April 21, 2010

Curriculum: Zombie Research Paper

From time to time, I'll be posting some of the curriculum I have developed.

My son, as well as a large swath of the world, has Zombie fever.

Zombies are everywhere, it seems. From movies, to books, to comics, pop culture is in the midst of a Zombie Apocalypse! As I am constantly trying to create high interest curriculum, I thought that a research paper on this topic would certainly be a fun and creative way to enhance writing and research skills.

So with no further ado, I give you:

This is an assignment in which students write a 5 paragraph essay about Zombies. The handout provided gives a pretty clear overview of format, structure, and expectations.

I hope you like it, and I would love to hear comments about it.

April 6, 2010

Review of IDW's Kill Shakespeare

This past weekend, my son and I made the two hour drive to San Francisco to be part of WonderCon. We had a great time there. My son was openly salivating during the CapCom presentation, especially while watching game play of Super Street Fighter IV (since then, he has been calling me Mr. Hibiki, which, apparently, is a Street Fighter inside joke). We both gawked at the sight of Lou Ferrigno, Lindsey Wagner, Helen Slater, and Peter Mayhew signing autographs and posing for pictures while doing their best not to appear washed up and hating the fact that their respective careers had brought them to this. We poked through miles and miles of long boxes stuffed with comic book upon comic book. We elbowed our way through sweaty cos-play revelers. We ate pizza. We felt part of a larger community. We scored some sweet swag.

One of the most interesting and seemingly most promising new releases I grabbed was Conor McCreery and Anthony Del Col’s Kill Shakepeare, published by IDW press. Kill Shakespeare is based on what may be one of the most audacious premises ever attempted in comics, but after reading issue #1 yesterday, I think these guys may just be able to pull it off. Like Alan Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or Bill Willingham’s fabulous Fables before it, Kill Shakespeare is based conceptually on the idea of taking previously established fictional characters and putting them in a new “world”. Kill Shakespeare appears to revolve around throwing some of Shakespeare’s most recognizable characters together and wrapping them tight in a sort of Saran Wrap of meta-fiction by having them engaged in a plot to kill William Shakespeare himself. Heady stuff, to say the least – and rather audacious, if you ask me, especially given the fact that issue #1’s main protagonist is Hamlet and its main antagonist is Richard III. For McCreery and Del Col to feel comfortable putting words in the mouths of these characters takes very large and very brass kishkes. To be honest, I had many reservations about this – especially when I heard that it was originally conceived as MMORPG (there is still talk about this happening down the road), but I must say I thoroughly enjoyed reading Kill Shakespeare issue #1 and am looking forward to following the entirety of its 12 issue run.

As Del Col said in a recent interview with Steven Bryan, “It’s got action and adventure, love and romance, drama and comedy, double-crossing and cross dressing.” all the stuff of Shakespeare’s finest work. It has characters with emotionally believable responses to their world. Also, seeing as how pretty much every story we read, especially in comic books, can be traced back to the themes and actions of any number of Shakespeare plays, Kill Shakespeare makes sense in some way. McCreery and Del Col have the ability to stay true to Shakespeare’s characterizations, as well as the creativity to put them into new situations. The writing is engaging, the characters are developing in an unhurried and natural way, and the pace and the plotting so far have left me anticipating the next issue. Also of note is the art. Andy Belanger is good. What really caught my eye, though, was the work of colorist Ian Herring. There is a muted red that runs throughout the entire first issue that, more than almost anything else, really helps establish the tone of the book.

Finally, I have to admit that Kill Shakespeare also appeals to the intellectual elitist in me (here I go again). I have to say that I take great delight in the fact that I already know quite a lot about these characters because of my background in literature. There is a certain buzz I get when I watch Rosencrantz toss Hamlet’s death warrant from Claudius over the side of the ship – the buzz kinda goes, “Yea, that’s cool. Now what’s going to happen?” But I don’t think you have to be a Shakespeare scholar to enjoy Kill Shakespeare. Your High School English teacher probably gave you all the background that you need (and you should look them up and thank them – I know they like cash gifts the best).

Issue #1 of Kill Shakespeare is due in comic shops on Wednesday, April 14. Head to your local shop and reserve a copy today.