student in martian comic costume

Timeline/Origins

Fall 2011 - SDSU Library began to make strategic investments in expanding its existing collection of underground comics, mini comics and zines with the goal of establishing a world-class comics arts collection.

Spring 2015 - SDSU Special Collections & University Archives began hosting classes heavily focused on using comics. 

Spring 2018 - SDSU Press became a comic book publisher under its new graphic narrative imprint, Amatl Comix. 

Fall 2018 - SDSU History Department develops HIST/ENG 157: Comics through History and submits the course for approval as a class that counts toward GE.

Fall 2019 - SDSU Comics Working Group began as a grass-roots effort undertaken by faculty with the goal of collaborating around comics-related teaching, research, and outreach. The working group sought to capitalize on two primary strengths: 1) faculty who were already using comics in innovative ways in the classroom and exploring research opportunities focused on comics analysis, and 2) the SDSU Library’s large and exciting collection (of comics, science fiction, and related ephemera), which is a treasure trove for fostering teaching and research.

Spring 2020 - The new GE course - History/English 157 - is taught for the first time.

Spring 2020 - Summer 2021 - [email protected] applies for consideration as an SDSU Big Idea for the Comics and Social Justice Initiative.

Spring 2021 - [email protected] holds the first-ever all-CSU virtual gathering of scholars working with comics.

Summer 2021 - [email protected] is awarded $149,305 in grant funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Service (IMLS) for Building Capacity for Research and Teaching with Comics and Graphic Art. Funding will be used to start a conversation with academic librarians nationwide who work closely with comics.

Fall 2021 - The Comics and Social Justice Initiative is selected as one of six SDSU Big Ideas. SDSU students create a new student run organization, the Comics Studies Club.

Spring 2022 - [email protected] is awarded $149,998 in grant funding from the NEH's Humanities Initiatives at Hispanic-Serving Institutions for Building A Comics And Social Justice Curriculum At SDSU. Funding will be used to create 10 new comics courses and a Comics Studies Certificate program.

Spring 2022 - [email protected] is officially recognized as the SDSU Center for Comics Studies.

Summer 2022 - What began as seven professors sitting around a conference table in Special Collections and University Archives in 2019, dreaming about what we could do with comics, in just three years has grown to more than twenty SDSU faculty, from five Colleges (CAL, Library, PSFA, Education, and Engineering) engaged in teaching, research, and outreach fueled by comics. 

Goals of the SDSU Center for Comics Studies

  • Connect makers and researchers --- through creative activity, vibrant conferences, and innovative publications --- to produce comics and scholarship.
  • Attract scholars (national and international) to collaborate with our faculty on research and publication, especially work that draws on SCUA’s comics collection.
  • Pursue grants and donors that can further the work we’re already doing and expand our research profile.
  • Mentor students who are pursuing independent research in comics studies.
  • Empower students to envision a better world through dynamic curriculum, research, and creative opportunities with comics.  
  • Demonstrate the power of the comics medium to highlight and foster diversity, equity, and inclusivity, to identify  social injustice, and to point the way to solutions.
  • Develop a series of new comics studies classes that engage students with historical and contemporary issues such as race, gender, ability, religion, immigration, social background, social class, access, and environmental justice.
  • Create a Comics Studies Certificate program, tied to Global Campus, that will build interest among degree-pursuing students (working toward their certificate) and could draw funds through enrollment by non-degree students from the wider community (including K-12 teachers eager to develop skills for working with comics in the classroom) and, possibly, through CSU collaboration (such as the CourseMatch program).
  • Increase use of, and continue to build, the Library’s Comic Arts Collection.
  • Cultivate relationships with the vibrant and active San Diego comics community.