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Fall Comics Courses: “American Manga” and “Coming of Age”


I’m teaching two sections of my comics course in Fall 2010, and instead of relying on all the Batman or Alan Moore material, I decided to test-drive chapters from the upcoming book.

The first is called “American Manga,” and in it I’ll be teaching the first book and the film adaptation of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, a few episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender, and Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim. You’ll note that I’ve chosen three series that have been adapted into films, but am only teaching one of the films.  The idea is to get them to write about the films I’m not teaching with the tools they acquired from the one I did.  Or they can focus on what the process of Americanization actually entails.  (To that end I thought about including Cowboy Bebop and Serenity because they act like mirror images of each other: the former imagines fleeing a barely inhabitable Earth into a universe that is ostensibly Japanese, but heavily indebted to an explicitly American cultural ethos; the latter imagines fleeing “Earth that was” into a universe that is ostensibly frontier America, but heavily indebted to an explicitly Chinese cultural ethos.  But then I tried lesson-planning that transoceanic cultural exchange and my head exploded.)

The second is called “Coming of Age” at the moment, but could be changed into something along the lines of “Confessional Comics” depending on what other material I include.*  To date I’ve selected Craig Thompson’s Blankets and Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, and while I know there are a million other indie comics that fit the bill, outside of Ghost World I can’t think of any other “Coming of Age” comics that have been adapted into film.  (My general aversion to Clowes is the only reason I’m disinclined to use it.)  As this is certainly a byproduct of a general summer malaise, I wonder what obvious item I’m overlooking.

*If I lose the focus on “Coming of Age” and switch to the more general “Confessional Comics,” I could obviously include Pekar and his film.

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