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Help Me Pick a Book List

Sex, Violence and ComicsSo this fall, I have been given the opportunity to teach a class of my own design at Duquesne University. I’m calling it “Sex, Violence and Comics,” and in a way, I guess I’ve basically been preparing for this all of my life. I mean, I like sex, I like comics, I like viole… umm wait, never mind. Let’s start over.

Anyway, I’ve been having trouble picking my book list for the class. It’s not that I can’t come up with ideas. It’s that I’ve been thinking about it so long that I have too many ideas. I think it’s kind of unreasonable to have a class full of college sophomores and say “hey, over the next 13 weeks we’re going to read comics. All of the comics ever!” That would probably not work very well. So instead I’m trying to narrow it down a little bit.

I thought about posting the list of texts I’m considering, but that seems like i might influence people unfairly. I have a bunch of criteria in my head that I’m deciding based on. But again, to say the might bias other people’s opinions too.

So instead, I thought it would be fun just to ask people. What comics should I teach this fall? Post your suggestions (as many as you want) and your reasons why I should pick that one(those ones?).

As a little background about the title of the class and what I’ll be teaching. The class will be focusing on comics as literature throughout the 20th century. I’ll mostly be focusing on American books and I’ll be starting with the pulps and then moving up through … now. This means there’s going to be some superhero stuff, and in fact, probably a lot, since that’s been the focus of the industry, but I’m not limiting to that. I want suggestions for superhero stories and I want suggestions for Archie comics and anything in between. As for what I mean by “sex” I am referring to both the condition of being male or female (so books that say something interesting about gender) as well as the activity of sex and or sexuality (so books that say something interesting about fucking). By violence, I mean exactly that. Books need not about contain both sex and violence and they need not be explicitly about either. Mostly I just want suggestions and your thinking about why.

For bonus points you’re also welcome to suggest other texts. I’ll probably use some short stories, maybe a novel, probably a couple films, and almost certainly some scholarly articles (which I’m not really expecting recommendations from anyone except for maybe Nicole, Wayne or Chris because who else besides us are that big of nerds). So if you happen to have a favorite comic-related story in some other media suggest that too and tell me why (this could be anything from Tarzan to American Gods).

Graphic Novels and individual storylines from ongoing series are both acceptable. But give me a specific story (not just “Batman” but “Batman: The Killing Joke”).

No suggestions are bad so let me have them. I’m excited to hear what people say.

193 comments for “Help Me Pick a Book List

  1. avatar
    May 14, 2016 at 12:33 pm

    I was going to suggest Invisibles as well, but I can’t think of a specific, short piece. Transmetropolitan has the same problem, I can’t remember a specific couple of issues what would stand alone. Poison Elves has a single issue (I can’t remember which publisher but I have it in a box) about Lucifer’s path starting as a child when his mother slowly dies from gangrene and they can’t afford a healer. I usually think of PE as a fun/adult/fantasy comic but when Hayes got serious he didn’t mess around, maybe I can remember another single-issue bit. It’s not hard to find extreme sex/violence/horror from major publishers (ex: Faust), but there were some great queer comics in the 90s in the bay area: Michael Manning (still publishing), Roberta Gregory (esp: Bitchy Bitch, Naughty Bits), Kirby’s “Strange Looking Exile” (look on eBay), and the local queer magazine “Anything That Moves”. I have some of these in storage (aka “boxes in the basement”) if you want to scan something.

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