Engineer: Konstrukt

The Engineer: KonstruktThe Engineer: Konstrukt
Written by:
Brian Churilla, J. Shepherd
Illustrated by: Brian Churilla
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Format: Hardcover, 128 pages, Full Color, $9.95
ISBN: 978-1-93238-654-7
Lesson plan by Dr. Katie Monnin

I want to start this review by stating that this graphic novel is one of my all-time favorites.  From a teacher’s point of view, I was extremely intrigued by the main character, the Engineer.  The Engineer puts an entirely post-modern spin on what constitutes a literary hero, providing teachers and educators with an amazing opportunity to talk about the evolution of the hero character in both canonical and contemporary literature.  In other words, the possibilities for pairing this graphic novel alongside traditional, canonical literature seem endless. 

The story opens with a cosmic explanation for The Engineer’s purpose, a destiny-laden mission to seek out and repair The Konstrukt: a mechanism that allows its owner to manipulate reality.  Next, without skipping a beat and the mission for the Konstrukt communicated, the story immediately jumps into action, literally.  Running away from aliens, jumping over and around falling rocks, the reader finds The Engineer being chased by an alien species through a rugged terrain.  Along with being chased, The Engineer is speaking with what seems like a trio of wise-seeming witch-spirits.  Will The Engineer succeed?  Who are these three wise-seeming witch-spirits?  Will he be able to repair the Konstrukt?

With clever artwork and brilliant action sequences, the reader and The Engineer must make their way past creatures and beasts, through rugged terrains and multiple realities to find the answer. 

English Language Arts Elements of Story

Plot:  The Engineer, the last human survivor of Earth, must find and repair the Konstrukt, a mechanism that can manipulate reality itself.  

Setting: a future in space, where pan-dimensional time travel is possible

Characters: The Engineer, Roland, amorphous witches, the townspeople, the Konstrukt (figuratively), the pipe organ (again, figuratively)

Themes: Destiny, Time, Reality, Loyalty, Trust, Good vs. Evil, Hero/Heroism, Searching

Traditional Literature Pairing Suggestions: Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Around the World in Eighty Days and Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne, The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain.

Some Teaching Recommendations For Middle School & 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. 

Suggested Reading Strategies:

  • To begin with, two of the above noted NCTE/IRA standards can be met pursuing a thematic unit plan that focuses on the evolution of the hero as a literary character. For instance, if The Engineer is paired with Alice in Wonderland, teachers are not only asking students to read a wide range of various types of texts (traditional, print-text fiction and graphic novel), but also asking students to read literature from various time periods (1865 and 2007).

  • To meet NCTE/IRA standard number 3, teachers can next consider a variety of reading strategies that focus on characterization:

1.     Character Maps

2.     Compare and/or Contrast Venn Diagrams

3.     Think-Pair-Share prompts that focus on the evolution of the hero in each text

4.     Profiles that ask students to think about each character in terms of words and images),

5.     K-W-L (Ogle, 1986):

Building upon some schema students may have in regards to Alice in Wonderland, ask them what they KNOW about Alice?  What do they WONDER?  And, after reading, what did they LEARN?

After looking at the cover of The Engineer, ask students to KWL again.  What do they KNOW about The Engineer?  What do they WONDER?  And, finally, after reading, what do they LEARN? 

*NCTE/IRA. (1996). Standards for the English Language Arts. Urbana, IL: NCTE.

*Ogle, D. (1986). KWL: A teaching model that develops active reading of expository text. The Reading Teacher 32, 564-570.

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.