Superheroes and college credits collided in London as students from the HON 321 class spent their Spring Break learning how to craft comics.
HON 321U: “Illustrated London” is a class for Central Michigan University honors students that looks at comics and graphic novels centering around London.
This is not the first year the university has had a comics class, but it is the first time a class has traveled abroad to explore the city the graphic novels take place in.
“The point is to take these stories that are from the historical and post-apocalyptic viewpoint and see the place where they take place in the current day,” said Allegan senior Rachel McDaniel, a student who went on the trip.
Aside from the honors program fees, students who went on the trip paid for their own airfare and meals.
McDaniel had been overseas before but was most excited about the trip to London.
“Study abroad incorporates a global perspective into a short span of time,” she said. “It gives students a chance to study on a small-scale and get out into the community.”
Birch Run junior Chad Storey said the trip to London was transformational for him.
“London has a very unique culture,” he said. “It was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. It is a truly international city.”
Storey said some of the comics they look at in the class are historically based, such as “From Hell,” by Alan Moore, which presents a theory of who Jack the Ripper really was.
The class visited places where the books took place in London, as well as famous landmarks, such as Buckingham Palace.
“The class takes a certain type of person,” Storey said. “Some read comics, and that’s the end of it. In this class you get the most out of it. You form ideas and get to see London itself, through comics.”
Professor Joseph Sommers said it was not a difficult decision to teach the class and take a Spring Break trip to London.
“I’ve always been of the opinion that a student’s education doesn’t have to be dull,” he said. “Education should be why you’re in college in the first place.”
Sommers looked for a way to incorporate a comics course into the educational process. He said there is no better way to learn about a place in the world than by actually going there.
“The place is the literature. The culture is the literature,” he said. “Going to London was a remarkable, revelatory experience and it’s a wonderful way to do a class.”
Sommers said from the beginning, he received support from the university and the honors program for the class.
“This university does care about enhancing students’ learning,” he said.