TWU Libraries is hosting a FREE COMIC BOOK DAY talk on the power of comics, inviting yours truly to offer some thoughts. Since a lot of educators often find themselves justifying using comics in the classroom, I figured I’d overview some of the educational research and teaching resources that have emerged to provide “5 Super-Powerful Reasons You Should Be Teaching With Comics!!”

LONG GONE ARE THE DAYS when comics and comic books were dismissed as “just for kids” or even, at worst, a crutch for the uneducated and illiterate. Still, a few administrators and policy-makers cling to such outdated myths, despite growing evidence to the contrary. Although Shakespeare is now considered part of our classical literary canon, his plays were once considered the ‘trash pop culture’ of his day, so maybe comics are in good company. Today, an increasing number of K-12 classrooms and even college courses internationally are utilizing the power of graphic narratives to engage their students, while educational research over the past two decades has begun to confirm the numerous benefits of using comics in the classroom!! According to the best research on student learning and studies of innovative educational programming, here are the top 5 justifications for bringing comics into your K-12 or college classrooms!  Read More…

Posted by: Doc Comics | February 10, 2015

2015 UNT Comics Studies Conference!


[UPDATE: Cancelled due to Denton’s Sleetpocalypse 2015… Rescheduling soon!!]  Coming to the University of North Texas on February 28, 2015 is the UNT Comics Studies Conference!! This one-day con will be held in the Business Leadership Building (BLB room 170) from 9:30am-5:00pm, and headlines student scholarship, academic research & inquiry, as well as interaction with comics professionals and industry pros!

This year’s keynote speaker is Dr. Matthew Brown, Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Director of UT Dallas’ Center for Values in Medicine, Science, and Technology. Professor Brown teaches a variety of courses in philosophy, history of ideas, emerging media and communication, and cognitive science. His 2015 Comics Advocate Award lecture is on “The Scientific, Feminist, and Queer Origins of Wonder Woman.”


This year’s ProTalk Spotlight includes a roundtable discussion featuring Sonny Strait, voice actor for FUNimation Studios but also an accomplished comics creator in his own right (We Shadows). Make plans to join us in Denton TX for an amazing day!!


Comics Studies, notes a recent article in The Guardian, is quickly achieving mainstream academic legitimacy:

“Comics have achieved a hard-fought-for degree of critical respectability since the ‘graphic novel’ boom of the mid-1980s. Award-winning and innovative works such as Maus, Fun Home and Palestine have been recognised as accomplished works of art and literature. Over recent years they have crept into university reading lists worldwide, and across a range of disciplines, from literature courses to history and media studies.”

Read More…

Posted by: Doc Comics | January 29, 2014

UNT Comics Studies Conference 2014

March 1, 2014 at UNT

Saturday March 1, 2014 at UNT in Denton TX from 10am-6pm!

SUPERSCHOLARS ASSEMBLE!! It’s that time of year once again for UNT’s Comics Studies Conference!

The University of North Texas Center for Interdisciplinarity invites paper submissions to the 2014 UNT Comics Studies Conference to be held March 1, 2014 in Denton, TX from 10am-6pm. Debuting in 2011, the UNT Comics Studies Conference focuses on interdisciplinary approaches to graphic narrative or sequential arts and welcomes competitive paper submissions to participate in panel discussions and roundtable sessions exploring the critical and educational applications of comics or graphic novels. Held in conjunction with the UNT GeeKon week (full schedule here), this year’s keynote speaker is KATE LETH, webcomic creator of fan-favorite KATE OR DIE! and writer for Adventure Time, whose 4pm talk is on “The Geek Grrrl’s Guide to Making Your Own Webcomics!” Read More…

Posted by: Doc Comics | December 23, 2013

On Evil: ‘Twas the Night Before Krampus…


From CA’s “Great Comics That Never Happened“… but maybe should!

Season’s Greetings, superscholars! Another great semester has come and gone, with so many wonderful students and smart papers. In honor of the winter break, here is a brief look at an Old World European tradition that many are rediscovering in comics and IRL: Krampus the Christmas DemonRead More…

Posted by: Doc Comics | December 5, 2013

SuperFinal take-home Exam!

Due Wed Dec 11 at 1:30p, same Bat-place for same Bat-channel!


As we end the course, and reflect upon materials covered since the midterm exam, answer one of the following questions in 4-5 single-spaced pages *or* answer both in 2-3 single-spaced pages *each*.  A heading should identify yourself and the course, COMM 4849 Mythic Rhetoric of Superheroes. Please make sure your answers are typed, spell-checked, grammar-checked, and draw upon specific concepts and readings from the course.

1.  Use readings from either race, class, or gender to identify at least 3 key concepts from that unit and illustrate them using examples from graphic novels you’ve read for the course.  How are those 3 concepts defined and what examples illustrate them? What might comic book superheroes offer in helping us think critically about these issues?

2.  How would you answer the question, “What can we learn from studying superheroes?”  Which top 3 books or articles help make the case that superhero comics have…

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Posted by: Doc Comics | December 4, 2013

Paper #3: Graphic Novel Analysis


Even Calvin & Hobbes dabble in rhetorical criticism of their favorite comic books, but your final paper is going to kick it up a notch by integrating concepts, readings, and analytic schema we’ve been surveying in this course.  As mentioned in class, your first step is to select a graphic novel collecting a series or storyline and research some of the author’s motives, the text’s core themes, and some of the best critical commentary already out there.  The next step is to formulate a few key ideas or themes that you want to explore in your paper, the guidelines for which are included in the course syllabus (and this paper shouldn’t be too terribly different in organization than your second paper on animated superheroes).  But keep in mind, the point of the exercise is to synthesize readings and concepts from the semester in your analysis.  Here is a quick review…

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Posted by: Doc Comics | December 2, 2013

Post-9/11 Superhero Zeitgeist? Week 14



Our post-midterm genealogy of the SuperAntihero culminates in a look at post-9/11 superheroes and their thorny cultural and socio-politicalissues. As we continue to reflect upon Marvel’s CIVIL WARstoryline (and aftermath), we will also be examining Grant Morrison’s award-winning and critically acclaimed run onALL-STAR SUPERMAN to discuss “Does Superman still matter?” (some of my thoughts are here about Kal-El refuting superkillers like AzBats).  Meanwhile, we will also be looking ahead to your final paper’s analysis of a graphic novel!

Are superheroes inherently fascist, or anti-fascistic symbols? Maybe the medium matters and comics are more reflexive than Hollywood formula?

swipe_file_the_boys_supermanAlso: Superman’s evolving looks, reading too much into Batman (and other weirdness), Action Comics #1 breaks records, The Avengers poster gets gender-flipped, Superman‘s movie make-over, and the evolution of monsters!

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Posted by: Doc Comics | November 18, 2013

Evolution of the SuperAntihero


This satirical look at “The Evolution of the Superhero” (by Ryan Dunlavey) nicely summarizes our turn to surveying an alternate genealogy of the Comic Book SuperAntihero across the Marvel/DC divide. This week’s comics selection is the British firebrand volume  V FOR VENDETTA, Alan Moore’s controversial 1990 meditation on superheroic terrorism between Anarchy and Fascism as we contemplate the hegemonic resistance and reification in comics ideology… and in the streets. As #OccupyWallStreet embraces Moore’s iconic Anarchist SuperAntihero, are V and The Jokercomic bookdoppelgängers?!? And what to make to the Wachowski Bros. 2006cinematic translation when read against Nolan’s “agent of chaos” Joker in The Dark Knight? Perhaps they have more in common than a chilling smile? And what happens when Marvel’s CIVIL WAR pits post-9/11 superantihero against superantihero to ask you “Which side are you on?


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Posted by: Doc Comics | November 6, 2013

GenderQueer Mutants & Monstrosities? Week 11


With their secret identities and flair for drag performances, superheroes have always been a bit queer in their subtexts (or overt commentary) for homosexualsocial issues (perhaps a legacy of the Marvel Age). This week’s selections of readings explores the homoerotics and homophobia that haunts these comic bookdraped crusadersnarratives. The history of GLBTQ superheroes is as problematic as all mediated depictions of minorities, but perhaps doubly so since the lines between gay and straight blur when contemplating the inherentGender Troubles of representation (even Ultimate Spider-Man isn’t immune to predictablehomophobichysterics).

This week’s comic is BATWOMAN: ELEGY, which sparked both controversy and triumph in it’s groundbreakingmainstream’ success of featuring a gay superheroine. Batwoman’s history is as checkered as one might expect, but Greg Rucka’s bold storytelling has provenwildly successful. Explains Rucka:


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Posted by: Doc Comics | October 31, 2013

Re-Imagining a Multicultural Super-ICON


Race, Black Superheroes, and SuperMinorities

Superhero comics have long had a ‘diversity problem’ when it comes to representing minority characters. Dwayne McDuffie and “ICON: A Hero’s Welcome” (1993) from multicultural Milestone Comics provides a fascinating text for reflection upon issues of minority representations in comic books via Black Superheroes. McDuffie presents readers with an engaging “Black Superman” mythos but also offers some metatextual critiques of SuperWhiteness in comics in clever ways. Also note how his protagonists, Augustus and Raquel, illustrate enduring debates over the “double consciousness” of African-Americans struggling with ‘Black Skins & White Masks‘ in a culture still presuming White Supremacy, continuing the conversation on race sparked by WEB duBois and Booker T. Washington. Who or what is the ‘villain’ of this story if not our real-world stereotypes, prejudices and the Paradoxes of African-American Superheroes?

1) In terms of Coogan’s mission/powers/identity, how is ICON both…

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