Somehow, all the times I’ve been in Europe for the sake of comics, and all the times I’ve tried to talk my students into traveling and getting involved in the international comics scene, it never occurred to me to talk to students about studying abroad.
On day two of the conference, four comics teachers (including me) presented their programs and approaches. I’m a relatively veteran comics teacher. I’ve been teaching regularly since 2001 (and started in 1998), full year courses, workshops, seminars, you name it. So what was most striking to me about these presentations was how distinct each approach was. There’s a part of me that believed, until then, that there was a narrow band of ways to approach teaching comics well (and obviously a lot of ways to do it badly). Clearly, I was quite wrong.
Recently, I was a guest at a comics teaching conference in Finland. As far as I know, it was the very first of its kind; attendees and presenters all taught not reading comics, but making comics. I’ve never had the chance before to compare teaching methods and philosophies with such a diverse (and large) group of peers. It was eye-opening (and I wish there had been some such conference before I finished DWWP!). It was so full of valuable information, in fact, that I’m going to divide this report into several parts, and run the next parts over the next week.
My work focuses on the process of reading comic books, rather than on the readers. When I started down the path of focusing on reading, I encountered the false assumption that “anyone can read comic books.” Even people who did not consider themselves comic book readers thought they knew how. In teaching with comic books and graphic novels, I have found that I have had to teach many of my students the ins and outs of how to read comics.
I’m designing a whole new curriculum, which, though based on others I’ve done, still poses a lot of interesting new questions and problems. I thought I’d throw it out here as I go and see if anyone has any ideas about what I’m planning. I’ll continue to post updates as I develop this workshop, and I plan to blog it while in Miami Beach in late June.
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