Comics: From Barks to Bertrand Russell
My first comic book love as a child was the Donald Duck series by Carl Barks, perhaps the greatest comic storyteller. Barks fleshed out Disney’s slapstick film characters and created 500 engrossing adventures for children, making him “the most widely read but least known author in the world”. The hunt for square eggs in Lost in the Andes (1949) was my favourite Donald story; and anything with the Italian sorceress, Magica de Spell . When I was 10 years old, I moved on to superhero comics – I loved the bizarre character Mr Mxyzptlk who could only be beaten if Superman tricked him into saying his name backwards. But the best heroes were the Fantastic Four (1961) with their ‘grown-up’ plots and flawed characters.
Why are comics so popular? Because the style combines dramatic art, fast pace and engaging characters. Teachers can use comics in class as models of design and economical storytelling. Comic books are also ideal for reluctant readers, usually boys (see comics in education). The comic form also embraces stunning graphic novels for older readers, such as Persepolis and Logicomix, about Bertrand Russell.