‘Teaching Classics via Comics’ Laura Jenkinson Review

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On 11 April, CANI were proud to host an educational talk by Laura Jenkinson of Greek Myth Comix and Churcher’s College, Hampshire.

We at CANI have already had the honour of working with Laura as she provided some of her wonderful artwork for our public reading of Homer’s Odyssey [https://classicalassociationni.wordpress.com/2017/07/02/odysseylivebelfast-gallery/] and even took part in the reading via video.

After a brief CANI update from Helen McVeigh, Erin Halliday introduced ‘Jenks’ to the audience, who (after a few technological gremlins were dealt with) launched enthusiastically into a colourful portrayal of her work, its development and her influences in using comics as a teaching tool.

The talk began with a fascinating look at how flickering light of a fire could make the horses, oxen and bison in the cave art of such places as Lascaux in southwestern France, seem to wag their tails, move their heads or run in a prehistoric, primitive form of animation.


Jenks also showed how even single pictures on vases, freezes and walls could be considered as versions of comics as many of the aspects contained within should be viewed sequentially, such as some of the strange (and unsurprisingly raunchy) wall paintings of Pompeii depicting Priapius, Daedalus presenting Pasiphae with her bull costume and the story of Ixion the first Family Murderer and progenitor of the marauding centaurs.


Daedalus and Pasiphae. Fresco from the picture gallery of House of the Vettii in Pompeii

These prehistoric, archaic and classical ‘animations’ continued their development into the second century AD, where we find what is perhaps the first graphic novel in the imperial telling of the Roman conquest of Dacia on Trajan’s Column.


Laura then showed how her interest in comics, drawing and the Classics came together in an infographic regarding the number, methods and perpetrators of death in the Iliad. The online response to this not just in terms of views but also the conversations it seemed to encourage conversation about the Iliad, various aspects associated with it and the Classics in general demonstrated that there was a thirst for the Classics in comic form and in general.


The global reaction to her Iliad infographic, together with the overwhelmingly positive reactions in the classroom, encouraged Laura to further expand her range of comics, leading to the @GreekMythComix tagline of “Explaining the Classics, one comic at a time.”

But do not think that this is just a bit of fun. There are valuable educational benefits to the use of sequential art and the type of comic strips that Greek Myth Comix specialises in. This was backed by academia and further anecdotal evidence which suggested that the integration of drawing and text in comic strips was more useful for revision and general teaching purposes, as it was seen as an ‘easy’ and fun homework and far less daunting than a block of text, as well as providing context and memorability.


Laura Jenkinson has enthusiasm to burn about the Classics and there clearly are not enough hours in the day for the amount of ideas she has, a list that was only further extended by some of the questions and suggestions put forward by the audience on the night, such as expansions into youtube videos, podcasts and A Level course material.

Laura is also exceedingly generous with not only her time, but the fruits of her much more than twelve labours, making them available through her website http://greekmythcomix.com/. She is also willing to listen to virtually any ideas for commissions.

Old Staff Common Room, Queen's University Belfast11th April 2018Everyone Welcome!

Posted by The Classical Association in Northern Ireland on Sunday, January 7, 2018

For a little more on Laura Jenkinson’s work, you can read a previous CANI blog post by Dr Halliday [HERE – https://classicalassociationni.wordpress.com/2016/08/07/playing-cards-and-paper-dolls-the-trojan-war-as-you-have-never-seen-it/%5D or contact Laura directly through twitter, facebook or her websites…





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