Were you into comic books when you were a kid?
I was not. I couldn’t get into the “Zoom”, “Pow”, “Boom” nature of the comic books I did encounter back then. The genre is much more than this, however, and today we take a look at comic books and comic strips with a “plant awareness” theme.
In Children’s Comics: An Opportunity for Education to Know and to Care for Nature? Joachim Woldschke-Bulmahn & Gert Groning present examples of how some garden topics are portrayed in comic books. Their review of American and German comic books is very interesting. They include excerpts from these books that address themes about gardening and the environment. The examples they include in their 10-page paper support the points they make and are best viewed within the context of their paper (it would be impossible to explain these scenes in words). The best I can do here is offer a summary of some of the points they make while discussing each comic strip.
During their survey of comic books, Woldschke-Bulmahn & Groning (1994) observed the following:
- Comic books treat gardening as a social activity. The independent pursuits of the lone gardener are not interesting to comic book readers.
- Yard work is a common topic and is often presented as an unpleasant chore.
- The act of gardening is presented as a variety of activities in comic books (i.e., some enjoyable and some not so enjoyable).
- Generational approaches to gardening are often portrayed (e.g., Dad’s opinion about topiaries versus his son’s opinion about topiaries).
- Gardening competitions are a recurring topic.
- Environmental protection is also a recurring topic.
Joachim Woldschke-Bulmahn and Gert Groning argue this genre has much to teach children about the environment and that comics should be read not only by students, but by their teachers too. You can read their paper online for free or look for a copy at your local college library.
Wolschke-Bulmahn, Joachim and Gert Groning. 1994. Children’s comics: An opportunity for education to know and to care for nature? Children’s Environments. 11(3): 232-242