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I know there is a lot on this page, but there is SO MUCH good stuff going on in the Comic world.

COMIC CLASSICS for the Classroom

American Born Chinese
In American Born Chinese, Gene Luen Yang creates a braided trilogy to explore racism in the ethnic identities of a hyphenated society where American pop culture is juxtaposed with Chinese mythology and teenage angst. Yang creates an American work, not a hyphenated Chinese-American piece of literature, but a purely American story of Horatio Algier proportions
          The book's artistic style is Nickelodeon Asian fusion where crisp lines and bold colors form panels that are sequenced into a perfect square on each page, a square that is topped by a small red Chinese seal floating on generous white space. This is not anime' nor a DC/Marvel imitation, this is something wholly different, something distinctly American born Chinese.
           At first glance American Born Chinese appears to be a simple cautionary tale with some subtle and not-so-subtle themes. But in reality it is about eastern roots bumping into western ideals, an intersection that creates tension for the characters. Yang attempts to explode stereotypes through character transformations only to discover that you can't change who you are. As the Monkey King says, "I would have saved myself from five hundred years' imprisonment beneath a mountain of rock had I only realized how good it is to be a monkey" (223).
          Click here for handout:
>Questions for Exploring Identity in ABC.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Dust to Dust
Electric Ant

Two of Philip K. Dick's stories and an authorized prequel have been drawn as comics. Electric Ants (Marvel 2010) was drawn by Pascal Alixe and adapted by David Mack as a one shot graphic novel. Alixe’s impressionistic and painterly style is perfect for depicting a world of noirganic replicants. Vistas are carefully rendered with details the reader wants to linger over; homeless people living on skyscraper ledges, advertisements, dirigibles, flying squibs reminiscent of the golden age of Detroit and futuristic architecture.
           BOOM STUDIOS! Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (2009-2011) features a noir aesthetic as well as noir tropes and themes: the hard-boiled detective that strattles the line between legal and illegal (Rick Deckard), femme fatale (Rachel Rosen), and th naive wife (Iran). DADOES – collects the entire, unabridged novel in a 24-comic series in six volumes that was an Eisner Award Nominee. This work is a great to discover Dick or to take another work a great piece of science fiction.
        Dust to Dust is a 12-issue series that debuted about halfway through BOOM! Studios’ 6-volume Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? It has been collected in two volumes and is an authorized prequel that attempts to explain the rise of DADOES' dystopia. The artist has an electric, frenetic line that adds to the dark vision of San Francisco just after the end of World War Terminus.

          >Click here for PKD and comics Neo-noir Consumerism.ppt

I'm not big on graphic novel memoirs because they are usually about some angst-ridden twenty-something who is not only writing, but also publishing graphic novels--there's an oxymoron in there somewhere, BUT Epileptic is different. It is a truly poignant story about two brothers growing up under the specter of epilepsy.
          The artist's parents try every alternative medicine from macrobiotics and magnetics to psychoanalysis and alchemy to cure their son, but nothing works. David B. expresses his inner rage by drawing beautifully illustrated epic battle scenes to avoid giving into the madness surrounding him. His melancholy frankness about the resentment he feels towards his brother is honest and refreshing.
          For the college classroom, this could fit easily into any nursing or healthy living cluster where questions of treatment and holistic alternatives are discussed. It is especially valuable to those treating the whole family. While Epileptic is a bit hefty at 363 pages it's worth the visually powerful and honest ride.

Zane Pinchback, an African American reporter for a Harlem newspaper, travels to the American south during the Harlem Renaissance to expose the truth of the Jim Crow south--lynchings. Along the way he must "pass" in order to confront southern white (in)justice leading the reader on an exploration of race and identity.
          The protagonist is a "secret race agent" allowing readers to consider the pain of a man who longs to name himself, but who must blend into the segregated south to catch a killer after his own brother is accused of murdering a white woman.
The black-and-white noir style depicts the appalling reality of Jim Crow and engages students because sometimes the horror of a "lynching postcard" or photograph is hard to get past.
          This GN can lead to discussions of race and identity and how things have changed (and remained the same) in our culture.
           Great for a history lesson on Jim Crow and the Harlem Renaissance. This work is very intertextual (like The League) in the sense that the clubs and locations, as well as people mentioned in the book are taken from African American history.
           Incognegro was reprinted in 2018, here's a digital link to Incognego that can be opened with any comic book reader (take your chances).
          Supplemental videos: The Harlem Renaissance.
           Small's Paradise
, a club in Harlem discussed in Incogegro. It was one of the few clubs that allowed black patrons. This is a number called "Smash Your Baggage."
Cab Calloway "Minnie the Moocher" ala Blues Brothers, famous Harlem Renaissance band leader - and "Minnie the Moocher" ala 1950.
          Madame C.J. White, first female American millionaire from the National Archives.

          Introduction to Walter White, one of the first leaders of the NAACP.
          History of the KKK from the History Channel.

          Book trailer for Incognegro (not a great copy).

Kafka's Metamorphosis
adapted by PETER KUPER
A review by the Chicago Tribune sums up the relevance of this work. "An utterly literary comic . . . A fully realized effort meant to be read as literature, albeit a kind of literature we haven't seen before."
           In the college classroom, when reading this graphic novel I focus on the theme of alienation and Kuper's graphic adaptation of Kafka's Metamorphosis closely emulates this original theme. When Gregor Samsa awakens from disturbing dreams to find himself transformed into a bug, he is instantly alienated from his species, not to mention his family, friends, and co-workers.
          In addition, this graphic novel allows instructors to use any college level study guide created for the myriad texts and contexts of this classic work, including those that include vocabulary. "Vocabulary?" you say, "How is that possible?" I have students find visual definitions within the graphic novel and explain how those visuals display the definition of words, such as "vermin" or "admonish".
           After studying this visual text, the first essay assignment for intensive writing students is a narrative about a time when they felt alienated, which they then have to turn into a graphic novel of their own.

- Companion website to Peter Kuper's (Spy vs. Spy) graphic adaptation of Kafka's classic novella.
           A good study guide can be found at >The Metamorphosis by McGraw Hill (24 page .pdf).

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Volume One
written by ALAN MOORE
Extraordinary League is a great way to introduce students to Victorian literature. The members of "The League" include Miss Mina Murray, who appears in Bram Stoker's Dracula, while Hawley Griffin is better known as The Invisible Man of H. G. Wells. Captain Nemo commands the Nautilus in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and Mysterious Island written by Jules Verne, while Allan Quatermain, the great Victorian explorer, searches for King Solomon's Mines in Haggard's classic. Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde allows Extraordinary League to explore barely suppressed inner personalities.
           The volume itself is beautifully crafted with lots of "bonus" material reminiscent of old-time serial magazines, including a novella by Alan Moore featuring the purplish prose of the Victorian era, advertisements for products, such as Ogden's "tab" cigarettes (these days, an advertising artifact), and a paint-by-numbers portrait whose key, of course, is linked to Wilde's, Picture of Dorian Gray.

          In the classroom, students can read one of the "big five" Victorian novels and after writing a 14-line summary of an assigned chunks, get into groups and write a best sentence summary. What is a best sentence summary, you ask? Like a best ball golf tournament, each person in the group must contribute a sentence to an overall 14-line "best" summary they share with the class. At the end of the book, they combine all these summaries into a single summary of the entire work. Why? Because they have to write a compare/contrast paper comparing and contrasting two original characters with their counterparts in The League, and since they have only read one original work, they have to pay attention to the other groups' summaries.

Level Up
written by GENE LUEN YANG

         Dennis Ouyang is a video game enthusiast whose late night tournaments lead to his collegiate demise, but not to worry: four greeting-card angels soon put him back on the path. In spite of the angels’ incessant coffee brewing, Dennis soon quits medical school and takes up gaming professionally, so why isn’t he happy? He discovers happiness lies in doing good things for others. He gives up gaming and reenrolls in medical school where his video skills collide with gastroenterology in a gross yet gratifying fashion.    
          The art of Level Up is completely different from American Born Chinese or Eternal Smile. Thien Pham uses a felt pen line washed with watercolors for a childlike effect to accompany a grown up work.

          This is another story about life choices and life lessons. So often I see students committing to careers because of two things; 1) their parents told them to become a nurse or an accountant; and/or, 2) they think they will make a lot of money. However, too often students have no idea what it takes to become an accountant, let alone what the job prospects are like once they do, or what certain professionals make -- and money is a valid consideration.
           Have students write a process essay describing how they are going to accomplish their career goals from college to workplace and how much they can expect to earn (that often is the most shocking to them and not in a good way).
          Gene Luen Yang Ted Talk: Why Comics Belong in the Classroom.

Life and Times of Martha Washington in the Twenty-first Century
written by FRANK MILLER

Martha Washington is a 600-page omnibus collecting decades worth of material. Too much? Not enough, I say (I'm hoping the creators go back and fill in some of Martha's life in future serials).
          Martha is not your typical superhero -- she is born into poverty, joins the army, and then saves the world. This is a psychological tour de force, and can be used in the classroom as such, giving students a way to think beyond the text.
           Ala Campell, Martha's classic hero's journey begins in the rhetorical jungle known as the Cabrini Green projects. She is separated from her mother after joining PAX, an entity with magic-like powers that can lift anyone out of the muck. She crosses the threshold into the belly of the whale as she fights Fat Boy in the jungles of Brazil. Martha never atones with the father figure projected by the Surgeon General; she is never going to become a replica of a doctored replica, even though he literally "regrows" our hero. Martha is reborn after confronting the mechanical physician and realizing the government is behind society's problems. It isn't until Martha's death that she becomes master of two worlds when she is physically transported "home" on a lightening bolt and given the freedom to live with the creators.
          For a Freudian spin, Martha's instinctual id breaks out when needed to keep the battle-hardened soldier alive, while her ego is kept in line by a superego that holds her to the highest standards. In the end, Martha is literally a human superego who transcends into a god(dess).
          There is lots of graphic violence and a love story that will break even the hardest of hearts. Gibbons provides lots of commentary and extras to fill in the space between the panels.

Maus I, II
How does one describe the holocaust? This is a difficult question to answer when the reality is so horrific. Spiegelman portrays the single most horrific event of the 20th century using Nazi cats and Jewish mice . . . and it works. It works because it uses a new, vital medium to engage a younger generation of students and readers, a generation that must examine the sins of the past to avoid them in the future.
          In addition, Maus explores the effects of survivor's guilt as well as the guilt and anguish the children of those survivor's feel by not being able to heal their parents. It is an engaging and suspenseful story that will keep readers turning the pages. This is a complicated work contained with an easy-to-follow artistic style.

         There are a ton of ways to use Maus in the classroom (and many great websites devoted to lesson plans). One might consider using it alongside Animal Farm because of the animal portrayals and the linkage between group think and the horror that such uniformity and conformity can bring.
          Maus Vol. 1 on the web

          Check out this video - Life After Maus: An interview of Art Spiegelman

One! Hundred! Demons!
An "autobifictionalography" of a childhood that is more bitter than sweet. Barry was inspired by a Zen monk's painted demon scroll. Barry gave ink stones a try, and voila, "the demons began to come." Layered collage title pages introduce stories of lost friendship, lost loves, adolescence, mother/daughter dysfunction and head lice. The epilogue includes a lesson on painting your own demons.
          The stories offer a way of introducing narratives and narrative subjects as well as descriptive inspirations from someone who describes herself as "weird". Students will see themselves in some of the stories from strained parental relationships to first jobs.
          One! Hundred! Demons!
also offers a good way of showing students that narratives must answer the question "So what?" as Barry learns from her own life lessons.

Contemporary fanboy culture takes on Herodotus's story of ancient Sparta's suicide mission against the Persian, Xerxes. 300 is a great way to launch into ancient history or cultural studies where themes of West vs. East (especially the Middle East) can be explored--a political subject scrutinized by everyone from the western media to Middle Eastern governments.
          "That was especially the case for 300", according to the LA Times, "an Iranian government spokesman described [300] as a cultural slur of the highest order." Persians are portrayed as merciless, while Spartans are honorable and duty bound.
          Students can explore the limits of free expression and the arts. Should we bridle western pop culture in order to avoid offending other societies? Are all cultural properties "fair game" for contemporary analysis and/or parody? Should artists be allowed to depict Allah, or should they censor those portrayals like the creators of South Park did recently? How important is free expression? Is it worth dying for?
According to Miller, he was making "a deliberate propaganda piece . . . [and] when it comes to '300' I make no apologies whatsoever."


Watchmen is one of the most commonly found graphic novels in the classroom and it seems one of the things that attracts academics is its complicated literary format. It isn't just a graphic novel, its pages are rife with literary genres from fictional autobiographical "tell-alls," to scholarly essays, ornithological journal articles, corporate correspondence, personal notes and letters, newspaper articles, arrest and accompanying psychological records, interviews, marketing materials, materials that make the characters come alive.
The Watchmen's diegetic, a Nixonian 1980s created after the United States wins the Vietnam war, is a society that has finally tired of masked vigilantes and asks, "Who's watching the Watchmen?" Teachers often assign Watchmen alongside other dystopics like Orwell's 1984 or Huxley's Brave New World. Historicists teach students about Vietnam, the Cold War, and the Manhattan project, providing a grounding not only in the Watchmen's alternative society, but also our own. Cultural critics often explore family dynamics; the original Silk Spectre is a single mother in post World War II America, whose relationship with her daughter is strained, a seemingly common problem mimicked in our own living rooms, or, alternatively students can examine the connection between Rorschach and his prostitute mother.
          Click here for handout: >Questions exploring Feminism in Watchmen
           Watchmen -The Phenomenon: The Comic that Changed Comics a great documentary about why Watchmen is one of the greatest books every written.
Story Within a Story: The Books of Watchmen a great documentary about the book and the making of the movie.
There is some really fun stuff of the internet for Watchmen, such as this video a PSA called "The Keene Act and You."
        Dave Gibbons did a 12-part motion comic on Watchmen. Start with No. 1. There are 12 and they follow the comic text closely, but ignore the back matter.
          There is also a complete "Black Frieghter" (sorry, could only find one in German) motion comic - so you can watch this comic-within-a-comic all at once which is on the DVD.

If you have any suggestions for graphic novels in the college classroom please email me. I'm always looking for fresh reads.

COMICS for the College Classroom

The following list of works provides a basis for college level critical thinking and metacognitive exploration, as well as opportunities to teach some basic English skills.

Visuals can communicate complex ideas with clarity, precision, efficiency and convey the most knowledge in the shortest time in the small space . . . . Visual displays of information encourage a diversity of individual viewer styles and rates of editing, personalizing, reasoning, and understanding.
Edward R. Tufte

DON'T KNOW where to start?

Comic-Con International Graphic Novel Book Club - Here's their latest lists.


Comic Book Plus, the original site to read and download Golden and Silver Age comic books. All the content is FREE and LEGAL.

Digital Comics Museum - over 15,000 free Golden Age Comics in the public domain.

COMICs . . . In the beginning

Egyptian Hieroglyphs used for 3,500 hundred years over 5,000 years ago.

Reading Trajan's Column (107CE), celebrating Emporer Trajan's qualities and achievements in one gigantic comic strip.

The Bayeux Tapestry (1070s), recording the Battle of Hastings.

Mesoamerican codices (15th-16th century). About 20 survive today.

A Harlot's Progress (1733), engraving, by William Hogarth tells the heartbreaking story of Moll Hackabout from country innocent to lady of the night

A Rake's Progress (1735), engraving, by William Hogarth relates how Tom Rakewell inherits a fortune only to squander it.

COMIC Classics online

A Contract with God by Will Eisner (.pdf)

Batman - The Early Years (1940-42) on Scribd.

Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller (.pdf).
          There is also a really nice site analyzing many of the main features of TDKR at Reading Frank Miller's Batman.

Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story published in the mid 1950s. Good campanion to Incogegro, The March.

Maus I: A Survivor's Tale Vol 1 by Art Spiegelman (.pdf)

Maus II: And Here My Troubles Began by Art Spiegelman (.pdf)

Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud (.pdf)

Watchmen by Alan Moore and David Gibbons (.pdf)

Y The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughn and Pia Guerra. Internet Archive is a free virtual library. Need to create an account.

Drawing Guides

The 1982 DC Comics style guide - a blueprint for your favorites from DC. Things have changed a bit since then, but what a great reference.

Comics out in the Verse

Comics with Problems is one of the strangest collections on the web. Wanna strip your M16? Will Eisner can show you how.
           Lois Lane goes Afro for a day (yes, it's those wild 70s) and Spider-Man has a secret (say it ain't so).
           There is more health related wierdness than I care to discuss. I went for a minute, stayed for days.

Eaton Collection Of Science Fiction and Fantasy at UC Riverside
....plus lots of comics.

Mangakakalot - Oh, no I've fallen for another type of graphic novel. Started with Black Butler and the manga just goes on from there.

Michigan State University Comic Art Collection
"The Comic Art Collection holds over 200,000 items. Most of these items are comic books, but also included are over 1,000 books of collected newspaper comic strips, and several thousand books and periodicals about comics.
           Local students and advanced scholars from around the world find this collection to be the primary library resource for the study of U.S. comic book publications.

Pappy's Golden Age Comics Blogzine, has great articles on some obscure golden age comics including The Green Turtle.www

TEXTBOOKS teaching Comics

Drawing Words & Writing Pictures: A definitive course from concept to comic in 15 lessons
"College literature courses and textbooks are increasingly making a concerted effort to bring comics into the fold alongside contemporary works of fiction, poetry, and drama" (xiii). True enough.
          I have to admit I was attracted to the title of this work, only to discover this is not a textbook for the English classroom. With the possible exception of the chapter "Every Picture Tells a Story", this textbook is designed for the student who wants to learn to draw comics. I completely enjoyed this work because one of my fantasies is to draw a strip, even though its title would be "But I Can't Draw". A few words of caution - this text does not teach storytelling and if the story is no good, it doesn't matter how good the artist.
          But all is not lost! For instructors teaching comic creation this is an accessible textbook utilizing sidebars, lessons, and detailed instructions. There is also a companion website (www.dw-wp.com) with sample syllabi for ten and fifteen week courses. Included is a section about writing comics with some good exercises for getting the story right.

Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative: Principles and Practices from the Legendary Cartoonist

"Stories are used to teach behavior within the community, to discuss morals and values, or to satisfy curiosity. They dramatize social relations and the problems of living, convey ideas or act out fantasies. The telling of a story requires skill" (Eisner 1). I ask you how is this is different from what we try to teach in the text-only classroom?
           Graphic Storytelling
can be used to teach narrative in any medium or mode, but Eisner, being Eisner, focuses on visual narratives and in so doing sets up the reader for a roller coaster ride through text and visuals showing students (and instructors) how to create good stories.
          Topics include symbolism, modes of development (Eisner is not just talking narrative as English instructors think of narrative-telling a story or giving an account of a fictional or historic event-he also includes process and slice-of-life modes of development), audience and its role in developing the story, the writing process where "the dialogue supports the imagery" (Eisner 113), voice, and of course, visual style.

The Power of Comics: History, Form & Culture
"This is a textbook about comic books" declares Duncan and Smith (vii). And it is.
           Its comprehensive 346 pages includes detailed chapters on the history of the comic medium and fandom, genres from superheroes to classics illustrated, and more advanced sections on the ideology of comics and propaganda. There is even a chapter about researching comic books. The final chapter explores comics culture around the world. Clearly stated objections are outlined at the beginning of each chapter and extensive reading lists are tucked inside.
          While I would recommend this to anyone needing a crash course in comic books, or as a textbook devoted to a class on the comic book medium, this textbook is
fairly advanced and would not be appropriate for a remediation class utilizing graphic novels. Having said that I would recommend The Power of Comics to serious students and teachers looking for a crash course in comics.

Understanding Comics

McCloud's work is the seminal lexicon for graphic novelists and those who just want to understand comic "grammar". Like mainstream textual handbooks this is a dense work that requires careful thought and analysis, but unlike other writer's resource books, Understanding Comics is written in a comic book format.
           McCloud defines comics as "juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence, intended to convey information and/or to produce an aesthetic response in the viewer" (9) and then goes into great detail to explain comic vocabulary, icons and symbols, concepts of comic time, closure, Japanese versus western comic styles and their ramifications, movement and action, visible emotions, and the future of comics as a graphic medium.
          This is a must read for any instructor using graphic novels in the classroom.

       Here's a link to a .pdf of Understanding Comics.

COMIC Debate
Which heroes, heroines, and villains are better? Marvel or DC? Here's a debate topic that will keep students talking.

Marvel vs. DC - Start here with a look at DC vs. Marvel Villians using many of the popular superhero movies (7:40).

DC vs. Marvel: Ripped off Characters! - a good segue looking at how characters merged and emerged (9:10).

Marvel vs. DC Nemesis - runs through dozens of character match ups (6:30).

COMIC Events (SF Bay Area)

Comic-Con and Wonder-Con
Portal to all both conferences. Yeah, I know these aren't local, but WonderCon used to be.

East Bay Comic Con, Concord, California
Held in January at the Concord Hilton. This is a small comic convention with lots of local big-name talent. Cosplay and costume contest.

Free Comic Book Day
occurs every year on the first Saturday in May at a comic book store near YOU! Participating comic book shops across North America and around the world give away comic books absolutely FREE to anyone who comes into their stores.

Silicon Valley Comic Con (SVCC), San Jose, California.
Held in March at the San Jose Convention Center. Founded by Steve Wozniak and friends (including Stan Lee) are bringing the best in techology and entertainment under one roof.

COMIC Book Stores

If you really want to find out more about graphic novels, your best resource is your local comic book store. The best in California's East Bay is Flying Colors, owned by the creator of Free Comic Book Day and one of the founders of WonderCon.

COMIC Documentaries

Batman Unmasked: The Psychology of the Dark Knight - from the History Channel.

Comic Book Superheroes Unmasked
A history of superheroes in comic books, from the first appearance of Superman in the 1930s to today's morally-conflicted, violent anti-heroes (History Channel).

Confessions of Robert Crumb
BBC documentary (1987).

History of Batman
An in-depth documentary on the comic-book history of The Dark Knight narrated by some of the industry's best creators and artists!

Marvel Request Monday: Black Panther
This is one in a great series of "Marvel Comics Explained"

Reginald Hudlin on the Black Panther

Stan Lee Story 1996
Creator of iconic characters while letting us look behind the mask to show us the human being.

Watchmen - The Phenomenon that Changed Comics
History and impact of the comic series.

Watchmen Motion Comics
Here's a link to the first chapter, you can find them all. No back matter, but a fun way to look at the panels (Dave Gibbons).

Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines
An Independent Lens production featured on PBS (trailer)

TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading

Lynda Barry TED Talk - The Ink Conference. "Why Americans Are So Crazy?"

Patrick Chappatte
The Power of Cartoons as news vehicle to illuminate serious issues.

Scott McCloud TED talk
the creator of Understanding Comics talks about family, inspiration, and, of cours, comics.

Alan Moore on HARDtalk

Mark Tyler Nobelman: The Story of Batman's Secret Creator. A TED talk on Bill Finger.

Art Speigelman on Life After Maus.

Christopher Volger TED talk
writer for The Matrix movie explains Campbell's "monomyth" hero's journey found in many of yesterday's myths and today's comics.

Gene Luen Yang TED Talk - "Why Comics Belong in the Classroom."

COMICs on Television

Clips from Big Bang Theory

"New Year's Eve Cosplay"

"The Girls Arguing About Comics"

"The Girls ask Stewart for Comic recommendations - Fables or Thor"

Comic Book Men
on AMC starring everyone's favorite, Kevin Smith. Fun show even for the novice comic reader.

COMIC Novels

Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
by Michael Chabon
Two young immigrants inhabit the world of Golden Age comics as they draw and write their way through World War II. Great read that resonates through real world events. 2001 Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction.

COMIC Artists, Creators, and Authors

Dan Archer - a comics journalist who creates non-fiction, journalistic comics to offer a new perspective on U.S., foreign, and domestic policy in order to give voice to stories that wouldn’t otherwise be heard.

Peter Kuper - a graphic novelist who visualizes Franz Kafka in a beautiful and true-to-the-text way. The current writer/drawer of Mad's "Spy v Spy", Kuper's work has "a savage hand, radical heart, and humanist soul."

Frank Miller - the best of the best from Martha Washington to Batman, his heroes define the meaning of the word at a time when we could use some genuine guts.

Alan Moore at Dodgem Logic - what can I say, enter at your own risk.

Greg Rucka - the mystery writer turned comic book writer gave us works like Batwoman Elegy and Gotham Central. Great story lines.

Gene Luen Yang - an alum of CSUEB, his American Born Chinese is one of my favorites.

There is so much more to include . . . check back often.



May 2019 - Critical Survey of Graphic Novels: Independents and Underground Classics (2nd ed)
This 1000-page, three volume set by Salem Press features three of my comic essays covering Gene Luen Yang's American Born Chinese, Jason Little's Shutterbug Follies, and David B.'s Epileptic.

Sept 2018 - Critical Survey of Graphic Novels: Heroes and Superheroes (2nd 3d) featuring two essays, one on Light Brigade by Peter Tomasi and Peter Snejbjerg and another on Frank Miller's The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the 21st Century (a personal favorite).

May 2012 - Interdisciplinary Humanities
Classroom Comics: Children's Medium and the New Literacy explores the rhetorical uses of visual texts in the college classroom. Available at EBSCO hosted databases.

Beyond the Pages: Comics Journalism Takes on Education Reform

Mick Gray: A Super Dad on Superman

* * * *

COMICS journalism, GRAPHIC Essays for the College Classroom

Bonus Feature
Yang's Bonus Feature looks at how the MacArthur Grant winner composes graphic novels. If you'd like to give creating a comic a try, check this out.

Bums appeared in Reason Magazine in April 2007. I use this as an introduction to graphic texts because it is a serious subject treated in what students believe is a "comic" way.
           Students can answer reading comprehension questions, such as, "What is the life expectancy of a chronically homeless person?" And since the thesis is implied, I have students write out the main idea and then share their answers before determining the complete thesis as a whole class.

Peter Bagge home page - lots of graphic essays.

Compulsory Reading
Entertainment Weekly (I think) featured this narrative essay about a young woman being force-fed "literature" by her English teacher father. It details the subsequent guilt she feels for the book list she hopes to read and explores how one woman evolved a reading list of her own.
           Students can examine the reading lists they had as children, what their parents/school thought they should read, and what they'd like to read in the future -- hopefully, there's some graphic novels included. Students can also examine how people resist being force-fed material and how that effects our decision making processes.

>Compulsory Reading questions for study and discussion .pdf
>2014 Interview with Alison Bechdel

The Disaster Capitalism Curriculum: The High Price of Education Reform (Episode 1)
What better way to capture the Bizarro world of education reform than with a serious work of journalism, disguised as a comic? This three-part series is not intended to be funny, but rather, to pull back the progressive propaganda disguising the neoliberal, corporate nature of education reform.

          >Click here for an interactive comics journalistic experience on education reform.

Lighten Up
A cartoonist reflects on the subtle racism of shifting skin tones in a Marvel comic.

Obedience is the Best Weapon

...and you thought human trafficking couldn't happen here. Story about human slavery in the SF Bay Area from SF Public Press.
           'Comic Journalist', Dan Archer, talks about what it means to blend art and journalism to raise awareness of human rights issues in Nepal and elsewhere.

The Rule by Alison Bechdel
A quick way to spot gender inequality in movies (or any other form on entertainment media.

A Short History of America
This classic first appeared in Co-Evolutionary Quarterly in 1979 with an epilogue added a year later.
          Students can identify cause-and-effect elements as well as making predictions about the future. This is a way to begin a discussion about what is going on in the urban centers where many students live, or having them think about how neighborhoods change.

>A Short History questions for study and writing.pdf

The Woman who Put Men on the Moon
This comic comes by way of Futurism.com and describes the accomplishments of Margaret Hamilton, one of the world's first software engineers and a got a job as a programmer on the Apollo moon mission.
     Today she runs her own software company. Her motto "Don't let fear get in the way!"

COMIC Material for the College Classroom

The History of Visual Communication
is a beautifully designed website that explores the human need to visualize texts from cave paintings and illustrated pages to 3-D science data modeling and gaming interfaces.

Visual Rhetoric/Visual Literacy: Writing About Comics and Graphic Novels
Duke Writing Studio produced this handout and it is a great introduction to "reading" visual essays, graphic novels, and comic books. It gives students a vocabulary from which to base writings as they critically approach graphic narratives (4 page .pdf).


The latest political cartoons, updated hourly. You can also subscribe to a free daily newsletter.

The Nib
Political Cartoons, Comics Journalism, humor and non-fiction. Words plus pictures.

COMIC Associations, Journals, Websites & Blogs

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
A 501(c)(3) organization devoted to protecting the free speech rights of comic book artist, authors, creators, and other members of the comic community

The Comics Grid
A collaborative, peer-edited online academic journal dedicated to comics scholarship. Its purpose is to make original contributions to the field of comics scholarship and to advance the appreciation of comic art within academia and the general cultural mediascape.

Comics and Graphic Narratives - MLA Discussion Group
The group seeks to build on the growing interest in comics studies within the academy, an interest attested to by rapidly increasing opportunities for book and journal publication, the proliferation of conferences in the field, and the expanding professional conversation about the teaching of graphic narratives.

The Comics Journal
Blogs, essays, interviews, and reviews of graphic novels, comics, and the industry.
          You won't find any "pompous,
jargon-laden literary theory in an essay about V for Vendetta" because the editorial staff rejected it "with howls of derisive laughter."

The Comics Reporter
Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary includes a comprehensive list of comics-related events.

The Hero Complex
for your Inner Fanboy

Produced by the LA Times, this blogsite will keep you up-to-date on contemporary comics, webseries, cartoons, interviews, and related entertainment.

Journal of American Culture
"Multidisciplinary in focus, The Journal of American Culture combines studies of American literature, history, and the arts, with studies of the popular, the taken-for-granted, and the ordinary pieces of American life, to produce analyses of American culture with a breadth and holism lacking in traditional American studies."

Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics
"The Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics is a peer reviewed journal covering all aspects of the graphic novel, comic strip and comic book, with the emphasis on comics in their cultural, institutional and creative contexts.
           Its scope is international, covering not only English language comics but also worldwide comic culture. The journal reflects interdisciplinary research in comics and aims to establish a dialogue between academics, historians, theoreticians and practitioners of comics. It therefore examines comics production and consumption within the contexts of culture: art, cinema, television and new media technologies."

Journal of Popular Culture
Peer reviewed, scholarly journal that explores all of popular culture, comics and graphic novels included. "The popular culture movement was founded on the principle that the perspectives and experiences of common folk offer compelling insights into the social world.
           The Journal of Popular Culture continues to break down the barriers between so-called "low" and "high" culture and focuses on filling in the gaps that a neglect of popular culture has left in our understanding of the workings of society."

The National Association of Comics Art Educators
"In the last several years the comics art form has flourished, generating much interest from the literary, art and educational communities. The number of schools teaching comics is growing quickly and this site is a resource for individuals and institutions interested in teaching visual storytelling."
          There are some really great reading lists, handouts, and sample syllabi at this site.

Ohio State University Cartoon Library and Museum
with links to its annual conference, collections, and publication series on comics and cartoons.

Comic and pop culture analysis. Some good essays here.

Studies in Comics
Studies in Comics aims to describe the nature of comics, to identify the medium as a distinct art form, and to address the medium’s formal properties. The emerging field of comics studies is a model for interdisciplinary research and in this spirit this journal welcomes all approaches.

Women in Refrigerators
The creator of this website, Gail Simone, started WIR when it "occurred to [her]that it's not that healthy to be a female character in comics . . . These are superheroines who have been either depowered, raped, or cut up and stuck in the refrigerator."

COMIC Schools/Museums

Cartoon Art Museum of San Francisco
The Cartoon Art Museum’s key function is to preserve, document, and exhibit this unique and accessible art form. Through traveling exhibitions and other exhibit-related activities — such as artists-in-residence, lectures, and outreach — the museum has taken cartoon art and used it to communicate cultural diversity in the community, as well as the importance of self-expression.

The Center for Cartoon Studies
offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in the language of comics. "Cartoonists are visual linguists who use (and add to) a pictorial vocabulary" where "simple abstract marks and shapes trigger memory and imagination." Great website including a blog, events, student work (this isn't amateur hour), summer workshops, and
"The Language of Comics".

Stanford Graphic Novel Project
Part of the Stanford Creative Writing Program, the graphic novel project lets students collaborate to make graphic novels for social change – and in the process learn storytelling, illustration and teamwork. The only school where you can get a degree in comics journalism.

If you have comic related posts you'd like included on this list, please contact me (dore.ripley@gmail.com).

COMIC Videos

Lectures from the Rise of Superheroes and Their Impact on Popular Culture by Stan Lee and Dr. Michael Uslan (Smithsonian EdX)

These videos have been made private - I'm trying to figure out how to gain access to them again.

Superheroes and Mythology

America in the 1920s &1930s

Early Influences on Comic Books and Superheroes

The Birth of the Superhero

The People Behind the Golden Age

Stan Lee: The Beginning

Patriotic Superheroes

The New Genres

The McCarthy Era

The Seduction of the Innocent

American Society in the 1960s

DC Comics and the Silver Age

Stan Lee and Marvel in the Silver Age

Batman & New Publishers of the Silver Age

The Bronze Age and the Genre of Relevancy

Panel: Storytelling in the Modern Age

Panel: Publishing in the Modern Age

Panel: Writing in the Modern Age