The Graphic Novel
Winter 2015 and Spring 2015 quarters
In the past decade in particular, graphic novels have become recognized as an important form of storytelling, shaping contemporary culture even as they are shaped by it. These book-length, comic-art narratives and compilations employ a complex and iconic visual language. Combining and expanding on elements associated with literature, 2-D visual art, and cinema, the medium offers unique opportunities for reader immersion, emotional involvement, and even imaginative co-creation.
In “The Graphic Novel,” we will study sequential narratives that represent diverse periods, perspectives, styles, and subject matter--from the “high art” woodcut novels of the 1930s (e.g., Lynd Ward’s Gods’ Man ), to contemporary memoirs such as Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, to the bizarre but compelling alternate universe of Jim Woodring’s Frank . While many of our works include humor, they frequently center on serious topics, including war, religious oppression, social and economic inequality, and dilemmas of ethnic and sexual identity.
We will carefully examine each text at multiple levels of composition, from single frames to the work as a whole, and read selected theory, criticism, and commentary, including Scott McCloud’s seminal Understanding Comics and Matt Madden’s ingenious 99 Ways of Telling a Story . As writers, students will develop and articulate their new understandings by means of response papers, visual analyses, bibliographic summaries, and other activities as assigned.
Each quarter our studies will conclude with final projects focused on particular artists, works, and themes, or on the creation of original graphic narratives. Finally, while this is not a studio art course, we will experiment with drawing throughout the program as a way to develop an artist’s-eye view of comic art. Our overall goal is to develop an informed and critical perspective on this powerful medium.
Fields of Study
Preparatory for studies or careers in
Location and Schedule
Offered during: Evening
Advertised schedule: 5:30-9:30p Tue/Thu. Event Outside Regular Schedule: Attendance at the Olympia Comics Festival in early June. First Winter quarter meeting will be Tuesday January 6, 5:30pm, in Sem 2 B2107.