Artists and Graphic Novels

British Literature

April 18th, 2008

Themes: , ,

Oh goody.  We’re moving to graphic novels.

Your homework for this weekend is to travel to your favorite local book purveyor (or Amazon, if you’re willing to order right now and have it overnighted) and browse the graphic novel shelf.  Find a book that interests you, purchase it, and bring it to class on Tuesday.

“But wait,” you say, “I don’t like superheroes and I’ve never even touched a graphic novel.  Heck, I don’t even know where to start.”  Tilting my head in consolation, I respond: “Aww, shucks.  I’ll help you.”  Offering a nick to the chin, we begin our journey:

Graphic Novels 101: A story in which your kindly teacher leads you through the illustrated world of the graphic novel, ending in your personal discovery that the most often looked down upon medium actually contains stories worth reading.  And studying.

First lesson, a list.  These are the cream of the crop.  The first three are autobiographical (though Jimmy Corrigan is only partly so); Sandman is masterfully written fantasy; Cerebus is part fantasy, part social satire (think Gulliver’s Travels with an aardvark); the final two are modern superhero tales.

Now, go out and consume.  Remember, this list is merely a starting point; find a work that piques your interest, not one that you think I want you to read.  Remember, remember, graphic novels are occasionally violent and may contain images that are inappropriate for high school.  You should get parental approval before purchasing anything not on the above list. Also, remember, remember, the fifth of November, the gunpowder treason and plot…

[Note: I realize that I am completely ignorant of authors, titles, movements, styles, etc. in the manga genre.  Please forgive this, and know I will accept any guidance you can offer in this realm.  I also realize that the Graphic Novels 101 subtitle contains an overly long sentence followed by a fragment.  Do as I say, not as I do.]

Literary Devices in Graphic Novels

British Literature

January 9th, 2008


Today in class we continued yesterday’s discussion of tone in a few examples from Thompson, Ware, Miller, and Eisner, then moved to Imagery in graphic works.

If you were absent today, please see me tomorrow so I can catch you up, as we completed an assignment worth 20 points in class.

Homework: 1st hour, read chapter 15 of Dracula

2nd hour, read chapters 17-Book II Ch 1 of War of the Worlds

Tone in Visual Media

British Literature

January 8th, 2008


Today we went over a few terms specific to graphic works with this handout, which I found on (cite your sources…):

image (Click the image to expand.)  The most important terms in this handout are those surrounding the sample panel, but dropping "recto" or "verso" into conversation is always good for a strange look.

Then, we went through a super-neat slide show of graphics and images, discussing the tone and diction of each.  If you were absent, I can email the images to you.  We looked at examples of Chris Ware’s bleak and often depressing style, noting the simple lines and use of subdued color.  In a frame from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, we noticed the use of irony in the frame’s idyllic tone and imagery. From many frames from Craig Thompson’s Blankets we noted the dark, oppressive, shameful, and sometimes fearful tone of the images depicting a boy’s movement from childhood to adolescence.

Tomorrow we will continue using McCloud’s "five choices" in our analyses.  We will look at the imagery and literary devices employed in a few passages from graphic novels, and discuss the symbols and archetypes in superhero comics.

If any of you have a "Quick Start Guide" that came with an electronic device (one depicting the installation of the device in pictures), bring it to class.  We will be discussing Frame and Flow next week, and the guides are good illustrations of these.

Homework: 1st hour, read chapter 14 of Dracula

                 2nd and 3rd hours, read chapters 15-16 of War of the Worlds

Graphics in Literature or, Comic Books in School (better.)

British Literature

January 7th, 2008


This week we will begin a section on graphic analysis.  Basically, this means that we will be looking at works (mostly outstanding graphic novels, some shorter comics and comix, some advertisements, and possibly a short video) as we do with literature—think T-DIDLS but with Sandman or Jimmy Corrigan

So, we began today with an overview of "why we are doing this."  Always my favorite way to begin, as it ensures that our vital time isn’t wasted.  My reasoning is this (please feel free to add another reason in the comments section):


We then discussed Scott McCloud’s terminology for understanding comics (found in his aptly titled work, Understanding Comics), and discussed how these terms can be applied to anything visual.  (What’s the tone of your MySpace or Facebook page?  How do you know?)  Here are his terms alongside our own:

Moment Diction
Image Imagery
Frame Detail
Word Language
Flow Syntax

Your homework for tonight:

1st hour: Read chapter 13 of Dracula

3rd and 4th hour: Read chapters 13 and 14 of War of the Worlds