GRAPHIC at the Opera House

As if I needed another reason to love Sydney.

Not only is it one of my favorite cities in the world and where I met my husband, the Opera House is hosting GRAPHIC next month.

Comic books, illustration, animation, music, multimedia and other new ways of telling stories have not only changed the face of our popular culture, they now define it. Graphic novels and comic art are now a leading source of inspiration for films, television, clothing, designers, musicians and artists the world over. GRAPHIC celebrates this brave new world in a weekend of specially commissioned productions – with musical responses to graphic art and stories, workshops, panels, a film program, a games exhibition and an animation competition.

I’ll be in Australia then with my husband and our eleven year old son. As part of GRAPHIC, we’re excited to see Shaun Tan’s The Arrival, set to a live score.  According to the Opera House website, percussionist Ben Walsh randomly discovered The Arrival in a book store. He fell in love with the story and thought about how he could create music to accompany it.  Three years later, his musical vision will come to life at the Opera House.

I’ve used The Arrival in undergraduate courses on children’s literature and young adult literature.  As a wordless picture book, it serves as a fabulous way to show pre-service teachers how to “read” images.  We begin by discussing how the size of images correlates to reading speed.  A series of small images, for instance, means that they should be read quickly.  With images that take up the full page, however, they should be read with more attention to how lines, colors, and shapes work together to shape the reader’s meaning making processes.

Shaun Tan will be doing a signing after the show, so of course I’m planning on packing my copy of The Arrival in my suitcase.  I’m trying to figure out how to attend some of the other GRAPHIC events, including talks by Kevin Smith and Neil Gaiman, but I’ve already signed up for the 14K City2Surf run that weekend too.  (It goes through Kings Cross, Rushcutters Bay, Double Bay, Rose Bay, Vaucluse, Dover Heights and Bondi Beach, with the 2K long Heartbreak Hill in the middle.  Doesn’t that sound like a lovely way to see the city?  Over 76,000 runners think so!  Michael, a cyclist, begs to differ).

I also teach The Graveyard Book, but Gaiman will be reading from a previously unreleased story called The Truth Is A Cave In The Black Mountains. His read alouds are incredible, and at each stop of his nine city tour in 2008, he read a chapter aloud.  I’ve used these read alouds in class, since they’re a great way to introduce readers to Nobody Owens.  Alas, Tan and Gaiman are scheduled at the same time, and The Arrival wins out for now.  But I’ll end with the trailer for The Graveyard Book anyway.

Image Credit: Shaun Tan, The Arrival

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