English 3364

History of Newspaper Comics in the US, 1895-2016

Prof. Jared Gardner

Spring 2016



office hours (DE 565): by appt. at

C= Carmen | G= GoComics


Week 1

Wed 8/24

Introductions & Logistics

A whirlwind history of newspapers & comics before 1895

Fri 8/26

The Yellow Kid & the Birth of the Comics Supplement

Readings: Yellow Kid galleries (OSU)

Week 2

Wed 8/31

Turn of the Century I: the Modern City

readings: Opper & Swinnerton gallery [C]

Fri 9/2

Turn of the Century II: Other Worlds

readings:  Winsor McCay, Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend gallery [C]; Little Nemo (1905-06) [C]


Week 3

Wed 9/7

Birth of the Daily Strip

readings: Bud Fisher, A. Mutt / Mutt and Jeff [C]  


Fri 9/9

Readings: George Herriman, Krazy Kat dailies gallery [C]; Krazy & Ignatz 1919-1921

Week 4

Wed 9/14

Readings: Krazy & Ignatz (cont.)

Fri 9/16


readings: The Saga of Mary Gold

Week 5

Tues 9/20


Wed 9/21

Daily melodramas: The Saga of Mary Gold (continued); Gasoline Alley; Little Orphan Annie; Moon Mullins selections [C]

Fr 9/23


Week 6

Wed 9/28

Watch video lectures on researching women cartoonists & African American cartoonists [C]

Fri 9/30

1930s & the Adventure Strip

Adventure Strip sampler: Dick Tracy, Flash Gordon, Wash Tubbs  & Buck Rogers [C]


Week 7

Wed 10/5

Milton Caniff

Terry & the Pirates sampler [C]

Thur 10/6

BLOG POST #3 DUE (women cartoonists)

Fri 10/7

Women Cartoonists in the 1910s-50s Part 1

Week 8

Wed 10/12

Women Cartoonists in the 1910s-50s Part 2


Week 9

Mon 10/17

BLOG POST #3 DUE (African American cartoonists)

Wed 10/19

African American Newspaper Comics and Cartoonists in the 1920s-50s

Fri 10/21

The Reinvention of the Comic Strip in the post-war period

Pogo sampler [C] & Peanuts 1955-1956


Week 10

Wed 10/26

Peanuts 1955-1956 (cont.)

Fri 10/28

Editorial cartoon research workshop @ Billy Ireland Reading Room

Week 11

Wed 11/2

Wee Pals & Luther [C]

Fri 11/4



Week 12

Mon 11/7


Wed 11/9

The 1960s in editorial cartoons

Fri 11/11


Week 13

Wed 11/16

Women cartoonists in the 1970s: Cathy [C], For Better or Worse

Fri 11/18

Calvin & Hobbes


Week 14

Wed 11/30

Alt-weekly comics in the 80s and 90s [Carmen sampler]


Fri 12/2


Mon 12/5

BLOG POST #5 DUE (final project comic strip and abstract)

Wed 12/7

The “Last Great Comic Strip”: Richard Thompson’s Cul-de-Sac

Stripped (2014)

The End of the Party? What Comes Next?


Wed 12/14



As the majority of newspaper comics were produced for mass, mixed-age audiences, most will be relatively “tame” in terms of content. But particularly when we look at underground and alternative papers in the 1960s and 70s, we may encounter images that will contain graphic images (nudity, sex, violence). More prevalent and troubling, especially in early newspaper comics, is the prevalence of racist and stereotyping images. We will discuss these images and issues openly and seriously. Expectations are that we all will be respectful of our classmates while consuming this media and that we will create a safe space for each other. Failure to show respect to each other may result in dismissal from the class.

Required texts

In addition, all members of the class must subscribe to GoComics ($11.88/year): http://www.gocomics.com/help/pro, which provides a wide array of comics we will be reading, including Boondocks and Doonesbury.

Additional readings will be available on the class’s Carmen site or as indicated on the schedule. Other supplementary materials will also be made available on the Carmen site during the course of the term.


In lieu of exams, we will have 6 quizzes spread out throughout the semester (roughly every two weeks), sometimes in class and sometimes on Carmen.  They will cover material from our reading, discussions and lectures. The lowest grade will be dropped. No make-ups allowed for missed quizzes.


One 5-8 page final research paper incorporating your insights into a central issues of comics history. Primary and secondary research is required for this project. Suggestions and starting places will be distributed along with the paper prompt several weeks before the paper is due.


This is a course focusing on more than a century of history, so there will necessarily be some lecture. But the heart of the class will be your ideas, questions, opinions, and discoveries, so come prepared every day with things you want to talk about and be prepared to be called on to share them or to discuss your latest blog post. In addition to discussion in class, we can take advantage of threaded discussion forums on Carmen. Active participation in discussions, commenting on your classmates’ blog posts and on Carmen forums will have a positive impact on your final grade.

        More than 3 absences will negatively affect your attendance/participation grade, and your final grade will be lowered by a half-letter grade for each absence over 4. (Except in extreme, blood-curdling cases I make no distinction between “excused” and “un-excused” absences, so please don’t bring me excuse notes).


This class has a Carmen component.  This will be the space where announcements, links, resources, and discussion forums will be found. Participation in the informal discussion forum on Carmen will count toward your participation grade.

Discussion on Carmen will be governed by the same rules of respect that would apply to our in-class discussions. I reserve the right to censor any posts that I deem insulting, demeaning, or abusive.

Class Blog

Instead of mid-semester papers, we will each be contributing to a blog for the class with our insights and discoveries into comics research. For your first preliminary blog entry, everyone is required to pick one item from the materials currently on exhibit at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum and use it as an occasion to introduce yourself, explaining why the piece spoke to you--your interests, ideals, sense of humor, etc.


The rough grading formula for this class is 20%=quizzes; 30%=blog posts; 30% final paper; 20%=participation/attendance

Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum

One invaluable resource we have for the study of comics history here at Ohio State is the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum. The Cartoon Library can also provide you access to a broad range of materials for primary and secondary research, including Bio Files on hundreds of cartoonists, original art, and long runs of comic books.

The first time you go to the Cartoon Library you register as a researcher. It is a special collections library, so all pens and bags are left in the lockers outside (tokens are available at the front desk). After you register you can call material to be brought to you using call slips, or email ahead and let them know you will be looking to use material on a particular date and time. Make sure you let them know you are a member of this class. Information about the library, including finding aids for searching the collection, are at http://cartoons.osu.edu


This class fulfills GEC credit under the Arts & Humanities/Cultures & Ideas category. As with all GEC courses in  Arts & Humanities, this class will “develop capacities for aesthetic and historical response and judgment; interpretation and evaluation; critical listening, reading, seeing, thinking, and writing; and experiencing the arts and reflecting on that experience.” Further, as a Cultures & Ideas GEC course, English 364 will all students to develop abilities to analyze, appreciate, and interpret a major form of human thought and expression, and to develop abilities to understand how ideas influence the character of human beliefs, the perception of reality, and the norms which guide human behavior.

Academic honesty.

Plagiarism is the representation of another's works or ideas as one's own:  it includes the unacknowledged word for word use and/or paraphrasing of another person's work, and/or the inappropriate unacknowledged use of another person's ideas.  All cases of suspected plagiarism, in accordance with university rules, will be reported to the Committee on Academic Misconduct (Faculty Rule 3335-5-487). For additional information, see the Code of Student Conduct at http://studentconduct.osu.edu.

Students with disabilities.

Any student who feels s/he may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the Office for Disability Services located in 150 Pomerene Hall, 1760 Neil Avenue; telephone 292-3307, TDD 292-0901; http://www.ods.ohio-state.edu/.  Students with disabilities that have been certified by the Office for Disability Services will be appropriately accommodated and should inform the instructor as soon as possible of their needs.