Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Calvin & Hobbes in the Classroom
The Japanese love comics. Half their bookstores are devoted to “manga,” which means comics. The English textbook my schools use contains a reading passage about Japanese Comics. Before class Kanno Sensei asked me if I wanted to share about American comic books. I immediately thought of Bill Watterson’s Calvin & Hobbes.
I explained about newspaper strips in the United States and their significance and mentioned Peanuts, Snoopy being recognizable and popular in Japan. I then presented comic strips with no words and easy English that I thought the students could read. These proved difficult to find, because Calvin is known for his big vocabulary! To help the kids relate to the unfamiliar boy and his tiger companion, I compared him to his Japanese counterpart, Kureyon Shinchan.
Like Calvin, Shinchan is a boy who drives his parents crazy with rudeness, crazy antics, and misbehavior. By Japanese standards, Shinchan can be quite outrageous, at times offending more traditional folks. On the TV version he moons everyone at least once a week.
Luckily the kids took to the idea of Calvin as the American Kureyon Shinchan. Unfortunately, they seemed more interested in which Japanese manga and anime (cartoons) were popular in the USA than Calvin & Hobbes. They found some of the prints quite funny though. A few kids asked for more after class. I happily obliged.
Kureyon Shinchan might be difficult for American audiences. Without knowing social expectations in Japan, Shinchan wouldn't be very funny. But he's hilarious if you live in Japan. Even if Calvin was heavily marketed, I honestly don't know how well he would be recieved in Japan.
I've decided to include a few Calvin and Hobbes strips for everyone to see. These do not necessarily constitute the best strips, but I think they are all above average.
Also, here's a great website with most, if not all of the Calvin & Hobbes comic strips.
Here's the official daily Calvin & Hobbes website from gocomics.com.