Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud
V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd
The Best of the Spirit by Will Eisner
Nightly News by Jonathan Hickman
Persepolis by Marjane Sartrapi
Jimmy Corrigan by Chris Ware
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
So, I'm looking for 3 more books to include in the class. Here are my criteria for the books already on the syllabus:
V for Vendetta and Jimmy Corrigan are on this list because I've used them in past classes, and they work well. American Born Chinese is there because of current research that I'm doing, and that book fits with Persepolis in a unit on autobiographical comics. I don't feel like I need to add any more of those to the list, but I'm thinking of using Fun Home.
Nightly News is there because I want to end the class with a new work that pushes the rules of page design and narrative form, and I also think this work fits well with a sub-theme of revolution that will tie it in with V for Vendetta. In most of my literature classes, I try to teach at least one first novel so that students can start following the writer's career from the beginning and possibly make a life-long commitment to follow that writer's work. That's another reason why Nightly News is on the list.
The first assignment for the class is going to involve reading Understanding Comics and applying some of McCloud's narrative concepts to another work. One of those works is going to be the Spirit collection, but I'd also like to include something else that's more conventional, and perhaps superhero-y. I'm toying with the idea of using The House of Mystery Showcase Vol. 1, because it will give students a greater variety of short stories to choose from for this short assignment. I would welcome other suggestions, especially collections that don't need to be read in their entirety.
I also want to use something by Gilbert Hernandez, but I'm debating between Heartbreak Soup and Human Diastrophism. I'm certain I will use one of them, but I am on the fence as to which.
I'm also considering Matt Kindt's SuperSpy, to pair with Nightly News to talk about formal experiments, but I worry that the book's narrative experimentation might require too much time to unpack in this short class.
For a wide variety of reasons, I do not want to use Watchmen, From Hell, Maus, and A Contract with God. The first two would take up too much time for this course; Maus is too expensive for the class (I want to keep the cost down, and volume one is unavailable as a separate book; and other than its historical importance, I don't find Contract to be anything more than a mediocre short story collection. All of these will be referenced in the class, however.
I also plan to reference a lot of stuff that I won't be teaching in its entirety, like Jar of Fools and Black Hole. For similar reasons, I don't want to be teaching parts of longer, multivolume narratives, like Y: The Last Man, Fables, Planetary, Transmetropolitan, etc.
I'm also less interested in discussions of canonicity and "essential" works than I am of finding works that are relevent to each other and making connections between works that I can pair up "in conversation."
So, to summarize:
--I need three more books for the class.
--One should be a superhero book or another popular genre, like horror.
--One should be by Gilbert Hernandez.
--One is totally up for grabs, but I'm less inclined to pick something autobiographical, since that is already well-covered. It should also stand on its own as an independent narrative.
--The choices should be less than $20, and preferably around $10-15 in order to keep the cost down for this class.
All suggestions are greatly appreciated.