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Comics in the classroom

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Albany/HV: Comics in the classroom
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They've been around for years: Comic book super heroes. But as our Vince Gallagher explains, they can be more than just fun reading.

STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. -- At the Norman Rockwell Museum, you can find some familiar faces. It's a new exhibition on comic books with a focus on education.

“Forever kids are sneaking their comic books or their graphic novels into the classroom to take a peek at them during math class and this was really an opportunity for students and teachers who are also now interested in the graphic novel to bring them into the classroom,” said Thomas Daly, Curator of Education.

The exhibit, "Heroes and Villains: The Comic Book Art of Alex Ross" features illustrations from Ross, which were inspired by Norman Rockwell himself. They show how comics have matured over the years. In the early days, it was just about getting the bad guy.

Daly said, "But as the audience matured, I think the writing and the illustrations matured to a point where you do have these super heroes looking at their personal lives and going through trials and tribulations as we all do."

Many comics have exciting adventure tales, but they also have touched upon real life. For example, some issues dealt with civil rights, while others were even used as domestic propaganda during World War II.

"Back when FDR was president, he was calling on the super heroes to help fight against the Nazis in World War II,” Daly said.

"These character served as symbols of standing up to that oppression and actually fighting for their country and patriotism," said Jeremy Clowe, Manager of Media Relations.

This exhibit also features a symposium for educators. The discussion will be based on the different ways comics have a connection with curriculum. After all, even if they are a form of entertainment, comics still require reading.

Clowe said, "At a time when there are so many different distractions, digital, video games and what not that kids have, comics actually are a form of reading that kids can easily pick up and absorb."

And whether it's Superman or Spiderman, many readers, young and old alike, have also identified with these characters over the years.

Daly said, "It is an opportunity for us to tell our own societies myths and really gives a chance for those who might feel out of the ordinary to realize they have a special power and I can't really see that there will be a point in our future where we won't have these super heroes.”

And if you're interested in this super exhibit, "Heroes and Villains" runs through February 24th at the Rockwell Museum.

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