Tuesday, December 18, 2007

CFP: Sweet Christmas! Constructions of Blackness in Comics and Sequential Art (anthology)

Note that a PDF version of this call for papers is available here.

Sweet Christmas!
Constructions of Blackness in Comics and Sequential Art
edited by Damian Duffy, John Jennings, and Frances Gateward

Issues of Black racial representation in comics have generally fallen into a few set categories: surveys of black characters and creators, or studies of racially denigrating stereotypes in sequential art history. Sweet Christmas! is an anthology that seeks to put forth scholarly investigations that move past categorization and into the ways comics make meaning with and/or about Black racial representation, as well as the interactions of those representations with society as a whole.

Written essays of 6,000 words and visual essays (b/w, in the comics medium, and no longer than 10 pages in length) are sought for this anthology. We welcome proposals that address the following issues theoretically or through comparative studies, through the work of individual artists/writers, or through explorations of individual titles or themes.

  • Auteurist studies of Black comics writers and artists

  • Historical interrogations of Blacks in the comic book industry

  • Black independent comics and characters outside the superhero genre

  • Milestone Comics and its legacies; what is the state of contemporary Black comics?

  • The depiction of Black historical figures Afro-futurism in comics and sequential art
  • The practice of taking white superheroes and making them Black (Captain America, Iron Man, Green Lantern, Firestorm, etc.)

  • Representations of Black spirituality

  • The treatment of African mythology

  • Images of Black femininity and Black masculinity

  • Hip Hop culture and its depictions in comics and sequential art

  • The use of humor and satire in the Black tradition

  • Representations of the Civil Rights Movements and Black Power Movements
This list is not meant to be inclusive; other topics are welcome. Please send your one page abstract and a short bio by January 15, 2008 to (essays due October 1, 2008):
Damian Duffy - thbt12[at]gmail.com - 142 Law Building, 504 East Pennsylvania Ave., University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign, Champaign IL 61824

John Jennings - jayjay[at]uiuc.edu - School of Art and Design, 143 Art and Design Building, 408 East Peabody Drive, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign IL 61820

Frances Gateward - gateward[at]uiuc.edu - Unit for Cinema Studies, 3072 FLB, 707 S. Mathews, University of Illinois, Urbana IL 61821

Labels: , , ,

Monday, December 17, 2007

Birthday in Moominland

In honor of my wife, K. A. Laity, I'm proud to add information on Tove Jansson Rediscovered to ComicsResearch.org. Kate's one of the few American academics to write about Jansson, the Finnish author of the world-famous Moomin series of novels, picture-books, and comic strips. Ask your library to order this book so that you can read Kate's great essay on the Moomin comic strips.

The Moomin comics are now being published by Drawn and Quarterly - hurrah! Click here for their information on Jansson, here for 90 sample strips, and here to read two of Kate's reviews, amongst many others.

Click to see our information page on
Tove Jansson Rediscovered

Happy Birthday, Kate!!!

Image: The cover of Suomen Silta Magazine, March 1993, from The Moomintroll Home Page.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, December 16, 2007

CFP: Popular Print Cultures Past and Present, Local and Global (U of Alberta, Aug 26-31, 2008)

Posted on behalf of conference organizer Kirsten MacLeod. Please direct any questions to her.

Call for Papers and Presentations
Continuities and Innovations:
Popular Print Cultures Past and Present, Local and Global
University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
26 to 31 August 2008

Papers and presentations are invited for any aspect of the conference theme. Proposals should be 200 to 300 words in length and clearly state the central theme or argument, the kind of popular print or related media to be considered, and its social and cultural location in time and place. Please indicate any equipment requirements (data projector; conference computer; overhead projector; video or dvd player; audio player, etc). A brief résumé should accompany each proposal, stating the proposer s name, address, contact information, and relevant academic, professional, or personal background and knowledge of form of popular print culture discussed.

Send proposals and résumés by email as pasted-in documents or attachments in an up-to-date format to: popprint [@] ualberta.ca. Or mail hard copies to: Popprint, Kirsten MacLeod, Department of English and Film Studies, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2E5. Questions to either address. Deadline for proposals is 30 May 2008. But space on the program is limited, and proposals will be considered on a first-come, first-accommodated basis.

This conference and creative arts program consider what most people read, here and elsewhere, now and in the past. Popular print characteristically includes both words and images, and is intertwined with music and performance. In these forms it has been and continues to be one of the most powerful cultural forces in history, morphing into new media and new technologies, from the phonograph record through radio, film, and television to video games and the internet. Popular print culture is now a global phenomenon, with striking similarities in what most people read, anywhere. Yet there are also striking local differences, inflections, and variations in what most people read, here or elsewhere.

Continuities and Innovations will bring together all those interested in popular print culture--readers and writers, publishers and fans, librarians and collectors, teachers and students, and of course researchers in many academic disciplines. Proposals are invited from all of these groups, directly addressing the conference theme, or taking up any aspect of "Popular Print Cultures, Past and Present, Local and Global." Topics can include relations between popular print and other media, between popular and high literatures, between words and images, between words and music, between past and present forms, and so on. Presentations may be from writers, readers, publishers, teachers, students, distributors, sellers, librarians, illustrators, opponents, promoters, adapters to other media, fans, collectors, et al. Papers and presentations can be on any relevant topic reading popular print and creating it, writing it and illustrating it, publishing it and selling it, counteracting it or transforming it, adapting it and influencing it, censoring it and living it, and more. Participants may consider popular print and politics, religion, sexuality, class, ethnicity, race, nationality, or any other theme.

Google "Edmonton Alberta" and "University of Alberta" for information on the venue. Program and other information, including travel and accommodation details, regularly updated, will be available on the conference website: www.ualberta.ca/popprint

Labels: , ,

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Publication: Conversations with Art Spiegelman

In 2002 I was invited to interview Art Spiegelman at the International Comic Arts Festival; the event was co-sponsored by the Small Press Expo. I admit to being a bit nervous at the time: It was the first time I'd interviewed anyone, let alone someone I'd written about in my dissertation. Doing so in front of a large crowd didn't help, either. But Spiegelman certainly did; he's not just a ready speaker, but very articulate about his (and others') work.

I made sure to record the interview (thanks for the help, Mark Nevins!), which was fortunate. Joseph Witek, author of Comic Books as History, later contacted me about including a transcript of the interview in his upcoming volume for the University Press of Mississippi entitled Art Spiegelman: Conversations.
The book was published earlier this year, and it's quite an impressive volume. It'll prove to be a valuable book to scholars, of course. But Spiegelman's gift for analysis (and of gab!) makes the book a great read for anyone interested in comics as an art form. It's a worthy addition to UPM's essential Conversations with Comics Artists Series. (Naturally, I'd say all of this even if I hadn't contributed to it.)

Click here for ComicsResearch.org's listing for
Art Spiegelman: Conversations.

Image: Photo from The Comics Journal's coverage of ICAF/SPX. Although I had written for TCJ for many years, the caption-writer obviously felt that given the choice between identifying me or Spiegelman's cigarette, the smoke was the more well-known participant.

Labels: , , , , , ,