CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – In issue No. 6 of the comic book “Superman Adventures,” the story begins with the destruction of the city of Metropolis. It’s a stark opening, but then Scott McCloud, the author of that issue, does something ingenious with the narrative. He moves backward through time, taking the Man of Steel to the source of the disaster.
“Scott McCloud has got to be just about the smartest guy in comics,” Frank Miller, author of graphic novels “300” and “The Dark Knight Returns,” said.
This spring, McCloud will spend a few months on the Austin Peay State University campus as the recipient of the 2014 Acuff Chair of Excellence. In 1985, country-music legend Roy Acuff generously endowed the chair at APSU, which brings nationally acclaimed artists to campus each year to work with students and the community.
“A lot of our students have come to art through comics and want careers in comics, although that’s something we don’t do here,” Kell Black, APSU professor of art, said. “When we have the Acuff Chair, we do one of two things. We either bring in somebody who enhances what we already do or bring in somebody who adds something that we don’t do, but where there is great interest. This year, we went with the latter, and our students have gone wild.”
At 7 p.m. on Feb. 27, McCloud will give a free lecture to the community in the Trahern Theater. The event is free and open to the public, but a ticket is required. For ticket information, call 931-221-7333.
He will spend most of the semester working closely with APSU art students by co-teaching a comics class with Black. The class will meet twice a week, and McCloud has agreed to have office hours in order to meet with students.
“Scott has been very generous,” Black said. “Usually, we cap our studio classes at 18-20 students, but he doubled that. The comics class is capped at 36. We have 36 very energetic students.”
McCloud’s first comic series, “Zot!” was originally published in 1984, and he developed the superhero parody, “Destroy!!”, in 1986. But his famous non-fiction comic books, such as “Understanding Comics,” have led many to regard him as the leading comics theorist in the world.
“If you read, write, teach or draw comics; if you want to; or if you simply want to watch a master explainer at work, you must read this book,” Neil Gaiman, author of the novel “Coraline,” said.
Alan Moore, author of the graphic novel “Watchmen,” called McCloud’s book “quite simply the best analysis of the medium that I have ever encountered.”
For more information on McCloud or the Acuff Chair, contact the APSU Department of Art at 221-7333.