Bleeding Cool points out that Nancy King, a Democrat running for reelection for the Maryland State Senate, sent out a direct mail piece that emphasizes her commitment to teachers … because with cutbacks and layoffs, apparently kids would just be left reading comic books, and nobody wants that, do they?
It’s a poorly thought-out ad that, as Rich Johnston says, serves as a “stereotypical attack on comic books as not being suitable to educate children.” It’s also somewhat ironic, since Maryland has an educational comic book initiative:
Capitalizing on a growing body of evidence that comics can encourage reluctant readers to read more and talented students to gain in knowledge and creativity, The Maryland State Department of Education has partnered with Diamond Comic Book Distributors and elicited the help of members of local school systems, higher education, adult and corrections education, and libraries. The goal is to develop a Maryland plan and instructional strategies that support the use of graphic literature in elementary, secondary, adult, and corrections education. This initiative which is sponsored by State Superintendent Nancy Grasmick and the President of Diamond Comics, Steve Geppi.
Comic creator and former educator Dean Trippe has posted an open letter to King, schooling the senator on the benefits and lessons kids can get from reading comics:
Attacks on my industry have always come from those who haven’t picked up a comic, and the policies that have damaged our educational system always come from those who haven’t set foot in a classroom in decades. So let me recommend to you the anthology Reading with Pictures, part of a non-profit effort to offer students and teachers comics specifically suited to lesson plans on variety of subjects. Comics combine art and literature to create an incredible new art form. And in fact, telling stories in pictures predates the written word and is used in safety instruction labels precisely because of its ability to simply convey ideas and actions. Your offensive mailer is just another wrong-headed generalization, attacking a genre that gives children heroes that don’t kill (like Superman, seen in the image you used, likely without the rights to do so) and fight against intolerance (like the X-Men, also featured in your mailer, presumably without permission), as well as a medium that anyone, including children, can tell stories in with tools as simple as a pencil and paper.
And writer Peter David offers a concise analysis, noting that if he lived in Maryland and King was on the ballot, “I swear to God I’d vote Republican.”