Fall 2021@SDSU | English 157: Comics & History

 Sex, Drugs, & Rock'n'Roll in the Age of the Televisual
Fall 2021@SDSU | Professor William Nericcio, T/Th 11:00am 


or too long now, the category of "the psychedelic" has been associated with LSD, Hippies, the 1960s, and the summer of love. And for good reason -- it was during the watershed, tumultuous years of the 60s that revolutionary changes and advances took place across the United States.
(Click image above to enlarge--click here for the image backstory).

In this class, however, we will embrace the psychedelic and "the psyche" with an emphasis not only on the radical 60s but on texts that show artists and writers attempting to convey the complexities of the human spirit. Oh, and in comic books! And we will do so with the idea firm in hand that comic books (and literature, and cinema, and photography, and art) are a kind of mirror--objects we create, disseminate, (and sell) that show us refracted visions of ourselves and others. Why else for these art forms to be striving since our Homo Sapien (and Neanderthal) ancestors were scribbling versions of their world view onto cave walls. From the cave paintings of Lascaux in France to graffiti tagging on city buildings everywhere — humans have felt compelled to tell stories with pictures. And to do so in a way that left a trace of themselves behind!
(Click image opposite to enlarge--click here for a diverting interpretation of this 1000s year old tag).

But why "Comic Books" or Comics (or Comix)? Sequential art (the fancy name for what we usually call comics or graphic novels) is most contemporary manifestation of those remarkable cave illustrations, offering readers and viewers a visual text, sometimes accompanied with words, meant to be read and seen by the viewer. Our always evolving circus of a class will offer students from all majors and minors a brief study of comic books and visual cultural studies including graphic works from medieval manuscripts to cutting-edge 21st century video games.
As we wrestle with these outrageous graphic beasts, students will develop an appreciation of, and a language for, analyzing comics as an art form. But more than that, we will come to experience comics for all they are, including: 1]. the precursor for motion pictures back in the day; 2]. a revolutionary art form that put the revolution into cultural resistance back in the 1960s; and, 3]: perhaps most interestingly, a psychedelic medium, an evolving, even mesmerizing, medium that gives us the next, best incarnation of literature today.

During the course of the semester, students can expect to read and engage with works by Frida Kahlo, Noam Chomsky, Robert Crumb, Frederick Luis Aldama, Emil Ferris, and Daniel Clowes among others.

Our Fall 2021 Lineup of Required Books Includes:


Note! The best deal on this book
($9.95 + tax) is via the Aztec Shops Campus Bookstore through special arrangement with SDSU Press.


Available soon in the Aztec Bookstore for the best-anywhere-price of $16.95; also available here and here.

Movies Screened
Free in Class

Movies Screened
Free in Class

Movies Screened
Free in Class


Click each cover above the Aztec Shops Link graphic to see the correct print edition of all the books we are studying together this semester!  Should you buy print editions or digital editions? What about pirated pdfs?

You are welcome to pursue what you see fit, but, despite the expense, nothing beats working with the best, printed edition of the book.

Should you rent or buy? That is up to you!  But remember, your bookshelf is like a mirror of the journey of your psyche--a snapshot of the evolution of your imaginations.

Empty bookshelf?  =  Erased  intellectual legacy

A note about purchasing books in our special, outrageous, and comics filled #psychedelicmirrors comix/visual cultural studies class... You might be asking yourself, "should I go ebook or old school paper-book?" For the purposes of this section of English 157, you MUST 'go old school,' 'old gangster,' and buy or rent the real thing -- and, though i don't care WHERE you purchase/rent this paper artifact, make sure it is the edition they carry in the campus bookstore!

Why? So that we will all be on the same page during discussions, in-class writing assignments, quizzes, etc.  And I mean that literally and figuratively: ON THE SAME PAGE!!!

You may have heard we are living through the age of the 'Death of the Book.' Don't buy the hype. Just as a Biology 101 professor might scoff at you if you walked into an anatomy lab wanting to use your 'scalpel app', or an archeology prof on a dig would faint if you wanted to use your 'shovel app,' it's the same thing here. Literature is about books--paper, black ink, paste, etc. As to whether you should rent or buy--keep in mind that literature books are NOT textbooks. They actually look good on your shelves and tell the world a lot about yourself--basically, they are an intellectual mirror of your tastes, range, and depth. That said, it isYOUR call whether you rent the books or add them to your life journey!

Student Learning Outcomes

Blah. Blah. Blah.

Usually, state-mandated or CSU-authored "student learning outcomes" read like the drivel you don't read when you update the OS of your phone or laptop.  We here at the Virus Eye/I think differently.  Here's our promise.  If you do all the readings and attend all of the classes, I promise you will be able to talk about comics, literature, art, television, and culture as well as Nerdwriter, aka Evan Puschak. Or, at the very least, pretty close to his capabilities!

Watch both of these whether you are familiar with comics or not!

Nerdwriter on Art Spiegelman's MAUS

Nerdwriter on Neil Gaiman's THE SANDMAN

the Letter "T" used
                    as a dropcaphis is a university-level course in comics, literature, film, art, and the internet--as it is thematically focused on issues of representation, subjectivity, psychology, and sexuality, it should not come as a shock that students in the class may, from time to time, encounter characters, ideas, situations, images, language, and scenarios that make them uneasy.

WELCOME TO THE UNIVERSITY!  The antithesis of a place of worship, the flipside of a space dedicated to faith and belief, the university is a site of questioning--a sacred space of critical thinking, skepticism, cynicism and irony. So open your eyes, jump-start your mind, and prepare to enter the choppy corridors of the always already evolving world of comics and history.

If you are a student with a disability and believe you will need accommodations for this class, it is your responsibility to contact Student Ability Success Center at (619) 594-6473. To avoid any delay in the receipt of your accommodations, you should contact Student Ability Success Center as soon as possible. Please note that accommodations are not retroactive, and that I cannot provide accommodations based upon disability until I have received an accommodation letter from Student Ability Success Center. Your cooperation is appreciated.

Your Day to Day Calendar of Assignments during your incarceration in the #psychedelicmirror!!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

First Day of Class! Oh my god! Is there a world after Covid?

there is as SDSU squeezes 150 of us into a 300 seat auditorium, GMCS 333--otherwise known as  our one and only #psychedelicmirrors mothership!  Seriously, however, we will act with due diligence and care for our fellow students and professor, wearing our masks and leaving a seat between ourselves and our fellow tripped out, virus-loathing, citizens of this awesome class, this #psychedelicmirror!

How should you prepare for the first class? ... Enter the room having read the first 80 or so pages of Richard Appignanesi (writer) and Oscar Zarate (illustrator/image curator) amazing collaborative book project: FREUD FOR BEGINNERS.

"80 pages!!!!--are you crazy, Professor Nericcio.?"
I will take the fifth on that one!

But not to worry, my young charges! This dazzling outrageous book is mostly pictures -- and rather detailed, salacious pictures at that. We begin with this book owing to the magnificent vocabulary Sigmund "Father of Psychoanalysis" Freud gives us for understanding the inner workings of the human psyche! 

Whether you have been brought up to love or loathe Siggy, you can't deny the fact his theories and terminology infected all subsequent generations of Western thinkers since the turn of the last century. As such, we'd be remiss (and ignorant) to dismiss our Viennese physician (a trained neurosurgeon in addition to being a psychoanalyst). Additionally, come to class having read this classic EC comics short story--you do NOT have to print it out and bring it, just read it after (AFTER) you consume the Appignanesi & Zarate opus!

Here's a preview of one graphic that will be featured in our first lecture. Click and study the image below. First, consider the story being told about old Siggy Freud (and, for good measure, youngish Sigmund; and, one more, Freud, with two of his sons, around the time of WWI). Next, think about what the cartoonist and illustrator, Oscar Zarate, reveals to us from under the surface, as it were, regarding the tensions and rivalries afoot in the Freud family nest!

click to enlarge

Thursday, August 26, 2021

It's only the 2nd day of class ... and guess what! You've finished reading a book as you enter GMCS 333 having finished your reading of Oscar Zarate's and Richard Appignanesi's FREUD FOR BEGINNERS.

As you read think about dynamic connections you might draw between what you are reading and seeing and what you yourself have experienced recently.

I don't know about you, but the Covid plague has been wreaking havoc on my unconscious, filling my dreams with fantastic visions and outrageous situations.

Additionally, as you read, I also want you to watch the text, as this strange book is actually at least two books at once: Richard Appignanesi, the writer and intellectual historian glossing key concepts and events from the life of Freud and the history of Psychoanalysis.

But there is also another book: Oscar Zarate's depiction of this life and history, but, also, Zarate's keen, savvy curation of engravings and drawings and photographs from the late 19nth century and early 20th century. What might, on the surface, appear to be an illustrator playing with nasty pictures, is also, on further observation, a critical operation, where a cartoonist and visual arts curator attempts to reveal the tricky, complex relationship between images and our psyche, between pictures and our imagination.

Not for nothing will you be checking your Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, or Tinder/Grindr account in the next few minutes--the very real connection between visual stimulation and psychology is only beginning to be understood.

All of this, of course, will help us better understand the dynamics of sequential art, of graphic narrative, of .... COMICS!

click to enlarge

Tuesday, August 31, 2021
As I suggested in our first class, I have to mess up your schedule already owing to some of the books not being available in the book store! Order your books now for the rest of the semester, knowing that availability is not guaranteed as the SDSU Bookstore is not as reliable as it used to be. So, today, in class, there is no reading as we will use our time screening David Cronenberg's film, A DANGEROUS METHOD. Cronenberg will be more familiar to us next week, as he writes the introduction to the edition of Kafka's The Metamorphosis we are reading for our class. We will screen the first half of the film together--sadly no popcorn allowed owing to the nefarious doings of the Delta Covid variant--and then have a lively discussion, focused upon the film, of course, but also, Appignanesi and Zarate's version of Freud's life and career!

Thursday, September 2, 2021
Again we are back at the movies as we experience the propounding conclusion of David Cronenberg's A DANGEROUS METHOD! As we watch the movie, consider the differences and similarities between cinema and comics / graphic fiction... Oddly enough, cinema can be understood as a kind of "child" of comics as early motion pictures used the Sunday funnies (comic strips) as a model for mapping the schema of early cinematic experimentation.  Check out a turn of the century Winsor McCay strip here to see what I mean--also not the connection between McCay's one-page comic strip spread and dreams!

Friday, September 3, 2021 --> Schedule adjustment deadline. Last day to add, drop, or change grading basis (7:59 p.m. deadline).

Tuesday, September 7, 2021
Week THREE of class finds us running headlong into the imagination and talents of three singular figures: David Zane Mairowitz, Robert Crumb, and the one and only Franz Kafka.  As we were with Richard Appignanesi and Oscar Zarate in FREUD FOR BEGINNERS, we are confronted by a dynamic duo of sorts--a wordsmith, David Mairowitz, out with a vengeance to rescue Kafka from literary critics (that would be me and my ilk, the pointy headed "intellectuals of the Ivory Tower"); and, Robert Crumb, arguably the most important underground comic book artist of the 20th century, and certainly one of the most infamous illustrators to render life in paper and ink. Never heard of "underground comics?" Check out this link (but do have a care as clicking the link will connect you to R-rated, adult materials).

For today's class, read to page 103 in KAFKA. As you read try to take apart what, for you, is fused -- Mairowitz, the literary biographer, recasting Kafka's life in ways that distance Kafka from the Kafkaesque; and Crumb, the ridiculously talented cartoonist, rendering the contours of Kafka's life and imagination in ways that echo Oscar Zarate's rendition of Freud's life and imagination. But you, of course, are in an even better position, to probe the complexities of Kafka's psyche. Why? Because you've carefully read FREUD FOR BEGINNERS and you now know how to delve into the complexities of Kafka's unconscious, the lurid corridors of Kafka's neurotic genius.

As you read, try to come up with descriptions of ways Mairowitz's script complements or contrasts with Crumb's drawn version of the same.  Also, come to class with one or two specific illustrations you want to analyze and/or unpack.

Thursday, September 9, 2021
An Amazing Day! Walk into class having read MILO IMAGINES THE WORLD, written by Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Christian Robinson.

The amazing part! Professor de la Peña, a faculty member of our department here at SDSU, will be joining us for class and giving a presentation (and sharing the backstory) of the making of this remarkable instant children's classic. 

Some things to think about with regard to the medium ... what is the connection between children's books and comic books!? The comix we have read so far are anything but for children given say Zarate's curatorship of 19nth century erotic engravings and Crumb's lustful rendition of Kafka's yearnings! However, there are ways to understand picture books like MILO as being in dialogues with comix, adult and otherwise. In any event, come to class with questions typed up for the author so that he can pick and choose and respond to your queries!  We will take roll today using these questions so don't forget to bring them to class!

More info! Hit the poster to expand! Oh and bring your books to class as Matt has generously volunteered to sign your book after our session!

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

It is "What is Visual Cultural Studies: Photography in the Americas" Day for us here in the labyrinth of GMCS 333! You walk into class expecting another droning lecture from Professor Nericcio! And you are delighted to discover a surprise! It's a #psychmirrors event as our class welcome Mexican photographer Antonio Turok for a lecture that is guaranteed to augment our ability to critically read pictures. True, we will be focused (pardon the pun) on photography --but everything we learn today about the way pictures "speak" will augment and enhance our critical skills when we begin again to pick apart the nuances of comix! More below:

Antonio Turok: Mexico Resistance    

Mexican photographer, Antonio Turok, provides a lecture based on his brilliant black-and-white photographs taken of the indigenous people of Chiapas and Oaxaca during the past several decades. 

About Antonio Turok: For over three decades, internationally acclaimed documentary photographer Antonio Turok has traveled through his native Mexico and Central America, capturing images that speak of the human condition in places like Nicaragua, Salvador, Guatemala, and the southern Mexican states of Chiapas and Oaxaca. Though documentary in nature, the soft, black-and-white photographs Mr. Turok creates seem otherworldly, like ghostly reminders of another place or time. Mr. Turok has received, among others, the following grants:  Sistema Nacional de Creadoras 2016 - 2018, NALAC Transnational Cultural Remittances Grant 2009, 1994 Mother Jones International Documentary Award, and 1997 John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. He has published three books: Imagenes de Nicaragua (Casa de Las Imagenes, 1988), Chiapas: End of Silence (Aperture, 1998), and La Fiesta y La Rebelión (Ediciones Era 2018). Mr. Turok’s work has been collected by numerous museums and private collections in Mexico, Europa, and the United States. This includes the Los Angeles County Museum of Fine Arts, The Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, Wittliff Gallery of Mexican, and Southwestern Photography in San Marcos, Texas, and many more. Mr. Turok lives with his family in Oaxaca, Mexico, where he continues to give workshops on documentary photography.

Co-organized by Álvaro Huerta, Ph.D., and Marietta Bernstor

 Thursday, September 16, 2021

No class today! Catch up with your reading! Why is there no class? Well your stalwart professor is flying up to Idaho (!?) for a guest lecture at Boise State University. Take advantage of the day off to read ahead or catch up on what you are behind on!

Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Two tasks for you to complete before you enter GMCS, otherwise known as our Temple of Delta!


First, finish reading KAFKA, by David Zane Mairowitz and Robert Crumb, and be sure to come to class with a xeroxed page (that is, a printed photocopied page from the Mairowitz's /Crumb's book on Kafka that you want to analyze in class).

Second task?

Read the first 25 pages from Susan Bernofsky's translation of Franz Kafka's "The Metamorphosis." If you are a film nut, or even if you are not, also try to find the time to read director David Cronenberg's introduction to Bernofky's translation of Kafka's legendary short story.

You know Cronenberg as a director (A DANGEROUS METHOD) ... what is he like as a writer. How do his interests differ from Mairowitz?

 Not only is it one of the finer introductions you'll ever read in a book of any sort, but it comes from the typewriter of one of Hollywood's most notorious directors, whose horror-laced imagination--SCANNERS, VIDEODROME, THE FLY, NAKED LUNCH, CRASH, and, last but not least, A DANGEROUS METHOD (focused on the life of Freud and Jung who we last met via Appignanesi and Zarate).

As you read Kafka's story allow everything that has touched your mind in FREUD FOR BEGINNERS and KAFKA to refract your imagination. What you are looking for is a kind of unpredictable confluence, as the fused collective consciousness of Appignanesi, Zarate, Mairowitz, Crumb, Freud, and Kafka run wild in your cognitive machine!

Thursday, September 23, 2021
You enter our chamber of comic books and history having finished reading "The Metamorphosis" -- if you have time, read the afterword by the translator, Susan Bernofsky, as well. Consider, as you read, the connections between Kafka's short tale and the idea of the "psychedelic mirror." With Kafka, we confront an artist for whom writing was an obsession. Usually we associate writing with reason, with a process that allows us to "sort things out." But for Kafka, we encounter writing of an another species, a space where Kafka accelerated the velocity of his imagination and feelings.

Opposite appears an image -- a collage of sorts. I am having a t-shirt customized with embroidered patches that remind me intimately of my father, who passed away years ago. He loved reading, Schlitz Beer, and the Post Office, where he worked for close to 40 years. 7 years before I lost my father owing to his death, I lost him, in another way, to Alzheimers.

As we are reading Kafka, whose problematic relationship with his father inspired much of his writing, think about the connection between yourself and your own father (or your own mother) or both, or of the guardian who most marked your life's pathway--if you had to take pen to paper to write or draw them, what would that composition look like?

Tuesday, September 28, 2021
He is the Father of 20th Century linguistics -- and an influential theorist, commentator, and professor! He is also a radical political activist -- not like your grandfather's University Professor, this guy puts it all on the line for his thinking and his radical critiques. And, once upon a time, he visited SDSU and gave a hell of a lecture/seminar. His name!? Noam Chomsky, not Nim Chimsky!

Come into class having read up to page 52 of MODULAR APPROACHES TO THE STUDY OF THE MIND. As you read, adapt what Chomsky is saying about language and cognition to the graphic works and filmed works we have already read this semester!

Thursday, September 30, 2021

You walk into class proud of yourself--not only did you finish reading the rest Chomsky's book for your last #psychmirrors class, you've also read the first 32 pages of Dan Clowes's GHOST WORLD for today! In class we will work to see if Chomsky's modular approaches assist us in any way with parsing the contours of Clowes's twisted imagination. Or is it Freud who will be of more use to us as we peruse Clowes's grotesqueries! Be sure to come to class with a panel printed out that you want to do a close reading of for the class as we prepare for our first episode of "You're the Professor."

 Tuesday, October 5, 2021

It is a brilliant fall day and you bounce into GMCS 333 having completed your reading of Dan Clowes's GHOST WORLD -- in addition, for today, please carefully read this interview with Clowes. Class will begin today with an exercise in critical juxtaposition. Bring 2 photocopied (xeroxes, printed photographs) of key, specific, provocative panels by Clowes -- one from the first few pages of GHOST WORLD; one from near the end of the book. Class will begin with a writing assignment on these printouts to be announced as class opens.

If you really dig Clowes, you might enjoy his newer book PATIENCE -- check out a Guardian feature piece on Clowes and PATIENCE here.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Today we begin an epic masterpiece in the history of graphic narrative -- David B's EPILEPTIC. An emotionally-charged and literary achievement, EPILEPTIC is a memoir of a childhood -- a childhood disfigured and altered irrevocably by a medical incident. The book is striking for many reasons not the least of which that it is true, that it is the cartoonist David B's memoir.  Note that "David B" is a pseudonym for Pierre-François "David" Beauchard. Read to page 94.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021
Read to page 225 in David B's EPILEPTIC -- as you read think back to your experience of Daniel Clowes's GHOST WORLD: How are Clowes's and David B's comic book storytelling practices similar? Where do they come to conflict. We know that the two books are from different literary genres -- Clowes book is fiction; David B's a memoir ... but is it possible also, that their graphic signature is different? That we can say GHOST WORLD and EPILEPTIC have distinct semiotic grammar?

 Thursday, October 14, 2021

Two assignments for today as we dive into a thinkfest focused on self-portraiture!

Finish reading David B's EPILEPTIC ... come to class with a printout of a page or even just a single panel that for you encapsulates something essential about this graphic memoir.

Also read the first two chapters of KAHLO by Andrea Kettenmann. Here again you are confronted by (at least) two genres: A graphic memoir and a piece of art history-laced biography. To be sure I want you to read Kettenmann's biography of Kahlo, but I am also very interested in having directly contrast Frida Kahlo's paintings with David B's illustrations. Both artists document the psychological consequences of disabilities -- but they do so in ways that are distinct and harrowing. I also want you to bring a printout of a painting by Kahlo from the book that resonates with David B's EPILEPTIC.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Finish reading Andrea Kettenmann's illustrated biography and critical summary entitled KAHLO.
As we waltz through Kahlo's painterly career we sense we are walking with someone who knew all too well the contours and resonances of the psychedelic mirror. Her canvases, in fact, anticipate the dynamics of Instagram to the extent that they reveal themselves (and Kahlo) through a treasure trove of painted selfies.

Thursday, October 21, 2021
We leap into the genre of science fiction as we dive into Damian Duffy's and John Jennings's graphic novel adaptation of Octavia Butler's PARABLE OF THE SOWER. We would do well to keep our eye on the title of the project as the keywords PARABLE and SOWER reveal huge clues into the meaning(s) of this semiotically rich work. Read up to page 120 in the novel.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

You are back from your wild (or mundane) weekend and you walk into our auditorium having finished your reading of PARABLE OF THE SOWER. When you complete your reading, take the time to read this revealing deep dive into PARABLE OF THE SOWER.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Midterm Examination! Come to class with a couple of pens -- that's it ... no books, no phones, no laptops, no nada ... just a pen, your memory, and your magnificent imagination!

Tuesday, November 2, 2021
Still recovering from the psychic trauma that was your Midterm Exam, you crawl wounded into GMCS 333 having dived into Emil Ferris's remarkable opus, MY FAVORITE THING IS MONSTERS. Monsters we think we know from our adventures together this term: The "bug" in Kafka's METAMORPHOSIS, Crumb's visually arresting version of the same, Clowes's grotesques, David B's renditions of human disease as itself, a kind of monster. And now the queen of them all, Emil Ferris with masterful meditation on the same. Read up to this two-page spread (most editions of the book are pageless):

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Read up to this two-page spread -- as Ferris weaves this amazing world, largely with Bic pens no less consider the relationship between form and meaning. Ferris's work is no less detailed and gritty than say Crumb, but it comes across with a different power, a unique resonance. Read up to this two page spread:

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

You have completed your reading of Ferris's masterpiece, what is there to say ... (more to come) ...

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Veterans Day -- No Class Today

 Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Read to page 74 of Adrian Tomine's SHORTCOMINGS -- more to come ...

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Finish your reading of Adrian Tomine's SHORTCOMINGS -- in seminar today, a treat! A Special Guest Lecture on Tomine, SHORTCOMINGS, and more by SDSU English and Professor Ralph Clare

Today you will enter the room having completed Tomine's masterpiece, but Professor Clare has other tricks up his sleeve for thee!

Come to class also having read these outtakes from Tomine's Optic Nerve serialized comics. Also take the time to

read Langston Hughes's "The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain" -- whilst there, poke around the Poetry Foundation site because you'll get a short Hughes bio and can check out other Hughes poems if you feel like it. In class, Dr. Clare will talk a bit about the supposedly post-racial age and the challenges and opportunities that poses for writers/artists of color -- and, particularly, for Tomine, who is working in an incredibly white industry, "atlernative" though it is. So we'll look at those moments in the text when questions of identity and race come up, as well as consider what Hughes calls the "subconscious" desire to aspire toward whiteness to plug back into Mr. Freud.
Lastly, Dr. Clare's lecture and discussion are part of a Comix @ SDSU Lecture series -- here's the poster in case you are curious!
Click enlarge!

Tuesday, November 23, 2021
No Class -- Thanksgiving Break

Thursday, November 25, 2021
No Class -- Thanksgiving Break

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Can you believe we have finally arrived at our last book? And what has all our work with graphic narrative (comix) prepared us for? Animation! and Animation Studies! The studies part is the first book by an up and coming talent by the name of Darius Gainer: BLACK REPRESENTATION IN THE WORLD OF ANIMATION. Read to page 84 for today's class. In class we will discuss Gainer's critical work after screening the first half of Pixar's SOUL, directed by Pete Docter and written by Pete Docter, Mike Jones, and Kemp Powers. As you screen the film in class, be thinking about the history of black folks in animation as unfolded by Gainer's masterwork as you consume the 21st century of the same by an animation studio associated with being the best at the craft of animation in the here and now.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

We enter class today for our screening of the last half of Pixar's SOUL--in addition, read pages 85 to 139 in
Gainer's BLACK REPRESENTATION IN THE WORLD OF ANIMATION. Another good reason to attend today's class? We will have a brief review for your final exam that goes down Thursday, December 9, 2021 at 11am in GMCS 333--aka the "Den of #PsychMirrors!

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

It's the end of the semester, almost, and we are in the mood to celebrate--especially as our reading work for the semester is at an end as you walk into GMCS 333 having finished Gainer's book!

Walk into the room having finished Darius Gainer's BLACK REPRESENTATION IN THE HISTORY OF ANIMATION. The celebration begins in class as we welcome Darius into the house for a presentation on his first book and, of course, Pixar's SOUL, directed by Pete Docter. Come to class with a typed sheet of at least three discussion questions for Darius, based on your critical reading of his book and your screening of Docter's SOUL.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Your Final Exam goes down today In Class from 11 to 12:15 in GMCS 333! Here is a link to previous final exams I have given so that you can have a feel for the way I test on midterms and finals!

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

10:30 to 12:30pm

As you may know, this class has an official final exam date listed for today, Tuesday, December 14, 2021, from 10:30am to 12:30pm. BUT YOU ALREADY TOOK THE FINAL EXAM last Thursday, December 9, 2021, so what the hell is happening?

Well today is the day you can meet with me in our regular classroom, GMCS 333, from 10:30 to 12:30 to pick up your graded final and have me share with you in person your final grade for the class and, if you wish, how I came to make that final decision. Your visit to the room today is OPTIONAL and you can merely sign up via your webportal later this afternoon to see your grade online. Of course, I may think of you evermore as a mere cog in the machine, a numeric value in the Matrix etc, but it is what it is. Hope to see you today--if not, thx for a great semester

Engl 157: Comics &
History Passport
A Description of How Your Work Will Be Evaluated in #psychedelicmirrors

This section of your online syllabus documents how your work will be evaluated Fall 2021. Here you will find all the little gates, cages, locks, statutes, ordinances, edicts, and formulas that allow our innovative comics and history collective to thrive.

Let me underscore that you have absolute intellectual freedom in our seminar, BUT to receive these awesome rights, you must also follow the serious but reasonable responsibilities outlined on this part of your syllabus.

After all, we want to have a great time, to be the best literature/cultural studies class on the West Coast, even!

Take that USC! Eat my dust UCLA!
And it will be easier to achieve this semester as they, like us, are online all the time!

But to do that, we need room for intellectual play--a safe asylum within which to forge our comics-laced, history-filled wanderlust. So, then, read these laws carefully and thoroughly, so when you sign on for our first class on August 23, 2021, you will know what you are in for!


Tuesdays 12:30 to 2:30pm in Arts and Letters 273

Why visit me during 'office hours'? Why not? If only to experience the madness of my working studio space!  You are warmly invited to visit me in office hours at least once during the semester if you can. 

Now, post-covid, we do have to be careful though--so regardless of what the CDC advises, please visit Arts and Letters 273 wearing a nice, clean mask!

At SDSU, it's easy to fall through the cracks, to feel that you are nothing but a Red ID# or some warm pile of sentient flesh filling a seat. In order to convince you that the Professor teaching you is occasionally human, please make a point during the semester to take the time to introduce yourself whether it be by piping up in class, zapping me an email, or posting on one of our social media channels.

Regardless of how we end up arranging things, if you find my posted office hours are inconvenient, do not hesitate to email me for a phone or zoom appointment either at memo@sdsu.edu or bnericci@mail.sdsu.edu

You can also call me at 619.594.1524 via telephone, but keep in mind I don't check my medieval office landline very often!


BUY THE BOOKS AND READ THEM--DON'T COME TO SEMINAR WITHOUT YOUR BOOK! Though we very much adore living in the 21st century, we will, for the most part use ANALOG, printed books in this class. So check out each one and buy them now!


When you enter this room for class you will have completed the reading that appears on the day-to-day class calendar, aka the Daily Lineup!  Please note the word "finished" (not "started," not "skimmed," not "glanced," and most decidedly NOT "I read the Cliffs/Sparks Notes and a review of the damned thing online!"). Coming to a university literature/film/cultural studies class without doing the reading is like a gardener trying to raise roses without getting her/his hands filthy with shit, a surgeon trying to operate without a scalpel, a fireman without her/his ax, a prostitute without ..., ... er, ... well, I better stop there--you get the gist of it.

Do the readings. 

Do them twice if you can MAKE the time! I know, you are saying to yourself, "they don't make me read in my other classes" or some other sort of nonsense... well here, you must! Think twice about joining us online if you have not finished the readings--the quality of our class depends upon your dedicated work and your relentless and independent curiosity. Without your periodic intellectual donations, the class is likely to evolve into a boring, even painful waste of time. 


Your laptop will be asleep IN YOUR BAGS during class--or, better yet, resting in your dorm room or apartment.

Have you noticed how anytime a student uses a laptop in an auditorium there is a "cone of distraction" alongside and behind the student using a computer?

This is usually due to said student surfing the web via wi-fi perusing erotic delights or god knows what. I was recently at a cool (ok, it was slightly boring, I confess) lecture by a noted writer--as I tried to listen to her, in front of me, a diverted student (attending the lecture, no doubt, for extra-credit) was perusing sites like these (nsfw or school).

So, laptops are GREAT for entering your notes AFTER class, but they will not be allowed in our lecture hall. If you have an issue with this, schedule a meeting with me during office hours to chat the first week of class.


Your beloved magnificent iPhone, your cherished Galaxy, your fetishized Pixel, or even your primordial pager will be off, off, OFF during class meetings; if for some reason you are expecting an emergency call, set it on VIBRATE (for privacy, pleasure, or both!) and sit in the back near an exit after letting me know in advance before class that you are expecting an emergency phone-call. Cellphones KILL collective spaces of learning with their ill-timed, annoying clattering rings, bongs, squeaks, chirps, and themes.

Yes, the trauma of that delayed text, yes, the horror of that missed hook-up call, yes, the loss of the buzz of that random Tinder swipe will no doubt doom you to years and years on an psychoanalyst's couch, but we, the rest of us, will gain some silence, a kind of sanctuary without which ideas wither on the vine. We are NOT joking about this unthinkable edict!

PASSPORT RULE 5 Charlie-Delta_Thief

PLAGIARISM is for cads, thieves, and idiots who desire an "F" for the class. Plagiarism comes from the Latin word, "plagiarius" which means kidnapper, plunderer, or (get this!) thief--not a GOOD thing.

In the university, plagiarism refers to the art and crime of presenting other people's work under your own signature, aka cutting and pasting copied crap from Wikipedia--definitely a BAD thing. While your professor is forbidden by CSU/SDSU code from tattooing the word LOSER on the foreheads of guilty students, he can promise that felonious students will be remanded to the state-authorized SDSU executioners.  Read THIS as well--SDSU is SERIOUS about this shit, so don't take any chances!  Rely on your own singular mind and imagination!

Major Course Requirements


  • 40%  Attendance, Quizzes, In-class "Panic-Inducing Challenges", In-class participation, In-class writing, cineTREKS, Office Hour visits, etc.--note that "in-class" means "in-class" that is you can expect assignments to magically appear DURING our Zoom class sessions.
  • 30% Your Mid-Term, aka the Mid-Semester VirusEyeChallenge
  • 30%  Final Examination, aka the Final VirusEyeChallenge


Coming to class for each seminar session is NOT optional--the whole point of this class is to work together, the idea being that we creatively and magicly convert our classroom into a chaotic, unpredictable, and exciting intellectual laboratory.

Missing class, you miss, as well, the whole point of the adventure. 

That DOES NOT MEAN that we will meet as a ZOOM class for every class session--but it does mean that when we do, you are expected to be there attending virtually.  What does that mean? It means DON'T SCHEDULE WORK FOR DURING CLASS TIME as you will be SOL, "soooooooo out of luck."

So please bypass no more than three classes during the semester--you are responsible for any work/notes you miss when you are absent and can PRESUME that what you missed that day was important! If you miss MORE than three classes during the term and your grade will decay in an ugly way. EXAMPLES: your hard-earned A- will morph into a B-; your "gentleman's C" will appear on the webportal as a "D," etc. etc. Ditching this class too often will be as fun as a case of flesh-eating virus. While attendance was not really an issue last semester during the beginnings of the COVID crisis, it will be this fall as we all go into this semester with eyes open.

During the semester, you can expect several In-class Panic-Inducing Challenges otherwise known as CHECK-YOU-DID-THE-READING QUIZZES. You can expect these miserable quizzes from time to time, the number of quizzes depending on how many of you are nostalgic for high school. In other words, if everyone acts like a talented university student, we will enjoy FEW if any quizzes during our semester.

Your Mid-Term, aka the Mid-Semester VirusEyeChallenge, and Final Examination, aka the Final VirusEyeChallenge

There will be both a Mid-Term VirusEYE Challenge, a Mid-Semester test administered on Thursday, October 28, 2021 at 11am in GMCS 333 ... and...

...a Final VirusEYE Challenge (aka, the FINAL EXAM) on the last regularly scheduled day of class: Thursday, December 9, 2021 at 11am in GMCS 333.  Your final is absolutely comprehensive; it assumes you have read all the books and screened all the movies that are part of our required work. If you do the work, the final is a breeze--even "fun" if you can believe it. If you slack off, you will find the final In-Class Imagination Challenge as enjoyable as being the waiter for the Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo clan!

The Fine Print |  SDSU POLICIES

Course Information

Section Details:



Course Title




Schedule #









Lecture 1100-1215 TTH GMCS-333 W. NERICCIO

Full Title

Comics and History


Aesthetics, interplay of texts and images, visual communication, and changes over time.


Same course as History 157.

Mode: [face to face lecture]

Instructor: Dr. William Nericcio

Phone: 619-594-1524

Email: bnericci@sdsu.edu

Office location: AL 273

Office hours:  Tuesdays 12:30 to 2:30pm in Arts and Letters 273

Catalog Description:

ENGL 157 - Comics and History 

Units: 3 GE Same As: HIST 157.
Aesthetics, interplay of texts and images, visual communication, and changes over time. 


Effective Fall 2021, students who register for face-to-face classes are expected to attend as indicated in the course schedule. Faculty teaching face-to-face courses will not be required to create a new, alternative on-line class as an accommodation for any student.

Students with medical conditions that would present a COVID-related risk in a face-to-face instructional setting should contact the Student Ability Success Center (https://sdsu.edu/sasc) to begin the process of getting support. Students who do not adhere to the Covid19 Student Policies or the directives of their faculty will be directed to leave the classroom and will be referred to the Center for Student Rights and Responsibilities. 

Do not come to campus if you do not feel well. Remain home and monitor your symptoms and seek medical attention as needed.

Updated July 27, 2021

​​​​The California State University announced today that it will require faculty, staff and students who are accessing campus facilities at any university location to be immunized against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Because of evolving circumstances, the university is announcing the pending requirement now without waiting for any further action by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  more

Course materials


Course Design:  Major Assignments and Assessments

See Above

Course Schedule

See above

Grading Policies

See PASSPORT, above!

Student Learning Outcomes

1.    Students entering the room with little knowledge of comics will leave knowing tons more.

2.    Students who know a little about comics will exit as experts on the meaning and impact of graphic narrative.

3.    Students who write poorly will learn to write better

4.    Students whose brains are altogether inert will leave with brain matter re-energized

5.    No student’s time will be wasted.


Students are provided with an SDSU Gmail account, and this SDSU email address will be used for all communications. University Senate policy notes that students are responsible for checking their official university email once per day during the academic term. For more information, please see Student Official Email Address Use Policy here.

My preferred gender pronouns are he, him, his. Class rosters are provided to the instructor with the student's legal name. I will gladly honor your request to address you by an alternate name and/or gender pronoun. Please advise me of this early in the semester so that I may make appropriate changes to my records.


Since Gutenberg, printed books are one of the most remarkable inventions in the history of man—we will make great use of this invention.

      University policy instructs students to contact their professor/instructor/coach in the event they need to miss class due to an illness, injury, or emergency. All decisions about the impact of an absence, as well as any arrangements for making up work, rest with the instructors. 

      If a student misses class because of COVID-19, either because they have been diagnosed and are quarantined or are required to isolate and would like to request a class excuse letter, the student should send an email to vpsafrontdesk@sdsu.edu to notify the university. Student Affairs and Campus Diversity will initiate the process for absent letters to be sent to course instructors, Assistant Deans, and the Provost. Medical documentation may be required prior to the letter being issued.

      Student Health Services (SHS) does not provide medical excuses for short-term absences due to illness or injury. When a medical-related absence persists beyond five days, SHS will work with students to provide appropriate documentation.

      When a student is hospitalized or has a serious, ongoing illness or injury, SHS will, at the student's request and with the student’s consent, communicate with the student’s instructors via the Vice President for Student Affairs and Campus Diversity and may communicate with the student’s Assistant Dean and/or the Student Ability Success Center. 

Finding Help on Campus 

Need help finding an advisor, tutor, counselor, or require emergency economic assistance? The SDSU Student Success Help Desk is here for you. Student assistants are available via Zoom Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM to help you find the office or service that can best assist with your particular questions or concerns.

      CAL Student Success Center: https://cal.sdsu.edu/student-resources/student-success

      College of Education Student Success Center: https://education.sdsu.edu/oss

      Center for Student Success in Engineering:  https://csse.sdsu.edu/

      CoS Student Success Center: https://cossuccess.sdsu.edu/

      FSB Student Success Center: https://business.sdsu.edu/undergrad/advising

      HHS Advisors:  https://chhs.sdsu.edu/student-resources/advising/

      IVC Student Success and Retention: https://ivcampus.sdsu.edu/student_affairs/retention

      PSFA Advisors: https://psfa.sdsu.edu/resources/student_advisors

Academic Honesty 

The University adheres to a strict policy prohibiting cheating and plagiarism. Examples of academic dishonesty include but are not limited to:

      Copying, in part or in whole, from another's test or other examination;

      Obtaining copies of a test, an examination, or other course material
without the permission of the instructor;

      Collaborating with another or others in coursework without the permission of the instructor;

      Falsifying records, laboratory work, or other course data;

      Submitting work previously presented in another course, if contrary to the policies of the course;

      Altering or interfering with grading procedures;

      Assisting another student in any of the above;

      Using sources verbatim or paraphrasing without giving proper attribution (this can include phrases, sentences, paragraphs and/or pages of work);

      Copying and pasting work from an online or offline source directly and calling it one's own;

      Using information found from an online or offline source without giving the author credit;

      Replacing words or phrases from another source and inserting one's own words or phrases.

Unauthorized recording or dissemination of virtual course instruction or materials by students, especially with the intent to disrupt normal university operations or facilitate academic dishonesty, is a violation of the Student Conduct Code. This includes posting of exam problems or questions to on-line platforms. Violators may be subject to discipline.

The California State University system requires instructors to report all instances of academic misconduct to the Center for Student Rights and Responsibilities. Academic dishonesty will result in disciplinary review by the University and may lead to probation, suspension, or expulsion. Instructors may also, at their discretion, penalize student grades on any assignment or assessment discovered to have been produced in an academically dishonest manner.

Classroom Conduct Standards 

SDSU students are expected to abide by the terms of the Student Conduct Code in classrooms and other instructional settings. Violation of these standards will result in referral to appropriate campus authorities. Prohibited conduct includes:

      Willful, material, and substantial disruption or obstruction of a University-related activity, or any on-campus activity.

      Participating in an activity that substantially and materially disrupts the normal operations of the University or infringes on the rights of members of the University community.

      Unauthorized recording, dissemination, or publication (including on websites or social media) of lectures or other course materials.

      Conduct that threatens or endangers the health or safety of any person within or related to the University community, including:

    1. Physical abuse, threats, intimidation, or harassment.
    2. Sexual misconduct.


SDSU via the Student Ability Success Center (SASC) provides accommodations for students with documented disabilities or medical conditions covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In keeping with current public health guidance, I cannot provide arrangements to students without an ADA-qualified disability or medical condition.


If you are a student with a disability and are in need of accommodations for this class, please contact the Student Ability Success Center at sascinfo@sdsu.edu (or go to sdsu.edu/sasc) as soon as possible. Please know accommodations are not retroactive, and I cannot provide accommodations based upon disability until I have received an accommodation letter from the Student Ability Success Center. SASC registration and accommodation approvals may take up to 10-14 business days, so please plan accordingly.

Student Privacy and Intellectual Property

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) mandates the protection of student information, including contact information, grades, and graded assignments. I will use tinyletter.com to communicate with you, and I will not post grades or leave graded assignments in public places. Students will be notified at the time of an assignment if copies of student work will be retained beyond the end of the semester or used as examples for future students or the wider public. Students maintain intellectual property rights to work products they create as part of this course unless they are formally notified otherwise.

Religious Observances

According to the University Policy File, students should notify instructors of planned absences for religious observances by the end of the second week of classes.

Academic Support Services

A complete list of all academic support services—including the Writing Center and  Math Learning Center—is available on the Student Affairs’ Academic Success website. Counseling & Psychological Services (619-594-5220, sdsu.edu/cps) offers a range of psychological services for students. Emergency support is available after hours at the same phone number. The San Diego Access and Crisis Line can also be accessed 24 hours/day (1-888-724-7240).

Sexual violence / TItle IX mandated reporting 

As an instructor, one of my responsibilities is to help create a safe learning environment on our campus. I am a mandated reporter in my role as an SDSU employee. It is my goal that you feel able to share information related to your life experiences in classroom discussions, in your written work, and in our one-on-one meetings. I will seek to keep the information you share private to the greatest extent possible. However, I am required to share information regarding sexual violence on SDSU’s campus with the Title IX coordinator, Gail Mendez (619-594-6464). She (or her designee) will contact you to let you know about accommodations and support services at SDSU and possibilities for holding accountable the person who harmed you. Know that you will not be forced to share information you do not wish to disclose and your level of involvement will be your choice. If you do not want the Title IX Officer notified, instead of disclosing this information to your instructor, you can speak confidentially with the following people on campus and in the community. They can connect you with support services and discuss options for pursuing a University or criminal investigation. Sexual Violence Victim Advocate (619-594-0210) or Counseling and Psychological Services (619-594-5220, psycserv@sdsu.edu). For more information regarding your university rights and options as a survivor of sexual misconduct or sexual violence, please visit titleix.sdsu.edu.

SDSU Economic Crisis Response Team

If you or a friend are experiencing food or housing insecurity, technology concerns, or any unforeseen financial crisis, it is easy to get help! Visit sdsu.edu/ecrt for more information or to submit a request for assistance.

SDSU’s Economic Crisis Response Team (ECRT) aims to bridge the gap in resources for students experiencing immediate food, housing, or unforeseen financial crises that impact student success. Using a holistic approach to well-being, ECRT supports students through crisis by leveraging a campus-wide collaboration that utilizes on- and off-campus partnerships and provides direct referrals based on each student’s unique circumstances. ECRT empowers students to identify and access long-term, sustainable solutions in an effort to successfully graduate from SDSU. Within 24 to 72 hours of submitting a referral, students are contacted by a member of ECRT and are quickly connected to the appropriate resources and services.

For students who need assistance accessing technology for their classes, visit our ECRT website (sdsu.edu/ecrt) to be connected with the SDSU library's technology checkout program. The technology checkout program is available to both SDSU and Imperial Valley students.

Land Acknowledgement

We stand upon a land that carries the footsteps of millennia of Kumeyaay people. They are a people whose traditional lifeways intertwine with a worldview of earth and sky in a community of living beings. This land is part of a relationship that has nourished, healed, protected and embraced the Kumeyaay people to the present day. It is part of a world view founded in the harmony of the cycles of the sky and balance in the forces of life. For the Kumeyaay, red and black represent the balance of those forces that provide for harmony within our bodies as well as the world around us.

As students, faculty, staff and alumni of San Diego State University we acknowledge this legacy from the Kumeyaay. We promote this balance in life as we pursue our goals of knowledge and understanding. We find inspiration in the Kumeyaay spirit to open our minds and hearts. It is the legacy of the red and black. It is the land of the Kumeyaay.

'eyay e’haan My heart is good


There is one way all of us in our class are members of the same minority!  We are in a university—and most folks in the USA don’t go to university, let alone finish it. So we are all, each and every one of us, an educated minority and we will work to take care of each other throughout the year as our semester unfolds!

GTA & Professor

Gabe García
Office Hours!? Check here: https://eyegiene.sdsu.edu/2021/fall/psychedelicimages/gabegarciaOFFICEhours.html
Note! Just a reminder that Gabe is available by appointment as well! His email address is ggarcia0620@sdsu.edu.

Gabe García is a graduate student in the Master of Arts in Liberal Arts and Sciences program. He received his B.A. in Art, Media and Culture from the University of Washington in 2012. His research interests include intersectionality, interrogating entrenched sources of power, and cultural critique of literature, film, video games and other media. Gabe is also a big nerd who is into Star Trek, Doctor Who, Star Wars, Marvel, among many others. García has been admitted to the Ph.D. program in Rhetoric at the University of New Mexico where he will begin his next academic adventure, Fall 2022.

Dr. William Nericcio
Office Hours!? Check here:
Note! Just a reminder that Bill is available by appointment as well! His email address is ggarcia0620@sdsu.edu.

A first-gen denizen of the Ivory Tower, Dr. William “Memo Nericcio,” was born in Laredo, Texas, and educated at the University of Texas, Austin, and Cornell University, where he completed his Comparative Literature Ph.D. at the age of 26. Now the Director of MALAS, the Master of Arts in Liberal Arts and Sciences Program, Nericcio also serves as Professor of English and Comparative Literature, and serves on the faculties of Chicana/o Studies & Latin American Studies at San Diego State University. 

Nericcio's first book, Tex[t]-Mex: Seductive Hallucinations of "Mexicans" in America, appeared with the University of Texas Press, February, 2007. His next book, an edited anthology of playwright Oliver Mayer's early works, The Hurt Business, appeared April, 2008, and his follow-up to that, Homer from Salinas: John Steinbeck's Enduring Voice for California appeared March, 2009—both with SDSU Press. Nericcio's long-awaited meditation on American visual culture, Eyegiene: Permutations of Subjectivity in the Televisual Age of Sex and Race, is in preparation for UT Press, while his follow-up book to Tex[t]-Mex, with Frederick Luis Aldama, #BrownTV: Latinas and Latinos on the Screen (2019) was published by Ohio State University Press. He also co-edited Cultural Studies in the Digital Age (2020), with Aldama and Italian semiotician Antonio Rafele, for Hyperbole Books. 


Psychedelic Mirrors