The Sunday funnies

I don’t have a newspaper subscription. While I can learn about current events and read intriguing editorials online, one thing I really miss is the Sunday funnies.

My grandpa retired early and I became his full-time employee at the age of 6. In summer, he paid me a penny per weed to pick dandelions, videotaped me as I struggled to get into the tire swing and, once I could read, shared the newspaper with me. I remember the routine clearly. First, I would assemble an enormous bowl of either Fruity Pebbles or Cookie Crisp. Then, we would split the comics section in half (this was back when the section ran every day and was multiple pages.) Finally, we would sit there in perfect silence minus a few guffaws or snorts. 

We each had our favorite strips. I loved giggling at the parenting frustrations of the MacPhersons in Baby Blues. Little did I know that Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott’s personal inspirations for the strip would mimic my last few years of leaky diapers, answering deep questions and spelling words aloud in conversation as to not stir any emotion about the possibility of I-C-E C-R-E-A-M. As I got older, I identified with the angst of Zits’ high schooler Jeremy Duncan and the everyday eccentricities of Cathy. My grandpa had classic tastes and found joy explaining the dotted line paths of Family Circus and Sarge’s disdain for Beetle Bailey.

Beyond the comics themselves, the time with my G-pa was special. We were sharing a common pleasure across the kitchen table. Oblivious to us both, I was feeding a love for reading while also becoming enamored with one frame gags. Sadly, many grown-ups see comics and graphic novels as a waste of time – something I would strongly challenge. Just this week a graphic novel, New Kid, was awarded the Newbery Medal. I could ramble on about emerging research that shows how comics boost visual literacy skills, strengthen motivation among struggling readers and promote contextual understanding. Instead, I will send you to read more from Concord University Portland or explore the literary merit examples from Book Riot. I implore you to start reading both comics and graphic novels with your kid. Allow them to check these materials out when you make your next visit to the library. Kids are more likely to finish a book they pick out.

Here are a few great places to start:

For even more recommendations, check out the 2019 ALSC Graphic Novels Reading List or head to your nearby Anythink.