Instructor's Teaching Experience:

I taught this at the end of a semester’s course dealing with issues of identity; I found that there is a lot of mature content in the comic series, so it would be good to preface that for your students, as some of it is extremely graphic. Interestingly, one of the big critiques I received about the texts was that the art was ugly, which made it difficult to invest—I ended up taking time to talk about the visuals, and why grotesque imagery might be as much a part of the atmosphere as anything else.

I would also recommend teaching this earlier in the semester than I did. The biggest difficulty we encountered with the text was its format: for many of my students, the graphic novel was something totally new, and we spent extra time learning about “how to read” in this format.

Teaching Strategies:

Spend extra time scaffolding graphic novels for your students well ahead of time—I used Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics as a resource and found it to be useful for showing students how to build a close reading in a page. I would suggest giving them some samples first—easy-to-read comics, maybe from the newspaper or a magazine—to practice “reading” visuals.

It is important to make sure they understand what is happening in the panel first. We spent time going over plot summary, so it might be a good idea to have summaries written out so students can focus on analyzing the graphic content.

Something that is specific to this particular comic series is Gaiman’s many literary and musical references, some of which are rather niche; I recommend compiling a list of these references in every issue to discuss with students in relation to the text.