NIU should give credit to comics

By Pat Quinn

As NIU restructures its gen. ed classes for students, the university should consider adding comic book classes. Between communication, English and history and foreign language courses, comic book classes could be applicable to a variety of subjects.

“Captain America:” History

Hitler’s portrayal in comic books can have its own section looking at “Captain America” and other tales from the Marvel universe.

Coming out of the Depression and going into a war, Captain America was a symbol of hope. The portrayal of World War II in “Captain America” starts off with the first issue of the comic book as Captain America punches Hitler on the cover.

“X-Men” and “Black Panther:” Sociology

Looking at how mutants fit in with the rest of the human population or at Charles Xavier’s school can be tied in to theories of human behavior.

From a sociological standpoint, “X-Men” is a great example of political unrest and civil rights. The idea of mutants vs. humans can be looked at from many angles. Because “X-Men” first appeared in the ’60s, the idea for social equality is at the heart of this series

Stan Lee, former president and chairman of Marvel Comics, felt compelled to come up with a black superhero, so he created the Black Panther, who first appeared at the end of the Civil Rights Movement in 1966.

Alongside women’s studies and African American studies courses, these comics can give a new perspective to students studying sociology.

Comic book authors and writing: English and journalism

For the English aspect, students shouldn’t just study authors like Mark Twain and Nathaniel Hawthorne when authors of comics are not only prominent, but are constantly adapting.

Alan Moore can be considered one of the most revolutionary comic book writers. Two cornerstones of comic book literature — both created by Moore — are “V for Vendetta” and “Watchmen.” These books include stories with political scandals and are read and analyzed in many high school classes.

Stan Lee got his start during the Depression by accident because his family was broke and he began writing comics for a newspaper. Working with artist and writer Jack Kirby, Lee was able to create characters, altering the way comics and films are looked at.

Bob Kane’s Batman is the perfect hero to complement Superman. Kane is responsible for one of the most revolutionary characters.

Batman first appeared in “Detective Comics” No. 27 in 1939. To this day, Batman’s characters and plots are memorable and show psychological and criminal aspects captured by authors such as Frank Miller and Scott Snyder. This is just the tip of the iceberg for the comic book industry’s famous writers.

Anime: Foreign Language

NIU can’t teach Japanese and discuss Asian art without including anime. Aside from the mythological perspective of heroes, anime and manga give an interesting perspective from another country. What is interesting about this art form is that it goes back and forth between the United States and Asian countries. The writing and stories from America in comparison with ones from Japan, China and Korea can be looked at with a scholarly eye instead of just as a hobby. With works like “Naruto,” one can see it’s adapted from old ninja lore. Being able to explore another country and its culture is essential for students.