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:

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 and copied to Najwa Al-tabaa at

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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 The conference languages are German and English. The presentations should not exceed 35 minutes (workshop-presentations: 25 minutes).
Organised by Comic-Kolloquium Berlin:
[Matthias Harbeck ( Marie Schröer (]

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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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