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This accessible, introductory guide to comics is divided into four chapters. Chapter one discusses how a comic is made and introduces students to the unique form and structure of comics, demonstrating how panels, splash pages, and word balloons are used to tell a story. Chapter two encourages students to apply literary theory and social politics to the world of comics to encourage discussions of comics within a larger cultural context. Chapter three explores the history of comics and introduces students to significant movements and moments in comics history in the United States. The final chapter provides students with comic-making activities so they can practice the craft and storytelling elements discussed throughout the book. Students will gain first-hand insight from comics professionals and practitioners through interviews with creators, artists, writers, anthology editors, scholars, and comics enthusiasts such as: John Jennings, Gene Luen Yang, Ramzi Fawaz, Lucy Knisley, Ronald Wimberly, Sonny Liew, Nilah Magruder, Belle Yang, Andi Santagata, Keith Chow, Yumi Sakugawa, Ryan North, Taneka Stotts, Fred Van Lente, Jeff Yang, MariNaomi, Deborah Elizabeth Whaley, Keith Sicat, Alexander Rothman, Glynnes Pruett, Danica Novgorodoff, Jenny Lin, Betsy Gomez, Sophie Goldstein, Ashanti Fortson, Leela Corman, Jeffrey A. Brown, Rina Ayuyang, and more.
Experiencing Comics is an excellent resource for courses in creative writing or comparative literature that focus specifically on graphic novels and comics. It can also be used in gender studies, ethnic studies, and sexuality courses.
Mark R. Martell, PhD
University of Illinois at Chicago
Affiliated Faculty, Global Asian Studies Program
Faculty Fellow, UIC Honors College
Director, Asian American Resource and Cultural Center
Co-Principal Investigator, Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions Initiative
"Experiencing Comics is a stellar primer that bridges gaps between academics, creators and consumers. It's an efficient pedagogical tool that brings together both new-to-comics and comics-familiar readers, providing each group with a shared critical and creative vocabulary. A chorus of professional voices from a diverse selection of creators and scholars contextualizes Cruz's astute and approachable writing."
Assistant Professor, Michigan State University
Director, MSU Comics Forum
“Experiencing Comics is a visionary introduction to an emerging field—the study and creation of comics—that has been waiting for a treatment like this. Accessible, engaging, provocative, and inspiring, Experiencing Comics assembles some of the most potent and fascinating authorities in comicsdom, including creators, researchers, historians, and teachers. It presents a portrait of comics as the diverse, wide-ranging, and culture-shaping medium that it is today, the vibrant birthplace of blockbuster imaginations and underground possibilities. Rachelle Cruz is the just right teacher to wisely select resonant voices from the cutting edge of comics study, and present them in engaging ways to students, whether fresh to comics or familiar with only some sliver of the craft. The texts will sharpen critical lenses while opening eyes to comics’ variety. The questions will reinforce understanding and deepen analysis. The activities will unleash the creative language of comics for students themselves. I can’t wait to use this book in my classrooms.”
Educator and Host of Comics Syllabus on Multiversity Comics