Can You Actually Learn Something from a Comic Book?

I’ve been trying to expand the type of things that I read. If you’ve kept up with my reading habits this year, you’ll know that I have been adding more graphic novel content. With a little help from the book community, my coworkers, and my local library, I’ve been able to read a couple of volumes that I’ve really liked. One of those volumes was the new Ms. Marvel, who is Kamala Khan. I think that there are currently 4 volumes out currently, with the 5th volume releasing in the US on July 12th of this month.

Kamala Khan is a 16 year old Pakistani-American, Muslim teenager in Jersey City, NJ. There is so much in that sentence that is exciting. First off – JERSEY CITY. One of my good friends in college was from Jersey City; so whenever I hear mention of it I just get good vibes. Plus Jersey City is SOOO Jersey I just can’t take it. (For those of you that are wondering, these thoughts are literally reserved for those who have spent time in the Mid-Atlantic section of the US.). Also, I love that Marvel didn’t just make her of “Middle-Eastern descent” because that’s wayyy to dismissive of the various cultures and identities that are salient to immigrants in the Northeast US. Since Islam is one of the big three religions, it makes sense that there would be a superhero that would ascribe to that religion.

Now that I’ve fangirled over the concept, is it actually any good? Yes. I really enjoyed the 3 volumes that I’ve read so far. As someone who’s not really into superheroes, comics, or fantastical elements – I think there’s enough in this comic to interest a lot of people. This comic is pretty neat, because it provides a very basic level of cultural education. Not being Muslim or Pakistani, I’m not entirely sure how accurate some of the words or concepts presented in the comic actually are, but I appreciate that they’re included. Instead of the writer just saying “Kamala goes to church.” or “Kamala puts on her traditional grab.” Kamala’s actions and specific cultural items or traditions are written about using appropriate language. For translations or definitions, there is a star for the reader to refer to at the bottom of the page or panel. I’m in love with that! I think that we often want things to be explained in ways that are easy for us to understand. Usually that means erasing cultural content or adding that content as a subnote. I enjoy that the cultural content isn’t hidden, and if the reader really wants to know what that means then they can go seek out the meaning.

So long story short- yes, I think that we can learn things from comic books. I have already learned some things from the new Ms. Marvel and I think that you potentially can too. If for nothing else, I would recommend picking up this comic book from your local library, because it’s important to see more diverse characters in the superhero world. It’s nice to see a teenager and a woman try to stay true to her family and culture, while using her powers for good.

 

Until Next Time World…

Happiness

So this is definitely going to be a continued talk and review of Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, because I really did honestly just like it that much. Another theme this book explored, in a very discrete way, isĀ happiness. The scene that sparked my thoughts around this is when Louisa is talking to Nathan (Will’s personal nurse) about Will’s happiness. She asks Nathan if he thinks that Will is happier since she’s come around, and Nathan states that he thinks Will just likes when Louisa is happy. This isn’t a revolutionary concept, but it sparked an important question. Are you truly happy just by seeing other people happy?

I can think of a couple potential examples, even though I haven’t experienced a lot of them. One that seems to fit the mold would be parenthood. I don’t have kids, nor do I want them, so I can’t be sure – but it seems as thought parents thrive off of their children’s happiness. I’ve always said the love of a parent for their child seems unfathomable to me, because I’m not sure children have the capability of expressing such love for their parents. Parents, generally, seem happy when their children are healthy, receive awards, thrive in social situations, and become successful adults. A lot of people talk about parenthood being the most enjoyable part of their life. It’s easy to see how a small human’s whole presence can help contribute or take away from a parent’s happiness.

However, I can also think of a couple of examples that might be contrary to this. Postpartum depression is the first that comes to mind. Acknowledging that this is a very serious disease that effects parents, generally mothers, after birth, their mental and physical well-being is not wrapped up in how well their child may be doing. It’s important for these parents to work on their own well-being, as a separate issue than the well-being of their children. There is also the example of the absentee parent. The image that society presents of parents are those that are involved and concerned about their children’s lives. As unfortunate as it is, that is not always the case for families. For some, children are a burden that contributes to a person’s lack of happiness.

Another, and perhaps the most relevant to the novel, would be happiness that is derived from the happiness of a significant other. Can you truly live a happy life based on the happiness of your significant other? For me, I find that when my partner is in a negative headspace or mood that affects me much more than when he is in a good mood. On the other hand, my favorite thing about people is the passion they show when they’re talking about something that is of great interest to them. When my partner is excited about something, that enthusiasm is contagious. It is often seen as dangerous and detrimental to have one’s happiness tied up in another person’s. Young women are often (sexist, because it’s far less common for men to be arbitrarily told this) told not to rely on a man for their happiness. While this is usually said out of concern for the person, it seems this piece of adviceĀ and what is typically “expected” out of partnership often differ.

I’m not really sure where I fall on this topic, but the fact that Me Before You sparked this train of thought is a telling of how powerful the novel can be for a person. What do you think about this?

Until Next Time World…