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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

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LIS 404/518 - Comic Books and Graphic Novels in Schools and Public Libraries

LIS 404/518
Comic Books and Graphic Novels in School and Public Libraries

Calendar Description:   Examines the history and contemporary reality of comic book publishing and readership in Canada, Great Britain, Japan, and the United States and issues related to perception of the format by educators, librarians, and readers. Focus on collection development, censorship concerns and challenges, gender issues in readership and in content, genres, and impact of the Internet.

Objectives:          Upon completion of the course, a student should [be able to] …..
1. Appreciate the diversity and potential of the comic book and graphic novel format.
2. Understand comic books and graphic novels as a unique medium of communication and storytelling
3. Assess the role of comic books and graphic novels in western and Japanese society and culture
4. Evaluate published works
5. Familiar with Internet resources that incorporate comic books and graphic novels
6. Prepared to select and maintain a comic book and graphic library collection in a school or public library.

Content:   Public perception of the comic book format, history of the comic book, mechanics of the format, genres and themes, the role of comic books and graphic novels in popular culture and the evolution of the form.

Methods:     Course lectures, discussions, seminars.

Assignments:           There is no examination for this course. A 10% penalty for lateness per day will be enforced for all assignments. Students have until midnight to post their assignments on the course site on the due date. Raw scores (marks on assignments) are totalled at the end of the course and converted to University of Alberta’s letter grading scale. In addition to the following assignments, LIS 518 students will have an additional assignment worth 20% of their total mark. (80% will be comprised of the regular assignments.)

I. Comic s to Film                                                                                          25%
II. Virtual Seminar                                                                                        30%
III. Annotated Bibliography & Evaluation of a Graphic Novel                           30%
IV. Class Participation                                                                                   15%


I. Comics to film: (Due: Midnight , November 9, 2011 )
This assignment explores the recent explosion of comic books and graphic novels appearing on the large screen. Please select a title that you would like to explore (either in a negative or positive manner). There will be no duplication of titles for this assignment so please register your choice with me as soon as possible by (course) mail and I will add it to the current listing of choices made on the discussion site. Titles on your reading list are not eligible for this assignment. There will be NO list of possible choices, only a listing of ones that have been selected. Part of the assignment is to discover for yourself the plethora of titles available to you. Please compare the way the story is told in both formats and discuss your reasoning for editorial choices etc. Please take the opportunity to be creative in scope and presentation. There is no perceived correct way to handle this assignment on my part. All assignments must be posted on the discussion site under “Comics to Film” on the discussion site under “Posted Assignments.
II. Virtual Seminar (Total possible marks 50).
Each student will select a topic from the list below or from the course material itself that has not been discussed in any detail on the discussion site, research it, and post their findings on the conference site. They will then lead the rest of the class through a discussion of that topic and research. There will be no duplication of topics, so please register your choice with your instructor as soon as possible by mail. I will keep a current listing in the “Virtual Seminar Topics” in the forum on Discussion of Assignments. Please select the date you would like to run the seminar. They will begin on a Monday (the individual seminar forums will be created the previous Sunday for your convenience) and run for that week with the seminar leader monitoring the discussion. (Seminar leaders may request permission from their classmates to adjust the timing of their seminar to include Saturday.) The seminar forums will remain open without monitoring for further discussion throughout the duration of the course. There will be, for the most part, two seminars a week beginning September 19, 2011 with the exception of the week of November 7 because of cancelled classes due to Fall Break.  Available Dates: please check discussion site under the topic: Dates for Virtual Seminars.
 Distribution of marks: the content of the seminar (22), the handling of the seminar experience itself (22) anda brief evaluation of the experience sent to the instructor within a week of completion of the seminar (6). Marks will be distributed when all the seminars have been conducted.
 Topics for the virtual seminar assignment: These are just suggestions. Please feel free to follow your interests but do pass them by your instructor before finalizing your choice.
* How is manga different from western comics?
* What ways do you think that manga and anime have influenced North American comics, animation and popular culture?
* Classics Illustrated. Compare the contemporary Classics illustrated with the early versions. Are they faithful adaptations? Do they lose their literary quality? Does the artwork compensate for the loss of the words? Etc.
* Collection development and selection policies for graphic novel collections.
* Comic Books and Awards: do they make a difference?
*  Marketing comics and graphic novels to female readers. How, why and what?
* Crossover comics: The appearance of a major character on another character’s home field. The first crossover occurred in Marvel Mystery #8, with a clash between the Sub-Mariner and the Human Torch. Are these crossovers common? Why and how do they exist?

* Discuss the Archie Publication phenomenon and the Archie website in relationship to literacy and learning.

* Collecting Comics: a help or hinder to the industry? What does it mean for library collections?
* Giveaways: The earliest comic books were giveaways of comic strip reprints, as Max Gaines sold such companies as Canada Dry, Kinney Shoes, and Procter & Gamble on the idea of distributing premiums. More recently, comic books were given away, or sold for a nominal price at MacDonald’s and other places. Free Comic Book Day in North America has become an annual event. What are the advantages and disadvantages of these “gimmicks?”
* Art Spiegelman and Maus
* Webcomics.
* Comic Book Legal Defence Fund: Why do comic book artists and retailers need protection? What are they afraid of?
* Mainstream publishers vs comic book publishers for graphic novels: Jumping on a band wagon?
* Book reviews for graphic novels: online and in print
* Alan Moore
 The assignment is to compile an annotated bibliography of graphic novels for any intended reading audience of your choice (children, young adults, adults, females, males etc.) on a particular theme, and to document your search strategy and sources. You may not include any of the titles in our class reading list. There is no required format. You may create a website or a word document to be attached or pasted on the discussion site in the discussion forum “THE BIBLIOGRAPHIES” under the umbrella heading of “Assignments”.
The purpose of the assignment is to have the students work with selection and reviewing tools, explore the possibilities of subject access to graphic novels, and to evaluate the graphic novels themselves.
Choose a theme that interests you or you think would be worthwhile and register it and your intended audience on the discussion site in “selections for bibliography” as soon as possible. There will be no duplication of themes for specific audiences. (I.E. two bibliographies may be created on historical fiction if one is intended for middle school readers in a school library and the other for adult readers in a public library.)
Select ten titles dealing with the chosen theme, including at least three published after 2005. Include Canadian titles if possible. Make a note of your initial search strategy and the modifications you had to make to it: that is, record how you set about finding titles on your theme, what worked and what didn’t. Characterize the body of material available on your theme: are there many titles to chose from, or did you have trouble finding ten? Is access straightforward? Have graphic novels on this subject been published steadily over the years, are they a recent phenomenon (beyond the obvious increased interest in graphic novels), or is the subject out of fashion?
Choose one of the titles in your bibliography and evaluate it according to the criteria discussed in the class material and the concepts listed below. Please cover these concepts in any order or format that is appropriate for the central thought of your evaluation. Please register your selection of this title on the discussion site in “selections for evaluation” as soon as possible. There will be no duplication of titles for evaluation. Please supply a short plot summary and concise evaluation (no longer than 250 words) for the nine other titles in your list. Are there reviews available for these titles? If so, do you feel that they are adequate? Please include the citations for at least two reviews (if available) with your annotations.
1. Who created the work and why?
a. Relevant personal history of the creator(s)
b. Artistic influences
c. What they were attempting to achieve
2. Is the work significant in the history of the medium? Why?
3. Discuss how meaning is developed in the work?
a. How does encapsulation (breaking down the narrative into panels) contribute to the meaning?
b. How does composition (elements within the panels) contribute to the meaning?
1. Signs (icon, index, symbol)
2. Colour/shading
3. “Cinematic” elements (lighting, distance, angle)
4. Style
c. How does layout (arrangement of panels on the page) contribute to the meaning?
d. How does closure (meaning created by the combination of panels) contribute to the meaning?
4. What is your personal response to this title? Why did you select it for evaluation?
 The completed assignment will consist of:
1. A brief introduction stating the chosen theme and intended readership of the bibliography, documenting your search and sources, identifying your criteria for selection, and characterizing the body of material available on the theme. (10)
2. A bibliography of your chosen titles, each entry consisting of the bibliographic citation for the book, the short evaluation and citations for any reviews. (15)
3. Critical evaluation of one of the titles in your bibliography. (10)

IV. Class Participation.
 Participation in this class is expected to be active, informed and mutually supportive particularly as discussions of readings and texts will not be done on “real time.” All students are expected to “attend” and respond in all the dialogues generated on the conference site.

Points to note about the Submission of Assignments:
  • It is your responsibility to make sure your assignment arrives in a manner that I can read (i.e. can open).
  • Assignments submitted late without prior permission of an extension will be penalized according to the period overdue.
  • The mark that you receive for each assignment will be a raw score. These marks are used in conjunction with the assignment weightings to calculate the final mark.
  • The actual format of each assignment is not assigned. Do note that effective communication is a large factor in obtaining good marks. Marks will be deducted for spelling and grammar errors. There is no reason for poor writing style.
  •  Opinions will be judged fairly as long as they are substantiated with evidence from either research or the texts themselves. DO NOT USE GENERALIZATIONS IN YOUR WORK!
  • Be consistent in your citations and bibliographical references.
 For LIS 518 students only: Research project or paper
  • Choose a topic or theme that we have not discussed in class or is not discussed in any detail in the course notes.
  •  Please check with your instructor with your research idea as early as possible in the term.
  •  There are no limits on length or format. Please be creative as well as practical (ie. A topic that you are truly interested in exploring further).
  • Due date is midnight December 7, 2011.
The following schedule is approximate. Please check the e-learning calendar for any changes in scheduling. The discussions on the various chapters of Understanding Comics  and the book Adventures in Cartooning can be done at any time. I do have them connected with the seven topics of the course content but this is not rigid. In fact, the sooner you read and discuss these titles, the easier it is to discuss the other titles in the reading list.
I have set a date release for the titles as per the following schedule. You are welcome to join the discussion late or even revisit an older discussion within your group but I will control the jumping ahead of the discussion of books by only allowing the discussion forums to open on the Sunday preceding the dates below.
September 19- – Owly & The Arrival
September 26 – Koko Be Good & Bigfoot
October 3 – Scott Pilgrim & American Born Chinese
October 10 – Anya’s Ghost & I Kill Giants
October 17 – Manga title
October 24 – Essex County
October 31 - Skim & Smile
November 14 - Mercury & Superheroes
November 21- Persepolis
November 28- Fun Home
December 5 - Trickster

LIS 404/518 REQUIRED TEXTS, Fall 2011
Required titles but not ordered at the university bookstore but should be available at local comic stores and libraries:
Happy Harbour Comics (Vol1) is offering a discount to students of this course. Please contact Jay and tell him that you are one of my students to take advantage of the offer. [http://www.happyharborcomics.com/]
 For reference (and discussion):
McCloud, Scott.  Understanding Comics. (any edition)
Sturm, James, Andrew Arnold and Alexis Frederick-Frost. 2009. Adventures in Cartooning. [The Center for Cartoon Studies]  First Second.
Graphic novels:
*Any Superhero title of your choice as long as it was published in the last 2 years.
*Any recent manga title of your choice.
Bechdel, Alison. 2006. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic.  Houghton Mifflin.
Brosgol, Vera. 2011. Anya's Ghost. First Second.
Dembicki, Matt. 2010. Trickster: Native American Tales, A Graphic Collection. Fulcrum.
Girard, Pascal. 2010. Bigfoot. Drawn & Quarterly.
Kelly, Joe and Jm Ken Niimura. 2009. I kill Giants. Image.
Larson, Hope. 2010. Mercury. Atheneum.
Lemire, Jeff. 2009. Essex County. Top Shelf.
O’Malley, Bryan Lee. 2004. Scott Pilgrim: Vol.1: Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life. Oni.
Runton, Andy. 2004. Owly: The Way Home & The Bittersweet Summer. Top Shelf.
 Satrapi. Marjane. 2003. Persepolis. Pantheon.
Tamaki, Mariko and Jillian Tamaki. 2008. Skim. Groundwood.
 Tan, Shaun. 2006. The Arrival. Arthur A. Levine Books.
Telgemeier, Raina. 2010. Smile. Scholastic.
 Yang, Gene Luen. 2006. American Born Chinese. First Second.
 Wang, Jen. 2010. Koko Be Good. First Second.

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