By Olly MacNamee
Following in the paw prints of their successful first family-fun charity day at the Cannon Hill Park Wildlife Conservation Park this past Easter, the Wild About Comics team are returning to do it all again on Monday 31st August providing the families of Birmingham one last big hurrah to summer whatever the weather, with some animal themed comic-book festivities. Oh, and the parking’s free too, so what’s your excuse not to go to one of the Second City’s most beautiful and tranquil parts of the city, if you’re local?
Well, I say ‘team’, but really this is the brainchild of one entrepreneurial young Brummie, teenage Alex Birch.
“There will be Treasure Hunts, Drawing Competitions, Free Comics, Cosplaying and other activities going on throughout the day, plus some extremely talented cartoonists (including Roland Bird and Hunt Emerson who will be more than happy to draw you a sketch of the many animals on display at this none-too-small conservation area – Olly), we’ve let out of their cages to do some drawings especially for you.”
All this came about in the first place because the understanding that comics can break down language barriers amongst the diverse multi-cultural communities of Birmingham when used as a teaching tool. As an English Language and Literature teacher in a school that’s make-up is almost exclusively pupils of Pakistani, Bangladeshi or Somalian origin and for whom English is a secondary language, I can vouch for this from my first hand experience (there must be an article in there somewhere, surely) and can only applaud what Alex and her friends are doing in both the short term and long term: building better community literacy levels through comics. After all, one of the reasons TheYellow Kid was such as success back in the late 1800s was because of this very fact. Visual learning can communicate more effectively and effortlessly where the written word can often stumble. Comics can benefit learning, and does. A worthy message to promote in my book.
Also helping spread the word on the day are Rainforest Concern (www.rainforestconcern.org) who have once again donated copies of their Amazonas Comics drawn by John Erasmus, to be given out over the course of the day. And cosplayers, you are encouraged to come on down too, with the wonderful Gotham Cosplayers joining in the fun and setting up a DC Teen Cosplay team especially for younger, or wannabe cosplayers to get involved.
Needless to say, I’ll be there reporting and even live tweeting from the event (after 3 years of using, effectively, two tin cans a piece of string, I’ve finally joined the future world and upgraded to a smarter phone, so why not put it to use) and you can follow me on @ollymacnamee but I implore you to read the journey Alex has taken to get to where Wild About Comics is today on their official Facebook page here, whether you are going or not. This is a worthy endeavour and one worth your support. I grew up almost exclusively reading nothing but comics, and here I am today Head of an English faculty. Who said comics weren’t literature?
Photos kindly provided by freelance photographer and fellow comic-fanboy, Martin Tierney. Thanks, Martin.
Olly MacNamee teaches English and Media, for his sins, in a school somewhere in Birmingham. Some days, even he doesn’t know where it is. Follow him on twitter @ollymacnamee or read about his exploits at email@example.com. Or don’t. You can also read his articles fairly frequently at www.bleedingcool.com too.
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