Comics: Subject or Object?
I know there are some glaring omissions (Crumb comes to mind, and maybe some suggestions for a collection of his short pieces would help) but I think this list ain’t half bad.
Using the other syllabi that are available at teachingcomics.org, I’ve decided that this list covers a good amount of ground for students being introduced to the medium.
I’m starting out with introductory theory (understanding comics, then Horrocks’ critique) and reading strips (Peanuts, Krazy Kat, Calvin and Hobbes, etc.)
then moving to short stories (Sturm, Woodring, Dart, Kramers Ergot 5, McSweeneys, Eisner, Barry)
then memoir, autobios (Doucet, Satrapi, Campbell, Spiegelman, Kochalka, Pekar, Lutes, Brown, Kominsky Crumb)
history/journalism (Brown, Sacco)
“Literature” (Clowes, Ware, Los Bros, Jason)
Manga (Tezuka, Nakazawa, Miyazaki)
A Contract with God – Esiner
Maus – Spiegelman
Ghost World – Daniel Clowes
Persepolis I,II – Marjane Satrapi
Golems Mighty Swing – James Sturm
American Elf – James Kochalka
Barefoot Gen – Nakazawa
Jimmy Corrigan – Chris Ware
Frank Book – Woodring
My New York Diary – Julie Doucet
Louis Riel – Chester Brown
Safe Area Gorazde – Joe Sacco
Understanding Comics – McCloud
Barefoot Serpent – Scott Morse
Jason Lutes – Jar of Fools
Reading or will read:
A Passionate Journey – Masereel ?
Locas – Jaime Hernandez
Palomar –Gilbert Hernandez
Kramer’s Ergot 5 – Collaborative
B Krigstein Comics – Greg Sadowski ?
Phoenix (Tale of the future) – Tezuka
Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind – Miyazaki
Peanuts 1950-1954 –Charles Schulz ?
Hey Wait… – Jason
Rabbit Head – Dart
From Hell – Alan Moore, Eddie Campbell ?
How to be an artist – Eddie Campbell
I Never liked you – Chester Brown
Basically, I left out lots of European comics because I have no exposure (Jason aside) whatsoever, and hopefully as my education continues, so will my horizons.
comments, critiques? I’ll try to have the actual syllabus ready by next week.
I will have a supplementary list for the class as well. Keep in mind this is an introduction to comics for an undergraduate class. I feel that the selections are pretty broad, and that at least one of these works should appeal to anyone.
At Bennington College, many people don’t “get” comics, and have a really hard time connecting the more complex panel transitions. I think dailies and strips are a good way to see the immediate impact of pace, gutters and composition.
anyways, suggestions are clearly in order!
That looks like good stuff, Adrian… however, and this is just me trying to open up a conversation here, does anyone have any concerns about the whole idea of “introductions to (specific) media” (i.e. I have a similar problem with intro. to film, and I would have the same concerns about an intro. to “the novel” course, if such a thing exists… I KNOW that I did hate the intro. to “the short story” course that I took as an undergrad)?
What I’m trying to say is: does it make sense, outside of a creative workshop (not that I think creative workshops make any sense either, but that’s another topic!), to privilege the “technical” aspects of texts over their thematic content? I’m not saying that formal properties aren’t important–in fact I’m pretty much a formalist critic!–but what I’m interested in is narrative form (i.e. storytelling choices), rather than the kinds of nuts and bolts stuff that you would almost have to focus on in a course with this reading list. It’s like assigning Dickens, William Burroughs, Dashiell Hamett, Margaret Atwood, Tom Robbins and Toni Morrison and then spending the whole semester discussing word choices and sentence construction!
Am I wrong? Do people really have that much difficulty “understanding comics”? If I was forced to teach a class with that reading list (thankfully, I won’t be! I’m using comics next semester as well, but the selections are linked by a theme) I suppose I would–in exasperation!–consecrate the time toward developing an understanding of the kinds of stories that comics can tell, although I’m not sure what that would get me either.
Are you just gonna show them examples of “great comic art” and tell them why they should consider it great? Or will you expect them to engage the works in a more truly critical spirit?
Obviously, this plays into our recent discussions re: criticism vs. appreciation, don’t ya think?
And–just because I can’t resist!–don’t you think it’s just a little bit weird that there are no superhero comics on Adrian’s lists? Frankly, I don’t see how Grant Morrison’s best stuff is any less “essential” than the things that are up there, but, of course, that’s just me!
Oh yeah–as those of you that shared my disgust with the Colby Cosh piece from TCJ #263 may know, today is the 15th anniversary of the “Montreal Massacre”, and, sadly, I don’t think gender politics in North America have improved one whit since that time, despite the “sinister” ways in which “evil feminists” have “manipulated the issue to serve their ‘agenda'”… Anyone who thinks that Marc Lepine wasn’t just the tip of a very thick phallic iceberg just isn’t paying attention to popular culture, as far as I’m concerned…
Good night friends!