help in develop a keen sense of interest in academic pursuits. 

“But comics are just colourful books with less text and more pictures, right?” Wrong. Here’s why we’re here to tell you, that if you read between the lines, you will find life lessons in its pages!

Comics build a habit of reading

There’s a running misconception among parents and educators that comics are mere picture books. Contrary to popular belief, the visual elements of comic books invite reluctant readers to pick up a book. In fact, there’s a graphic novel based on the classic “Pride and Prejudice”. Comics have the same literary elements:  characters, a plot, plot twists except these are simplified with visuals. Comics are an engaging way to build the habit of reading

Comics widens our imagination

Did you know, the world’s first superhero was Mandrake The Magician who was able to hypnotise people with his powers? Following his debut in 1934, the world of comics has staged superheroes : Spiderman, who was born with the bite of a radioactive spider or Thor, who can shower thunderstorms with his hammer Mjolnir,  are figments of imagination of a creative mind, where everything is possible. When we read a comic, our mind processes the visuals, textual and spatial elements and integrates it to in a singular concept. This process is a creative one which could even hone future graphic designers. 

Comic Books Heroes inspire the hero within

“With great power comes great responsibility” - Uncle Ben to Peter Parker

No matter how diverse their superpowers may be, the common thread that binds our superheroes is their sense of righteousness. They lead by example when they put others before themselves, fighting their inner demons and the evils outside, for the greater good. Their moral compass inspires us to summon our inner heroes and speak up for the right. After all, not all superheroes wear capes, right?

Comic Books are redefining culture with values

Did you know that Wonder Woman was the first female superhero?  The stage for female protagonist has even seen Ms. Kamala Khan by Marvel Comics, a Pakistani girl from New Jersey who balances her superpowers with her religious beliefs. After Peter Parker, Spiderman’s alter ego dies, Miles Morales, a half-African American, half-Latino teenager is the new face beneath the mask. These themes are symbolic of diversity and inclusion which make the young readers more accepting of different backgrounds and cultures

Presenting the QShala Life Lessons from Comic Books Seminar! 

This seminar creates a common ground for comic fanatics and amateurs by exploring the orgins,  evolution and relevance of different superheroes and the inspiration for their creation, in the first place. Realizing the potential of powerful storytelling, the students derive meaning from their favourite character's flaws, strengths, background stories. It helps them realize that these characters are humane just like them!

The seminar comprises of a unique blend of questions, stories, discussions and doodling. After learning how different fictional characters came into existence, the students put the theoretical knowledge into practice, by creating their comic characters. As their imagination knows no bounds, they continue to modify the personalities of their creations, after receiving feedback from their peers.

It is interesting to note that the illustrations by students brings out their awareness level of pressing issues around them like climate change, education of girl child, etc. 

We've even had students plan on collaborations between their characters to have diplomatic talks with the United Nations' officials to address some of these concerns. Here’s Agent Veer, Pratham's Superhero who works with United Nations

We've even had parent express that they felt nostalgic reminiscing their childhood comic heroes. The students are provided feedback to help improve their creations.  

In the last segment of the seminar, they are introduced to the concept of marketing of comics through different media. The creation of radio advertisements by students to help realize the popularize their creations by realizing the limitations of the medium and using them to their advantage to bring out their creativity.

Here's a radio advertisement for Bruno the dog from Jupiter by Parnika Rao Grade 3

The QShala Life Lessons from Comic Books Seminar is open to students of Grade 1-8. Register here!

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