Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Chad's Challenge part nine: out-of-print

Chad asked me, "What is the one comic you've wanted to teach, but couldn't because it's difficult to find/out of print?"

And the answer is... there aren't any? There are things that I've wanted to use that are out of print or hard to find, but I've managed to make it happen. I've had to use some secondhand copies or internet scans of things that aren't readily available for purchase. And I'm willing to use these technically illegal copies to get around this problem you mention for several reasons.

1) I'm not making any money off these copies
2) they don't get to keep these copies
3) they are not things that are readily available for purchase
4) it's for educational purposes
5) I'm exposing the students to this material, and in a way it is working as promotion for the work to a previously uninformed audience

A good example would be "Soul of a New Machine" which I use in my writing courses. It's a single issue that is available in trade, but I can't require my students to pay $20 for a trade that they're going to read 22 pages of. But it's worth reading, and the students get a lot out of it, so I'm willing to break the rules to use it.

Another example would be "Shoot" which has never even seen print, but which I found online and give to my students to read. That's definitely something that wouldn't be able to be used in my classes, but it's such a good story that I found a way to make it work.

I guess, what I'm saying is that the availability has never really been an issue as much as length or cost.

But I will say that the availability issue would be helped a great deal if what McCloud said at the lecture on Friday is true, and Norton is in fact looking at putting out an anthology like their other comprehensive anthologies. If that would happen, I'd be ecstatic.

So here's my question: if such an anthology were to happen, something for comics comparable to the Norton Anthology of British Literature, what are five works (short stories obviously, or excerpts even though I hate when excerpts get put in anthologies) that you think would HAVE to be included, and why?