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There's Room for Comic Books in Higher Education



By Chris Hassan
Posted October 16, 2013 10:00 AM

Colleges' comic book connections revealed.
Colleges' comic book connections revealed.

Fans of comic books and pop culture from around the world recently descended on New York City to attend New York Comic Con, which ran from Oct. 9-12. While there was a time when comic books were thought of as something that only appealed to children, the success of films like "The Avengers" and televisions shows like "The Walking Dead" prove that comic book characters and storylines have mass appeal.

As a result, it should come as no surprise to learn that there is a place for comic books in higher education. For example, schools like the California College of the Arts provide students with an opportunity to prepare for a career in the comics industry. Those who enroll at this college can earn a Master of Fine Arts in Comics, according to the institution's website.

In some cases, bachelor's and master's degree seekers may even have an opportunity to learn from some of comics' biggest creators, as evidenced by these two examples:

One Teacher's Not-So-Secret Identity

Anyone who has been reading mainstream comics for the past several years is no doubt familiar with the name Brian Michael Bendis. Disassembling the Avengers, revealing Daredevil's secret identity to the public and introducing an African-American Spider-Man are just a few of the ways Bendis has made comic book history during his tenure at Marvel Comics.

However, recent years have also seen Bendis step into the role of teacher at Portland State University, where he taught a class on the graphic novel. Currently, the writer of such titles as "Uncanny X-Men" and "Guardians of the Galaxy" teaches a course on the comic book industry at the University of Oregon.

"It's everything," Bendis told the Daily Emerald. "It's a nuts and bolts class. It's the nuts and bolts of how comics are made on a mainstream level and how they're made on an independent level. Some people think you need a team of hundreds, but you don't. You just need you and the initiative."

With a Great Teacher Comes Great Opportunity

While Bendis plays an active role in shaping the modern Marvel Universe, Scott Snyder is doing the same at competitor DC Comics. Not only is Snyder the writer of such comics as "Batman" and "Superman Unchained," but he is also a college instructor.

In fact, Snyder's time as a teacher has also allowed him to play talent scout. As an instructor at Sarah Lawrence College, Snyder taught James Tynion IV, who he later brought on to write back-up stories in "Batman," according to Comic Vine. Tynion IV has since taken the helm on his own DC books, such as the Batman spin-offs "Red Hood and the Outlaws" and "Talon."

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