Monday, December 13, 2021

31 Days Of CCS, #13: Daryl Seitchik

Daryl Seitchik was a great cartoonist a long time before she enrolled at CCS, and she continues to publish a varied and fascinating array of comics. She did the latest in the CCS-published "graphic guide" series, part of CCS's initiative regarding what James Sturm refers to as "applied cartooning." It's his belief that comics can be made part of nearly any profession, especially when it has educational, training, or advocacy as part of its mission. Past CCS guide series have included mental health, navigating the health care system, and voting & governance. Seitchik took on literacy in How We Read

Seitchik is a sharp author. Drawn in her friendly Moon Bunnies style, the comic follows a girl who is frustrated in her attempts to read, a spider who drops in to teach her, and anthropomorphic letters that turn into sounds. Visually, it's clearly designed and friendly, with big panels and clear lettering. One would think that these would be necessities, but Seitchik is clearly trying to appeal to people who don't necessarily read comics. Starting with the miraculous process by which we turn sounds into symbols and signifiers, Seitchik takes the extra step by using her pleasing, cartoony style to break down how the brain works with regard to language. She then takes on a tour of the history of language and crucially notes that speech preceded written language by thousands of years. 

However, it was that creation of written language, roughly simultaneously in different spots around the world, that proved to be the bellwether for the advancement of human civilization. Seitchik briefly elaborates on how reading helps expand our minds and helps us learn more, while carefully noting that the age and the rate at which we learn to read has nothing to do with our overall intelligence. It's just that our brains work differently. From there, Seitchick cleverly breaks down the process of how we read according to the best available science and contrasts that with ineffective methods often used in schools that focus on memorization instead of breaking words down phonetically. Seitchik also touches on issues related to diversity, subject matter, and special accommodations for those who need them. It's all told with Seitchik's typical level of restraint, brightened up by her tasteful use of color. It's also sweet and funny, making it easy medicine indeed. 

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