Comic Books as Education
Stan Lee teams up with Team Prime Time for the kids.
May 5, 2011
On Tuesday, I attended an event at Dodger Stadium in Los
Angeles with the producer of the Batman films, Michael E.
Uslan, CEO of Platinum Studios Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, and
comics legend Stan Lee. The event was a joint effort of
Team Prime Time, a foundation established to help kids
from low-income areas of LA become exposed to the arts to
help build their futures, and the Stan Lee Foundation, the
comics legend's organization to help fight illiteracy.
It Books, an
imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, donated copies of the
Cowboys & Aliens graphic novel (the movie version of which is
produced by Platinum Studios) to the kids that attended the
Uslan kicked off the discussion with a touching introduction to
Lee, saying, "The reason I am doing what I do today, being that
overgrown kid who is still taking my favorite comic books and
making movies out of them, reporting to a sandbox every day to
play with my favorite toys, is due to primarily an inspiration in
my life who has been my mentor, my inspiration; a genius who
has created and co-created the pantheon of Marvel superheros,
a guy I am now privileged to call my friend, Stan Lee.
Uslan continued, "I don't have to tell anybody that these are
tough times we're living in. It's tough in particular for kids
because it's tough for education. Anytime people are willing to
stop and not only simply write a check, but to provide their time
to make it worthwhile is an incredible thing."
Lee was asked if he ever thought that his comic books would be
used as a form of education to help get kids to read."I did
realize it, but not right away," Lee answered. "After we had
been doing Marvel Comics for the first five or so years, in the
late 60s, I started getting mail from school teachers saying 'we
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were very surprised, we always thought comics were no good
for kids, but we find that the kids who read your comics seem to
be doing better in English and composition and grammar than
the other kids.'"
Lee went on to describe that he would get similar letters from
parents as well. "Comics really are a good aid to getting kids to
read more literature, increasing their vocabulary, and making
them want to read. Comics are the one type of reading you
don't have to be forced into," he said. "If you're a kid, you want
to read them and you enjoy them. You begin to equate
enjoyment with reading. Once you become a reader, you don't
stay with comics, you then go onto other things too."
Rosenberg and Uslan went on to discuss their various
experiences using comics in the classroom, including Uslan's
creation of the very first accredited comics class in U.S.
colleges at Indiana University in the 1970s. Uslan explained that
he used an example of comparing the story of Moses to the
story of Superman to help convince the university that there
was merit in his idea that comics are contemporary American
I personally took two comics courses my senior year of college,
and they were by far the most worthwhile courses in my entire
four years of school. Do you have a similar experience? Tweet
me or sound off below!
For more information on comics as education, visit Team
Prime Time, the Stan Lee Foundation, or another great
non-profit organization, Reading With Pictures.