Education Through Comics

By | Friday, May 11, 2007 Leave a Comment
I like to think that I learn something new every day. Some days, it's more obvious than others. But one thing I really enjoy is learning things either from or directly because of comics. Educational comics certainly fall into this camp. (I'm a big fan of Jim Ottaviani because of that.) But run-of-the-mill comics can provide learning opportunities as well. Take today's episode of The Devil's Panties...
So I read that and I'm thinking, "Yuri books? What the heck is that? Is Yuri a creator I should know about, or the name of a comic strip, or a whole genre, or...?"

I'm reading the comic online, so a five-second Google search on "yuri comic" (well, ten-seconds actually, since I mistyped it as "yrui comic" initially) came up with series of gay and lesbian web sites, and a subsequent five-second search on Wikipedia resulted in learning that the term stands "for lesbian content, possibly sexually explicit, in anime, manga, and related fan fiction." I continued reading the full article and got further insights into how yuri -- and lesbianism in general -- is perceived in Japan.

So now I have a better (however slight) understanding of Japanese comics and culture. I have no idea how/if/when I'll ever need to use that information, but I can file it away and pull it out whenever I need to.

What's interesting about the original strip is that the joke still works even if I don't know the term. Jennie Breeden's written the punchline such that it clarifies the term sufficiently for readers to understand at least what DJ expects in "yuri books." For a subject as tricky as that, presented to an audience who you have no way of knowing their cultural background, the strip works quite well. Kudos to Jennie for pulling that off. (Not that it's the first time she's done so, BTW!)
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