What this course is going to offer is the building blocks of the graphic novel—what they are, what they mean, and where they come from. We’ll also delve into the history of the comic book medium itself (yes, comics are a medium, not a genre) and trace the path that led from the early years of the golden age to the superhero-dominated era of the silver age, and how different methods of storytelling grew from there.
To facilitate this experience, we’ll read a wide variety of works, chosen to demonstrate the wide range of styles, genres, and themes the medium explores. There are some seminal titles—like Alan Moore’s Watchmen and Will Eisner’s Contract with God—alongside some more contemporary works—such as Joe Kelly’s I Kill Giants. Students will also read Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics, a perfect text to help understanding how comics function, the nuts and bolts of how words and images work on a page. *
The course is designed for anyone interested in comics and graphic novels but doesn’t know where or how to dive in. I’ve been a comic book reader since, well, as far back as I can remember. So as a longtime fan—and now creator—I hope to show how this medium works and unlock its mysteries: What makes Watchmen so important? How does Peter Parker see out of that Spider-Man mask?
*I also recommend picking up Douglas Wolk’s Understanding Comics (a more critical text) as well as Chris Ryall and Scott Tiption’s Comic Books 101 (a comprehensive look at the entire industry and history).