Thursday, August 11, 2011

McCloud & Morrison

I haven't heard back on whether the class title has been approved, but class starts on Tuesday, so I'm operating under the assumption that comics class is indeed go.

I also haven't heard when I'll be getting textbooks. I've ordered a few copies of Understanding Comics so I'll have some on hand when we start the year. Students can share them as needed.

You may recall that I emailed some comic book publishers to see if any of them were interested in donating books to the class. Since the initial "no" and "maybe," I haven't heard back from any of them.

So all that is still up in the air, which could be very frustrating, but I am trying to be positive. I'm about to start teaching the class of my dreams, right? How many people get to live out their dreams? If I had to guess I'd say not very many.

Recently I've been reading Grant Morrison's Supergods and rereading Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics. Scott McCloud reminds us that comics is a medium, not a genre, and we should not make any assumptions about content. That's an important point that people often overlook. There’s so much more to comics than super-heroes--comics come in every genre, including humor, crime, science fiction, romance, autobiography, and non-fiction--that it would be wrong to focus too much on super-heroes.

Which is a shame, because Supergods makes me want to teach the history of super-hero comics. Grant Morrison is my favorite comic book writer and a nonfiction book about super-heroes from him is like a candy-coated treasure trove of riches.

Here's what is, in effect, his mission statement from the Introduction:

"They're about as far from social realism as you can get, but the best superhero stories deal directly with mythic elements of human experience that we can all relate to, in ways that are imaginative, profound, funny, and provacative. They exist to solve problems of all kinds and can always be counted on to find a way to save the day. At their best, they help us to confront and resolve even the deepest existential crises. We should listen to what they have to tell us."

I would say, yes, superhero comics have helped me resolve deep existential crises. Is that weird? Maybe, but it's probably more common than you would think.


  1. Hey Leighton!

    Shoot me your address please, so I can get a couple of text-books for you.

  2. Or, you could set up a wish list on Amazon that we can direct peoples to.

  3. You are too kind.

    I am setting up an Amazon wishlist; that's a great idea.