Close Reading Comics
The Pocket Instructor, Literature: 101 Exercises for the College Classroom
An exercise that introduces students to the medium-specific principles, and hidden challenges, of close reading comics.
Genre: graphic narrative, comics
Course Level: any, especially introductory
Student Difficulty: easy
Teacher Preparation: low
Class Size: any
Semester Time: early (for courses on graphic narrative) or any (for other courses)
Writing Component: none
Close Reading: medium to high
Estimated Time: 40 to 45 minutes
As the first assigned graphic narrative for a course exclusively devoted to comics or as an introduction to studying comics in a thematic course, ask students to read with care a single, relatively discrete multipanel composition before coming to class. This primary text can be almost anything, from a four-panel Peanuts strip or Golden Age superhero story to single or multiple pages from one of the more widely taught contemporary cartoonists such as Art Spiegelman, Alison Bechdel, or Chris Ware.
Ball, David M. "Close Reading Comics." In The Pocket Instructor, Literature: 101 Exercises for the College Classroom, edited by Diana Fuss and William A. Gleason 299-302. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016.