5 Questions with…SAGES Fellow, Superman Expert Brad Ricca


When you teach classes on comic books and understanding dinosaurs, it’s easy to say you’re a bit quirky. But Brad Ricca, who’s been teaching at Case Western Reserve University for more than 10 years as a graduate student, an English lecturer and a SAGES Fellow, wouldn’t call himself quirky. The Daily asked the Miami University and Case Western Reserve alumnus how he’d describe himself—plus a few other questions to help you gain some insight into the Superman expert’s personality.

1. What’s on your iPod?
“I Just Can’t Take It Anymore” by The Lemonheads

2. What’s your favorite spot in Cleveland, and why?
One of my very favorite places to go lately is The Happy Dog in Gordon Square. There is nothing more Cleveland than sitting in a wooden booth, ordering an incredible custom hot dog with nueske bacon and alien relish (or a veggie dog/no bacon) and listening to DJ Kishka spin polka music all night long. It is an experience you can only have here.

3. If you could only take three books with you to a deserted island, what would you take?

  • Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
  • Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson
  • The Golden Age of Marvel Comics. It was given to me by English Chair Mary Grimm. I would bring it because it is great reading and gigantic enough to stun any hungry predators.

4. What one word would you use to describe yourself?
I would say “unforthcoming.”

5. What’s your favorite thing about Case Western Reserve University?
I have always really liked the people I have worked with, in English to SAGES, but my real answer is more institutional. My favorite thing is that Case is, at heart, really not afraid of existing on both sides of Euclid.

The emergence of SAGES, which was—and is—so dramatically different from the old system, completely altered how our school is viewed by the public, by our peer institutions and, most importantly, by our first-year students, of whom SAGES has made all the more visible.

And while you can still hear criticism of SAGES, the program continues to score the highest on evaluations. I have met more interesting faculty and learned about their fascinating research and innovative teaching methods through SAGES than I could have at 20 different schools. I believe this is the experience of the students as well, which is what makes it still so exciting.


Ricca’s documentary, Last Son, delves into the lives of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, while his book about Superman, Super Boys, is forthcoming from St. Martin’s Press. His book of poetry, American Mastadon, comes out next month.