The Comics Canon

So now let’s get down to the meat and talk about what I actually learned at the MSU Comics Forum. I learned that I know very little about comics!!!

The main thing I took away from this was hit upon by at least two of the speakers from the first panel on “Historical Pathways through Comics”. They demonstrated through their examples that the images used in comics help to explain what words alone could not. It was sort of like the idea that a picture is worth a thousand words! Sean Rogers spoke about bpNichol and how he used the space of his page to convey more than his words alone would have. To paraphrase a quote from Nichol that Mr. Rogers used, Nichol used the visual aspect of language to explain what the language itself could not. The other speaker who touched upon this idea was Brett Sterling in his talk on the trilogy by Jans Harding exploring nothing less than the entire history of the universe. In Harding’s first book “Alpha: Directions” he runs a triple narrative telling the history of the world from the big bang to the emergence of hominids in three different ways simultaneously. This would be impossible to do through words alone (or at least would take up much more space and require much more time and patience on the part of the reader.) He was able to explain the history of the universe through a scientific, religious, and popular culture narrative all at once by including images representing all three ways of understanding nature on the page together; allowing the reader to focus on the overall or on whichever piece was interesting to them at the moment.

While listening to the presenters and listening to the interactions on the sales floor I took lots of notes about things that they mentioned especially the things that it seemed everyone else in the room knew about but of which I had never heard. I divided my list into Manga I may wish to include in my bibliography, books about Manga or anime that I should read while preparing this project, and more general books on comics and comic art which I should ensure my library have on hand for our students.


These are the books that everyone else there seemed to have read which I think will be great additions to our collection:

Barrier, J. Michael, ed. A Smithsonian Book of Comic-Book Comics. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian. 1982.

Carlson, George. Yezbick, Daniel, ed. Perfect Nonsense: The Chaotic Comics and Goofy Games of George Carlson. Seattle: Fantagraphics Books. 2013.

Ditko, Steve. The Ditko Collection. Seattle: Fantagraphics Books. 1986.

Harder, Jens. Alpha: Directions. Hamburg: Carlsen. 2010.

Harder, Jens. Beta…civilisations. Hamburg: Carlsen. 2014.

Harder, Jens. Leviathan. Angouleme: Editions de l’An 2. 2003.

Nichol, Bp. Comics. Vancouver: Talonbooks. 1984.

Nichol, Bp. The Martyrology Books 1 & 2. Toronto: The Coach House Press. 1994.

O’Neil, Dennis. The Question, Vol. 1: Zen and Violence. New York: DC Comics. 2007.

Orczy, Emmuska. The Scarlet Pimpernel. New York: Pocket Books. 2004.



Here are the books that I will be browsing for this project:

Gravett, Paul. Manga: 60 years of Japanese Art. New York: Collins Design. 2004.

Johnson-Woods, Toni. Manga: An Anthology of Global and Cultural Perspectives. New York: Bloomsbury Academic. 2010.

Lehmann, Timothy. Manga Masters of the Art. New York: Collins Design. 2005.

Lent, John A., ed. Illustrating Asia: Comics, Humor Magazines, and Picture Books (Consumasian Book Series). Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. 2001.

Nagaike, Kazumi. Fantasies in Cross-Dressing. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill Academic Publishers. 2012.

Sugiyama, Rika. Comic Artists – Asia: Manga Mahura Manhua. New York: Harper Design. 2004.


And this is the beginning of my list of Manga which people spoke highly of and seem to have been important over the years and may make it into my final bibliography: (I haven’t looked into these yet, so they may not be good. Just my preliminary notes!)

Weekly Jump

“Astro Boy” Tezuka

Naruto started in the Aug 1997 issue of Akamaru Jump – one of the best selling manga series of all time

Hokusai Manga – old school Japanese illustration

Osamu Tezuka – father of modern manga

Gundam- bad guys are 3 d

Doraemon – comical


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