Call for Comments: Comics Class Canon Syllabus

From Mav: We like comics. We love comics. If you’ve heard at least two seconds of the show, you probably picked that up on that. It’s one of the reasons this show exists. Of course, we’ve gotten away from comics and started talking about some more important cultural issues the last couple of weeks. But now, the fall semester is starting and both Wayne and I are both teaching college courses on comics at the same time. Furthermore, we obviously have a lot friends (several of whom have been former guests here on the VoxPopcast) that teach comics as well. So we thought it would be fun this week to come up with a list of the canon comics and graphic novels one would pick if they were to be designing a class in comics.

Really, this could mean a lot of things. Wayne and I are teaching two very different classes at the moment. His is a generalized introduction to the history of the graphic novel. Mine is is a more specialized look at the way sex and gender have been portrayed in American comics over the last century. There obviously about a billion other ways to approach this as well. You can focus on history or literature or art or cultural studies. There could be a focus on a time period or a theme.

For once, we thought it would be fun to devote a whole episode to this one thing that we actually do… you know… like, for a living and stuff. So we’re going to design a college comics class live on the air. What books should be on the list (yes, yes, Watchmen, Maus, Persepolis, and Fun Home… we know… but what else?). What themes and genres should be explored? What historical events should be covered? What topics outside of comics that affect comics? What would you like to see? Give us some thoughts and we are going to convene a panel of comics pedagogues to work through, come up with a a good list, and maybe even discuss why this is a good idea in the first place.

16 Comments and 2 Webmentions for “Call for Comments: Comics Class Canon Syllabus”

  1. I would want to address the anti-fascist history of american superhero comics. course would cover what is the history there, the rise of neo-fascism in the modern us and some of the ways that plays out in comics (the hydra cap stuff, for example) etc.

  2. Marvel Comics: ‘Nuff Said
    Death of Superman (yeah, it didn’t stick, but it may have been the first ever comic event that was newsworthy enough to make national news)
    TMNT original series (for discussing comparisons to other media)
    Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man (first Marvel / DC crossover)
    The Maxx

  3. Just to spur on additional conversation (and this is by no means the be all end all, which will sort of be the point of the episode): I figured it might be useful to post the book list for the current comics class I am teaching (Sex, Violence and Comics… a look at how comics are gendered through the use of depictions of sexuality and violence throughout their history).

    it’d be great if other people who have taught comic classes did the same.

    Here’s mine:

    • Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud (
    • Sin City: The Hard Goodbye by Frank Miller (
    • A Contract With God and Other Tenement Stories by Will Eisner (
    • Fun Home by the Alison Bechdel (
    • Batman: The Killing Joke by Frank Miller and Brian Bolland (
    • Blue is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh (
    • Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (
    • I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly and J.K. Ken Niimura (
    • Bitch Planet, Volume 1: Extraordinary Machine by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro (
    • Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters by Mike Grell (

  4. Here’s mine. My class is more of an introductory overview to the Graphic Novel. Think Intro to Film.

    Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics
    Will Eisner, A Contract with God
    Art Spiegelman, Maus Book 1: My Father Bleeds History
    Marjane Satrape, Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
    Allison Bechdel, Fun Home
    Frank Miller, Batman: Year One
    Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Watchmen
    Matt Wagner, Mage: The Hero Discovered
    Jillian and Mariko Tamaki, This One Summer

    Add to this list a number of short autobiographical comics, a couple of Love and Rockets shorts, and some more experimental comics, all of which I’ll be providing PDFs of.

  5. Discussion of how comic books and superheroes are inexorably connected should happen.

    It’s worth talking about seduction of the innocent and that whole thing.

    Legal matters, creator rights, and work-for-hire.

    Brightly colored costumes, color printing, and youth appeal.

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