Which graphic novels would you teach in a visual rhetoric course?

>> Monday, February 15, 2010

The plan for the book I'm co-authoring is to have three or four substantial chapters focusing on 1) rhetoric generally, 2) the history of the medium, 3) the mechanics of comics, and 4) the rhetoric of comics, followed by ten chapters devoted to particular novels that instructors compel their students to purchase. The problem, as you can probably guess, is deciding which ten books should we subject to sustained close-reading. We're going to be leaning hard on McCloud's Understanding Comics throughout, but as for the ten other books, the list we've compiled so far includes:

The idea is to provide a wide variety of central texts to teach—as well as a template for doing so—which is why we have American comics, European comics, and manga; autobiographical works and books decked in tights; novels with readily available film adaptations (300, Watchmen, Persepolis) or companions (Miyazaki's NausicaƤ and his animated features like Howl's Moving Castle or Spirited Away); etc. In short, our concern is not to represent the best-and-brightest the medium has to offer, but to offer a selection of novels that will be useful to the greatest number of potential teachers.

For example, this list lacks an overtly political book like Joe Sacco's Palestine; Gaiman is absent, as the narrative complexity of the Sandman trades would force him to be represented by a minor work like Black Orchid; Batman is nowhere to found, as we already have a Miller and a Moore, so The Killing Joke and The Dark Knight Returns are out, which means the Nolan films have no natural pair; etc.

In an ideal world, what other works would you like to see us cover?


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