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Abstract The re-issue of a nineteenth-century French Drawing Course is the occasion for an examination of issues of ‘models of good practice’ in current art teaching. These are listed as an expanded set of student-centred pedagogical paradigms, which embrace the forceful popular imagery of electronic games and comic strips. The formalist adaptations of comic-strip imagery by artists in the 1970s which challenged traditional divisions between high and popular art, are contrasted with the scathing Marxist analysis by Dorfman and Matterlart, Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic, which still has political resonance. The darkly ambivalent, if much theorised, appropriations of popular imagery by contemporary artists Pettibon and Murakami are adduced as part of an on-going problematic, where ideological readings are glossed over for fear of jeopardising the liberal consensus in art and education.