When Art Meets Writing and, My Own Theme Songs for Surfing
Music and Surfing
I don't know if this happens in most sports but I do know it is common in skiing, snow boarding and surfing. When you drop off the lift, or paddle into the surf, your own personal theme song kicks in. As a younger surfer-or grommet, as we were known, you HAD to have your own theme song because it sets the mood for the session and it helps you get your rhythm. You need to have rhythm to get in synch with the timing of the waves.
Of course you would always hear one of your friends humming the opening theme from Hawaii 5-0 as you stroke your way out into the break. The songs you use can change with each session or to match the intensity of the surf and it can help keep the nerves steady. I remember needing the Rolling Stones on a particularly intense day at a place called Blacks Beach which lies just below the Torrey Pines Golf Course just north of La Jolla.
Many San Diegan's know Black's as a nudist beach but for the surfers it is known to produce rather large and intense waves. (For the record, I only saw naked people twice and THAT’s another story altogether.) When the waves get over 15 feet you need serious concentration and the Stones were a big help. One day when the waves were big, thick and fast, I found myself smiling and hearing the opening riffs to Cant Ya Hear Me Knockin'. Then, I start paddling out only to see a wave that's like a three story building coming my way. I had to tell Keith Richards to turn up the amp a little then took a deep breath, made some really deep strokes and dropped in- it was a helluva rush.
Other songs for surfing...
Lively up Yourself (Live), Bob Marley (medium sized waves-fun)
Walking on the Moon, The Police (very hot day, glassy-Florida style waves)
Ramblin’ Man (Live), Bob Seeger (reef break-fast pitching waves)
Once in a Lifetime, Talking Heads (much bigger surf) ‘and you may say to your self; my god! What have I done?’
And of course, Surfin’ USA, the Beach Boys (crystal clear day-smell the tanning lotion)
Do You Hear What I Hear?
Lately, I've been hearing music again. It happens whenever I am sitting in a meeting or having a discussion with someone where things start clicking together. I can suddenly see where this person, or discussion, will play a part in the evolution of the graphic novel market place. Whether the person is from some publishing company, marketing firm, library, or a bookstore, there is something about them that just fits into the bigger scheme. When that moment hits the music just kind of fades in under the discussion like a movie sound track. It's happening more and more often. I know it’s only rock and roll but I like it….
Art, Meet Writing and Writing, Meet Art
A few weeks back, a friend of mine sent me a link to this project from Stanford University called Shake Girl. The professors put together a special creative writing team which consisted of illustrators and writers and had them develop a graphic novel based on the true story of a young woman who grew up in post-Khmer Rouge, Cambodia. It is such a well done story that it surprised me. Take a look at the book here and I think you too will be impressed.
Meanwhile in Forest Hill, Maryland, a classroom full of kids created their own graphic novel. Our Comic Anthology is the creation from the kids in Mrs. Lindblad’s and Mrs. Palmer’s Third Grade class at Forrest Lakes Elementary School. It is a book of many short stories and while it is on the rough side (what would you expect from elementary school kids?) it shows you what is possible.
The book is also the result of a project called Maryland Comics In the Classroom that was developed by the Maryland State Department of Education( Diamond is a partner in the project). These two teachers noted in the intro to this book that “As we completed the ten lessons with our students, we saw growth in their vocabulary, their ability to make inferences and in particular, their understanding of narrative story structure.” If you read the book, you will see that the kids really enjoyed reading and creating their own book. Having fun while learning? What a concept!
In a Kid’s Perspective, Anything is Possible
These kids are living in an age where they know they can create their own books or video games. When we were their age, we may have fantasized about the possibilities but these kids KNOW they can do it. They have been raised in an environment where creating a TV series, a video game, or skate boarding can be a profession. How times have really changed.
What is even more enjoyable for me to see is the connection that is beginning to form between the art of illustration and the art of writing. They are two entirely different skill sets and yet, more than a few creators will master both. Can you see where the art teacher and the creative writing teacher could conspire to create projects, award winning projects, with their high school students? The next generation graphic novel authors are already on the horizon.
Next Time on the Graphic Novels Guy: Miami Book Fair International Goes Graphic and Read or Die Stupid.
John Shableski works for Diamond Book Distributors as a sales manager with a focus on the independent bookstore market, public and school libraries. He's been a moderator and panelist at Book Expo, a moderator for library panels at the New York Comic Con, a guest speaker at library events, regional book shows and a symposium coordinator. He is currently collaborating on several graphic novel symposiums across the country. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org