Comics as a Coping Skill: Part 1

Now that the 2020-2021 school year has begun, things are crazier than ever, and you might wonder what relevance comics as a coping skill might provide. If your school district has opened its doors, you likely have concerns about health safety issues in the classroom and on the bus. If distance-learning is the way things are (at least in the beginning), gritted teeth and moments of wild-eyed panic may feel like more a part of your day than normal.

In the building where my wife offices, the secretarial pool area has been taken over by the home-schoolers of the office staff. Many professionals are having to bring their young kids to work with them and are having to try to figure out how to balance their own workday with the needs of their children. There are many tears, acts of defiance, outright rebellion, and power negotiations for all in the building to hear as parents and children struggle to find their way through this maze of new endeavors.

Either way, parents and children alike are feeling a lot of uncomfortable emotions. A lot of uncomfortable emotions. It’s a lot to process.

While exploring ways to help, I encountered the work of Brooklynite Edith Zimmerman, at her newsletter and website Drawing Links. Although it is a subscription site, you can click “Let me read it first,” to preview her work. 

Why is Zimmerman’s work worth your time and attention? Because she demonstrates that with a few strokes of the pen, a few simple line drawings, one can tap into their emotions and see things with greater clarity.

Four years sober, Zimmerman is no stranger to challenges and hardship. She gets it. She has lived the truth that changing one’s attitude is the only path to embracing the things we cannot change, and that is a message that resonates deeply with those of us with learning challenges.

Whether she’s cartooning about how COVID-19 has altered her perception of time,

Comic by Edith Zimmerman depicting a radio and the caption "A collective ability to tune in to a previously muffled frequency" which is part of her reaction to how COVID-19 has altered her perception of time as she used comics as a coping skill.

learning to let go of expectations that weigh us down,

Art by Edith Zimmerman depicting a piece of paper reading "But after a certain point, the expectations become the anchor, not the engine" about letting go of expectations that weigh us down, part of how she uses comics as a coping skill.

or how moments of fear and hopelessness (again due to COVID) are a call for transformation,

Art by Edith Zimmerman as she uses comics as a coping skill.

there is much to ponder in these simple squares of text and drawing. I invite you to explore and enjoy her work.

In Part 2 of this blog, we’ll look at ways we can translate Zimmerman’s example of using comics as a coping skill into our own modified “classrooms” as a way of helping struggling students process how they feel about change, uncertainty, and more.

Cardboard Box Adventures picture books are great for shared reading and can help parents establish a strong preliteracy foundation for their children. Check out the CBA Catalog for a full list of award-winning picture books, chapter books, and resources for parents and educators. Visit my Amazon author page for more information.