Join Rob Clough for 6 weeks of live learning via zoom

At A Glance

When: For 6 weeks starting Saturday March 15 at 6pm to 8pm Eastern

Where: Online via Zoom

Cost: $299

In Detail

Six live 2 hour sessions

Starting March 15 2023.

  • Week 1 - Wednesday March 15, 2023 6-8 pm Eastern
  • Week 2 - Wednesday March 22, 2023 6-8 pm Eastern
  • Week 3 - Wednesday March 29, 2023 6-8 pm Eastern
  • Week 4 - Wednesday April 5, 2023 6-8 pm Eastern
  • Week 5 - Wednesday April 12, 2023 6-8 pm Eastern
  • Week 6 - Wednesday April 19, 2023 6-8 pm Eastern

Calls will include live lectures with Rob and live discussion time.

An additional Mighty Network component is included for asynchronous dialogue for this course.  Class videos, audios, chats, transcripts will be saved and archived there as well for the duration of the course and 4 weeks afterwards.

Comics is an art form, not a genre.

The combination of words and  images can tell any kind of story, from intimately personal autobiography to incisive journalism to high fantasy. Many people tend to think of the history of comics as being one and the same as the history of super-hero comic books. However, the history of comics goes much wider  and deeper than just one genre. 

In The Hidden History Of Comics, each week we will look at  the development of comics through a different lens and ask how and why one genre became  so dominant. We will look at the history of comics distribution and how it affected who could  have access to comics. We will examine the parallel history of queer and straight  underground comics. We will look at comics' place in the zine revolution of the '80s and '90s  and the continuing importance of self-publishing. Some of the topics we will explore include:  the rise of comics aimed at children, the gendering of comics, the near exclusion of girls'  comics, the role of political and journalistic comics, the importance of memoir comics, and the  role of formal innovation in changing our understanding of what comics can be. 

The instructor  will provide ample images and samples for the class, as well as providing a suggested  reading list for each week of class. The aim is to allow the class to discover not only the rich  tapestry of diverse possibilities present in today's comics scene but also how this was true,  yet hidden, for much of the art form's history. 

Course Structure: 

The entire purpose of the course is to question existing structures and  evolving structures with regard to comics publishing and distribution. As such, there will be  discussion periods built into class time for students to reflect and react to each lecture, as well as react to supplementary material.  

Each week will begin with a brief reaction to assigned supplementary material from the  previous week, then an ~30 minute lecture, then a discussion period, then a break, then a  second 30 minute lecture, and then a second discussion period. I recognize that not everyone will be immediately comfortable talking on zoom, and that is perfectly fine. However, I want to  emphasize that multiple points of view, including and especially from those new to comics, are actively encouraged. That's especially true since many of the issues discussed are relevant  beyond the world of comics. 


Comics are expensive and the purpose of this course is not close readings of  particular texts. I will have many images during my lectures to give you a flavor of what I'm  discussing, and students will have access to them after each lecture so that they may discuss them more later. I will provide supplementary readings for each week, however, and I will  make time to discuss them as well. 

Please feel free to purchase or borrow from your libraries  any or all of them, but it will not be required to enjoy and understand the course itself. 

Course Outline: 

Week 1 

Lecture One: The history and impact of distribution and how comics are consumed. We will  take a tour of newsstands, comics shops, bookstores, libraries, the internet and other venues. 

Lecture Two: The relationship between comics festivals and other underground culture as  part of distribution and income. 

Supplemental Reading: An Anthology Of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, And True Stories,  Volume 1. Edited by Ivan Brunetti. Six Chix, by Bianca Xunise.  

Week 2

Lecture One: The parallel history of queer and hetero underground comics, and how, when,  and why they converged. 

Lecture Two: Comics as an international community. 

Supplemental Reading: QU33R, edited by Rob Kirby. The Book Of Weirdo, by Jon B.  Cooke. S! #28: Scandal!, edited by David Schilter and Sanita Muižniece The Man Without  Talent, by Yoshiharu Tsuge, Malarkey #1, by November Garcia 

Week 3

Lecture One: The evolution of political and journalistic comics. 

Lecture Two: Comics as propaganda, teaching tools, and graphic medicine. 

Supplemental Reading:Safe Area Gorazde, by Joe Sacco, The Nib, edited by Matt Bors, et  al, World War III Illustrated, American Association of Editorial Cartoonists, Rx, by Rachel  Lindsay, Your Black Friend, by Ben Passmore, I Couldn't Afford Therapy, So I Made This, by  Lawrence Lindell.  

Week 4

Lecture One: The rise of kids' comics as an industry and the role of libraries in their  emergence. 

Lecture Two: How gendering comics throttled the industry and cut it off from girls for nearly  40 years, and how Archie Comics bridged the gap 

Supplemental Reading:Smile, by Raina Telgemeier, Stinky, by Eleanor Davis, The Best Of   Archie Comics 80th Anniversary 

Week 5

Lecture One: Comics as a key component of the zine revolution. 

Lecture Two: The emergence of memoir as a key comics genre.

Supplemental Reading: Chlorine Gardens, by Keiler Roberts; I Know You Rider, by Leslie  Stein, Map Of My Heart, by John Porcellino, anything from the Spit-And-A-Half distro, The  Anthropologists, by Whit Taylor. “Black Women Aren't Here To Save You,” by Bianca Xunise.  

Week 6

Lecture One: The history of formal innovation in comics.  

Lecture Two: Comics as poetry.  

Supplemental Reading: Asthma, by John Hankiewicz, Inkbrick #10, edited by Alex Rothman, et al. “Here,” by Richard McGuire, “Rhythm & Rhyme: Asthma, The Blot, And Comics As  Poetry”, by Rob Clough. 

Class size is limited! Sign up today!

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About the Instructor

I'm a full-time writer available for hire in any number of fields. I have a feisty young kiddo who is my test subject for all the kids' comics I receive. I will happily review any comics sent to me. I especially like to review minicomics. Contact me at for more info or send your comics to: My address is: 815 B West Markham Ave Durham, NC 27701

Rob Clough