It’s a booming time for more scholarly looks at comics, and Ball State doctoral candidate Christina Blanch is one of the most important figures in this movement. last year she held a MOOC (massive online open course) on Gender in Comics that drew some 7,000 participants, and she’s at it again with Social Issues Through Comic Books a six month online course that will examine “current social issues through comic books while understanding how popular culture is shaped by it’s surroundings.” Guests include Denny O’Neill, Shaenon Garrity, Scott Snyder, Gene Yang, Warren Ellis, Jonathan Hickman, Mark Waid… the list goes on. NOW how much would you pay? Well, it’s FREE. Yep.

13th Dimension is helping sponsor this SuperMOOC, and they have more details and a schedule here. The official website is here. Comics shops and Comixology will be offering discounts on course materials. This is something I’d love to sign up for although my schedule allows only time for learning about today’s weather and sometimes not that. At any rate, this sounds like an incredibly cool and informative thing. It starts NEXT WEEK, but there is still time to sign up if you are interested.

Comics reflection of and influence on social issues goes all the way back to The Yellow Kid — or Goya if that’s how you date it — and it’s also been a powerful force in superhero comics.

PS: while poking around on the SuperMOOC site, I found this column by Devin Grayson on the growing trend of calling out a lot of things which seem fairly trivial on grounds of sexism, racism ableism, and so on. It’s a very smart piece on something which is bothering a lot of people, and rather than quote it, just go read it. Grayson has always been a very smart observer (and a talented writer) and its nice to see her participating in the comics conversation again.


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