Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Animation 4.3 (2009) - Comics and Animation Special Issue

The brand-new issue of Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal is a special issue: "Comics and Animation." Click this link for the table of contents, with links to abstracts. Looks like there could be some fascinating stuff here.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

In Review at Ulysses "Seen" - Asterios Polyp

My review of David Mazzucchelli's stellar graphic novel Asterios Polyp was posted today at the Ulysses "Seen" website. While you're there, check out cartoonist Robert Berry's essays on making money off of webcomix, his musings on Paris, and, oh yeah - Ulysses "Seen" itself, Berry's ambitious and lyrical ongoing adaptation of James Joyce's monumental novel Ulysses. It's early enough to get in on the ground floor of Berry's work, so dive in and find out what Stephen Daedalus and stately, plump Buck Mulligan might really have looked like! And watch for more musings from me on the blog there as time passes, too.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Journal of Visual Culture 8.2 (2009): "The Obama Issue"

I've not seen it, but the new issue of Journal of Visual Culture (August 2009, Volume 8, No. 2) is "The Obama Issue." I'm guessing that some of the articles will discuss editorial cartoon depictions of President - and candidate - Barack Obama. You can view the table of contents here.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

CFP: ImageNext (UF conference: Dec. 31; Mar. 26-27)

Just posted to the Comics Scholars Discussion List...

Visions Past and Future Conference
University of Florida

March 26 and 27, 2010

The University of Florida's College of Liberal Arts and sciences is pleased to announce the 2010 UF Conference on Comics and Graphic Novels, "ImageNext: Visions Past and Future," which will be held in Gainesville, Florida on March 26 and 27. Guest speakers will include UCLA's David Kunzle (The History of the Comic Strip, Father of the Comic Strip: Rodolphe Töpffer), John Porcellino (King Cat), Molly Kiely (Diary of a Dominatrix, That Kind of Girl) and University of Iowa’s Corey Creekmur (Director of the Institute for Cinema and Culture).

This year's conference will focus on "comics" - in their broadest sense, which includes animation, manga, anime, graphic novels, webcomics, political cartoons, and even some "fine art" - that explore human history and alternate histories. Comics discussed may include reimaginings of the past (both personal and cultural), projections of the future and revisions of pre-existing timelines, fictional or historical. Presentations could address comics that represent historical periods and/or genres (i.e. classic comics, steampunk, etc.) or the historical precedents of comics as we now understand them (i.e. political cartoons in nineteenth-century newspapers, narrative paintings, etc.).

Possible topics include but are not limited to:
  • comics in/as history (Rodolphe Topffer, George Cruikshank, John Leech)
  • comics as cultural records (Maus, Persepolis, contemporary comic strips and political cartoons)
  • biographical and autobiographical comics (Julie Doucet, Fun Home, With the Light, Epileptic)
  • historically based genres (e.g. steampunk and cyberpunk, (post-)apocalyptic narratives)
  • multiverses and alternate continuities (Crisis on Infinite Earths, 52, House of M, Marvel Zombies)
  • comic book continuity reboots (Marvel, Ultimate Universe, etc.)
  • the visual rhetoric of utopias and dystopias (Y The Last Man, Akira)
  • the revision and reimagination of the superhero (Watchmen, Kingdom Come, Marvels, Astro City)
  • comic adaptations and appropriations of literature ("Classic Comics," manga Shakespeare, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen)
Submit an abstract (250-400 words) of your presentation by December 31, 2009. Send all submissions and questions to Please include the words "Comics Conference" in your subject heading.

The conference will be held on the University of Florida campus.

Image credit: Dylan Horrocks, from the UF Comics Conferences website.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

CFP: Fractured Images / Broken Words (conference: February 15; June 12)

Note the explicit suggestion of papers about graphic novels. Click here for the conference website. Thanks to the Institute for Comics Studies for the tip.

Fractured Images / Broken Words
A Multi-Disciplinary PostGraduate Symposium

Department of English and Creative Writing

Lancaster University, UK

June 12, 2010

Keynote Speakers:

Professor Terry Eagleton, Lancaster University


Andy Diggle
, comic-book writer and former editor of 2000 AD

Featuring art installations by Christine Dawson

Visual and multi-modal texts are an integral element of both popular and literary culture, contemporary and past. This conference invites papers which engage with the notion of text and image, through, for example critical examination of graphic novels, television, film, illustrated texts or adaptations. We actively welcome papers with an interdisciplinary approach, allowing for a collision of meaning and interpretations of both text and image. We’re particularly interested in – but not limiting our remit to – topics which focus on the fusion of word and image, and perhaps on the gaps which can be perceived between, and within, visual and textual representation. Where do textual spaces exist? Where do word and image meet? Where do they separate? Where does meaning fuse? Where does it disintegrate? As the conference title suggests, we’re also interested in the duplicitous and unstable nature of texts and images and would also like to explore issues such as: How words and / or images be misappropriated, misused or misdirected to create alternative and divergent meanings; The fragility of meaning created by words and / or images; Problems of reading and interpretation.

This conference will provide a stimulating environment for postgraduate students and other researchers to present work and to share and discuss ideas stemming from the examination of texts employing varied representational modes, adaptations and interactions between text and image. We hope to encourage speakers from multiple disciplines, working across historical, cultural and literary periods, and with a wide range of texts.

Suggested topics, themes and disciplinary approaches include:
  • Film Studies
  • Cultural Studies
  • Literary Studies
  • Language
  • Propaganda Texts
  • Journalism / Photo Journalism
  • Graphic Novels and Picture Books
  • Children and Young Adult Literature
  • Television
  • Identity
  • Ownership of Truth
  • Authenticity
  • Biographical Texts
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
  • Sexuality
  • Translation
  • Gaps and Silences
  • Absences
Or, any other topic which the conference title inspires.

Abstracts of no more than 300 words for papers not exceeding 20 minutes should be submitted by 15th February 2010, to the organisers at: Please include the title of your paper, your name, e-mail address, institutional affiliation, and a brief summary of your research interests.

For more information, visit the conference website.

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Monday, November 09, 2009

In Our Mailbox - "Graphic Novels Beyond the Basics" and "IJOCA 11.2"

It's a good day here at the offices (okay, office): Today's mail brought two all-new, all-different publications. First up is Graphic Novels Beyond the Basics: Insights and Issues for Libraries, edited by Martha Cornog & Timothy Perper. We'll be adding an info page to our bibliography for this book soon (edit: here it is!), but in the meantime, here's how the publisher's website describes it (handy, because I just walked in the door and haven't had time to begin to read the book yet):
This study of the graphic novel and its growth in the library helps librarians utilize and develop this extraordinarily popular format in their library collections.

One of the few bright spots in 21st century print publishing, graphic novels have moved from their stereotypical fanboy niche to the bestseller list, profoundly influencing movies, television, games, music, design, and fashion along the way. The phenomenon has reached libraries as well, with librarians collecting a variety of graphic novels for patrons of all ages.

What does the surge of popularity in graphic novels mean for libraries? Graphic Novels Beyond the Basics: Insights and Issues for Libraries goes deeper into this subject than any other volume previously published, bringing together a distinguished panel of experts to examine questions librarians may encounter as they work to enhance their graphic novel holdings.

Graphic Novels Beyond the Basics begins by introducing librarians to the world of the graphic novel: popular and critically acclaimed fiction and nonfiction titles; a wide range of genres including Japanese manga and other international favorites; recurring story and character archetypes; and titles created for specific cultural audiences and female readers. The book then offers a series of chapters on key issues librarians will face with graphic novels on the shelves, including processing and retention questions, preservation and retention, collecting related media such as Japanese anime films and video games, potential grounds for patron or parental complaints, the future of graphic novels, and more.
Check out the link above for additional information; we'll update this entry once we have the table of contents on our website. The contents are wide-ranging, covering genres, readers, resources and more, all designed with library collections in mind.

The second publication in today's mail was the International Journal of Comic Art 11.2 (Fall 2009). As always, editor and publisher John Lent has assembled an embarrassment of riches: This issue is more than 500 pages long, begins with a symposium on comics in India, contains almost two dozen additional essays, includes about 70 pages of reviews, and ends with a 14-page international cartoon portfolio. And yes, this is a typical issue.

If your library doesn't already subscribe to IJOCA, do all you can to convince them to. For just $70 per yer, they get three giant-size issues, two traditional issues plus a third, all-bibliography issue - this is a steal compared to almost any other journal. And individual subscriptions are only $45 per year (all three issues). If you're counting along at home, that's about 1,000 pages of content per year, not even including the new bibliography issue (I'm curious to see how massive these volumes will be).

For more information about the International Journal of Comic Art, visit the journal's website and blog.

Happy reading!

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Sunday, November 08, 2009

New Book: Naissances de la bande dessinée - De William Hogarth à Winsor McCay

This newly published book sounds fascinating! I've reproduced the English version of the book announcement below, but be sure to visit the book's official webpage for the French version, a peek at some pages, and a video narrated by Thierry Smolderen which includes lots of early comics.

Naissances de la bande dessinée
De William Hogarth à
Winsor McCay

Thierry Smolderen

24 x 33 cm / 144 pages
Nombreuses ill. en couleur
ISBN : 978-2-87449-082-8
EAN : 9782874490828
29,50 €

The Many Births of Comics

Around 1900 the American newspapers started publishing a new genre full of humour and action that we have no problems in identifying as the comics. And we also know that this comic strip appeared in the same years as the film and the phonograph. Yet what Thierry Smolderen convincingly demonstrates in this wonderful book is that the origins of this new genre are in fact much older, and that one can only understand the comic strip by linking it to the birth of a totally different genre, that of the modern novel, which appears in England during the the 18th Century. It was the satirical work of the painter and engraver William Hogarth that bridged the gap between image and novel and it was Hogarth who made a seminal contribution to a new narrative environment, enabling totally new forms of interaction between the image and the media of the modern era.

During the 19th Century, the new impulse given by Hogarth did not exceed the limits of a particular group of draughtsmen, the so-called humorist-illustrators who devote their immense visual culture to the mere goals of parody. Fascinated by the world of graffiti, children’s drawings and marginal productions, these artists were the very first to seize the opportunities given by the emerging media, schematized and combined by them in a spirit of irony. Since Rodolphe Töpffer, they also enjoyed themselves by criticizing the representations of the industrial world, which they questioned through their reuse of the naïve past of popular visual narratives. The comic strip will be the future emanation of these first experiments.

The Many Births of Comics proposes a new and fresh vision of what we thought we knew already. The book argues that instead of being a new medium that suddenly emerged at the turn of the century, the comic strip is indebted to a much older culture, that of the image to be read, a culture as old as that of the printed image. Seminal elements such as the speech balloon, the clear line and the visual storytelling are part of a genealogy that is much older and richer than event their authors themselves tended to believe. The initial dialogue of the comic strip with the experimental novel of the 18th Century as well as with the book culture of the romantic era, its long lasting cohabitation with the various kinds of illustrated press, its symbiosis with the world of the film, all these elements make the comics the potential workshop par excellence of today’s images.

Thierry Smolderen
Scriptwriter, theorist and Professor at the European School of Visual Arts, Thierry Smolderen is one of today’s top experts in the history of the comic. He has published numerous articles in French magazines (such as 9e Art) as well as American publications (such as Comic Art). The new theoretical foundations on which his research is based on have allowed him to reveal fascinating documents, which until now were unknown. Among his graphic novel plots, one can point out the imagined biography of McCay (illustrated by J-P. Bramanti, Delcourt publications), and the Ghost Money series (illustrated by D. Bertail, Dargaud publications).

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Monday, November 02, 2009

CFP: Coded: Comics and Containment Culture in the 1950s (collection; April 1, 2010)

Call for Papers
Comics and Containment Culture
in the 1950s

We have just received a contract from McFarland to compile a multi-contributor manuscript on comic books and containment culture in the 1950s. In no other era of United States history were American values and morals more rigidly defined or more heavily policed than in the 1950s. In the comic book industry, the debate over the impact of comics on youth and the resulting self-imposed censorship of the industry reflect the general trends of the era. This book approaches this era in American comics by looking at comic book narratives and images, and unpacking the meaning stored within. We are interested in the many and varied ways in which containment culture is both reflected and subverted in the pages of comic books.

These essays should devote themselves to the close reading of American comic books from the 1950s. In focusing on this decade we are purposefully drawing on both the pre and post comic code era, from the late Golden Age to the early Silver Age of comics. As the title of the book suggests, the purpose of these narrative and visual analyses will be to locate a given text within the larger containment culture of the 1950s, not only in terms of how these images reflect the larger culture, but also how certain images and narratives subvert the dominant ideology of the time.

Since containment as both a foreign and domestic policy permeated every aspect of American culture in the 1950s, the focus of individual papers is wide open, from the portrayal of gender roles to anxiety over nuclear proliferation, and from commercial consumption to communist infiltration. Our goal is to present as broad a picture of comics in the fifties as possible, so we want to include essays on a wide range of subjects in terms of genre, theme, and publisher.

Essay Format/Style:
Essays are to be 3000-4500 words long (typed and double-spaced) and should be written in clear, concrete terms, avoiding jargon whenever possible. We do want to encourage contributors to use images in their submissions. Because of the reluctance of some publishers to release their images for scholastic purposes, however, there will also be a need to limit those images. As a general guideline, contributors will need to avoid using comic book covers and use no more than 2-3 images in their submission.

Anyone interested in contributing an essay should contact the editor with a brief proposal (1-2 paragraphs) and a short description of their professional, educational, and publishing background no later than April 1, 2010. Invited essays will be due as e-mail attachments no later than August 15, 2010. Further information will be sent later to those who are invited to submit essays.

If you have any questions, you should not hesitate to contact us at the addresses below:
Chris York, Chair, General Education, Pine Technical College.

Rafe York, Saint Cloud State University,

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