Monday, March 31, 2008

Update Spotlight: David Hajdu's The Ten-Cent Plague

For the life of me, I can't recall another recent book about comics which has received as many reviews as David Hajdu's new history The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008). It re-tells the story of the controversy surrounding comic books in America and how it grew into the 1950s, when - spurred on in part by Fredric Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent - Congressional hearings were held concerning the possible contribution of comic books to juvenile delinquency.

The story it tells is well-known (if not always well-understood) by most comics scholars and aficionados of American comic books. However, it seems that the general public - or at least most book reviewers - don't remember much about it at all, if the content of many of the book's reviews is any indication.

Given the book's high media profile, we've decided to collect links to all of the reviews we can find, as soon as they appear. You can find the results at our bibliography page for The Ten-Cent Plague.

We'll post our own review shortly. But in the meantime, if you run across any reviews of the book, either in print or online, that we haven't listed, please let us know and we'll add them. Thanks!

P.S.: We're aided in large part here by the comics research bibliography's Mike Rhode, who also runs the blog ComicsDC (it's about comics in the Washington, DC area, not the comic book publisher of a similar name. And Tom Spurgeon of the Comics Reporter blog has let folks know about our project, too. Thanks, guys!

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Latest Additions and Updates to Our Bibliography

Here are the latest bibliography entries that we've either added or revised since our last update. As always, if you have suggestions or would like to contribute reviews, please let us know.

Bart Beaty. Fredric Wertham and the Critique of Mass Culture. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2005. 224p.

John Benson. Confessions, Romances, Secrets and Temptations: Archer St. John and the St. John Romance Comics. Seattle: Fantagraphics Books, 20007.

Dennis Dooley and Gary Engel, eds. Superman at Fifty!: The Persistence of a Legend! New York: Collier, 1988.

Danny Fingeroth. Disguised as Clark Kent Jews, Comics, and the Creation of the Superhero. New York & London: Continuum, 2007.

John Fulce. Seduction of the Innocent Revisited. Lafayette: Huntington House, 1990.

David Hajdu. The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008.

Robert C. Harvey. Meanwhile... : A Biography of Milton Caniff, Creator of Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon. Seattle: Fantagraphics Books, 2007.

Robert C. Harvey. Milton Caniff: Conversations. University Press of Mississippi, 2002.

Ann Miller. Reading Bande Dessinée: Critical Approaches to French-Language Comic Strip. Bristol, UK; Chicago, IL: Intellect Ltd, 2007.

Arlen Schumer. The Silver Age of Comic Book Art. Portland, OR: Collectors Press, 2003.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

CFP: ICAF / International Comics Arts Forum (May 1; October 9-11)

ICAF (a conference I helped organize for several years) is a most prestigious comics event, and well-worth attending. Note the new venue. (I never did get to attend the sessions at the Library of Congress, sigh...)
The Thirteenth Annual
October 9-11, 2008
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago

The International Comic Arts Forum invites scholarly paper presentations for its thirteenth annual meeting, to be held at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois, from Thursday, October 9, through Saturday, October 11, 2008. The deadline to submit proposals is May 1, 2008 (see below for proposal guidelines and submission information). Proposals will be refereed via blind review.

We welcome original proposals from a variety of disciplines and theoretical perspectives on any aspect of comics or cartooning, including comic strips, comic books, albums, graphic novels, manga, webcomics, political cartoons, gag cartoons, and caricature. 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, such as image/text relationships. In keeping with its mission, ICAF is particularly interested in studies that reflect an international perspective.

ICAF is proud to be hosted this year by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, a leader in art education and a vital part of Chicago's arts community. In order to create a conference program that reaches out to that community and reflects Chicago's rich heritage of comic art, we particularly invite proposals which touch on cartoonists and publications from the city and surrounding region. Chicago is a major hub of American cartooning, the wellspring of a tremendous variety of work: from the political cartoons of John T. McCutcheon and Bill Mauldin, to the pioneering comic strips of the Chicago Tribune, to the seminal underground cartooning in the Chicago Mirror, Chicago Seed, and Bijou Funnies, to the "independent" comics boom of the 1980s, to contemporary alternative comics by Chris Ware and a host of others. In hopes of building a conference that responds to this important heritage, ICAF invites proposals with special interest in comics and cartoons from Chicago and the American Midwest.

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. In all cases, presentations should be timed to finish within the strict limit of twenty (20) minutes (that is, roughly eight to nine typed, double-spaced pages). Proposals should not exceed 300 words.

AUDIOVISUAL EQUIPMENT: ICAF's preferred format for the display of images is MS PowerPoint. Regretfully we cannot accommodate non-digital media such as transparencies, slides, or VHS tapes. Presenters should bring their PowerPoint or other electronic files on a USB key or CD, not just on the hard drive of a portable computer. We cannot guarantee the compatibility of our equipment with presenters' individual laptops.

REVIEW PROCESS: All proposals will be subject to blind review by the ICAF Executive Committee, with preference given to proposals that observe the above standards. The final number of papers accepted will depend on the needs of the conference program. Due to increasing 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 information) by May 1, 2008, to Prof. Cécile Danehy, ICAF Academic Coordinator, via email at cdanehy [at]

Receipt of proposals will be acknowledged immediately; if you do not receive acknowledgment within three days of sending your proposal, please resubmit. Applicants should expect to receive confirmation of acceptance or rejection by May 16, 2008.

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CFP: Popular Print Culture (University of Alberta, 27-30 August 2008)

Doesn't mention comics, but definitely of interest. Also, see the website for "Wanted: Local Comics Book Artists!"
Call for Papers and Presentations
Continuities and Innovations:

Popular Print Cultures -- Past and Present, Local and Global

University of Alberta Edmonton
Alberta, Canada 27-30 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 resumé 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 resumés by email as pasted-in documents or attachments in an up-to-date format to: popprint [at] Or mail hard copies to:
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 popular arts festival 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:

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Saturday, March 01, 2008

CFP: The Cult of Difficulty: Critical Approaches to the Comics of Chris Ware (collection; March 10)

Having published one of the first academic essays on Chris Ware's work myself, I'm very much looking forward to this volume!
Call for submissions for
The Cult of Difficulty:
Critical Approaches to the Comics of Chris Ware

edited by Dave Ball, Dickinson College, and Martha Kuhlman, Bryant University

The Cult of Difficulty is a proposed collection of essays on the work of Chicago-based contemporary graphic novelist/comic book artist/cartoonist Chris Ware [see's information on Ware]. Author of Jimmy Corrigan, The Smartest Kid on Earth (2000, winner of the 2001 Guardian First Book Award), Quimby the Mouse (2003), and The Acme Novelty Library (2005), Ware has quickly emerged as one of the central figures in contemporary comics. We are currently seeking abstracts for 20- to 25-page articles that analyze Ware’'s work, with particular interest in multi- and interdisciplinary approaches to his oeuvre. A university press has already expressed interest in this collection, and we are hoping to build upon the MLA panel on Ware'’s comics this past December. Essays that address the following questions are especially encouraged, but other topics are also welcome:
  • How do Ware'’s texts raise questions about representations of race, gender, class, and disability?
  • How has Ware'’s work as an editor, anthologist, and collector shaped the landscape of contemporary comics and informed his own corpus?
  • In what ways are questions of narrative and temporality engaged and complicated in Ware's texts? What insights do narratological and semiotic approaches offer to a reading of Ware’'s comics?
  • How does Ware's work intersect with advertising culture, web sites, media, and packaging?
  • What is Ware's relationship to the literary canon (both in terms of graphic and conventional literature) and how does he re-imagine our relationship to the idea of literariness?
Please send 500-1000 word abstracts (or completed articles), c.v., and contact information in Word format to warecollection [at] by March 10th. Papers from a diversity of disciplinary orientations and methodological approaches are especially encouraged.
Image: A self-portrait by Mr. Ware.

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