Tuesday, October 14, 2008
The US Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation.
When I was little during the glorious Seventies, it was the golden age of comic books. Here in America people tend to confuse French and Belgian comics, because we share one common language, so to make it simple and short, let's say the Belgian invented the classics such as Tintin and Spirou et Fantasio, and the French developed a more "adult" type of comics.
It doesn't mean porn or erotic, by the way, just that the subjects of those comics were not necessarily superhero-oriented, had themes clearly designed for a grown-up audience, and were experimenting with graphics. In any case, everybody in France was reading and still reads comics, and the comics publishing market is thriving, to the point that its sales dwarf the regular book market ones.
Most comics in France are hardcover, and people proudly display their collections on their bookcases. I helps that the French type of comics is actually called bandes dessinées ("drawn strips") avoiding the "comic" word altogether. These are not all funnies, but are viewed instead as a totally legitimate genre that blends entertainment and serious thinking, and can be used as an educational tool as well.
When I was about 8 years old I was given a series called L'Histoire de France en bandes dessinées as well as one Histoire de La Musique bandes dessinées.
It was a godsend for a visually-oriented child, a gift that stayed with me as the knowledge I received remained in my memories for the next few decades, to the point that I never had to learn a lesson in history classes ever, well into my high school years. For the music aspect, the results are a bit more mixed, since the book didn't come with a CD (they didn't exist yet, can you believe this, you my unique and imaginary under-20 reader?) so even though I have quite a good grasp of the chronology from, say, Guillaume de Machaut to Pierre Boulez, I don't necessarily know what all this music sounds like.
In passing, I was lucky enough to grow up at a time when you didn't have that idiotic censorship about violence and sex and whatnots for books that were youth-oriented. Today I'm sure the same book series would be stripped of all its invaluable content by all the Sarah Palin-oriented wingnuts of the world. Have you noticed, for a country that promotes free speech as its utmost value, how the youth of America are consistently denied this same right?
That's why it's time for America to re-discover its Constitution, not only the letter of it but also its history. Especially now, when America is about to elect its future leader and needs more than ever someone who respects its institutions and embodies the reality of its principles, including free speech, not censorship (hint, hint!).
The Constitution itself is freely available, but written in a language that's not always accessible to the people, since the degree of education they endure in America's public schools is truly appalling. As if there was some type of conspiracy to prevent people from understanding the very foundations of their own country. That's why Jonathan Hennessey and Aaron McConnell have proceeded to write and create a graphic adaptation of the US Constitution, a book that's out now, right in time to refresh your memories before the election (Vote! Vote! Vote) . It's also an excellent primer for teenagers who may feel disenfranchised by the electoral process, and as such I think the book should be on every school curriculum in the United States (and that means public and private schools). It can also be used to help immigrants on the long path to the naturalization process to understand better their rights and duties as new citizens.
It costs only $16.95, and for something you're going to keep all your life and pass on to your children and grandchildren, it's a great investment in the future. Unlike, you know, what's going on right now...
You can pre-order the book from the link above. Jonathan Hennessey embarked today on a book tour, the details of which you can find either through the McMillan site (click on the Widget that serves as the post illustration, or on the links) or through the Facebook group devoted to the book. He will be talking at the Robertson Branch of the LA Public Library on November 10.