CFP: How Seattle Changed Comics (MLA) (March 12; Jan 5-8)
The proposed panel would explore how Seattle and its institutions—seminal publisher Fantagraphics; The Comics Journal; independent and minicomix scenes—have transformed contemporary comics and the cultures surrounding it.
Discussion: Seattle is arguably the city that has shaped US comics the most over the past thirty years. The influence of independent publisher Fantagraphics is enormous: Fantagraphics has disseminated the work of many of the world’s most famous contemporary cartoonists, discovering and nurturing young innovative creators in addition to printing established figures in the field. On top of producing, in recent years, key reprint collections by Charles Schulz (Peanuts), E.C. Segar (Popeye) and George Herriman (Krazy Kat), among others, Fantagraphics has championed artists including Crumb, Kominsky-Crumb, Bagge, Burns, Clowes, the Hernandez Bros., Sacco, Tyler, Ware, and Woodring. Fantagraphics also publishes the one-of-a-kind magazine The Comics Journal, the trade venue established in 1976 that through its reviews and interviews showcases the complexity of comics as an art form and filled a deep void in contemporary critical discourse about comics. Further, Seattle is the home of many cartoonists (e.g. Jim Woodring), the setting for many famous comics (e.g. Charles Burns’s Black Hole and Lynda Barry’s Ernie Pook’s Comeek), and a vibrant hub for minicomics, both now and in years past. We welcome papers that propose to study the multifaceted influence on comics of Seattle, its artists, and its institutions.
Possible topics include though are not limited to:
- Alternative comics: How did the Seattle comics scene help create, in the wake of the underground comics movement, what became known as alternative comics?
- Critical discourse: What kind of critical discourse does The Comics Journal circulate—and how has it contributed to contemporary academic and mainstream journalistic writing on comics?
- Serialization: How did the comic book serial as published by Fantagraphics—for instance Clowes’s Eightball, Bagge’s Hate, or the Hernandez Bros.’s Love & Rockets—shape the field of comics?
- Reprints: Some have argued that reprints are the wave of the future for comics publishing. How have reprint editions by Fantagraphics and others influenced our sense of the scope of comics?
- Formats: How has the vital minicomics scene in Seattle been in conversation with other formats of comics, and what is the future of this form? How might the history of comics in Seattle shed light on the future of comics publishing?
- Locale: How has Seattle been represented in comics such as Charles Burns’ masterpiece Black Hole? What versions of Seattle are circulated in comics? Why has Seattle produced so many famous cartoonists? How has Seattle played a role in the larger Pacific Northwest comics culture?
Please note that this CFP is for a proposed, not a guaranteed, session at MLA 2012, meaning that it is contingent on approval by the MLA Program Committee (which will make its decisions after April 1). All prospective presenters must be current MLA members by no later than 7 April 2011.