Ben Saunders is an acclaimed professor of English literature at University of Oregon, focusing on Shakespeare. But ten years ago, he began teaching classes in comics studies. The classes were so popular Saunders was able to create the nation’s first minor in Comic & Cartoon Studies.
How did Saunders make the leap to comics?
“The gap between comic studies and Shakespeare studies isn’t as great as you might imagine,” Saunders says. “Most of the comics that I’m interested in teaching are also, in my opinion, great works of popular art.”
“Art Beat” sits in on Saunders’ classroom, meets other instructors in the minor, talks with students who are deeply immersed in comics and dives into the wild Portland ComicCon, where comics and comic book characters grab the spotlight.