Comics take over TAMIU
By Andrew Alfaro
Bridge contributing writer
Published Monday April 27, 2020
The kids who came of age during the comic book movie boom are now adults and want to see how far the genre can go.
In today’s world, comics are all over pop culture and every weekend it seems as if a new comic book movie was being released before COVID-19. The popularity of these comics has even made its way into classrooms with topics based on the art form.
Assistant Professional of visual communication Thomas Brown, teaches photography and writing courses at Texas A&M International University. One of the courses he offers is Writing for Comics Books, a writing intensive course. The class will be made available again in Summer Session 1 via online due to COVID-19.
The class is meant to help students learn how to develop a comic book script and become more diverse writers. Brown also teaches a brief history of comic books in the class to help newcomers get a better understanding of the genre.
In the class, students learn terminology, such as balloons and tails, and how to build a world for comics.
“My students don’t have to write a superhero comic book,” Brown said.
The students are allowed to write any type of comic they’re interested in. Often, people believe comics are only superhero-based, but this is just one genre of comics. Before the influx of heroes in tights, a variety of stories focused on Westerns, war, detectives, horror and even romance.
“When the students end the class, they have the script for a 22-page comic book,” Brown said. “They just need to find an artist if they want to get it illustrated.”
The students are in control of the comic from the characters to the plot, sometimes referred to as the hero’s journey. Some other things taught in the class are how to use screenwriting software, such as Celtx, which is free.
TAMIU spring 2019 alumnus Kenneth Jones took the course and reflected on his experience.
“The 22-page comic book was easier than it sounds with all the assignments the class did before starting the comic book,” Jones said.
Comics do not only ignite a love for fantasy, but also address social issues.
In today’s world, there are people of different ethnicity, religion, creed, gender and sexual orientation. Some readers may feel superheroes are supposed to be a certain skin tone. However, there are a multitude of heroes which can satisfy a particular walk of life and the numbers of diverse characters continue to grow.
Major social issues and events helped create beloved characters, such as X-Men, Black Panther and Shang-Chi.
“With the events going on at that time, Marvel was making a statement that people should not segregate others because they are different, but instead of poking right at racism, they made it about humans vs. mutants,” Brown said.
When Marvel did that, not only did they introduce a new team of heroes, they also created interesting new characters to the fans—all while addressing social issues.
TAMIU could potentially see similar success in comic book-related organizations, such as Anime Club, or events like STCE’s Comic Con held annually at TAMIU.
Over the years, comics continue to grow in popularity. Manga, a Japanese art form related to anime, is one type of comic book. Anime has a large and growing fan base.
Anime Club President Liza Nguyen helps organize meetings, fundraisers and events that center around anime and manga.
“The club talks about many things concerning anime and one of the things is manga,” Nguyen said. “The club used to rent out manga, which is a genre of comics. Since the club was created, it has tripled in size.”