Pittsburgh Filmmakers : Spring 2011

Film Genre: Comic Books, Graphic Novels and Film

Bill Boichel

The objective of this class is for the student to gain an understanding and an  appreciation of the respective values and mutual relationships of comics and film.  This will be accomplished through in class lectures, presentations, discussions and screenings of films and videos in addition to out of class readings of texts and comics and the carrying out of assignments.  This class will assume some basic familiarity with the history of film and concepts of film study. 

The “textbook” will be a coursepack composed of text essays and comics work that may be purchased for a modest sum from the Pittsburgh Filmmakers office.  Additional readings may be handed out in class.  As there is far less academic work available on comics relative to film, the texts will primarily focus on comics.  (That said, anyone who is interested in doing additional readings in film history and theory may avail themselves of the abundant resources of the Pittsburgh Filmmakers library, and should feel free to inquire in class about recommendations in this area.)   Additional comics materials will be made available for reduced prices made possible by the combined subsidies of Pittsburgh Filmmakers and the The Copacetic Comics Company.  The total cost per student for all the above items is estimated to be in the $25 - $50 range for the semester.

Student grades will based on the following formula:

Classroom participation
and mini-assignments:    40%
mid-term paper:               20%
final project:                     40%

The grading scale is the standard A - F letter grades, with W - withdrawal - and I - Incomplete - available upon request and meeting the required criteria (See Student Handbook for details).

As should be obvious from the hefty weight given above to classroom participation, weekly attendance is very important for this class.

And finally:  Plagiary negates the plagiarist, who is in effect saying, “I am incapable of producing anything of value.  I am worthless.”  Plagiarism robs us of the very essence of our education, which is to grow our ability to live as fully as possible the one life each of us are given and to give back as much as we can to those who make our lives possible.  While absorbing information is a necessary component of education, real learning occurs in doing, in creating work of one’s own.  ‘Nuff said (oops! duh...).


1/18 - Separated at Birth? Comics and Film, the Twin Mass Mediums at the Dawn of the 20th century. 

Readings:    "The Cinematographic Principle and the Ideogram," by Sergei Eisenstein
                      Introduction to Winsor McCay by John Canemaker
                      Comics, Comix and Graphic Novels, Chapter One by Roger Sabin
                      "Krazy Kat," by Gilbert Seldes

Comics:   Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend by Winsor McCay
                 Krazy Kat by George Herriman
Film:        Winsor McCay: Early Animations
                 Betty Boop cartoons - one or two

Websites:   http://www.earlycinema.com/


1/25 - The Concommitant Creation of the Comic Book and the Superhero

Reading:    Comic Book Nation, Chapter One by Bradford W. Wright

Comics:     early Superman comics

Film:         Captain Marvel Serials - selection
                  Fleischer Superman Cartoons - selection

Websites:  http://www.collectortimes.com/~comichistory/   
                         (On the left of the page are links to a fairly detailed history of comic books.  For this week you might want to check out "The Golden                                  Age."  Once you've linked to any of these pages, click on the "Next page" link at the bottom of each page to continue.)
                    (If you are in the mood to read more, just click on "older posts" at the bottom of this – and each subsequent – page and you will be taken to                     a full scan of another Golden Age comic book; there are tons more!)

2/1 - Post-War Realities: Romance and Crime   

Reading:     "Paul, the Horror Comics and Dr. Wertham," by Robert Warshaw
                      "Romance Comics: A History," by Bill Boichel
Comics:   Donald Duck comic by Carl Barks
                 Crime and Romance comics by Jack Kirby

Film:        Gun Crazy

Website:  http://goldenagecomicbookstories.blogspot.com/search/label/Justice%20Traps%20the%20Guilty
                    (If you are in the mood to read more, just click on "older posts" at the bottom of this – and each subsequent – page and you will be taken to                      a full scan of another Golden Age comic book; there are tons more!)

2/8 - Rock ‘n’ Roll: The Phoenix Out of the Ashes of Comic Books

Reading:     Comic Book Nation, Chapter Six by Bradford W. Wright

Comics:    EC comics: Shock SuspenseStories & Mad ("Woman Wonder")
                  JD Comics (Trapped)

Film:         The Girl Can’t Help It

Websites: http://flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=31443975&context=set-701595&size=o

2/15 - The Swinging Sixties

Reading:    Stan Lee by Raphael & Spurgeon (excerpts)

Comics:  Spider-Man #24 by Lee & Romita
                 Fantastic Four #53 by Lee & Kirby
                 comics by R.Crumb

Film:        Modesty Blaise

Websites:  http://www3.sympatico.ca/jim.pattison/modesty/mbintro.htm

2/22 - Manga and Anime: Two Sides of the Same Coin?

Reading:    Manga!Manga!, chapter one by Frederik L Schodt

Comics:   Gen of Hiroshima by Nakazawa (excerpt)
                 Walking Man by Taniguchi (excerpts)

Film:         Spirited Away

Websites:  http://www.koyagi.com/animelinks.html

3/1 - Punk Culture to the Rescue

Reading:    Velvets to the Voidoids by Clinton Heylin chapters 14 & 21

Comics:    Love and Rockets: Music for Mechanics

Film:        Repo Man

Website:    http://www.punk77.co.uk/


3/15 - Comic Book Culture seeps into the Mainstream

Reading:    Batman: Commodity as Myth by Bill Boichel

Comics:    American Flagg! #1 by Howard Chaykin

Film:        They Live

Websites:   http://www.tcj.com/tcj-300/tcj-300-conversations-howard-chaykin-ho-che-anderson/

3/22 - Alienation and the Mutant Condition

Reading:    Comics & Hollywood by Jeph Loeb

Comics:   X-men by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
                 X-Men by Chris Claremont and Jim Lee

Film:        X-Men

Websites:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X-Men

3/29 - Superhero as Mythical Archetype

Reading:   Go! Be a Beast by Marina Warner (excerpts)

Comics:    The Hulk by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee

Film:        The Hulk

Website:   http://www.pantheon.org/

4/5 - Endgame: Film AS Comics

Reading:  Visual Storytelling by Tony Caputo
                  Comics & Storyboarding by Chuck Wojtkiewicz

Comics:    Sin City by Frank Miller

Film:         Sin City


(PLEASE NOTE:  These archived pages may take a while to load, and some of the image links are broken, but most are still there)

4/12 - Film as Comics Redux: The Counter-Culture Version

Reading:   The Otherness of Comics Reading by Charles Hatfield

Comics:    Ghost World by Daniel Clowes

Film:         Ghost World

Website:    http://xroads.virginia.edu/%7Epublic/clowes/clowes.html

4/19 - The Wonderful World of the Signifier and the Signified

Reading:    Chris Ware by Gene Kannenberg

Comics:     American Splendor by Harvey Pekar , et al

Film:          American Splendor

Website:   http://www.leviathan.co.uk/

4/26 - Temporality and Chronicity: A Last Word on Comics and Film

Reading:    TBA

Comics:   Gasoline Alley by Frank King
                 Or Else #2 by Kevin Huizenga
                 Incanto by Frank Santoro
                 676 Apparitions of Killhoffer by Killhoffer

Film:        Koyaanaqatsi & Brakhage short

Websites:  http://www.7415comics.com/nancy/
                   (under “interactive” click on “Meanwhile” then on “read book”)
                   (continues via links at bottom for five more pages)


General reference comics websites that you should know about:   
Comics Scholarship Annotated Bibliographies - http://www.comicsresearch.org/
Comics Research Bibliography - http://www.rpi.edu/~bulloj/comxbib.html
The Grand Comic Book Database - http://www.comics.org
The Comiclopedia - http://www.lambiek.net/artists/index.htm
ImageTexT: Interdisciplinary Comics Studies:  http://www.english.ufl.edu/imagetext/
Copacetic Link Page
- http://home.earthlink.net/~copaceticcomicsco/linkpage.html

A PDF of this syllabus may be downloaded at http://home.earthlink.net/~copcomco/PFMI-Syllabus-2011.pdf