Saturday, March 14, 2009

Comics on Campus

Interesting artist about the academic study of comics here.

3 comments:

Ben Villarreal said...

Great find, Andy! I'm interested in when and where Dr. Loman first applied. Things definitely seem to be changing and fairly quickly too. I took a graphic novel course as an undergrad almost 5 years ago by a professor who'd been teaching graphic novel classes for nearly 13 years at the time. Granted, that was a big city university. But even the small town school I graduated from and teach at continues to offer my Freshman Comp. II class on comics.

Dr. Beaty does have a good point though; the medium is stagnating. And while I agree to a certain extent that the cause is other studies grabbing up comics like Maus and Persepolis as exceptions worthy of their fields, I think some blame needs to put onto creators.

1986 brought the medium Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns, and Maus. And in twenty-three years, creators have yet to really match those works. Yes, Persepolis is good, but as an autobiography, it doesn't really stand up to Maus.

Similarly, I just reviewed X-Men: Magneto Testament, comparing it to Maus, and wondering why the creators sold a potentially great comic short.

Andrew Wales said...

I can identify with the pressure to distance oneself from the medium in order to be artistic or scholarly. What you found offered was rare for it's time. I think everyone wants to teach using the same comics examples.

Do you really believe the medium is stagnating? I have been saying that the medium is in a state of Renaissance. There have never been more comics of so many different types being made. I say that from the perspective of someone looking for good things to offer kids. Nothing beats Maus and Persepolis as a work of Art and Literature with a capial A and L. I actually prefer Persepolis though.

I would agree that mainstream comics is stagnating. I think the best work is being done outside the Big Two by independents.

Ben Villarreal said...

I would definitely agree with your main point. Eeven my heroes Miller, and *gasp* Mignola are starting to seem "old hat." But the majority of the Big Two creators have been "old hat" for a long time. They are the creators I blame.

However, I think it's stagnating not in that nothing good is being produced, but that not enough of it is getting out there. And the rare examples (Maus, Persepolis, and even The Dark Knight Returns) get "stolen" as examples of other genres! Maus gets lumped in with Jewish literature; Persepolis becomes ingrained in women's studies; The Dark Knight is being taught for the first time at my university as literature of Popular Culture. But rarely are any of them studied as comics.

Dr. Loman didn't get that job because he said he wanted to teach comics. Had he said he wanted to teach any of those other genres, and they'd hired him, then he probably would have gotten away with tossing in some of those comics.

Okay, I think I'm ranting now :-) I admit it, I was a little upset I wasn't the first to teach The Dark Knight Returns, especially when the professor who did so was convinced it would be a good book to teach by my Master's Thesis :-/

I think my main point is that what "great" work the medium does produce is still seen as the exceptions. If there were more of it, they'd be seen as the rule.