Monday, September 28, 2009

Dissertations on Comic Book[s]

It's no secret that comics are featured in more and more college and university courses every year. That's due in no small part to the increasing number of people who have been focusing on comics in their Ph.D. dissertations.

Here at we try to keep up with this trend with our Comics-Related Dissertations & Theses pages, where we collect information on PhD dissertations as well as Masters and Undergraduate theses concerning comic art. You might be surprised at the number of entries listed and the broad range of topics and approaches covered. Also, you can see that while interest has exploded in the past two decades, there was dissertation-level work on comics being done more than fifty years ago. (If you've done or know of work we should include here, please let us know.)

Why do we bring this up? Well, during one of our periodic Internet searches for new dissertations to add, we ran across a website called ("One-of-a-kind and never resold!") which offers "assistance" on all sorts of topics, including comics. Please, students, please please please don't consider using places like this. (Well, we know you wouldn't, of course, but tell your friends, ok?) Your advisors can usually suss out this type of "research," especially once you're in graduate school. Besides, could you really trust a service which clearly cares so little about their product that they can't even be bothered to proofread their own cut-n-paste promotional copy? Exempli gratia:
Do you need help with a dissertation, research proposal, or thesis involving Comic Book? [...] If you need assistance with your dissertation or thesis on Comic Book, our contracted research specialists can begin helping immediately! You will be the ONLY person to ever receive our one-of-a-kind, unique document on Comic Book, which we will write specifically and solely for YOU!
What a deal! They'll write about Comic Book just for you! Remember, by not supplying the "s," they're saving you money every time you want to write about Comic Book[s].


Here endeth the lesson.

Image: Boy, I sure am glad that they stopped using the mini-gown by the time of my PhD. graduation. It leaves so little to the imagination! Copyright © 1978, 2006, 2009 Marvel Entertainment.

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

CFP: ImageTexT issue on Alan Moore and adaptation (journal issue; April 1, 2010)

So today was the day for Alan Moore scholars, apparently...


Alan Moore and Adaptation

ImageTexT is pleased to announce an upcoming special issue on the work of Alan Moore and adaptation. Throughout his career, Moore has displayed a willingness to adapt and appropriate the plots, characters, settings, and themes from traditional narratives and the works of other authors into his own writing. Additionally, Moore's work itself continues to be the focus of adaptation, typically in the form of big-budget Hollywood films. We are seeking articles that deal with the work of Alan Moore and adaptation in any and every sense, whether that means analyzing the transitions of comics like Watchmen and V for Vendetta into film or analyzing the incorporation of folk tale and literature elements in works like Lost Girls and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Possible topics may include but are not limited to:
  • Problems in adaptation and appropriation of existing characters and elements
  • Formal analysis of comics as the medium for adaptation
  • Issues concerning film adaptations where the author is not involved (which Moore rarely is)
  • Concern with (or disdain for) historical fidelity when dealing with stories from a specific era
  • Moore’s collaborations with various artists and their effect on adaptation
  • Characters and narratives supposedly reserved for children which are adapted into explicitly adult stories
As ImageTexT is concerned with the formal study of image/text relations, we are most interested in submissions that give significant attention to how images function in relationship to text. We strongly prefer to receive submissions that make reference to specific images and include high-resolution artwork along with text. Throughout his career, Moore’s work has been resolutely bold and we encourage prospective contributors to be similarly daring with their ideas and analysis.

All submissions for this special issue are due April 1st, 2010. Send all submissions to Rex Krueger at and CC them to Katherine Shaeffer at

Submissions will be peer-reviewed and returned by June 1, 2010.

This issue is slated for publication in the Spring of 2011.

ImageTexT is a web-based journal published by the University of Florida, committed to advancing the academic study of comic books, comic strips, and animated cartoons. Under the guidance of an editorial board of scholars from a variety of disciplines, ImageTexT publishes solicited and peer-reviewed papers that investigate the material, historical, theoretical, and cultural implications of visual textuality. ImageTexT welcomes essays emphasizing (but not limited to) the aesthetics, cognition, production, reception, distribution and dissemination of comics and other media as they relate to comics, along with translations of previously existing research on comics as dimensions of visual culture.

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CFP: Magus: Transdisciplinary Approaches to the Work of Alan Moore (Dec 4; May 28-29)

Transdisciplinary Approaches
to the Work of Alan Moore

28th and 29th May 2010

Avenue Campus
, The University of Northampton
United Kingdom

Alan Moore has consistently been at the forefront of the graphic novel medium for almost thirty years, being the iconic figure behind such pioneering works as Marvelman and V for Vendetta, the revolutionary Watchmen, to From Hell, Promethea and, most recently, Lost Girls to name but a few. Alongside his work in the comic medium he has written one novel, Voices from the Fire [sic], and is subsequently working on the ambitious Jerusalem project. He has also worked as a graphic artist, performed and recorded a series of musical collaborations largely related to site-specific events, and in recent years has become a magician.

While Moore’s contribution to the comic medium is undisputed, academic appraisals of his work have been fragmentary and there have been no dedicated scholarly events to date that seek to give an overview of his oeuvre. As such The University of Northampton is pleased to announce Magus: Transdisciplinary Approaches to the Work of Alan Moore, an interdisciplinary conference that will bring together not only appraisals of Moore’s comic works, but also his wider cultural manifestations and their significance at the start of the 21st century. Given his burgeoning literary and cultural importance, Moore’s significant profile in the wake of several recent Hollywood adaptations of his work (despite his own antipathy towards those adaptations and their place within the culture industries), and the relationship to Northampton’s cultural landscape (both physical and psychic) that recurs throughout his work, both the time and location are fitting for a dedicated appraisal of his cultural legacy thus far.

The review panel are seeking papers for the conference, or proposals for potential panels on a particular subject. We invite presentations from the perspective of any discipline; literary studies, cultural studies, film studies, art, philosophy, linguistics, politics, sociology and others.

Potential topics for papers or panels might include, but are not restricted to:
  • Comic revisionism and the graphic novel
  • Comics and literature
  • The political philosophy of Moore’s canon
  • Moore’s relationship to the mainstream comic industry
  • Adaptations of Moore’s work to screen and other media
  • Psychogeography and place in Moore’s work
  • Magick and spirituality
  • Site-specific events
  • Pornography and erotica in Moore’s work
  • Fandom and reception
  • The underground press
  • Collaborations and networks
  • Music and musical collaborations
  • Intertextuality and referentiality
We are pleased to announce that the keynote speech will be given by Paul Gravett, author of Great British Comics, Cult Fiction: Art and Comics, Graphic Novels: Everything you Need to Know and a lynchpin of the British comics scene.

Abstracts of no more than 300 words, accompanied by a short biography of no more than 100 words should be submitted to the conference review panel by 4th December 2009.

For more information on the conference or to submit an abstract email Nathan Wiseman-Trowse at

Full details of registration, plenary speakers and accommodation will be announced shortly.

Dr Nathan Wiseman-Trowse
Senior Lecturer in Popular Culture
The School of the Arts
The University of Northampton
Avenue Campus
St George’s Avenue
United Kingdom

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"Comics History/New York History" Begins on October 20th, 2009

This looks like it's going to be great. I hope I can make it down to at least some of these events...

"Comics History/New York History"
begins on October 20th, 2009!

New York City was the birthplace of the modern comic book, and the city has had a starring role in some of the greatest and most influential work the medium has produced. The New York Center for Independent Publishing and General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen will be presenting a series of events looking at the rich history of Comics and the City. Join us at our historic building at 20 West 44th Street as we explore the city through comics, from Riverdale to the Baxter Building, from Dropsie Avenue to Forest Hills, to untangle the relationship between the world's greatest city and the comics that chronicle its history. Visit our website at for more information!

New York Comics as New York History
Tuesday, October 20, 6:30 pm

Comics historian Kent Worcester will explore the connection between the city's familiar streetscapes and the development of the comic book from the 1930s and 1940s to the post 9/11 era - looking at the ways comics history has mirrored the ups and downs of the quintessential American metropolis.

Cartooning and New York City Politics
Tuesday, November 3rd, 6:30 pm

Boss Tweed may have been the most powerful man in the City, but he was still tormented by Thomas Nast's biting cartoons. Parsons faculty member Bill Kartalopoulos will host a panel exploring the interaction between political cartoons, New York City politicians, and the public.

New York, the Super-City
Tuesday, March 9th, 6:30 pm

New York served as the model for Gotham City, inspired Will Eisner as he created the noirish adventures of The Spirit, and became a recurring character during the 1960s resurgence of Marvel in comics such as Spider-Man and Iron Man. ForeWord Magazine contributing editor Peter Gutiérrez will moderate a talk on the relationship between superheroes and their favorite hometown... and on how comics culture has promoted potent and memorable images of New York to readers worldwide.

"Carousel" in New York
Tuesday, April 20th, 6:30 pm

The series closes with a multimedia presentation hosted by R. Sikoryak, Parsons faculty member and author of Masterpiece Comics. This event will feature work and performances from some the of the top comics artists working in New York.

Admission is $15, $10 for Members, and $5 for students. Tickets are available here - just scroll down to register for lectures.

Please email us at or call 212-764-7021 for more information!

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Monday, September 21, 2009

CFP: For Love of the Fans: Fandom, Comics and Film Adaptations (Nov. 1; Nov. 11-14, 2010)

Call for Papers
For Love of the Fans:
Fandom, Comics and Film Adaptations

2010 Film & History Conference:
Representations of Love in Film and

November 11-14, 2010
Hyatt Regency Milwaukee
Second Round Deadline: November 1, 2009

AREA: For Love of the Fans: Fandom, Comics and Adaptations

Since comic books began featuring letters to the editor in each issue, fan culture has been a pivotal and clear presence in comics. This presence and investment became even more potent as fandom culture began to reside in physical settings such as comic book shops and conventions. Fandom culture has become more present and powerful in the Internet age and while they were once solely the butt-end of jokes, they now garner the attention of producers, directors, and writers. Their love and investment in comics are now considered important by creators in generating promotion and excitement for films. Unlike the previous 50 years of comic adaptations, the last 20 years have seen significant efforts by producers to tie into fan expectations from as far back as the X-Men and Batman cartoon series of the 1990s up through the latest superhero-blockbuster.

This area welcomes multiple papers and panels that consider the following questions about comic fandom and television/film adaptation as well as additional topics in this vein:
  • How have studios used the fanbase to encourage or promote comic adaptations such as Watchmen?
  • In what ways have studios and directors relied on the fanbase to determine the direction of sequels or future seasons with regards to plot, villains, and character development in such franchises as X-Men, Spider-Man, Batman, Superman (including Smallville), Fantastic Four and the like?
  • What roles have the fans played in comic-film reboots such as Batman, Superman, the Incredible Hulk, the Punisher, and the supposedly forthcoming reboot of Fantastic Four franchise?
  • Does the role of same-universe strategies being explored by Marvel Comics with its release of Iron Man and the reboot of Incredible Hulk operate as a means to attracting fans?
  • In what ways have comic forums, such as Wizard Magazine or Comic Book Resources played in influencing the casting of particular actors and actresses for certain roles?
  • What’s to be made of the increasing and dominant presence of film studios at “comic events” such as San Diego’s ComicCon?
  • What role do famous fans (Kevin Smith, Nicholas Cage, et al) have in the construction of or success of comic book adaptations?
  • How do films target “in-crowd” moments for fans such as Stan Lee cameos in Marvel films or self-reflective comments about comics and superheroes by superhero films?
  • How has film and television represented comic fandom from the Simpsons’ Comic Book Guy to movies such as Fanboys, Comic Book Villains, and Chasing Amy or Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back?
Please send your 200-word proposal via e-mail by November 1 to the area chair:

Lance Eaton, Area Chair
Emerson College
Institute for Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies
120 Boylston St.
Boston, MA 02116
Email: (email submissions preferred)

Panel proposals for up to four presenters are also welcome, but each presenter must submit his or her own paper proposal. For updates and registration information about the upcoming meeting, see the Film & History website:

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

CFP: Margins of Print: Ephemera, Print Culture, and Lost Histories of the Newspaper (U of Nottingham: Oct 31; Feb. 15)

Call for Papers
Margins of Print:
Ephemera, Print Culture,
and Lost Histories of the Newspaper

University of Nottingham
School of History
Friday 15th January 2010

This one-day conference/symposium will address the significance of transitory, elusive texts in Britain, Europe and America, including textual artifacts that have eluded traditional categories of print, or have been dismissed as short-lived, disposable, or valueless. To this end, the conference seeks to establish the value of a wide range of ephemera, from pamphlets and pulps, agony columns or matrimonial advertisements to pictorial matter, cards, cartoons, competitions, display advertising and personal ads. Recent decades have witnessed a shift in scholarly interest toward this formerly overlooked print tradition. New digital resources in particular are bringing into view a wide range of printed materials once hidden from the sight of researchers. Some questions raised by this material include: What are the appropriate methods of interpretation for working with ephemeral texts? What do these unique texts tell us about our cultural, social, or technological histories? How do transitory materials document the history of the nation in different ways from other sources? By asking such questions, this event aims to tell the untold stories of ephemera.

Selected papers from the event will be included in a special issue of Media Studies.

We welcome papers on any aspect of ephemera and print culture. Please send proposals of c.500-1000 words to Dr Harry Cocks ( and Dr Matt Rubery ( by 31 October 2009.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Flashback Friday: La Teigne review

We're back with another "Flashback Friday," in which I unearth a bit of older, pre-blog work I've done. A practice of "ArchaeoloGene," if you will.

This week we present an orphaned review originally written for a proposed book entitled Read This Comic. A collection of reviews and original comics & illustrations from the (then) amazingly prolific -- and international -- members of the comix@ discussion list, RTC sadly never made it past a dummy sampler which intrepid editor Tom Furtwangler printed and distributed at SPX in 1998. I can't recall why the final book never materialized; my guess is that "real life" (whatever that is) intruded on all of the participants.

In any event, here's my contribution that appeared in that sampler. (I have a memory that I had another one ready to go, as well; I'll have to see if I have a version archived somewhere.) I have no idea if this comic is even in print anymore; I doubt there was ever an edition published for the North American comics market. Publishers, this is a little gem that deserves to be seen on these shores (hint, hint!). So, without further ado...

La Teigne
Thierry Robin

b&w, 112 pages, paperback
Tohu Bohu - Les Humanoïdes Associés, 1998
ISBN 2731613033

This six-chapter mute story concerning the adventures of a short, cufflink-wearing demon really surprised me with its depth. ("Mute" in the sense that there is no dialogue or narration, just sound effects -- oh, and the laugh reprinted below.) My trusty Oxford-Hachete French Dictionary defines teigne as a "real [or "nasty"] piece of work," and that's just what this little demon appears to be when we first meet him.
Chapter One offers energetic, kinetic frenzy, as the demon destroys everything he comes across, either by stomping it to bits with his feet or by lobbing an ever-increasing number of skull-shaped grenades. The end of this first eight-page section, though -- showing the demon looking with sadness over the ruin he has caused -- signals the possibility of actual emotional depth, something of which the story's "Milk & Cheese"-esque mayhem doesn't initially seem capable.

Chapter Two introduces the demon's foil, a shmoo-like loafer: spongy, sedentary, and smiling, he's (it's?) the very antithesis of our "hero." Robin shows a real knack for visual characterizaton in this chapter, as the demon's facial expressions run the gamut from glee to contemplation, from deviousness to dejection, deceit, and, finally, despair.
The rest of La Teigne plays out this tale of "irresistible force meets immovable object" in a variety of fashions and over a broad range of settings, including a goofy, disturbing, and oddly prescient dream sequence; a portion reminiscent of Aliens' Ripley in the exoskeleton; and an O. Henry-esque[*] ending which, among other effects, will make it impossible for you to look at Watchmen ever again without snickering.

Who would have thought that a wacky little book like this would end up as a meditation on compulsion and begrudging admiration -- and (almost) love? La Teigne is a very rewarding silent "read," and I found that it got even better with re-readings -- always a good sign.

[*] By sheer coincidence, today, September 11, marks the 147th anniversary of William Sydney "O. Henry" Porter's birth.

Images © 1998 Les Humanoïdes Associés

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Conference - Destined for Men: Visual Materials for Male Audiences, 1750 - 1880 (Worcester, MA; Oct. 16-17)

With presentations on caricatures and other illustrations, this conference might be of interest to comics scholars.

Destined for Men:
Visual Materials for Male Audiences,
1750 - 1880
October 16-17, 2009
American Antiquarian Society
Worcester, Massachusetts

Through the emergence of women's studies programs in academic institutions in the past generation or two, many aspects of women's lives have been documented through publications and academic courses. The third conference of the Center for Historic American Visual Culture focuses not on women but on men. Looking at examples of visual materials of and for men is a way to look at a different gendered audience. In the literature on American graphic materials, little has been written about the audience for historical images. The papers presented at this conference begin to address this need.

The presentations by scholars from a variety of disciplines address images of the male body, public portraiture, prints and illustrations for male audiences, boxing, erotica, using drawings as examples of friendship among men, and men and fashion advertisements. Speakers include curators, librarians, historians, art historians, and literary scholars.

Joshua Brown, executive director of the American Social History Project, located in the Graduate Center of The City University of New York, will present "Catching His Eye: The Sporting Male Pictorial Press in the Gilded Age," the Twenty-Seventh James Russell Wiggins Lecture in the Program in the History of the Book in American Culture at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, October 16.

Between the final session and the Wiggins Lecture, there will be time to view selected materials from the graphic arts collection in the Council Room in Antiquarian Hall

For the schedule of presentations, see the conference website, which is also the source for the illustration above.

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CFP: Desiring the Text, Touching the Past: Towards An Erotics of Reception (Bristoll UK: Nov. 30; July 10)

Note that this CFP specifically addresses those working on visual texts and those working on fan culture. I think papers on comics would fit in well here...

Call for Papers

Desiring the Text, Touching the Past:
Towards An Erotics of Reception

A one-day conference co-organized by
the Bristol Institute of Greece, Rome and the Classical Tradition
& the Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto

University of Bristol, 10 July 2010

Keynote Speaker:
Professor Carolyn Dinshaw, NYU

In reading Cicero’s letters I felt charmed and offended in equal measure. Indeed, beside myself, in a fit of anger I wrote to him as if he were a friend and contemporary of mine, forgetting, as it were, the gap of time, with a familiarity appropriate to my intimate acquaintance with his thought; and I pointed out those things he had written that had offended me.
(Petrarch, Rerum Familiarum Liber I.1.42)

Love, desire, fannish obsession and emotional identification as modes of engaging with texts, characters and authors are often framed as illegitimate and transgressive: excessive, subjective, lacking in scholarly rigour. Yet such modes of relating to texts and pasts persist, across widely different historical periods and cultural contexts. Many classical and medieval authors recount embodied and highly emotional encounters with religious, fictional or historical characters, while modern and postmodern practices of reception and reading – from high art to the subcultural practices of media fandom – are characterized by desire in all its ambivalent complexity. Theories of readership and reception, however, sometimes seem unable to move beyond an antagonistic model: cultural studies sees resistant audiences struggling to gain control of or to overwrite an ideologically loaded text, while literary models of reception have young poets fighting to assert their poetic autonomy vis-à-vis the paternal authority of their literary ancestors.

This conference aims, by contrast, to begin to elaborate a theory of the erotics of reception. It will bring together scholars working in and across various disciplines to share research into reading, writing and viewing practices characterized by love, identification, and desire: we hope that it will lead to the establishment of an international research network and the formulation of some long-term research projects. In order to facilitate discussion at the conference, we will ask participants to circulate full papers (around 5,000 words) in May 2010.

We now invite abstracts of 300 words, to be submitted by email by 30 November 2009. Abstracts will be assessed on the basis of their theoretical and interdisciplinary interest. We particularly welcome contributions from scholars working on literary, visual and performance texts in the fields of: history, reception studies, mediaeval studies, fan studies, cultural studies, theology, and literary/critical theory.

Some ideas which might be addressed include, but are not limited to:

  • Writing oneself into the text: self-insertion and empathetic identification
  • Historical desire: does the historian desire the past?
  • Hermeneutics and erotics
  • Pleasures of the text, pleasures of the body: (how) are embodied responses to the text gendered?
  • Anachronistic reading: does desire disturb chronology?
  • Erotics and/or eristics: love-hate relationships with texts

This conference is part of the ‘Thinking Reciprocity’ series and will follow directly from the conference ‘Reception and the Gift of Beauty’ (Bristol, 8-9 July 2010). Reduced fees will be offered to people attending both conferences.

If you have any queries, or to submit an abstract, please contact one of the conference organizers:
Dr Ika Willis (;
Anna Wilson (

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Monday, September 07, 2009

CFP: Love and Sex in the Films and Graphic Novels of Alan Moore (11/1/09; 11/11-14/10)

Thanks to Charles Hatfield for the tip!

Call for Papers
Love and Sex in
the Films and Graphic Novels
of Alan Moore

2010 Film & History Conference:
Representations of Love in Film and Television

November 11-14, 2010
Hyatt Regency Milwaukee
Second Round Deadline: November 1, 2009

Alan Moore has a love-hate relationship with the film industry, yet films based on his work proliferate: From Hell (2001), V for Vendetta (2005), The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003), and Watchmen (2009). Sex and (possibly) love abound in Moore's novels and in the films grounded, to some extent, in his writing. In V for Vendetta, Moore juxtaposes the love of the computerized state with the more transient love of men and women. In V for Vendetta, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and Watchmen, he poses difficult questions about the nature of (super)heroic love for others, and for democracy, nation, and empire. Throughout his work, Moore is attuned to issues of representation, and to how representation demarcates the reality of those who are "loved."

Moore may be the exemplary postmodern graphic novelist, and "his" films are well worth considering for what they say about our particular historical moment, and in *this* particular moment, what they say about various manifestations of love.

This area is open to any paper or panel proposal which examines the representation of love, sex, and ethical relations in any work influenced by, or authored by Moore. Possible topics might include:
  • Anarchy as love
  • Love, sex, and postcoloniality
  • Victorian love
  • Postmodern pastiche as a form of love-making
  • Love in (loving) the state--fascist love
  • Love and the body
  • Love in adaptation
  • Representing love in film versus sequential art
  • Representation and the limits of love
  • Loving one another: Thomas Pynchon and Alan Moore
  • Freedom as love
  • God and (as?) love
  • Exposure as love
  • Inoperative communities and love
Please send your 200-word proposal by email to the area chair:

Todd Comer, Area Chair
Defiance College
701 North Clinton Street
Defiance OH 43512
Email: (email submissions preferred)

Panel proposals for up to four presenters are also welcome, but each presenter must submit his or her own paper proposal. For updates and registration information about the upcoming meeting, see the Film & History website (

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