Series: Comics Academe

Comics Academe: Christianity, Comics, and the Classroom

Comics! Academics! The Bible?! When I tell people I study the Bible and comics, I never quite know how they’re going to take it. Will they be more offended by the Bible part or the comics part? In my North American context, many people conflate the Bible and its intense study with very conservative Christianity, but most of the Bible comics I work on would not be at home in the average Bible study. I go for the weirder stuff—comics that talk about or around the Bible. I’m excited to hear from unique voices and challenging interpreters that comics creators can be. I’m...

Read More

An introduction to comics academia in the form of a letter to my past self

Dear Past Amanda (upon your graduation from high school), Hang on to your hat! Setting aside the fact that these are all spoilers, let me tell you what’s going to happen next: You’re going to live in a castle (what?!) and during your extensive trawling of the internet, you’ll find out about these things that are today known as webcomics. (It was a long time ago, kids. Shut it!) You’ll read them, laugh at them, email them around, and eventually graduate from undergrad having taken only one Art History course but having, strangely, taken lots of Canadian Studies classes. Remember last year when you didn’t even know what street Canada was on?! Also, you’ll have written one paper for a history class about Canadian superheroes, and been awarded a whopping B+. * shakes fist * You’ll spend a few years getting tattoos and making questionable life choices. (The answer to the question is WOOHOO.) You’ll keep reading webcomics, only there will be MORE of them to spend time reading, laughing at, and emailing around. (WOOHOO.) Then your jerk friend Nicole will be all “Hey, you should come to Carleton University in Ottawa, the capital of Canada, and enroll in the Master of Arts (MA) in Canadian Studies!” You’ll do it, because you’re a sucker for Canada, and you’ll submit that B+ paper about superheroes as your writing sample because it wasn’t actually a bad...

Read More

Comics Academe

  My name is Francesca Lyn, and I am a second year doctoral student in the Media, Art, and Text program at Virginia Commonwealth University. My research interests center on graphic memoirs written by women. I didn’t come to VCU knowing I wanted to study comics. In fact, my path to studying comics is a rather winding one. This makes my particular situation a little unusual; most people enter doctoral programs with a focused area of study that they want to pursue. I have a Master’s degree in Digital Arts and Sciences from the University of Florida. My thesis was on music mashups and online culture. I had a great thesis advisor, and I learned a lot about what it meant to study the digital humanities. After graduating with my Master’s, I took a year off from school and worked in an office doing public relations. I always planned to return to my studies eventually but wanted to take some time off to really think about my future and research programs of study. While working at my office job, I decided to take classes at the Sequential Arts Workshop, a comics arts school that was conveniently located two blocks away from my apartment. I have a background in art, and I thought doing drawing exercises would help me reconnect with some of my creativity. It was incredibly challenging and an amazing experience. I felt like learning the...

Read More

Comics Academe: Imposter Syndrome! I Have No Idea What I’m Doing

I wish I could be the type of brilliant academic that feels motivated by the muse, the type that drinks red wine during the day, writing down all of her inspired thoughts in a leather bound journal. Basically Olivia Pope getting her doctorate. I am sure this brilliant academic superhero exists somewhere; she probably did not have cake for breakfast or write a note in eyeliner on an old receipt. I’m not her. In fact, sometimes I feel like a fraud. I go through times where I have no idea what I am doing. It can be a horrible feeling. Second guessing yourself is never fun. Unlike a lot of other comics scholars I know, I did not major in English as an undergrad. I do not have a massive personal collection of comic books. I really like Archie. I have never gone to Comic-Con, and the idea of going to any big con makes me feel a bit queasy. All of this can make me question my legitimacy in class, at conferences, and even writing this column. It wasn’t until I started my classes at VCU that I learned about imposter syndrome. Basically, imposter syndrome is when you feel like a big phony all the time for no good reason. It’s actually a pretty common feeling among grad students. It can creep up on you and really start...

Read More

Comics Academe: Teaching Ms. Marvel – Part One

Last semester I taught the first volume of Ms. Marvel in my honor’s multicultural literature class. Ms. Marvel was perfect for my class, which centered on how minorities used fantastic fiction to show disfranchisement and how old tropes become new when filtered through a different perspective. Superman and Batman are iconic, and that’s a lot of the problem.  We need a superhero like Kamala who knocks us out of our comfort zone, makes the old new without losing that heroic spark that makes us swoon at Superman’s feet.  For all of my students, this was their first look into...

Read More