Spotlight On: BOOM! Studios Comics

Founded in 1995, BOOM! Studios creates comics and graphic novels for all age groups.  While they have a number of original titles such as Lumberjanes, Slam!, Giant Days, and Mouse Guard they also focus on comics based on licensed properties such as WWE, and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.1

Boom! Studios offers a WIDE RANGE OF SERIES for readers to choose from.  They are, without a doubt, a publishing company with something for everyone.

Other Imprints

Boom! Studios has a number of imprints including KaBOOM! which is aimed at children, BOOM! Box which features a number of experimental comics, and Archaia who they acquired in 2013.

This article will take a look at BOOM! Studios line of comics, highlighting a number of their texts, and how they should be placed within your classroom.

WhatBinder wrote a series for those who want to know more about using Comics in the Classroom.

 

 

Original Comics

Boom! Studios features a wide range of original titles.  Many of them focus on strong female protagonists, and other underrepresented groups.  While this wasn’t entirely by design, the strong female representation within their Editorial Department has ensured an equitable spread of topics throughout their catalogue.

 

Lumberjanes

Summer camp?  Supernatural creatures?  The bonds of friendship that keep everyone going?  Lumberjanes uses their well established backdrop to tell personal stories that connect with readers of all ages, but is created to appeal to a younger audience.

Feature strong female leads and helmed by female creators, they knew they were onto something then the planned mini-series was met with such critical success that it was extended into an ongoing that has as much buzz now as it did when it first launched in 2014.

 

 

Slam!

Roller Derby has existed The Silent Generation transitioned in the Boomers, but it wasn’t until the 2009 Ellen Page movie Whip It came out that it was reintroduced into the mainstream.

With another Hollywood connection, Slam! in a graphic novel written by Pamela Ribon (story write for Disney’s Moana and Ralph Breaks the Internet).  In the tradition of Silver age Superheroes, Slam! introduces readers to a cast of colourful and costumed characters with unique names, and while a lot of the action happens on the tracks, it’s the personal stories, friendships, and struggles that come from putting oneself in the public eye that carries this book.

Perfect for introducing teenage girls to the importance of believing they can reach their goals, and that physical sports are nothing to be avoided, there’s enough on rink action, and character development to keep readers of all backgrounds turning to the next page.

 

 

Giant Days

Focusing on women who are trying to make sense of the world around them as they transition from one life stage to the next, Giant Days is a fresh take with modern feminism overtone.  Not planned to be a story that projects a political narrative, the comic isn’t feminist because the author is trying to find a place to insert their message, it’s feminist because there’s no way to tell an organic story about women without introducing those elements.

Because the characters in the comics face the same issues that surround all readers, the messages feel organic rather than forced.  The characters are not perfect, and their flaws reflect the flaws many have had to deal with.  Things are far from perfect as choices are questioned over and over.  Rather than presenting an image of what one thinks life should be like, Giant Days, instead, presents a version of life that is all too relatable to a high school audience.

 

 

Mouse Guard

Think Lord of the Rings, meets Dungeons and Dragons, meets The Secret of Nimh and you have yourself a strong understanding about what you’re in for with Mouse Guard.  Part of a larger series – some stories intertwined, and others standing alone in the same world, David Petersen  has crafted a campaign that shows even the very small must embrace large challenges.

Bravery, caution, and well laid plans all combine when discovering what is right, and when threats can no longer be resolved with diplomacy and strong words.

The fully realized world of Mouse Guard presents opportunity to satisfy one’s curiosity and wanderlust while forcing one to rethink their place, and their own values.

 

 

 

Licensed Properties

By focusing on familiar subject matter students will read at a higher level, and be more engages with their texts.  While teachers may feel that these comics lack an educational value it’s obvious that that couldn’t be further from the truth.

The demonstration of your students’ LITERACY SKILLS is possible regardless of the text.  The most important part is to get our students reading, get them thinking metacognitively, and allow them an oppertunity to show their knowledge based on an accessible text.

Luckily, Boom! Studios creates high interest comics that explore a wide range of themes.  Costumed fighters provide a strong foundation for text-to-self connections, while muscled wrestlers create a platform for the exploration of a wide range of social issues currently impacting our world.

 

Mighty Morphing Power Rangers

Though easy to ignore as being nothing more than a children’s Show, the Boom! Studios adaptation of Mighty Morphing Power Rangers introduces a high school full of flawed students.  The Rangers are not a wholesome group of individuals that all believe in each other, but rather teenagers distrustful of new members, and slow to forgive misdeeds.

Telling a story of the Green Ranger trying to move on from a past of which he is not proud, this book presents themes that are infinitely relatable to children, teens, and adults alike.  By starting with a foundation of the familiar, heavy themes are brought to light and laid bare for those willing to overlook the Sunday Morning children’s programming veneer.

 

 

 

WWE

Though it shouldn’t have surprised me, given the quality of other Boom! Studios books, WWE is a fantastic graphic novel that uses Wrestling as a platform to explore complex interpersonal issues and deal with concepts such as betrayal, what success means and what it looks like, and the importance of choosing friends wisely.

Much like Power Rangers if one can look past the branding they will realize that wrestlers are not that different from Superheroes – flashy costumes, superhuman abilities, and outrageous names.  There are none that doubt that superheroes can explore complex issues, and as such one should realize that WWE rises to those same heights. Though marketed to a male audience, there are a number of strong female characters who demonstrate the different challenges that are faced by a variety of people in our schools.

By presenting students with characters and scenarios they are familiar with, building the intrinsic desire to keep turning the pages and picking up the next volume and the next, they might not even realize their building their literacy skills and becoming stronger readers in the process.

 

 

 

Steven Universe

Steven Universe‘s strength lies with its diverse cast of characters who all work for the betterment of themselves and those they care about.  With positive messages on every page, this comic will appeal to students who are familiar with the television show, by expanding on the characters they already know rather than boring them by rehashing the same plots again and again.

By taking mundane tasks, as well as great large scale adventures, and presenting messages of strength and success one quickly learns that every actions has value and that even the smallest task can share the same highs of a great undertaking.

 

 

 

Bill & Ted Go to Hell

“Be Excellent to Each Other.”  These words are no less important now than they were when the world was first introduced to Bill and Ted in 1989.

Introducing characters ripped from the history textbook, Bill and Ted contain the totally tubular experiences of teenage boys from decades long past.  Fresh, and light this is a perfect text for students who have a hard time reading, or becoming invested in their texts.  With few word bubbles per page, and an art style that helps navigate students through the decoding process, Bill and Ted Go to Hell is a perfect option for any Literature Circle.

 

 

 

Footnotes

1. About|BOOM! Studios

 

 


PART ONE: COMICS IN THE CLASSROOM

PART TWO: STUDENTS WILL READ COMICS

PART THREE: COMICS HELP WITH DECODING

PART FOUR: PUBLISHERS TO BE AWARE OF

SPOTLIGHT: Udon Entertainment

SPOTLIGHT: Boom! Studios

Spotlight On: Udon Entertainment Comics

UDON Entertainment publishes graphic novels based on well-known properties such as Street FighterOkamiMega ManDark Souls, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Robotech.1

Their new line, Manga Classics, has positioned UDON as leading publishers for educational and classroom use.  Their Cheif, and founder, Erik Ko stated that his mother asked why UDON didn’t make graphic novels that students could relate to, while also engaging with well know – and important – novels.  In that instance, Manga Classics was born.

This article will take a look at both Manga Classics and the traditional UDON Entertainment line of comics, highlighting a number of their texts, and how they should be placed within your classroom.

WhatBinder wrote a series for those who want to know more about using Comics in the Classroom.

Manga Classics

Bringing classic novels to life for students is the main focus of UDON Entertainment’s Manga Classics line.  They have an ever-growing list of texts which can be found here.

While the primary focus of their books has been on classic novels, they are also expanding to include a number of Shakespeare plays.  While they currently offer Romeo + Juliet, their next two upcoming projects include the Shakespearian play Macbeth, as well as the classic Stoker novel, Dracula.

A number of teachers have been using Manga Classics in their classroom.  You can read their testimonies and blog posts to gain a deeper understanding of how others have put these books into practice.  But, there are few better ways to gain an understanding of the value these Manga Classics offer than by taking a look at some sample pages.

 

 

Art by: Julien Choy | Adapted by: Crystal Chan

The crisp line art complements the text, adding a layer that improves students’ ability to decode complex texts.  Furthermore, the authentic retelling of the classic texts allows the student to have a full understanding of the material, leaving them well positioned to demonstrate their Literacy Skills.

For teachers looking to imbue a love of the classics in their students, there are few greater texts to look at than the Manga Classics like by UDON Entertainment.

Pop-Culture Graphic Novels

UDON Entertainment publishes Comics based on a number of well-known properties.  As we know, students read at a higher level when they are familiar with the material.  By introducing texts the student connects to and feels an intrinsic desire to read, they will be fully able to demonstrate the extent of their literacy skills.

Street Fighter: Akuma

This graphic novel is based on the popular Video Game series Street Fighter.  The character of Akuma was first introduced in Super Street Fighter II Turbo, released in 1994.  Since then he has been an enigmatic character who is most often viewed as a villain.

This comic tells the tale of how a young boy faced tragedy, made different choices than his brother did in dealing with his emotional turmoil, eventually rising to power, becoming the man he is in the video game series.

 

Themes

Though it might be difficult to believe, this comic deals with the importance of familial relationships, the unforeseen consequences of  seemingly well-intentioned choices, a lust for power once one has felt a small taste.

 

Katamari

This text is based on a popular video game series that was first introduced on the Play Station 2 in 2004.  Katamari Damacy was the first in a long line of games that has seen its latest iteration of iPhones and Android devices.

The basic concept of the game is that a small Prince (of the Cosmos) pushes a little ball around, sticking things to it as it grows larger and larger.  Though simplistic in nature, the game has themes and concepts that the comic greatly expands on.

Themes

This text deals with the – sometimes painful – relationships between father and son.  By demonstrating examples of how gender-normative emotional expression can have negative repercussions on children, students will be able to make a number of connections between this text and the world around them.

Introducing a variety of characters, each with their own unique style, concepts such as selfworthinward validation, and personal growth are also greatly touched upon.

 

Mega Man

Mega Man, known as Rockman in the original Japanese, was first introduced to the public in his eponymous 1987 NES game.  Since then, he has appeared in dozens of video games.

Known by almost all students, Mega Man is a character who chooses to stand up for what he believes in.  Standing against the other robotic creations, he has a sense of justice that goes beyond what he was created to be.  Having spanned decades, there is a rich history that explores a number of key themes that are relevant to your classroom.

Themes

One of the key concepts in Mega Man is society’s dependence on technology.  With a near complete automation of manual labor, and service level jobs, the world seemed at peace; however, one rogue hacker was able to greatly disturb the existing system.

Comparisons between this fictional world, envisioned long before the Internet was carried around with us in our pockets, Mega Man allows students to use it as a basis for insights into our own technology-driven world.

Footnotes

1. About|UDON Entertainment

 

 


PART ONE: COMICS IN THE CLASSROOM

PART TWO: STUDENTS WILL READ COMICS

PART THREE: COMICS HELP WITH DECODING

PART FOUR: PUBLISHERS TO BE AWARE OF

SPOTLIGHT: Udon Entertainment

SPOTLIGHT: Boom! Studios