Class Meets Wednesday Nights at 630pm in the Emerson Online Classroom

Designed to introduce you to a thorough understanding and appreciation of comic book art from the Golden Age up until today's best work. We will examine a wide variety of works by the founding artists of the medium and explore the techniques used and developed to successfully tell a story in comic book form.

This blog will be the source of our online classroom discussions. We will meet for an online "Live" classroom section on Wednesday nights from 630 - 730pm BOSTON TIME. Check your time or use World Clock to ensure you are on time. Please click the link in the column to the right to get there.

SYLLABUS Fall 2016

EMERSON COLLEGE- Department of Professional Studies & Special Programs                Fall 2016

Introduction to Comic Art – ONLINE

Andy Fish

Phone: 508-901-7813

Course Description

This course is designed to provide students with an in-depth study of the continuing evolution of comic book art.   The class will explore the world of Comic Art with PDF editions of comic examples from the Golden Age (1938 & up) to the Modern Age (present) examining both the stylistic changes and adaptions to storytelling techniques crucial in professional comic book illustration.

Students will be provided with PDF copies of comic book art and stories, no purchases are required.

Learning Outcomes

Identify tools and methods used by comic book artists and graphic novelists to produce their work.  Understanding and mastering different techniques is critical to achieving a variety of artistic styles and effects.

Identify the names, influences and styles of a wide range of prominent comic book artists through analysis of their work.
Define artist movements, trends and “ages” through the history of comics.
Compare the work of different artists through those ages.

Participant Obligations
Students are expected to meet regularly and at a pre-determined time in an online classroom setting.  They are also required to complete weekly reading assignments and be prepared to discuss their impressions.
Students will prepare a FINAL dissertation on the subjects covered at the end of the class schedule. 

Attendance 5%
Attendance does not necessarily equate to attending live sessions, a student may miss all the live classes but follow along via the lectures posted on the blog.  In that case "attendance" would indicate that student's ability to contribute to the classroom conversation either via email or the blog comment section on a weekly basis.
Weekly Assignments 10%
There will be several short written assignments. You must also demonstrate through class discussion that you have completed the required reading.  You may be asked to discuss what you have written in front of the group.
Blog/Online Participation 30%
Class participation includes asking questions, participating in class discussions, responding to questions and group work.  Your ability to be open-minded and present your opinion is crucial.  We will be covering a lot of material, so I do advise taking notes.
Written Assignment 20%
Your written assignment will be graded on the basis of your research and your ability to analyze the work you have chosen.  You must include a bibliography of works cited.
Midterm 15% 
The midterm will demonstrate your interest in understanding and appreciating comic art.  This is your chance to demonstrate some of what you have learned in class through writing.  The comparison essay must reflect artistic as well as storytelling similarities and differences.
Final Presentation: 15%
The final will be in the form of a longer online presentation you will be graded based on your knowledge, effort and confidence of the subject matter presented.
Artistic Assignments 5%
There will be a limited number of art-related assignments which will require students to post to our online classroom for critique.  Students will be given precise instruction on the method , file size and format that should be provided.  Especially important since understanding how to send, post and process digital files is the manner currently used by 90% of comic book publishers today.

Breakdown of Weekly Topics

NOTE: To prevent reading ahead, all reading assignments will be posted weekly on the classroom blog.
Week 1 – Sep 28th:  THE GOLDEN AGE 
1938- 1942
The Birth of Comic Books; The Golden Age—the art is crude and the storytelling primitive in nature, but creators are learning how to work in the new medium of comic books.  Superheroes are the focus of these early Golden Age tales.
Online Class Discussion:
·      How the art form was created and how it’s related to comic strips?
·      Look at the inspiration provided by the Pulps and their influence on early comic book stories;  Example -Doc Savage = Superman  The Shadow = Batman
·      Look at how comics were produced and the continued method today
Of this week's reading, who’s art was superior? 
Who’s storytelling was clearer?   
Which had the better writing and why?   
Which was dominant—the writing or the art?

Week 2 – Oct 5th: The Golden Age Comes to an End, Horror Comics Rise
1943- 1954
Online Class Discussion:
The artform grows with creators like Will Eisner and Jack Cole, their work appealing to adults AND children.  Captain Marvel faces his biggest challenge.

While Superhero popularity wanes, Horror Comics take the industry by storm.  Artwork is “better” and getting more polished.  Writing pushes boundries of good taste. 

With the publication of Seduction of the Innocent by Frederick Wertham parents groups (and Congress) get up in arms over the content of contemporary comic books and their apparent ties to juvenile delinquency. This leads to the introduction of the COMICS CODE, a self moderating body ensuring comic content is appropriate and essentially banning all horror comics (sales ploy?).
Writing assignment DUE before class next week
Compare the Golden Age Superhero comics from this week with what you read last week, which was superior overall? 
You read two issues of FRANKENSTEIN this week-- compare them and discuss which you preferred and why.
Do you feel the concern for Horror Comics was warranted based on what you’ve read?

Week 3- Oct 12th:  ARTIST SPOTLIGHT - WILL EISNER and his influence on today's industry.
Online Class Discussion:
Eisner is regarded as the Father of the Graphic Novel.  His landmark work on The Spirit broke ground combining serious adult stories with the fluidity and movement of a Warner Bros Cartoon.  Eisner was a pioneer who saw that comics could be a legitimate form of literature.

NOTE- Much of Eisner's work is a product of it's time, and often racial stereotypes and caricatures were used for supporting characters.   Viewed through the prism of today they are considered politically incorrect, but they remain vital important pieces of comics history.

WRITING ASSIGNMENT- Compare Eisner's work to the other comic artists we've read so far-- what's better and what's not?  Would you have read his work on a regular basis?

Week 4 – Oct 19th:  BIRTH OF THE SILVER AGE
1956- 1969
Online Class Discussion: 
·      Superheroes are reborn, this time with science!
·      Marvel comics continues the monster trend, but with poor results eventually adopting Superheroes again after following DC's lead.

No writing assignment this week, rather it's a drawing one.
Choose a panel from any of the previous reading that has struck you and do a take on it-- in your style or mimic the original, your call.

Week 5 – Oct 26th: COMICS GET RELEVANT in the BRONZE AGE

Marvel’s in-roads into more adult readership has two major impacts into the industry 1. Books are now written geared towards more sophisticated audiences 2. The next generation of writers and editors come from that fandom.

Marvel Comics ignores the Comics Code restriction to spotlight the National challenge of youth drug abuse, causing the Comics Code to collapse and ushering in a whole new era of Horror Comics

2pg Writing Assignment DUE next week BEFORE class:   
Over the course of the last three reading assignments what evolution(s) do you see in comic book art and storytelling?

Week 6- Nov 2nd:  MODERN COMICS
Online Class Discussion:

Comics grow up—writers of the caliber of Neil Gaiman and Stephen King embrace their comic fandom roots and become best-selling authors, and come back to comics.

Creators like Frank Miller are given free reign with projects like RONIN and the industry parodies itself with the help of underground cartoonists with BIZARRO COMICS.
Writing Assignment:
How do these stories compare to what we've read so far?  
Do you see an advancement in the artform?

Open discussion of what we've seen in class so far.

Jack Kirby is regarded as the KING of the COMICS and with good reason.  His influence on a generation of creators is heralded as a stylistic turning point for the comics industry.

This week's reading looks at Kirby's work prime Marvel-- post Marvel on his own at DC Comics after he was lured away, then his return to Marvel and finally his attempt at a graphic novel of his characters from his Fourth World Saga.   

Written Assignment: What is your impression of Kirby's work?  Do you see any change over the course of the twenty years shown in the reading?

Week 8-  Nov 16th: MANGA MANGA!
Comics in Japan

Online Class Discussion:
At the end of World War II with the occupation of Japan, troops brought American Comics and they caught on with a culture already enamored with visual storytelling.
What was your perception of Manga prior to this week's reading?  
How did it change (if at all)? 


Week 9- NOV 23rd:  THE GRAPHIC NOVEL (Comics without tights)
NOTE No "Live" Class this week-- the lesson will be posted to the blog and you will be given your reading assignment.
With the advancements of audience sophistication American Comics branch out, building on the foundations of Marvel’s expansion, the Underground Comix of the 60s and what is happening in Europe and Asia in their comics scenes we see comic books which don’t feature superheroes gaining popularity among readers.

Week 10- Nov 30h: Wrap Up
FINAL writing assignment (2 pages double spaced);
Discuss what you have learned over the course of the class.  Be creative—know your subject. Review the reading.

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