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:
  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 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:
“Cripping” the Comic Con on Twitter:  @cripcon
“Cripping” the Comic Con on Facebook:


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:
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

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Tuesday, December 03, 2013

CFP: Composition: Making Meaning through Design / symposium, UC Santa Barbara (Jan. 15; May 15-16)

Call for Papers:
Making Meaning through Design
An interdisciplinary symposium on material texts
15-16 May 2014
University of California, Santa Barbara

"Composition" can refer to the content of a text, piece of music, or work of art, to its visual and material manifestations, as well as to the act of production. As form relates to function, so each sense of composition influences the other. From inscriptions and scrolls, to broadsheets and serials, to graphic novels and e-books, design elements inform reading practices and structure meaning.

Composition: Making Meaning through Design is an interdisciplinary symposium that asks how design features (such as format, material, type font/ script, and imagery, to name but a few) can alter, enhance, or otherwise affect the transmission of meaning and shape a text's use. This symposium aims to bring together scholars from a wide range of disciplinary perspectives in order to promote engaging new dialogues in book history. We warmly invite submissions for papers which may consider a broad scope of topics including, but not limited to:
  • the relationship of materiality and content
  • how a text’s format or design shapes reading practices
  • the interplay of text and image
  • how the author-reader relationship is mediated through design
  • design interventions by readers
  • changes in form or design over time
  • how a text's format expresses space, time, sound
  • how media borrow and adapt formal or design elements from one another
  • how archival practices affect or interact with design
Proposals of approximately 300 words (for 20-minute paper presentations) should be submitted along with a CV to by January 15, 2014.

We are able to offer limited funds to offset travel costs for participants. If you wish to be considered for such funding, please indicate this when submitting your proposal.

This symposium is organized by the History of Books and Material Texts Research Focus Group at UCSB, convened by Charlotte Becker, English; Sophia Rochmes, History of Art and Architecture; and James Kearney, English.

Sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship in Critical Bibliography at Rare Book School, with co-sponsorship from UCSB’s History of Books and Material Texts Research Focus Group, and UCSB’s Interdisciplinary Humanities Center.

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CFP: Comics Storytelling for Young People: A Critical Anthology (May 1)

Call for Papers
Comics Storytelling for Young People:
A Critical Anthology

Edited by Gwen Athene Tarbox
and Michelle Ann Abate

For over a century, comics as a mode of storytelling has embodied a literary and artistic mainstay for young people. Evidenced in everything from newspaper cartoons to dime-store comic books, comics has a long and rich history in both North American youth culture and its extant forms of print media. Then, in the closing decades of the twentieth century, the rise of contemporary graphic novels and webcomics gave this tradition new artistic outlets, as well as added public visibility.

While a bevy of books, articles and essay collections explore historical, cultural, and structural aspects of comics written primarily for an adult audience, Comics Storytelling for Young People: A Critical Anthology will be the first book-length collection of essays to bring a critical lens to the study of children’s and YA comics.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:
  • Essays about individual comics, such as Smith’s Bone series; Tan’s The Arrival; Yang’s American Born Chinese or Boxers and Saints; Oleksyky’s Ivy; and Deutsch’s Hereville series
  • Essays about hybrid comics texts, such as Kinney’s The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series; Russell’s Dork Diaries; Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck; or Alexie and Forney’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian
  • Essays about comics created by young people, such as Ariel Schrag’s high school diaries
  • Essays on comics adaptations of formerly text-only books, such as L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time; Warner’s The Boxcar Children, Gaiman’s Coraline, The Nancy Drew Mystery Stories, and The Babysitter’s Club series
  • Essays on the generic boundaries or literary parameters of children’s and YA comics, or whether there are mainstream and alternative designations within comics for young people
  • Comics and/as a platform for social justice
  • Historic forms of comics storytelling for young people, such as early twentieth century newspaper cartoons and comic books
  • Canon building, prizing, and young people’s comics: who decides which books ought to become classics, and which criteria are they using?
  • The banning, censoring and challenging of children’s and YA comics such as Telgemeier’s Drama or Tamaki and Tamaki’s Skim
  • The portrayal of children and childhood in comics written for young people; the coming-of-age story as portrayed in comics
  • Race, class, gender and sexuality in comics storytelling
  • National comics traditions for young people, including Canadian comics, Mexican comics, and regional US comics
  • Bilingual comics
  • The role of comics storytelling in the creation of North American youth culture: how do these books help shape the social, cultural, literary, and artistic identity of the millennial generation?
  • The gothic, supernatural and paranormal in comics such as Brosgol’s Anya’s Ghost
  • Comics and memoir, autobiography, and family history
  • Comics, technology and new media
  • Children’s/YA comics and/as film
Please send a 500-word chapter proposal, as well as a one-paragraph professional biography, by May 1st, 2014 to Gwen Athene Tarbox at or Michelle Ann Abate at

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Monday, December 02, 2013

CFP: Canadian Society for the Study of Comics 2014 / conference, Toronto (Feb. 10; May 9-11)

Call for Papers:
Canadian Society for
the Study of Comics 2014
May 9-11, 2014

The annual conference of the Canadian Society for the Study of Comics invites proposals for papers on any and all aspects of comics, graphic narrative, picture books, and textual-visual arts. Special panels are also planned on comics and education and on comics by women. The conference will be held in collaboration with the Toronto Comics Arts Festival, a major international exhibition of independent comics artists and small publishers partnered with the Toronto Reference Library, May 9-11, 2014. Proposals from academics and independent scholars in all fields are welcome.

Please submit a proposed paper title and 200 word abstract, along with a brief 30-50 word biography and contact information, to by February 10, 2014.

Appel à communications :
Société canadienne pour
l’étude de la bande dessinée 2014

La conférence annuelle de la Société canadienne pour l’étude de la bande dessinée invite les candidats à soumettre des propositions qui portent sur n’importe quel aspect de la bande dessinée, du récit graphique, du livre d’images et des arts visuels textuels. Des panels spéciaux sont également prévus sur la bande dessinée et l’éducation ainsi que sur la BD au féminin. La conférence se tiendra en collaboration avec le Festival des arts de la bande dessinée de Toronto, une importante exposition internationale à laquelle participeront des artistes indépendants de la bande dessinée ainsi que de petits éditeurs en partenariat avec la Bibliothèque de référence de Toronto (Toronto Reference Library), du 9 au 11 mai 2014. Des propositions d’universitaires et de chercheurs indépendants dans tous les domaines sont les bienvenues.

Veuillez, s’il vous plaît, soumettre un titre proposé pour la communication et un résumé de 200 mots, accompagnés d’une courte biographie de 30 à 50 mots et vos coordonnées au plus tard le 10 février 2014, à l’adresse suivante :

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CFP: Representations of Childhood in Comics / anthology (Jan. 1)

CFP: Representations of Childhood in Comics
Book-length anthology

Childhood is now widely recognized as a social construct (Fass, Jenks, Mintz). As the artifice behind the construction of childhood has been revealed, there has been a marked increase in the analysis of children and childhood in contemporary culture (Demarr and Bakermann, Edelman, Latham, McLennan, Renner, Stockton). Despite the increase in scholarly attention, depictions of childhood in comics and other forms of comic art are ripe for further study. The forthcoming issue of the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, focusing on comics, picturebooks, and childhood, should provide interesting insights into these depictions. Yet there remains plenty of room for consideration regarding how different comics construct childhood. This is an especially interesting area of inquiry given the somewhat vexed association comic books have traditionally maintained with childhood.

In an attempt to continue developing the scholarly focus on childhood, as well as comics, we seek proposals for scholarly articles that analyze, explore and interrogate depictions of childhood in comics or comic art for inclusion in a book-length anthology.

We welcome all proposals, although, based on responses so far, we are particularly interested in more submissions regarding depictions of childhood in comics aimed at adults.
Potential topics include:
  • What do comics teach us about current constructions of childhood?
  • How do comics resist or undermine contemporary constructions of childhood?
  • How can comics help us better understand the role of children in a given societal context?
  • How do comics shed light on the relationship between children and adults? Between adults and their own childhood?
  • How can depictions of childhood be understood as metaphors for specific cultural phenomena, values, disruptions or evolutions?
  • What anxieties regarding culture, politics, education, etc. do comics reveal?
  • How have ideas regarding childhood affected comics?
Please submit an abstract of 300 words and a short CV to Mark Heimermann, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Brittany Tullis, St. Ambrose University, at by January 1st, 2014 for consideration. Full papers will be due by June 1st, 2014.

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