3 Story: The Secret History of the Giant Man
Written and illustrated by: Matt Kindt
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Format: Hardcover, 5.5 x 8.25, 192 pages, Full Color, $19.99
Lesson plan by Dr. Katie Monnin
Even though I tend to be biased and not-so-secretly in love with the graphic novel format, I am often disappointed in new graphic novels that make little to no attempt to truly push the format to its extreme literary potential. When I read Matt Kindt’s 3 Story: The Secret History of the Giant Man, I did not feel disappointed. Kindt's storytelling calls on readers to actively pay attention to the significance behind reading literature written with both words and images. Readers will find themselves thinking: "How are the words and the images working together to tell the story? How are they working individually to tell the story? And, how are they working in contradiction to one another to tell the story?" This graphic novel, in short, will call on teachers and students to truly examine the dynamics behind modern literature written in the graphic novel format.
In terms of a brief summary, I hesitate to give away too much. It is truly a reading experience one must have on his/her own. However, I will say that the story centers on the life of a man who, from birth to death, never stops growing. Literally, he ends up being about three stories high. The story is told from three perspectives: his mother, his wife, and his daughter. Now, my friends, I leave it in your hands to go out and find this amazing graphic novel and recommend it and teach it to your students.**
English Language Arts Elements of Story
Plot: The story centers around the life of a man who does not stop growing from birth to death
Setting: Each of the settings is seen through a particular lens. For instance, the childhood settings (home, school, with schoolmates, etc.) are seen through his mother's perspective. The married life settings (home, work, world travel) are seen through his wife's perspective. Finally, his recluse days (various sightings in a number of places, like the woods, in the ocean, in Las Vegas) are seen through his daughter's perspective.
Characters: The Giant Man (Craig Pressgang), Mrs. Pressgang (the mother), Mrs. Jo Pressgang (wife), Iris Pressgang (daughter), CIA operatives, the press
Themes: Family, Life Cycle, Relationships, Identity, Love, Searches, Truth and Mystery
Traditional Literature Pairing Suggestions: F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Franz Kafka's The Metamorposis, Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
** This graphic novel contains brief instances of sexual imagery and nudity. However, as a teacher, I would use it in the classroom. The literary depth of the story makes these brief moments necessary and critical to the storytelling.
Some Teaching Recommendations For High School English Language Arts
Suggested Alignment to the IRA /NCTE Standard(s):*
- standard #s correspond to the numbers used by IRA/NCTE
1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
2. Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience.
3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate and appreciate texts.
4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and non-print texts.
11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).
Suggested Reading & Writing Strategies:
·Before Reading: Since this story is such an excellent example of the true potential behind the graphic novel format, you may want to begin your exploration of this text by asking students to take a quick book walk, taking notes on what they notice about this particular storytelling format. Make a list of these characteristics on the board and discuss them.
·During Reading: You may want to pair your reading of the graphic novel with graphic novel format terminology. You can find these terms in the following sources: Building Literacy Connections with Graphic Novels: Page by Page, Panel by Panel by Dr. James Bucky Carter*, Teaching Graphic Novels*, and This Book Contains Graphic Language by Rocco Versaci*.
·After Reading: When you are done reading, ask students to create a visual timeline. A visual timeline asks students to use summarize the events in the story by using words and images. Above the line, students use words to describe each situation; below the line, students use images to describe each situation.
·Because this graphic novel is such an excellent example of the format, you may want to teach students how they too can write a graphic novel (which will align to the IRA/NCTE writing standards listed above). To start, review the graphic novel format terminology students learned during their reading. Once students are secure in their knowledge of these terms, ask them to create on their own (or find in a google image search) some panels, gutters, and balloons. Their writing task, paired with the plot of The Giant Man, is to consider themselves as a character in the story: "If you were a character in the story, what would your perception of the Giant Man be?"
*Carter, J.B. (2007). Building Literacy Connections with Graphic Novels: Page by Page,
Panel by Panel. Urbana, IL: NCTE.
*Monnin, K. (2010). Teaching Graphic Novels. Gainesville, FL: Maupin House.
Ogle, D. (1986). KWL: A teaching model that develops active reading of expository
Text. The Reading Teacher 32, 564-570.
*Versaci, R. This Book Contains Graphic Language: Comics as Literature. New York,
*NCTE/IRA. (1996). Standards for the English Language Arts. Urbana, IL: NCTE.
Katie Monnin, PhD, is an assistant professor of literacy at the University of North Florida and author of Teaching Graphic Novels: Practical Strategies for the Secondary ELA Classroom (2010) from Maupin House. To learn more about Teaching Graphic Novels or Katie Monnin, please go to this link: http://www.maupinhouse.com/monnin.php.