by Derek Royal
As instructors are increasingly using comics in the classroom — and especially as more college programs are devoting entire courses to comics studies — the need for a textbook introducing the medium becomes more pronounced. Over the past several years there have been a few works that have attempted to fill this textbook gap by providing broad overviews of the various facets of the nascent discipline. In their edited collection, A Comics Studies Reader (2009), Jeet Heer and Kent Worchester pull together previously published essays that would ideally serve as supplementary texts covering the history, craft, as well as cultural and aesthetic contexts of comics. In Caped Crusaders 101 (2006), Jeffery Kahan and Stanley Stewart create a more focused textbook that uses comics, specifically superhero comics, as a way of structuring a freshman composition course. And in perhaps the most comprehensive comics textbook to date, The Power of Comics (2009), Randy Duncan and Matthew J. Smith attempt to cover the broad spectrum of classroom potential when it comes to comics: e.g., the history of medium, notable creators, aesthetic and formal considerations, genre divisions, the process of creation, discussions of the industry, comic-book fandom, and ideological concerns….
Into this mix comes Karin Kukkonen with her recent textbook, Studying Comics and Graphic Novels. Hers is a relatively condensed introduction to comics studies, a text of modest length that covers only a few salient aspects of the medium….
Check out this and other critical books for classroom use: