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It's the first day of class and you tune into your zoom channel to see how our experiment--focused on History, Comics, and the Virus Eye/I--will unfold.

In preparation for the class, I want you to read a couple of comics--especially those of you who never read the beasts! First up? Read Dan DeCarlo's  "It's a Beauty" from Archie Comics' Betty and Veronica, 1970; read Bernie Krigstein's epic "Master Race" from 1955.

Also read this New Yorker  feature on Krigstein as well. When you read the stories the first time, read them fast and superficially. The second time, take more time: study the images, the style, the continuity (or a lack thereof). Also, take notes so that we can have a lively discussion.

Having survived the first day of class on Tuesday, you turn on your work station, laptop, or, not preferable, your smartphone for the 2nd installment of the Virus Eye/I.

Today, before we start, meaning complete your reading by 10:59am today, read the first 97 pages of Oscar Zarate and Richard Appignanesi's FREUD FOR BEGINNERS. Read to this page:

Note the order in which I have positioned the illustrator/author--Zarate first; Appignannesi after. 

Oscar Zarate, a Uruguayan ex-pat who made  career in London, is a wonder of the drawing board; he drew / collaged /  curated all the images you see in this striking summary of Freud's work written by author, Richard Appignanesi. 

As you read for today's Zoom session, look for places where you think there might be a disagreement between Freud and Zarate--where the illustrations are in conflict or in conversation with the writing. All too often we think of illustration as a complement to the writing--but what if it is the other way around with this book?

Overachievers who want to actually read Freud's work can sample this case study of an obsessive compulsive teen girl--her real name is Ida Breuer, but she is famous under the name Dora! This is not required reading, but tasting just a small bit of this 19nth century detective mystery, will give you a better feel for Zarate and Appignanesi's process in creating FREUD FOR BEGINNERS.

It is the second week of class--and what a whirlwind that first one was.  If you missed the lectures last week as you joined the class late, they are streaming for you here, first day, and here, last Thursday.

For today's class, which will take place on ZOOM, in real time (link here) ... Enter the "Chamber of Zoom" having finished reading Appignanesi and Zarate's FREUD FOR BEGINNERS--for class discussion, be prepared to be called on to talk about a direct connection between a specific page in FREUD FOR BEGINNERS and a SPECIFIC PANEL from either the Archie Comics Betty and Veronica  short story by Dan DeCarlo about the dueling bikinis or Krigstein's "Master Race" mini-epic.  Also, come to class with specific questions about the reading. 

What was it like to be Freud's patient back in the day--click on the picture of his 'studio' where he treated his patients (it gets way bigger!).

It's a beautiful morning--hop on your work station of choice (laptop, desktop, smartphone etc) and join me and your TAs and classmates at 11am sharp (or log in after 10:50am for some pre-class, Zoom-based chit chat). But what have you done before you log on the night before?  Read the first 112 pages of John Berger, et al's WAYS OF SEEING.

I can hear it all ready from the cheap seats... "That's too much reading, Professor."

Relax! A couple of the chapters are pure pictures and the pages turn at a fast clip as Berger and his gang of merry men and women, cultural studies warriors all, treat you to a dissection of the history of the development of art as an institution.

As you read, think about the confusing title of this class--the VIRUS EYE, or wait, is it the VIRUS I? How about the Virus ? Use Berger's chapters as a kind of key to figure out the various meanings built into the title of this class. After all, what is WAYS OF SEEING doing on a comics class reading list?

Here's a groovy comic map of WAYS OF SEEING by AustinKleon  (@austinkleon)


No ZOOM class today--take the extra time to finish reading WAYS OF SEEING and to screen the episode, dropped in below, of the series in preparation for our Thursday, September 10 class.

The episode, Ways of Seeing #2, was originally broadcast
on January 15, 1972 on the UK's BBC--that's almost 50 years old, so, of course, to your eyes, Berger's tele-documentary may seem dated--the video quality and editing style anachronistic if not medieval.  But try to get past all that and think about the writing, filming, and editing that went into this singular production. Also, turn on the closed-captioned subtitles as, for the uninitiated, British English can be as puzzling as ancient Greek.

It is Thursday morning at 11am and you scramble out of bed and onto Zoom in heady anticipation of today's discussion on John Berger's WAYS OF SEEING. Our discussion will be kind of schizophrenic in that we will be discussing both the televisual documentary WAYS OF SEEING and the book WAYS OF SEEING.

Also today, at some point, we will have our first in-class writing assignment


Boom!  We are zooming along this semester.  Today we log into our virtual classroom via Zoom and we will have read to page 99 in David Mairowitz's and Robert Crumb's KAFKA (check out the auction price for the original page above here.)

I also want you to do a little bit of reading of Kafka, in translation, so you can juxtapose the work of the brilliant European neurotic with that of his interpreters, David Mairowitz, a gifted critic and writer, and Robert Crumb, a titan of the American underground comic movement of the 1960s. In addition to the Mairowitz / Crumb graphic biography, read this short story, "The Judgment" by Kafka as well as this background piece on the short story from Yale University's Modernism Lab.

Class Zoom Link, 11am

Good Morning inmates of the Virus Eye--you Zoom into class totally freaked out. Why? Because you have just finished reading KAFKA, written by David Mairowitz and illustrated by the enfant terrible of the American underground comic book scene, Robert Crumb.

While last class we concerned ourselves more with Kafka the writer, today we are more focused on Mairowitz and Crumb.  Find out a little bit about Crumb and his work in the interview above, and then read his short story below. In class, we will conclude our ruminations on Kafka but also take up a discussion of why Crumb and Kafka are a match made in Heaven.


A surrealist visionary, Rene Magritte helped redefine the contours of painting in the 20th century. Now as we move from Mairowitz's words and Crumb's images into Magritte's lines and colors we seem to be jumping into an alternative universe--but we are not! All three teach us to look at covers as well as books, frames as well as paintings. 

Here, too, your work with John Berger's WAYS OF SEEING earlier in the semester has prepared you well as you walk into our televisual Zoom virtual classroom having consumed all or at least MOST of Marcel Paquet's book-length study of Magritte's work (read at least to page 67).

Be sure to have 2 or 3 specific paintings (yes you can memorize their titles) that you want to talk about in class.  You may want to "re
ad" the Magritte collection twice: once, forward, to get through the book, but then a second time, backward, carefully 'reading' the pictures using the tools that the class has given you to see deeper into their perplexing bizarre-ness!

Finish reading Paquet's study of Rene Magritte. As you do, keep in mind the thematic focus of our shared project: the Virus Eye/I. How does Magritte's work enhance our understanding of the multiple meanings contained in the title.

Or, to put it another way, can Magritte's life project be thought of as a semiotic virus, as an influenza (or influence) of sorts. And, if it is, what is it sharing -- what part of your vision, imagination, etc does Magritte's infect? Or inflect? Or disturb? Is Magritte's work wholly focused on the eye? Or is it the "I." or both!?

Easier to read; more pictures; more better!

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Read Marshall McLuhan's THE MEDIUM IS THE MASSAGE: AN INVENTORY OF EFFECTS.  I would tell you what page to read up to, but this book, an anti-book of sorts, has few page numbers--so just try to finish the beast for today's class!

For years, Marshall McLuhan was Director of the University of Toronto's Center for Culture and Technology--in a sense he is the intellectual founding father for contemporary studies in communications, mass media study, and art/literary criticism. As you read, consider the complications that McLuhan introduces for individuals, YOU, tasked with making sense of those bizarre beasts called comics.

Be sure to note a moment or two from the text that you view to be curious, provocative, useful, compelling, or confusing so that we can talk about it in our online zoom-based game of televisual tic-tac-toe.

If you have trouble locating the book as it is out of stock at the bookstore--make use of this version here.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Finish Reading McLuhan THE MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGE and read the first two chapters of Dan Clowes's GHOST WORLD. In class we will, of course, discuss what Clowes is up to in his magnificent modern graphic novel classic, but we will also concern ourselves with the overlap between the world view of Marshall McLuhan and Clowes himself. Can it be that GHOST WORLD is an examination of living in a world where the MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGE?

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Class Zoom Link, 11am
Finish Reading Dan Clowes's masterwork GHOST WORLD.

In a sense, we are finally ready to read a graphic novel--our sensitivity to the human subterranean by Freud and Kafka, to the magic duplicity of images by Berger and Company, sensitized to the ciphered and hypnotic mesmerizing (and masked) logic of  media (thanks McLuhan), we are ready now to plunge into the multiple levels of "fun" that is GHOST WORLD.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

No class today! Use the time to catch up on your reading and to re-read works we went over earlier in the semester.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Class Zoom Link, 11am

Fire up your zoom machine and hop into our virtual classroom--before you do so, you will have read up to page 180 in Frederick Luis Aldama's LATINX COMIC BOOK STORYTELLING.

An in-class quiz will take place at some point during class, so please be sure to have prepared accordingly.

As you read, identify one of the cartoonists you would like to meet someday based on their interview;
next, go on the internet and find samples of their work you are willing to share and explore with the class during a segment of the class we will call YOU'RE

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Class Zoom Link, 11am

Walk into class (aka your virtual holodeck called Zoom!) having finished your reading of Aldama's collection of artist interviews and profiles. In addition to this reading, carefully study Jaime Hernandez's "How to Kill a ... By Isabel Reubens."

Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Art Spiegelman's MAUS, Book 1, is an extraordinary achievement in 20th century literary history--that the form, or medium, of the story is a comic book or graphic narrative makes it all the more rare. On the surface, it is simple and basic enough: Art Spiegelman, American underground cartoonist, wants to shift gears and tell his father, Vladek's, Holocaust survival narrative. But this simple memoir evolves into something much more ambitious and challeging: a memoir, a biography, a history, and something else altogether. Read to page 93, the end of Chapter 4 in Art Spiegelman's MAUS, Book 1.

Thursday, October 22, 2020
What happens this morning? First thing you do: finish reading MAUS. For class today we will play another game of YOU ARE THE PROFESSOR, so have a panel or a juxtaposition of panels ready that you want to share with the class. Do not come to the Zoom session without having this material prepared to share as I may be calling on students randomly. Also read this piece from the NYTIMES, linked in the picture here:

Tuesday, October 27, 2020
You begin the week filled with fear and loathing as you know you have a Mid-Term examination on Thursday October 29, 2020--in two days! And today, we will spend about the last 15 minutes of class reviewing for the exam. The best advice I have for the exam is to have panels/pages ready in advance you want to write about that you think are provocative, striking, problematic, evocative, strange, out of the ordinary, or uncanny--moreover, please AVOID regurgitating things I have said in class. My other advice--look at these actual final exams from previous classes I have taught here at SDSU.  They are here--here is one; here is another.

For class today, read up to this point in Marjane Satrapi's EMBROIDERIES--I have to show you a picture as it is not paginated:

If you want to finish Satrapi's book, that is cool as well. Satrapi is out of this world talented and her revelations regarding female Iranian communities is both moving and thoughtful.  I hope you enjoy this book and come to class prepared to share your findings.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Class Zoom Link, 11am
Today is your midterm exam--as with all the other graded materials you have done so far for this class, you should have an email to your TA started so that you can start your writing the second you receive the Exam link via CHAT. YOU MUST BE SIGNED ONTO OUR ZOOM SESSION TO TAKE THE EXAM--moreover, please have your camera ON during the exam. If you CANNOT, let me know WHY in advance via email to bnericci@sdsu.edu

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Election Day! No Class! Go Vote!

No Class! Go Vote!

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Class Zoom Link, 11a
Today we will have an asynchronous lecture on the last part of Satrapi's book--come back here soon for a link to this lecture/podcast.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Class Zoom Link, 11am

You turn on your Zoom classroom facsimile machine and enter our virtual viruseye classroom having read to AT LEAST page 102 of INCOGNEGRO--however, IF YOU CAN, try to finish this recent graphic history written by Mat Johnson and illustrated by Warren Pleece. As you read, consider the similarities between this work and others we have read this semester, whilst also taking note of the differences.

Beware as you read!

This work grapples with issues that have filled the news of late, especially with regard to raging debates including Black Lives Matter, systemic racism, and social justice. As you read, incorporate what you know about these movements and issues to your experience of the book; at the same time, allow your experience of other graphic works we have studied this semester to suffuse your understanding of Johnson and Pleece's stunning project.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Class Zoom Link, 11am

Finish your reading of INCOGNEGRO for today--during our zoom session we may or not be continuing our discussion of it as we will be having a surprise guest lecture by Zeal Harris, who is the SDSU Arts Alive Artist in Residence for 2020-21. More on her and her work here and here.

What will we be doing in class? Here are your specific instructions:

1. Fill out this form and email it to artsalivesdsu@sdsu.edu
2. In the first part of class, Zeal Harris will hit us with a slide show presentation of her work and the work of other artists who use narrative art to tell stories. 
3. Next we will engage in a 5-10 min activity where students think about and do the prompts on this slide:

4. 10 mins share out and general Q & A with any questions that students want to ask our visiting artist.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Class Zoom Link, 11am

We are still thinking about our last class with Zeal Harris--who facilitated a singular event, teasing out through memory and drawing memoirs and reminiscences from members of the class (it was a special class); but we must move on. We will use the beginning of the class--the first half hour or so, finishing up our discussion of INCOGNEGRO--which you should have finished reading already. The balance of the class will be given over to Chelsea Cain and her amazing MAN-EATERS #1 Graphic novel. Read to the end of Chapter 2--the chapter ends with this double-page splash:

Cain is a deft plotter and truly a postmodern writer--as important as the tale of MAN-EATERS #1 is to the project, the critique/manipulation/satire of advertising that goes on throughout will make you think you are back with McLuhan, albeit an even more progressive version of the same. If McLuhan schooled us into understanding that the medium is the message, Cain will repeat that lesson, but with a difference: with Chelsea Cain, gender is the message and if she is right, we are on the brink of a shift in the way we understand the space of women--especially young women.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Finish reading MAN-EATERS #1--come to our Zoom session with an ad from the book you are ready to dissect, analyze, assess, break down, etc. We will do so in a segment of the class you've grown to love ..."You're the Professor."

Tuesday November 24, 2020

Thanksgiving Week--No Class!

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Thanksgiving--No Class!

Here are a couple of pages from The San Diego Union Tribune Comics page--while you are on Thanksgiving break, check out the comics pages of your local newspaper if you have the chance.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Class Zoom Link, 11am

And then, it was over. We reach the end of the line with our final comic book of the semester. And we end with an amazing little piece of graphic narrative fiction, a deceptively simple meditation on, like Clowes's GHOST WORLD, life on the threshold of change. Turn on our Zoom session having read up to page 74--the end of chapter 2. In addition, and required!, read/listen to these two interviews with Tomine (pronounced toe-MEEN-ah) --here and here.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Class Zoom Link, 11am
Finish your reading of SHORTCOMINGS. Come to class with a panel or two to juxtapose and analyze during our last installment of YOU ARE THE PROFESSOR. The image above is from a Publisher's Weekly article about Tomine and his new book THE LONELINESS OF THE LONG-DISTANCE CARTOONIST ... a brilliant new work that you can check out here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Class Zoom Link, 11am

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Class Zoom Link, 11am