Not Animation, but it seems to fit better with the Western/Non JP theme.
I'm curious what people think would make for some good reads.
I'd strongly advise the Pulitzer Prize winning "Maus" by Art Spiegelman. Actually you might be able to convince your English/Novels teacher to let the class read that instead of something else.
Watchmen and Sin City are award winning and famous for good reason.
Girl Genius was an award winning graphic novel that the authors turned into a webcomic (at first just posting the books they had already created page by page webcomic style, but I think they "caught up" a while ago and now post stuff to the webcomic first and then create the books).