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Week 1: Introduction
Thursday, Jan. 22
Academic Reading:

  • None

Assignments Due:

  • Watch the TED talk, “A Darwinian Theory of Beauty” by Denis Dutton (15:33 minutes)
  • Create a BitStrip account and create your avatar.

Week 2: Early Sequential Art
Jan. 27 & 29
Academic Reading:

  • Chapter One in Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud 
  • “A Thousand Years of Manga” in Manga! Manga!: The World of Japanese Comics by Frederik L. Schodt 
  • Chapter One in Drawing WordsBuilding Blocks, APPENDIX B

Graphic Novels & Comics:

  • Mangaman, by Barry Lyga & Colleen Doran
  • Akira, Antique Bakery, DragonBall, Initial D, or One Piece

Thursday Art Lab: The Expressive Line, Sketchbooks and pencils, working with apps, EMOJI
Assignments Due:

  • Tuesday: Critique Bitstrips created last week

Week 3: The Rise of the Comic Book
Feb. 3 & 5
Academic Reading:

  • Drawing Words and Writing Pictures: Chapter 2, Every Picture Tells a Story
  • The Superhero Reader: “Comics Predecessors” 

Graphic Novels & Comics:

  • (Optional) Download a digital copy of the original 1939 Action Comics #1, featuring Superman, and/or the original 1940 Batman #1, for $0.99 each (see Blackboard for links)
  • Tintin in Tibet by Hergé

Thursday Art Lab: Drawing Time (page 11)
Assignments Due:

  • Tuesday: Critique Crit Drawing in Action, Page 12
  • Thursday: Portfolio review.

Week 4: The Evolution of the Comic Book
Feb. 10 & 12
Academic Reading:

  • Drawing Words and Writing Pictures: Chapter 3: The Strip Club (Storytelling)

Optional Reading:

  • From Krakow to Krypton: Jews and Comic Books: Comics History Timeline 

Graphic Novels & Comics:

  • Epileptic by David B. (originally L’Ascension du haut mal)
  • The Incal by Moebius & Jodorowsky.
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum by Grant Morrison & Dave McKean or The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch by Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean
  • The Bulletproof Coffin Disinterred, Crack Dog, Henry & Glenn Forever & Ever, Lou Number 15, Teen Creeps

Thursday Art Lab: The Wrong Planet (Page 31), Thumbnails
Assignments Due:

  • Tuesday: Critique “Gag Reflex”
  • Thursday: Quiz 1 (beginning of class)

Week 5: Comic Book Storytelling
Feb. 17 & 19
Academic Reading:

  • Drawing Words and Writing Pictures: Chapter 4: Bridging the Gap (Storytelling)

Graphic Novels & Comics:

  • The Eyes of the Cat by Moebius & Jodorowsky.

Thursday Art Lab: Moving the Story Along, Closure Comics
Assignments Due:

  • Tuesday: Critique “Strip It Down”
  • Thursday: Portfolio review.


Week 6: Superheroes
Feb. 24 & 26
Academic Reading:

  • Drawing Words and Writing Pictures: Chapter 5: Penciling & Chapter 8: Inking
  • The Superhero Reader: “Masked Heroes” 
  • The Superhero Reader: “Death-Defying Heroes” 

Optional Reading:

  • The Anatomy of Criticism by Northrup Frye: First section, “Fictional Modes: Introduction.” Pay attention to the five types of hero that Frye describes. Which comic-book heroes fall into which of these five typologies? If you plan to write a hero-based comic for class, which type of hero is your protagonist?

Graphic Novels & Comics:

  • Watchmen by Alan Moore and/or The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller
  • Kingdom Come by Mark Ward & Alex Ross
  • Any superhero comics; go to a comic book shop and buy some, or purchase a few digital comics. Try to go mainstream; don’t look for the artsy stuff!

Thursday Art Lab: Figuring Out the Figure
Assignments Due:

  • Tuesday: Critique “Closure Comics”

Week 7: Beyond Superheroes
March 3 & 5
Academic Reading:

  • Drawing Words and Writing Pictures: Chapter 6: Getting on the Same Page

Graphic Novels & Comics:

  • Palestine by Joe Sacco — Read “Brother for a Day” (pp. 72-76) and anything else in the book that catches your attention.
  • Any or all of Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.
  • Any or all of Blacksad by Juan Díaz Canales & Juanjo Guarnido
  • Any or all of Daytripper by Fábio Moon & Gabriel Bá
  • The Fantastic Voyage of Lady Rozenbilt, by Pierre Gabus & Romuald Reutimann
  • Corto Maltese: The Ballad of the Salt Sea and/or Under the Sign of Capricorn by Hugo Pratt

Thursday Art Lab: Layout Your Live Area
Assignments Due:

  • Tuesday: Small-group critiques of storylines and thumbnails, Figures
  • Thursday: Quiz 2 (beginning of class) & portfolio review, incorporate critique comments into your scripts and thumbnails

Week 8: Comic Book Storytelling II
March 10 & 12
Academic Reading:

  • Drawing Words and Writing Pictures: Chapter 9: Structuring the Story (Storytelling)

Graphic Novels & Comics:
Optional Readings:
Assignments Due:

  • Tuesday: Critique Thumbnails of stories
  • Thursday: Analyze This, TV Writer (pages 132-135)

Week 9: Moral Panic
March 17 & 19
Academic Reading:

  • Drawing Words and Writing Pictures: Chapter 10: Getting into Character (Storytelling)
  • Seduction of the Innocent by Frederic Wertham: Chapter 6: Design for Delinquency & Chapter 7: I Want to be a Sex Maniac
  • Adult Manga: Culture and Power in Contemporary Japanese Society: Chapter 4: Amateur Manga Subculture and the Otaku Panic

Graphic Novels & Comics:

  • Batman: The Killing Joke, by Alan Moore & Brian Bolland

Thursday Art Lab: Page layouts, Strip Design app, Thumbnail 6-page story arc

Assignments Due:

  • Tuesday: Critique 6-page story arcs
  • Thursday: Portfolio review

Week 10: Propaganda and Activism
March 24 & 26
Academic Reading:

  • Drawing Words and Writing Pictures: Chapter 11: Setting the Stage (Storytelling)

Graphic Novels & Comics:

  • Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology — Read “Section One: War and Remembrance” (pp. 24-36).
  • Black Hole by Charles Burns — “Racing Towards Something” (about the third chapter in this number-free book).
  • V for Vendetta by Alan Moore
  • Maus I by Art Spiegelman

Thursday Art Lab: Perspective
Assignments Due:

  • Tuesday: Critique “Character Pinups”
  • Thursday:  Quiz 3 (beginning of class)

SPRING BREAK — March 30-April 6 — Work on your final project!


Week 11 Race
April 7 & 9
Academic Reading:

  • Drawing Words and Writing Pictures: Chapter 12: Constructing a World (Storytelling)
  • Superblack: American Pop Culture and Black Superheroes: Chapter 2: Birth of the Cool

Optional Readings:

  • Redrawing the Nation: National Identity in Latin/o American Comics : Chapter 13, The Bros. Hernandez: A Latin Presence in Alternative U.S. Comics
  • Comicology: Comic books as culture in India, by Ritu G. Khanduri. Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, 1(2), 171-191.

Graphic Novels & Comics:

  • Hardware or Static Shock by Dwayne McDuffie
  • The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang & Sonny Liew
  • Maggie The Mechanic by Jaime Hernandez — “Locas Starring Hopey” & “Locas” (pp. 148-157)
  • Black Panther: The Man Without Fear! by Davis Liss.
  • Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology
  • The Roach

Thursday Art Lab: Heads in Your Hands

  • Tuesday: Critique Revise and Produce (page 166)
  • Thursday: Portfolio review

Week 12: Gender
April 14 & 16
Academic Reading:

  • Drawing Words and Writing Pictures: Chapter 13: Black Gold
  • The ‘Broke Back Test’: A quantitative and qualitative analysis of portrayals of women in mainstream superhero comics, 1993-2013, by Carolyn Cocca, Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, 5(4), 411-428.

Optional Reading:

  • The Superhero Reader: “The Great Women Superheroes”

Graphic Novels & Comics:

  • Womanthology: Heroic — Read any or all of these female-authored, female-illustrated stories about girls and women in heroic contexts.
  • Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi
  • The Tale of One Bad Rat by Bryan Talbot
  • Palestine by Joe Sacco — “Hijab” (pp. 137-140)
  • Girl Genius by Phil & Kaja Foglio — Any or all.
  • Divas, Dames & Daredevils  Read a few of these comic strip reprints

Thursday Art Lab: World building with Perspective
Assignments Due:

  • Tuesday: Show and tell some of your finished panels for feedback

Week 13: Sexual Orientation & Sex
April 21 & 23
Academic Reading:

  • Drawing Words and Writing Pictures: Chapter 7: Lettering & Chapter 8: Inking
  • The Superhero Reader: “Batman, Deviance, and Camp”

Optional Reading:

  • “’Nice cape, super faggot!’: Male adolescent identity crises in young adult graphic novels, by Mark Malaby & Melissa Esh, Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, 3(1), 39-53.

Graphic Novels & Comics:

  • Blue Pills: A Positive Love Story by Frederik Peeters — Segment (pp. 100-149).
  • Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel — Chapter 4: In The Shadow of a Young Girl’s Flower (pp. 89-120).
  •  The Killer Condom and/or Down to the Bone by Ralf König. Warning: Sexually explicit and violent.
  •  Artifice by Alex Woolfson & Winona Nelson.

Thursday Art Lab: Working like mad on 6-page comic. Integrating perspective backgrounds.
Assignments Due:

  • Tuesday: Critique Page 209
  • Thursday: Quiz 4 (beginning of class) & portfolio review


Week 14: Fan Culture
April 28 & 30
Academic Reading:

  • Drawing Words and Writing Pictures: Chapter 14: Comics in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, & Chapter 15: The 24-Hour Comic
  • Unpopular Culture: Transforming the European Comic Book in the 1900s: Chapter 4, “From Global to Local and Back Again”

Thursday Art Lab: Work Day-Posting to the Web

Week 15: Assimilation of Movies & TV
May 5 & 7
Academic Reading:

  • Work!

Optional Readings:

  • “Captain America in the news: Changing mediascapes and the appropriation of a superhero” by Jason Dittmer, Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, 3(2), 143-157.

Graphic Novels & Comics:

  • None, but you might want to watch a comic- or manga-inspired TV show or film this week, just to get into the mood!

Assignments Due:

  • Thursday: Portfolio Due — be sure to photocopy anything you’ll need to complete your final project for turn-in on Finals Day
  • Thursday: Students assigned to this day will provide a 10-minute presentation of their final project (teams must give 15-minute presentations).


Week 16: Final
THURSDAY, MAY 14, 10:30 am – 12:30 pm

  • Quiz 5 (The Final Exam)
  • Final Project Due — Posted into ComicComm
  • Finish 10-minute final-project presentations