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Comic relief

BD 1,2 3 French comics for 11 to 18-year-olds By Rod Hares and Steve Threlfall France-Galles Publications, 4144 Sheridan Street, Outwood, Wakefield, West Yorkshire WF1 3TP Tel: 01924 822815 Pounds 6.25 (inc. pp) for 5 issues of BD1, BD2 or BD3. (Cassette tapes for each magazine, Pounds 3)

There are few modern language teachers who have not been tempted to go it alone and produce their own resource material. Consequently, there have been many cottage industry successes. BD is the latest in this breed, adding, literally, a comic element to classroom materials.

Set at three levels (11-13), (13-16) and (16-18), the BD comics introduce pupils to a motley crew of cartoon characters, who, the authors hope, will be adopted as regular classroom visitors: Bouledogue Bill, Mme Hardie, la famille Grotte, to name a few.

Story-lines are narrated under cartoon pictures with speech bubbles. Fierce critics in the class might suggest that the cartoons would be enhanced if a variety of artists were to contribute. There is a sameness about the graphics which lets down the inventive story lines. The layout and different colours of pages are also confusing. Stories on consecutive pages would maintain a higher level of concentration and interest.

The photo-strip format of the whodunnit detective stories in BD1 and BD3 lends a teen-magazine look and would appeal to older pupils. The humour of some of the story-lines is great - slightly anarchic and off-beat - but there does seem to be a lot of violence, with even Bouldogue Bill being involved in a street scuffle. The photo story, Dossier Dilemme in BD3 also takes in violence, albeit as a good stimulus for discussion of racist attacks.

The first two editions of the BD series feel like prototypes. With development of the artwork and design, and response to teacher and pupil feedback, the comics could become a popular resource. However, pupils will only part with Pounds 1 if they really want to find out if DD l'androide humaine is a murderer.

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