New graphic novel class combines literature and art

Most of the time when you think of Lit classes for college you are thinking Shakespeare, Huckleberry Finn, or maybe the Iliad and the Odyssey.

DMACC in recent years has started to expand such offerings with recent additions including science fiction, detective fiction and now graphic novels through LIT 210, “The Graphic Novel.”

According to the official description for LIT 210, “The graphic novel will be explored and examined in its various forms, and thematic connections will be made among texts, outside resources, and personal experiences.

The history and development of comic books, graphic novels, manga, and their subgenres as literature will also be explored.”


“Ve for Vendetta,” “Maus,” and “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns” are required reading for LIT 210.

The latest addition to the literature offerings at DMACC was put together over the last year by Lynn LaGrone, an English Instructor on DMACC’s Ankeny Campus.  This class is the first of its kind in Iowa and DMACC students of all kinds can sign up for this Spring Semester.

“There is a huge mix of students, yes there are those ones who have always been fans of comic books, but I have a lot of novice students who have never looked at visual literature,” LaGrone said.

This class is full of students of a wide variety.  Ian Leslie is a Liberal Arts major from Ankeny had spoken with LaGrone while she was working on the class over the last year.

Leslie took the class because it was offered by Miss LaGrone.  “I wasn’t aware of the range of offerings in graphic novels,” Leslie said.

Casey Young and and Daisha Tigges both were enrolled in the class as Liberal Arts majors.  Young said that she had seen the movie V For Vendetta and stated. “There is much more to the graphic novel with more events to follow and depth.”

The second book, “Maus,” Tigges felt was a very realistic portrayal of the holocaust, minus mice playing the main characters.

On the other side of the equation there was Larry Crane, a business entrepreneurship student from Des Moines whose goal is to open his own comic book store upon graduating from DMACC.  He’s in his second year at DMACC and says that he “has a deep love of comic books.”

“This class was exactly made for me,” Crane said.

LaGrone said that she felt there was a need and a want for this material, she stated.  “There is a genuine interest out there in an extended and visual story.”

The comic book popularity has gone up and down over the years but, “The graphic novel takes that much further because it’s a fully developed story,” LaGrone said.

Textbooks for this class are what you would expect for such a class, including “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns”, “V for Vendetta” and “Maus”.

These books were chosen by LaGrone and are all very different and popular graphic novels.

From the darker older Batman that covers the evolution of the character, “V for Vendetta” and it’s connection with politics today, to Maus that is the author’s storytelling his family’s life during the Holocaust.

“A lot of these books are about social issues and things that are happening in the era that the writer is looking at,” LaGrone said.

She explains that you learn about history, the art of style and the overall history of comics back to the 1930s.

This class will not be offered in the fall as LaGrone is going to work on revising the class.

Lagrone was able to get a lot of feedback from her students during the semester and doesn’t want to oversaturate the market with this class.

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