Brandi Hodo: A Course in Comic Books
Born in Tuscaloosa, English Instructor Ms. Brandi Hodo, sheds some light on one of the more unique courses that the Department of English offers. An advanced composition course, EN 103 focused around the study of comic books through the analysis of their heroes and villains—ranging from X-Men to Captain America. The classic representation of good versus evil, after all, is always a relevant concept to understand.
Did you always want to be a professor? Or were you ever focused on something else?
I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, but after I graduated high school and finished my undergrad, I realized high school was not where I wanted to be teaching. I wanted to teach at the college level.
When did you first start reading comic books? Have they always been important to you?
Oh goodness, ever since I was a kid. I started off watching a lot of Batman and similar shows. I guess that’s what really first sparked my interest in comics as I grew up. My dad had a bunch of comics, too, so I always had a lot to read
Can you talk a little about the EN 103 class that you taught?
It was an advanced comp course where we discussed comic books and modern day heroes. The entire class was themed around different aspects of comic books and the way we read them and the way they reflect society and our attitudes and how that changes over time.
Did students ever write their own comics while they were taking the course, or was it strictly focused on analysis?
It was centered around analysis of comic books. Most of them, especially my girls, were like, “I’ve never even read a comic book before in my life!” So it was definitely a good experience for many of them.
How have comics influence your life beyond the classroom?
Well, they deal with a lot of the things; areas that I just find interesting. I’m writing an article right now for an anthology that deals with gender and how it’s presented within fiction, and specifically, Marvel Comics, it’s not named yet.
What are some of your favorite comics?
Oh, goodness. That’s always the hardest question. Of course, I love Captain America. I wrote a pretty large paper about it. And Batman, ever since I was a kid I’ve always loved Batman. I love series that focus around villains; I find them fascinating. Suicide Squad and Red Hood—those are the ones I find most interesting.
Did you have a particular hero that you relate to or that inspires you?
Comics are good, but they’re obviously not very realistic. My grandmother was a huge hero to me with how strong she was and how focused she was on getting me an education and why that was so important to her and my dad. They gave me a whole lot of strength and guidance—I’m a first generation college student. So the fact that they believed in me—they were my real heroes.
Have you ever written your own comics?
Oh, I don’t have that kind of talent. I can’t draw and I know that I’m probably not that great at writing. I just stick to reading and analyzing.