Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Where I'll Be: Neil Hellman Library at The College of Saint Rose, April 9

Tomorrow evening I'll be speaking about my work with comics to students at The College of Saint Rose's Neil Hellman Library here in Albany, NY. I was invited to the event by librarian Kate Moss, after an introduction by my friend Kelly Meyer who also works at Saint Rose.

I'll be discussing the various research and other work I've done with comics, and also the types of comics which interest me (basically, all kinds!); but really, I'm most looking forward to talking with the students and seeing what their interests are. Kate tells me that she's heard a lot of enthusiasm for comics among the students there.

Also appearing will local cartoonist John Hebert, who was added to the program after this poster was already created. It's a small venue, so it's not really open to the general public. But who knows, this may be the start of more comics-related programming at the college!

- Poster by Jacqui Hopely, a colleague and friend of mine who also works at the Neil Hellman Library!

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Friday, April 04, 2014

Tales from the Green Scrapbook #6: Captain America in TV Guide, 1979

In this installment of our once-in-a-great-while series, Tales from the Green Scrabook (featuring scans of items I taped into an old notebook when I was a child), we have TV Guide ads from the 1979 made-for-television Captain America movies. If you're looking for any sort of fidelity to the original comic book source material, just move along - there's nothing to see here.

IMDB helpfully summarizes Cap's origin from the first movie (broadcast January 19, 1979):
When a commercial artist is almost murdered by spies looking for his late father's secrets, he is saved in surgery when the FLAG formula is injected into him.
Uh huh. And that uniform is, how shall we say, non-standard.

Apparently, the super-steroids created by Steve Rogers' father enable him to jump just like Wonder Woman did on her television series...

Things got a little better in Captain America II (helpfully subtitled on home video as "Death Too Soon"), broadcast on November 23 of the same year, if only because they got the costume nearly right this time, and because Christopher Lee can't help but add a touch of class.

Dig those action-packed opening credits!

OK, I did say that things got only a little better...

If anyone knows who illustrated these TV Guide ads, I'd love to hear from you.

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Rare (?) "Superman The Movie" Tie-In Comic: Adventures of the Big Boy #266, 1979

When is a Superman comic book not a Superman comic book? Perhaps when it's Adventures of the Big Boy #266, a tie-in to the first Christopher Reeve Superman movie. I recall picking up this issue at a Marc's Big Boy restaurant on a family trip in our home state of Wisconsin. The Superman portion of this 16-page (including covers) classic is only the cover and the three-page lead story by Mari Foster with art by Big Boy-stalwart Manny Stallman. Big Boy, his friend Dolly, and Nugget the dog take a trip to a movie studio in "London, England" where they are met by Reeve, who talks about bulking up for the role. He also acts in a special flying scene with the trio, directed by Richard Donner himself, who "has directed hundreds of TV shows and movies like The Omen."

Even at age twelve, I realized that this thing was an oddity: A comic book with Superman on the cover that wasn't published by DC Comics? That never even mentioned DC Comics or included a trademark? That didn't mention that Superman was a comic-book character at all? But hey, it was a restaurant giveaway comic for little kids - what did I expect?

I recently ran across my vintage copy of this oddity when going through an old box of comics. The book boasts the world's most incomplete indicia (and it even leaves out the "the" before "Big Boy" on the cover!), so while I know that the issue was copyright 1979, I'm not sure which month it might have come out. I'm guessing early in the year, as Superman was released on December 15, 1978. Comic Vine lists the publication date as January 1, 1980, which can't be correct; and the usually authoritative Grand Comics Database is sketchy on this title and doesn't even have a listing for this issue. --Oh, wait, I see now that comicbookdb lists a cover date of June 1979. That would have given its young readers only a few weeks to enter its advertised "win a T-shirt that gives you sugarless bubblegum balls when you squeeze it" contest, deadline July 15, 1979. (I doubt that these books were dated three months in advance like newsstand comics were at the time.)

After I started to write this post, I panicked: What if there was already lots of information about this book out there somewhere? Luckily, a quick Google search yielded only a few brief mentions, plus the various database links I have in the previous paragraph, but nothing else of substance. (Even BookSteve himself hasn't seen this one!) But, who was I kidding? I'd already scanned the story, so of course I was going to post it anyway. So without further ado, here we go. Click to embiggen the images to a readable size, and "Enjoy!"

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

CFP: Comics and the Canon / "Partial Answers" journal issue (June 16)

Call for Papers
Comics and the Canon
a special issue of
Partial Answers:
Journal of Literature and the History of Ideas

Over the last three decades, comics, graphic memoirs, and graphic novels have emerged as literary, artistic, and cultural artifacts of central importance. Comics were once seen as outside what we might broadly call a literary and fine-arts "canon": as objects belonging to low culture rather than high culture, as ephemeral items rather than artworks of lasting and iconic significance, as lesser hybrids of word and image rather than as belonging to a specific demanding medium. And yet the last thirty years have seen the rise and impact of works that are serious, ambitious, and monumental — works in conversation with an established literary and artistic canon, and works which themselves make a claim to cultural centrality and significance. "Comics studies" has developed as an academic discipline; artists and critics have worked to recover the rich and understudied history of the medium, with the result that a "canon" of central figures is emerging.

What is gained and what is lost when we try to establish a Comics canon? How do artists make claims to cultural centrality by putting their work in conversation with more traditional canonical works, and how do they challenge the 'canon' through exploring alternative aesthetic values and subjects? In the canon-building process of winnowing and centralization, which works are elevated and which are excluded? Is there something perverse in canonizing works in a medium that has often characterized itself as marginal? What tensions are thereby exposed, not just in comics but also in the very process of canonization?

This collection invites essays on all aspects of comics and canonization, including
  • analyses of comics which rewrite or otherwise engage with canonical works of art, film and literature
  • studies that consider comics in relation to other artistic media in which word and image are traditionally combined (illustrated novels, illuminated manuscripts, film scripts and storyboards, etc.)
  • defenses and critiques of the artists whose works have become most central to the comics canon (Spiegelman, Satrapi, Bechdel)
  • arguments for the inclusion of understudied artists, artworks and movements in the comics canon
  • essays on the ways in which comics challenge the premises and processes of literary canonization
  • projections on the future of the ‘canon’ in comics classes and scholarship
Submissions (between 5,000 and 10,000 words, the Harvard system of references) are due by June 16, 2014. Authors of the papers that are accepted will be responsible for obtaining permissions to reprint illustrations.

The journal will accept electronic submissions, in Word or RTF, to be sent to partans@mail.huji.ac.il . For inquiries please contact the guest editor, Professor Ariela Freedman (Concordia University, Montreal) at ariela.freedman@concordia.ca

CFP also on-line at the Partial Answers website.

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Comics Alternative Podcast 75: Sheltered, Dead Boy Detectives, The Royals: Masters of War, and Black Dynamite

On today's episode of The Comics Alternative, Derek Royal and I review four new titles. First up is Sheltered vol. 1, "a pre-apocalyptic tale" of a survivalist camp gone wrong. We follow that with Dead Boy Detectives #1 and #2, the latest spin-off from The Sandman; Royals: Masters of War #1, a super-powered alternate history; and the faux-blaxploitation media tie-in, Black Dynamite #1. A potpourri of genres!

As always, click the link above to stream the episode, or you can subscribe via iTunes.

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

CFP: The Punk Aesthetic in Comics / essay collection (June 2)

Call for Papers
The Punk Aesthetic in Comics

We have just received a contract from McFarland to compile a multi-contributor manuscript on comic books and the punk aesthetic.  Comics have long had a connection with subculture. In the punk movement, comics found an aesthetic that could help preach a message to the counterculture. This collection will include essays that examine how both mainstream and underground comics/comix have borrowed from and used the punk aesthetic for their own means. 

The OED indicates that the earliest usage of "punk" occurs in 1575, and then it was used as a synonym for prostitute, but the word has come a long way since then, and it has taken on many different permutations.  Rather than attempt to form a unified definition of "punk," we encourage submissions to take advantage of the flexibility of this word and to examine the punk aesthetic in unique and original directions. Furthermore, submissions are encouraged to explore texts from outside of the obligatory UK/US discussion, and certainly before the typical 1970s "start date" of the punk movement. 

Essay Format/Style:
Essays are to be 5000-7500 words long (typed and double-spaced) and should be written in clear, concrete terms, avoiding jargon whenever possible. Shorter essays may be accepted, but, in general, we are looking for thoroughly researched, scholarly discussions of the topic. We do want to encourage contributors to use images in their submissions. Because of the reluctance of some publishers to release their images for scholastic purposes, however, there will also be a need to limit those images. As a general guideline, contributors will need to avoid using comic book covers and use no more than 2-3 images in their submission.  We must also mention that contributors should avoid using song lyrics in their articles. While we understand the difficulties involved with writing about a cultural movement that is closely tied to music without being able to include lyrics from the songs that are a part of the movement, the rights to those songs are often aggressively defended by the copyright holders and we will be unable to secure permissions to use any song lyrics in the finished project. If you are invited to contribute your article to this collection, each author must provide us with ownership of the essay, the exclusive right to publish it, and you must seek permission from McFarland to republish any of the material as long as they are causing the book to be sold. Citations should appear in endnotes, and documentation and citations should follow MLA format.  For specifics, see the guidelines outlined here: http://www.comicsresearch.org/CAC/cite.html

Anyone interested in contributing an essay should contact the editors at the email address punkcomicscollection@gmail.com, with a brief proposal (1-2 paragraphs) and a short description of their professional, educational, and publishing background no later than Monday, June 2, 2014. Invited essays will be due as e-mail attachments no later than Monday, January 19, 2015. Further information will be sent later to those who are invited to submit essays.

Possible primary texts include (but are not intended to be restricted to):
  • Air Gear
  • Beelzebub
  • Books of Magick: Life during Wartime
  • Cromartie High School
  • East Coast Rising
  • Eightball
  • Fashion Beast
  • Ghost in the Shell
  • Ghost World
  • Gokusen
  • Honour among Punks 
  • Hopeless Savages
  • How Loathsome
  • Judge Dredd
  • Kill Your Boyfriend
  • Kyou Kara Ore Wa!!  
  • Lobo
  • Love and Rockets
  • Mardock Scramble
  • Persepolis
  • Peter Pank
  • Punk Rock Jesus
  • Sandman
  • Scott Pilgrim
  • Shonan Junai Gumi (Shonan Purelove Gang) & Great Teacher Onizuka
  • Tank Girl
  • The Invisibles
  • Transmetropolitan
  • Underground Comix
  • V for Vendetta
  • Webcomics: xkcd, Nothing Nice to Say, The Oatmeal
  • X-Men
If you have any questions, you should not hesitate to contact us at the following email address: punkcomicscollection@gmail.com

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

CFP: 2014 AX Anime and Manga Studies Symposium (May 1; July 3-6)

Call for Papers / Call for Speakers
2014 AX Anime and Manga Studies Symposium
July 3 - July 6
Anime Expo 2014

Los Angeles Convention Center (Los Angeles, CA)

Keynote Speaker:
Prof. Marc Steinberg (Concordia University, Montreal, Canada)
Submission Deadline: May 1, 2014

Japanese animation (anime) and comics (manga) represent one of the major contributions that Japan has made to global visual and popular culture. Indeed, for many people, their first - and sometimes only - contact with Japanese culture at all is through Japanese visual culture.

The field of anime and manga studies is young, only about 30 year old, but extraordinarily vibrant.
It welcomes a wide range of interpretations and approaches, draws on different disciplines and methodologies, and can involve both academics, industry professionals, independent scholars, and fans/enthusiasts.

A major goal of the Anime and Manga Studies Symposium is to bring together speakers from diverse backgrounds, fields and areas to exchange ideas, explore new directions, and contribute to building a community of anime and manga studies. Uniquely, the Anime and Manga Symposium is an integral part of the schedule of Anime Expo, the largest gathering of fans of Japanese popular culture in the U.S. This will give speakers an opportunity to present their research and scholarship directly to public, non-academic audience, to interact with fans of anime and manga from around the world, and to becomeparticipants in a celebration and appreciation of Japanese popular culture. In turn, the Symposium also serves to introduce convention attendees to the ideas and practices of formal scholarship of Japanesevisual culture.

Submissions on a wide range of topics dealing with anime and manga will be considered. Possible areas to explore can include—but are not limited to:
  • Critical studies of individual creators, directors and animators, especially in larger contexts such as anime/manga as a whole, animation, comics, Japanese literature/film, science fiction, war literature, etc.
  • Close readings of particular works, with a focus on genre conventions and subversions and relationships to previous works in anime/manga and other media.
  • Gender and Sexuality: Fan service and objectification, the male and female gaze, the interplay of male and female creators, producers, and audiences
  • Age, class, race, ethnicity/nationality and other social differences
  • Reflections on current social, political and ecological issues
  • Responses to the world and to Japanese history: The 3.11 Tohoku Disaster, World War II, interactions between Japan and other countries
  • The impact of new technologies (wireless communication, augmented reality, mobile computing) on storytelling in anime/manga
  • The use of remix culture: Adaptation and interpretation of Eastern, Western and other literatures and visual media in Japanese popular culture
  • Copyright, obscenity, and other legal issues
  • Anime and manga as tools of globalization and agents of promoting Japanese culture
  • The history and evolution of anime/manga fandom outside Japan: Fan practices and experiences—clubs, conventions, cosplay, fansites, fansubbing, anime music videos
  • The future of anime/manga consumption – streaming, online comics, crowdsourcing, etc.
  • Potentials for anime/manga as platforms for social change and anime/manga fans as actors of social change
  • The ethics and challenges of presenting Japanese popular culture products around the world
The Symposium particularly welcomes presentations on newer/emerging works and creators.

Speakers are also welcome to submit proposals for roundtable discussions on these and related topics.

Potential roundtables can include:
  • Differences in theoretical approaches to anime and manga
  • Anime/manga fan practices and activities in different countries, cultures and regions
  • New directions, new opportunities, and new challenges in thinking, writing, and teaching about anime/manga
The AX Anime and Manga Studies Symposium will be open to all AX attendees. Speakers are urged to consider subjects that will be of interest to general non-specialist audiences and do not require significant backgrounds in Asian Studies, media theory, literature, etc.

For consideration, please submit the title of your paper or panel, an abstract (300 words maximum) and a CV to mkoulikov@gmail.com


All submissions will be peer-reviewed.

All invited participants will be offered free admission to Anime Expo.

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Monday, February 03, 2014

Where I'll Be: "Graphic Jews: Negotiating Identity In Sequential Art" Panel @ Skidmore College, Thurs. 2/6/14

Panel Discussion
Graphic Jews:
Negotiating Identity In Sequential Art
 7:00 pm reception; 7:30 pm panel discussion
February 6, 2014, 7:00pm
Skidmore College
Saratoga Springs, NY

I was honored to be asked to participate in this event on the campus of Skidmore College, in which I'll be co-moderating a panel discussion with three excellent cartoonists. From the press release:
Sequential artists Ben Katchor, Leela Corman, and James Sturm talk about their work in the medium of comics and discuss the ways in which their work engages with contemporary constructions of Jewish identity. Co-moderated by Dr. Gene Kannenberg Jr., historian, director of ComicsResearch.org and author of 500 Essential Graphic Novels; and Gregory Spinner, Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion, Skidmore College. Sponsored by the Jacob Perlow Lecture Fund and presented in collaboration with the Office of the Dean of Special Programs, Skidmore College.
The panel is being held in conjunction with an exhibit of comic art at the Tang Teaching Museum, "Graphic Jews: Negotiating Identity in Sequential Art." As stated above, I'll be co-moderating the panel with Prof. Gregory Spinner, co-curator of the exhibit. Here's a video overview of the show, featuring an interview with Greg:

Tang Museum | Graphic Jews: Negotiating Identity in Sequential Art 
from The Tang Museum on Vimeo.

And here's the full press release for the exhibit, which will be on display through April 13:
Graphic Jews presents a selection of graphic novels and original pages by contemporary Jewish artists Leela Corman, Vanessa Davis, Ben Katchor, and James Sturm that tell stories about Jewishness and explore some of the many ways Jews have figured and reconfigured their Jewish identities. These works combine words and pictures into what Will Eisner, one of the masters of the form, called “sequential art”: telling stories by putting one image after another after another.

Graphic Jews builds on a long history of Jewish Americans and comics. Jews played an outsized role in the history of American comics, creating, writing, illustrating, and publishing some of the best-known comics during the medium’s Golden Age in the 1930s and 1940s. Yet for much of the twentieth century the actual scale of Jewish involvement in the medium was not obvious, as neither the creators or their creations were marked, let alone marketed, as Jewish. Cultural shifts in American society in the 1960s and 1970s took pressure off Jewish immigrants and their children to assimilate into American society, and, as result, both long-time comics professionals and younger artists began to draw comics in which Jews and questions of Jewish identity figured more prominently. Two important graphic novels from this period signaled the transition: Will Eisner’s A Contract with God (1978), considered by many to be the first graphic novel, and Art Spiegelman’s Maus (1980-1991). Along with copies of graphic novels by Corman, Davis, Katchor, and Sturm, Eisner’s and Spiegelman’s two novels are available for visitors to explore in the exhibition.

The artists in Graphic Jews build on the emergence of overt Jewish characters and content in comics that began in the 1970s. Taken together, the works touch on the plurality of Jewish identities and experiences: struggles with alienation and assimilation, a spectrum of religious observance and indifference, and the knotty intersections of race, gender, and class. The exhibition explores how sequential art functions to visualize narrative, wherein images and texts about the past inform our present sense of our selves, thus contributing to the narrative construction of identity. We are the stories we tell and retell, from sacred narratives inherited from tradition and passed down through the generations, to more recent histories, fictions, and fantasies.

Graphic Jews is co-curated by Gregory Spinner, Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion, Skidmore College, and Rachel Seligman, Assistant Director for Curatorial Affairs, Tang Museum.
I'll also be attending the Tang's Winter/Spring Opening Reception on Saturday, February 15, with performances by David Greenberger and A Strong Dog in One Upon. Performance from 3:00 – 6:00 pm; Reception from 6:00 – 7:30 pm. For a list of all the events at the Tang this spring, click here.

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Comics Alternative Podcast 72: Reviewing Six New Comic Book Titles

On today's episode of The Comics Alternative, Derek Royal and I review a whole passel of new comic books: Alex + Ada #1-3 (Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn - Image Comics); Deadly Class #1 (Rick Remender and Wes Craig - Image Comics); Letter 44 #1-3 (Charles Soule and Alberto Jiménez Albuquerque - Oni Press); Juice Squeezers #1 (David Lapham - Dark Horse Comics); Legenderry #1 (Bill Willingham and Sergio Fernandez DaVilla - Dynamite Entertainment); and Curse #1 (Michael Moreci, Tim DanielRiley Rossmo and Colin Lorimer - BOOM! Studios). From SF to horror to urban intrigue to steampunk to bug-eyed monster bugs to the riddle of consciousness, we've got it covered. Along the way we discuss page layouts, narrative density, serialized storytelling, and why editorial matter matters.

As always, click the link above to stream the episode, or you can subscribe via iTunes.

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Comics Alternative Podcast 71: Reviews of Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time (Scott + David Tipton et al.) and Betty Blues (Renaud Dillies)

Click here to listen to this episode, and for show notes!

On today's episode of The Comics Alternative, Derek Royal and I review two new books: Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time, by Scott and David Tipton with art by over a dozen artists (IDW); and Betty Blues, by Renaud Dillies (from NBM ComicsLit). First we get our nerd on by talking about the 50 year-old BBC science fiction series and this book which brings together all eleven incarnations of The Doctor to date for one massive story (originally serialized in twelve issues), and then we wax rhapsodic over the lyricism and lines of Dillies' award-winning debut about two estranged lovebirds, ecology, and the power of music and art - and oh, how the art in Betty Blues shines!

As always, click the link above to stream the episode, or you can subscribe via iTunes.

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

CFP: The 17th International Comic Arts Forum / Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum (Mar. 14; Nov. 13-15)

The 17th International Comic Arts Forum
November 13-15, 2014

Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum
Columbus, OH

ICAF, the International Comic Arts Forum, invites scholarly paper proposals for its seventeenth annual meeting, to be held at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum in Columbus, OH, from Thursday, November 13, through Saturday, November 15, 2014.

The deadline to submit proposals is March 14, 2014.

ICAF welcomes original proposals from diverse disciplines and theoretical perspectives on any aspect of comics or cartooning, particularly studies that reflect an international perspective. Studies of aesthetics, production, distribution, reception, and social, ideological, and historical significance are all equally welcome, as are studies that address larger theoretical issues linked to comics or cartooning, for example in image/text studies or new media theory.

In recognition of the new, expanded facility of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, we are hoping to schedule some panels on issues pertaining to the specialties of the collection, which include underground comix and manga (read about the details of the collections here). We are also interested in papers that address the interaction between comics and the art world. Given the ever-expanding role of technology in the exhibition, preservation, and dissemination of comic art, we especially welcome paper proposals that address comics in the digital and online realms, as well as in museums and other unconventional exhibition sites.

PROPOSAL GUIDELINES: For its refereed presentations, ICAF prefers argumentative, thesis-driven papers that are clearly linked to larger critical, artistic, or cultural issues; we strive to avoid presentations that are merely summative or survey-like in character. We can accept only original papers that have not been presented or accepted for publication elsewhere. Presenters should assume an audience versed in comics and the fundamentals of comics studies. Where possible, papers should be illustrated by relevant images. Presentations must be timed to finish within the strict limit of twenty (20) minutes. Proposals should not exceed 300 words.

REVIEW PROCESS: All proposals will be subject to blind review by the ICAF Executive Committee. The final number of papers accepted will depend on the needs of the conference program. Due to high interest in the conference, in recent years ICAF has typically been able to accept only one third to one half of the proposals it has received.

SEND ABSTRACTS (with complete contact info noted separately) by March 14, 2014, to C. W. Marshall, ICAF Academic Program Director, via email at: toph.marshall@ubc.ca

Receipt of all proposals will be acknowledged. Applicants should expect to receive confirmation of acceptance or rejection by April 18, 2014.

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Monday, January 13, 2014

CFP: Traumics: Comics Narratives of Trauma (Jan. 25; April 4-6)

Call for papers
Comics Narratives of Trauma
The 11th Annual UF Conference
on Comics and Graphic Novels
April 4th-6th, 2014
Deadline: January 25, 2014

The Graduate Comics Organization at the University of Florida invites applicants to submit proposals to the 11th UF Conference on Comics and Graphic Novels, "Traumics: Comics Narratives of Trauma." The conference will be held from Friday April 4th 2014 to Sunday April 6th 2014. Proposals are due January 25, 2014.

Traumics are, simply put, comics plus trauma. With their syntax of panels, gutters, and pages and their use of the evocative power of image in conjunction with the precise communication of text, comics are uniquely suited to delivering narratives of trauma. The relationship of trauma (especially childhood trauma) to the comics medium is a thread that runs throughout Hillary L. Chute's 2010 Graphic Women: Life Narrative and Contemporary Comics, a book which is structured around exploring the works of five autobiographical comics artists (Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Phoebe Gloeckner, Lynda Barry, Marjane Satrapi, and Alison Bechdel). By their very nature, comics provide a potentially ideal means through which to tell those stories which require the fragmentation and reconstruction of events of high drama and emotional intensity. The juxtaposition of images on the comic page make comics what might be considered a ‘natural' fit for exploring the concept of "Remembering, repeating, and working-through" examined so in-depth in Cathy Caruth's seminal 1996 work on trauma, Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, Narrative and History.

More than two decades ago, Art Spiegelman's Pulitzer-winning opus, Maus, changed the way much of the reading public views comics, and is now one of the most iconic and recognizable Holocaust narratives to be studied in the classroom or found on bookstore shelves. Since the turn of the century, autobiographical comics like Alison Bechdel's Fun Home, Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis, and Phoebe Gloeckner's Diary of a Teenage Girl have all been released to great critical acclaim. Epileptic, David B.'s autobiographical exploration of medical trauma, hugged the transition from the 1900s to the 2000s, with its original French release running from 1996 to 2003; more recently, David Small's autobiographical Stitches (2009) also forced a spotlight on medical trauma, using bold, rough graphics to recount the horror of a child's battle with cancer. Robert Kirkman's zombie survival horror comic The Walking Dead (which began its run in 2003 and continues today) has captured the American cultural imagination, with its adaptations ranging from a television show and video game to a prominent role in the most recent Halloween Horror Nights attraction at Universal Studios. Comics and war narratives (as well as war reporting) have also gone hand-in-hand for many years; just this November, noted war comics writer and artist Joe Sacco released his latest work, The Great War, which tells the story of the first day of the Battle of the Somme in one continuous, 24-foot drawing. Comics have become one of the most important and visible venues through which a 21st-century audience understands, imagines, and works through traumatic events.

We invite presentation proposals from all disciplines on the theme of "traumics: comics narratives of trauma." Possible topics include but are not limited to:
  • Comics and Journalism (Example: Guibert, Lefevre and Lemercier's The Photographer)
  • Comics and Autobiography / Graphic Memoir (Examples: Alison Bechdel's Fun Home, David B.'s Epileptic, Phoebe Gloeckner's The Diary of a Teenage Girl and A Child's Life, David Small's Stitches)
  • Comics as Blogging / In blogging (Example: Allie Brosh's Hyperbole and a Half)
  • Violence in the Comics and Cultural Responses (Examples: "mainstream" violence in Marvel and DC comics, violence and the Comics Code Authority)
  • Comics Go to War / Comics About War / Comics Read and/or Written on the Front Lines (Examples: The 'Nam, Commando Comics)
  • The Traumatic Oeuvre of Joe Sacco
  • Art Spiegelman's Maus and its Critical Reception
  • How Comics Represent Trauma / Traumatic Experiences in the Comics
  • Trauma and Sexuality in the Comics (For example, in the work of Alan Moore)
  • Rape and Sexual Assault in the Comics / The Discussion Thereof (See: The recent controversy surrounding Mark Millar's "rape comments")
  • Trauma and Manga (For example, in the work of Osamu Tezuka and Hagio Moto)
  • Childhood and Trauma in the Comics
  • Childhood and Trauma in Illustrated Books and Children's Picture Books (Examples: Neil Gaiman's Coraline, Maurice Sendak's Outside Over There)
  • The Imagetext of the Newspaper / How Trauma is Reported through Media
"Traumics: Comics Narratives of Trauma" will consider proposals from graduate students, professors, independent scholars, undergraduates and other academics, and all proposals will be judged based on merit. The conference will be free to attend and open to the public.

Graduate papers presented at the conference will be eligible for consideration as Best Graduate Paper. The competition is open to non-UF graduate students and will be judged by a panel of UF professors. The winner will be awarded $250 and an opportunity to publish the full-length version of his or her paper in ImageTexT. Please indicate interest in the competition with abstract submissions.

Proposals should be between 200 and 300 words, and are due January 25, 2014. All proposals should be submitted to Mel Loucks at mloucks@ufl.edu and copied to Najwa Al-tabaa at naltabaa@ufl.edu.

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CFP: 9th Annual Conference of the Gesellschaft für Comicforschung: Drawing Borders, Crossing Boundaries (March 31; Sept. 25-28)

Call for papers
ComFor 2014
9th Annual Conference of the
Gesellschaft für Comicforschung
Drawing Borders, Crossing Boundaries
(Grenzen ziehen, Grenzen überschreiten)
25th to 28th September 2014

Be they between West and East, Upper, Middle and Working Class, Man and Woman, High and Low Art, Reality and Fiction: we are continuously drawing, crossing, and re-drawing boundaries and borders. For Yuri M. Lotman, this is a fundamental act of every culture. The notion of borders/boundaries is always ambivalent, separating yet also linking. Comics too create and transcend boundaries, both in the medium's form and content -- not least through blurring the distinction between text and image. Marketed globally, comics deal with national borders as much as with boundaries of the categories of class, race, and gender. And in many comics' characters, the differences between human and animal have become indistinguishable. The 9th Conference of the Gesellschaft für Comicforschung will examine these and further phenomena surrounding the theme of Boundaries/Borders.

1. Intermediality
At the beginning of the twentieth century, a new relation between text and image emerged through the comics form. While text can lose itself in images and through its materiality, as in onomatopoeic elements, become image, the image component in comics is serialized and, like writing, becomes sequentially legible. The order of knowledge, secure in book form, has been brought into disarray in the form of comics. How then should we interpret the relationship of image and text with regards to the boundaries between these formerly distinct elements? How does this perspective influence the relationship to other media? Is it even possible to draw distinct boundaries?
2. Interdiciplinarity
As evidenced by the current boom in comics scholarship, the medium of comics initiates a move beyond the scope of individual disciplines. Comics scholarship has thus become a contested field for experimentation, where various branches of scholarly research exist together, and where academic trends and turns leave their distinct marks. The medium thus highlights and echoes developments in academic research, while within comics scholarship, a process of historicization has already become evident. Amongst other aspects, we are now faced with questions such as whether drawing a line between 'old' and 'new' research methods actually serves to advance our investigation of the medium, or whether the borders between the various disciplines within comics scholarship are permeable enough to ensure that research results will reach a wide academic audience?
3. Migration and Transnationality
Comics found their first audiences within the borders of the nations where they emerged, yet were rapidly internationalized, not least due to the success of animated film. Comic artists as well as their protagonists cross geographic borders frequently, calling into question patterns of thought relying on national categories. This panel aims to reconstruct this movement of comics and its creators from the local to the global and ask such question as: How universal are comics? How can/do they succeed in conveying biographical cuts, breaks and inconsistencies as characteristic for narratives of migration? How do rootedness and uprooting find their expression in text and image -- be it in France, in the US, Japan, Mexico or India? How do artists negotiate the contrasts of Interior-Exterior/ Self-Other in shared "Exchange Programs"?
4. (Crossing) The Borders of Humanity
The signs of comics are, as we know, just that: signs, printers' ink on paper. Yet within this sphere of anonymous and reproducible materiality they outline the contours of highly diverse figures and entire worlds where certain boundaries and taboos are no longer valid -- such as those between humans and animals, or humans and machines. Comics thus call into question the image of humans and their humanity in the twentieth century. How are social power structures and the separations they establish and secure negotiated in comics? Do comics imply set theories on the relationship between humans and non-humans? Do they dissolve the boundaries of humans and animals, heretofore firmly established in the Western philosophical tradition? Or do they, in contrast, actually confirm these boundaries precisely in the ambivalence of these figures?
Proposals for presentations beyond the scope of the topics listed above will be considered for a fifth panel. There will also be the usual workshop where students and researchers can present their (MA, PhD, etc.) thesis projects.
The submission deadline is 31 March 2014. Please send a 500-word abstract including a short bio-bibliographic note to comfor.berlin2014@gmail.com. The conference languages are German and English. The presentations should not exceed 35 minutes (workshop-presentations: 25 minutes).
Organised by Comic-Kolloquium Berlin:  comfor.berlin2014@gmail.com
[Matthias Harbeck (harbeckm@cms.hu-berlin.de)/ Marie Schröer (mschroee@uni-potsdam.de)]

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Monday, January 06, 2014

Comics Alternative Podcast: Interview with Brian Joines (Imagine Agents, Krampus)

On this episode of the Comics Alternative, Derek Royal and I interview Brian Joines, writer of the current miniseries IMAGINE Agents from BOOM Studios (think Men in Black meets Ghostbusters, tracking wayward childhood imaginary friends), and Krampus from Image (eastern European Christmas mythology à la Escape from New York). We talk with Brian about how he developed these new series, how they might possibly connect, his thematic concerns, the ways in which artists Bachan and Dean Kotz contribute to these titles, and more.

As always, click the link above to stream the episode, or you can subscribe via iTunes.

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Monday, December 09, 2013

Comics Alternative Podcast: Interview with Zak Sally (Sammy the Mouse)

On this episode of the Comics Alternative, I join Derek Royal and Andy Kunka to interview cartoonist, publisher, musician, and educator Zak Sally. We spend much of the time discussing his current book series Sammy the Mouse as well as his Recidivist and other comics collected in Like a Dog, but that doesn't mean that we don't also cover other important topics as well--Zak, Andy, and I share roots in the Midwest, so that leads to some...extracurricular conversation. Join us for this talk with a unique voice in comics.

As always, click the link above to stream the episode, or you can subscribe via iTunes.

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CFP: Take Away the Suit and What Are You? "Cripping" the Comic Con 2014 / Syracuse U (Jan 13; Apr 9-10)

Call for Proposals
Take Away the Suit and What Are You?
"Cripping" the Comic Con 2014
April 9 and 10, 2014
Syracuse University
Syracuse, NY

Anyone can participate in “Cripping” the Comic Con. Although some of the language in this Call for Proposals is decidedly “academic,” and some of the folks who participate may self-identify as “academics,” this symposium is really for everyone, and we mean it. All are welcomed; please feel free to submit your ideas for consideration. We seek to promote a culture of inclusion.

Michael Bérubé tells us that “every representation of disability has the potential to shape the way ‘disability’ is understood in general culture, and some of those representations can in fact do extraordinary powerful—or harmful—cultural and political work” (1997, p. B4). These representations encourage audience members to come to an acceptance and understanding of the wide range of differences that exist among us.

The second annual symposium provides participants with the opportunity to engage in a broad array of reflective discussions about the representations of disability that exist “beneath the surface” and explicitly within mainstream popular cultures both nationally and internationally, particularly the popular culture phenomena that are comic books, graphic novels, and manga.

Submissions incorporating genres that do not typically receive sustained attention in mainstream scholarly spaces are encouraged. These include but are not limited to the following:
  • comix, anime, motion comics
  • films, movies, videos, television shows (including reality TV, animated TV)
  • advertising, newspapers, magazines
  • comic cons, dragon cons, geek cons, movie cons, cosplay, cult fandom, the “geek syndrome”
  • visual arts, painting, photography, deviantART, alternative and alternate art forms
  • poetry, expressive arts, popular fiction, imagetext, fanfic, slash, alternative and alternate forms of literacies
  • material culture, multimedia, social media, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube
  • websites, blogs, memes, zines
  • games, gaming, toys, action figures
As was the case with the first annual symposium, and will remain the case each year, henceforth, one of our primary goals as symposium organizers is to create opportunities for all participants—particularly students and emerging scholars—to share their work.
Another of our primary goals is to assure that all information associated with the symposium is accessible and equitable. The symposium organizers and the proposal review committee strongly support the notion that “academics have a responsibility to make their work relevant for the society they exist within” (Jurgenson, 2012), and this of course includes making disability studies relevant and accessible to the disability community (Ne’eman, 2012).
Since representations in popular culture are generally created outside of academic environments, it is especially important for the general public and not just “academics” to engage in conversations about popular culture and disability. Representations have the potential to affect everyone. We all benefit from discussing and learning about disability and popular culture in ways that include and welcome everyone’s participation.
This event is meant not only to address often unmet needs in scholarly spaces and beyond, but also to address these vital areas/concerns:
  1. Popular culture studies and literature do not pay consistent or adequate attention to disability; when this attention is paid, it is often via “special issues” of journals, etc. 
  2. Further, “Popular culture is…the discursive terrain on which larger social issues are played out, often unobtrusively and masked as entertainment–and this is precisely why pop culture needs to be examined even more closely...” (Nayar, 2011, p. 172). These issues include not only our understandings of diverse minds and bodies, but representations of various social identities, including but not limited to gender expression, race, class, ethnicity, size, age, etc.
  3. Popular culture studies and literature continue to have a mixed reception within certain mainstream academic spaces. Because popular culture is still sometimes not taken seriously within some of these spaces (even among some disability studies scholars and practitioners), its status remains, for some, “discounted” (at times, popular culture studies may even be perceived as “deviant”). Consequently, this symposium’s organizers aim to:
    1. critique what is often described as “deviant”
    2. question and disrupt what “counts” as academic, mainstream, and normative
  4. The symposium will be consistent with values that underscore the disability rights movement: we seek to make collective investments in disability pride, identity, and cultures. In “cripping” the status quo, we assert, purposefully, “Nothing about us without us.” For more information on what we mean by “cripping,” please visit this page on the “Cripping” the Comic Con website: http://crippingthecon.com/more-on-what-cripping-means/.
  5. We especially welcome submissions based upon the variety of issues and strategies that were identified during our 2013 post-symposium session, “Disability Activism and Fandom: A Roundtable Strategizing on Fandom as a Target of/Resource for Activism,” including but not limited to the following topics and questions:
  • The relationship between disability rights activism and fandom
  • Accessibility of cons and fan-related spaces
  • How to engage fandom communities further in the disability rights movement
  • Have there been opportunities for change in how fandom communities approach disability? If so, how?
  • What are the discourses that are produced when “reboots” happen with comic characters?
  • How might we all participate most fully at events during which disability is or is not prevalent, especially when the events involve and in some cases privilege popular culture?
  • How and in what ways might cosplay choices be perceived and harnessed as forms of activism, from a disability cultural standpoint?
  • How might we take advantage of “teachable moments” in the context of addressing the intersections of disability, fandom, and popular culture?
  • The transformative potential of art, and considering ways for “creating representations on our own terms”
  • Being aware of the ways in which gatekeepers to traditional media and large independent media may prohibit access to disenfranchised populations, including people with disabilities
  • There are many ways to be Deaf, Blind, Autistic, etc., and diverse experiences need to be articulated and addressed by creators of comics, etc. What are some strategies that can be used to politicize the comics industry?
Submission Guidelines and Instructions

Proposal types and formats may include, among others:
  1. Individual presentation
  2. Panel presentation
  3. Discussion/workshop/roundtable
  4. Performance/video/film/art entry
  5. Poster session
Please note that other forms of proposals are fully welcomed, and the above list is not exhaustive. If you have something particular in mind, please explain the details and parameters of what you imagine, via your proposal submission(s). You are also welcomed and encouraged to submit more than one proposal.

If your submission is a performance/video/film/art entry, you are responsible for securing permissions and rights for public viewing. Videos and films should be open captioned and descriptions of any artwork will be required. Audio descriptions of videos and films may also be required, depending upon the nature and style of the videos/films being submitted.


Each proposal must include:
  1. Name
  2. Affiliation (if applicable)
  3. Contact information (including email and phone/video phone)
    1. if there is more than one presenter, please indicate the main contact and lead presenter (if these are two different individuals, please indicate this information)
  4. Title of presentation/activity/etc. (15 words or less)
  5. Short description (50 words or less)
  6. Full description (1000 words or less)
How to submit your proposal(s) -- please choose one of the following options:
  1. Via email to cripcon@gmail.com. Submissions can be sent as an attachment (Word, Word Perfect, Text, Rich Text Format or PDF) or with text pasted/embedded in the body of your message. Please put CRIPCON SUBMISSION in the subject line.
  2. Via Fax: 315-443-4338. Please indicate CRIPCON SUBMISSION on Fax cover sheet.
  3. Via regular mail:
“Cripping” the Comic Con 2014
c/o SU Disability Cultural Center
805 S Crouse Ave, 105 Hoople Bldg.
Syracuse, NY 13244-2280

Additional Information

Information and content produced as a result of this symposium will be published, with participant and presenter consent, via Beneath the SURFACE (BtS), an open source digital repository on disability and popular culture.  BtS is available to the academic community as well as to the general public, and includes an array of resources regarding disability and popular culture.

Each day of the symposium, there will be a designated time slot during which poster sessions will be offered concurrently with “open space.”

Open space will be an opportunity for participants to create spontaneous and/or planned topical interactions with other participants—in other words, open space will be a venue for you to create your own symposium “sessions,” during specific times and in specific locations. There will also be tables, art stations, and other opportunities for networking, gaming, etc. that will follow the thematic tracks of the symposium. The particular tracks will be identified once all submissions have been reviewed by the proposal review committee.

All confirmed participants (whether presenting or not) will receive information on:
  1. Completing registration
  2. Requesting disability accommodations
  3. Expressing dietary preferences (some but not all meals will be included with registration)
All participants will be responsible for the cost of their own lodging and travel.

To keep informed, please visit us online!

Website for “Cripping” the Comic Con:  http://crippingthecon.com
“Cripping” the Comic Con on Twitter:  @cripcon
“Cripping” the Comic Con on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CrippingTheCon


Bérubé, M. (1997, May 30).  The cultural representation of people with disabilities affects us all.  The Chronicle of Higher Education, B4-B5.
Jurgenson, N. (2012, May 11).  Making our ideas more accessible. Washington, DC: Inside Higher Ed.  Retrieved September 19, 2012 from: http://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2012/05/11/scholars-must-make-their-work-more-available-and-accessible-essay
Nayar, P. K. (2011). Haunted knights in spandex: Self and othering in the superhero mythos. Mediterranean Journal of Humanities, 1/2, 171-183.
Ne’eman, A. (2012, May 14). Making Disability Studies accessible.  Washington, DC: Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN). Retrieved September 19, 2012 from http://autisticadvocacy.org/2012/05/making-disability-studies-accessible/.

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