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Saturday, January 20, 2007


This Blog Is Like School On Saturday: No Class

I haven't posted in at least forever, but I have a reason: this month I've been teaching a Winter Term class at Middlebury College called Introduction to the Graphic Novel. Me, 22 great students, a giant stack of comics...and last Thursday a fantastic visit from fellow Vermonter and brilliant comics artist Steve Bissette. First breakfast at Steve's Park Diner in downtown Middlebury, then off to the school. Over the course of two hours, Steve walked the students through the evolution of the modern graphic novel form (starting with It Rhymes With Lust), showed some *very* rare video footage of Alan Moore, Frank Miller and others, and described the process of constructing a story--all with numerous visual examples. He then was kind enough to stay for lunch and field questions from nearly half the class, for more than 90 minutes. It was a great day in what's shaping up to be one of the most memorable months of my life.

I've returned to the Middlebury campus a number of times since graduating in 1993--reunions, day trips to visit old friends from the faculty. But this is the first time since I graduated that I've been on campus with something to do, a bag full of books and a checklist of tasks to accomplish. It's at once deeply odd and a huge thrill. Here I am with a wife and two kids, a decade and a half removed from school, but this month, here I am as well, trudging across the snow of Battell Field at 10PM after a screening. I love watching all of the students come to grips with Maus, Our Cancer Year, "Master Race", and Little Lulu. There's a surreal quality to it all, which really hit me as I graded quizzes in which I had asked the class to identify a number of quotes from the reading, including the classic 'Die--like crawling ants!" from the Superman story in Action Comics #2.

The class wraps up at the end of the month. I hope to get back to this place more often after that.

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