For the second time, I am teaching a rhetoric and comics class. It’s officially titled “Rhetoric and the Graphic Novel” to lend some gravitas to our Important Scholarly Work.
It’s not really my area. I got the visual rhetoric theory, which I also bring to bear on my work with scripted sports’ plays and how athletes make sense of the kaleidoscope of images swirling in a play. My first publication, a Composition Forum piece, made work of some of this theory and so do portions of my forthcoming book–The Embodied Playbook: Writing Practices of Student-Athletes.
But comics? Never published here. But I do read a lot of em.
I got into comics as a grad student when I made my way into Atomik Pop on Main Street one day. I’m not sure what pulled me into that space; I don’t know what I was looking for. But I had a great talk with the dude behind the counter (it’s always a dude behind the counter at our LCS). I think I walked out with an issue of Daredevil, a series I purchased consistently for 15 months or so.
I’m now full-on with DC. I reread Geoff Johns’s wonderful Infinite Crisis over the past two days.
No Marvel for me, please.
But the texts that stay with me the most are the graphic novels, not the serialized paperbacks or the one-shots.
Alan Moore’s From Hell–possibly the most unsettling text I’ve read; and I’ve read Stephen King entire oeuvre.
Jeff Lemire’s Essex County–I teared up when the hockey team tapped their sticks to the ground in a sign of respect.
Grant Morrison’s We3–another one that caused my tear ducts to get to work.
Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan–one I keep finding new areas of exploration in the narrative.
Craig Thompson’s Blankets–evidence that all graphic novels don’t need to be negative, dark, weighty, angsty.
I’ve brought my love of the narratives, the images, the lines, the lettering, the inking to my class this summer. Below is what we are doing–my full syllabus.