Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor

(text & illus.). Drawn & Quarterly. 2014. 200p. ISBN 9781770461611. pap. $19.95. GRAPHIC NOVELS
Some fine creative works have explored the creative process, but now writer/artist/scholar Barry (Ernie Pook's Comeek) offers one that is all process. Taken from the course plans for classes Barry has taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Syllabus is comprised of reproductions of the creator's hand-drawn and -made syllabi, creative exercises, and homework assignments, with observations, ruminations, quotations, and concepts from artists and thinkers who have inspired her, plus occasional student contributions and class photos. Earnestness virtually drips from the book's homely pages, and even if the contents have the potential to get the proverbial creative juices flowing, it ultimately calls to mind Vladimir Nabokov's remark that sharing early drafts of one's work is comparable to "passing around samples of one's sputum."
VERDICT Syllabus has incidental charms but is not recommended for a general audience; it's at best an optional purchase most appreciated by fans of Barry and/or cartooning in general, art instructors, and those for whom art is a journey rather than a destination. Some saucy and spooky visual content, yet suitable for most readers.

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