Friday, May 15, 2009

The Undersea Adventures of Capt'n Eli

Ah, adventure stories.

If you all will allow me a moment of nostalgia...As a young child I remember watching syndicated episodes of the old Johnny Quest cartoon, and then creating my own action stories in my parent's backyard with my neighborhood friends. As I began reading on my own, the novels of Jules Verne and the Hardy Boys series captivated me. I mention this because I know my love of adventure stories (whether it be cartoons, novels, comics, etc.) is not out of the ordinary. As a high school teacher I've had a lot of luck hooking reluctant readers up with fast-paced action tales. Which brings me to Capt'n Eli...

As a reader, what I really like about the Capt'n Eli series is that author/artist Jay Piscopo embraces the lighthearted adventures of yesteryear. Heroes are clearly heroes and they have strong moral codes. In this blogger's humble opinion, our youth could use more heroes like Capt'n Eli today. Also, the fact that the ongoing story has ties to my native state of Maine and it's rocky coastline is a bonus. And yes, that main character's name is a tribute of sorts to the famous local root beer brand.

As an educator, I really appreciate how Jay and his team at Nemo Publishing have embraced the possibilities of comics as a teaching tool. Many larger comic book publishers could learn something about working with educators from the Capt'n Eli crew. On top of offering in-school workshops on illustration and storytelling, Jay Piscopo has a series of interactive cross-discipline lesson plans available for free on the Capt'n Eli website! -How cool is that?

As a teacher who believes in the potential of comics as a teaching tool I applaud Jay and Nemo Publishing on their efforts to bring the message to the masses. Capt'n Eli is a fun, light-hearted read, and coupled with the thoughtful lesson plans of Laura Richter these books would make a great addition to any classroom.