Thursday, July 16, 2009

CFP: Studies in Comics (journal; September 1, 2009)

Last night we posted the initial announcement for the new journal Studies in Comics. Here's their first CFP.
Call for Papers

Papers are invited for Studies in Comics, a new international and interdisciplinary academic journal that aims to describe the nature of comics, to identify the medium as a distinct art form, and to address its formal properties. The inaugural edition will launch our investigations with a selection of world-class academic articles that explore the formal properties of comics, advancing their own theory of comics or responding to an established theoretical model. We also welcome reviews of new comics, scholarship, criticism and exhibitions, as well as unpublished creative work.

We are now inviting the following submissions:

Articles of 4,000-8,000 words from any discipline. These should have a strong critical focus and seek to apply hitherto unexplored theoretical approaches to the medium of comics or respond to published theories about the medium’s formal properties. Possible areas include:

  • Comics and visual language in the context of communications theory
  • The grammar of comics
  • Narrative structure
  • The relationship between panel, page, and the multiframe
  • Composition and panel transitions
  • The treatment of time and space
  • Responses to published theorists such as Scott McCloud, Will Eisner, Thierry Groensteen
We also welcome reviews of new publications and exhibits and short creative work of 1-5 pages in length. Creative work should be relevant to some aspect of comics, although there are no other thematic or stylistic restrictions. Metafictional submissions that deal with the processes and theories of comics creation are encouraged.

Please send all submissions to

Article submissions: please send 300 word abstracts and include the word ARTICLE in the subject heading. Submissions should be received by 1 September 2009 in the first instance. Please indicate the intended word count of the article. Completed papers will be required by 30 October 2009. All submissions will be peer reviewed. Papers must be submitted in English.

Reviews of publications and exhibitions: please include the words REVIEW PUBLICATION or REVIEW EXHIBITION in the subject heading.

Creative submissions: please include the word CREATIVE in the subject heading.

Reviews and creative work must be received by the same deadlines indicated above (1 September 2009 for statements of intention, 30 October 2009 for final work).

Submissions are welcome from both scholars and enthusiasts. Contributors are encouraged to approach comics from any discipline and to turn their attention to comics from all countries and in all languages. So whether you’re a semiotician, philosopher, scientist, historian, enthusiast, cultural, literary or film critic – Studies in Comics welcomes you!

Julia Round and Chris Murray (Editors)

M. Thomas Inge and Dean Chan (Associate Editors)
Paul Gravett (Review and Exhibitions Editor) and Roger Sabin (Consulting Editor)
Douglas Noble (Creative Submissions Editor)

Image credit: Cover to Studies in Comics, v1 no1, courtesy of editor Chris Murray. Artwork by Chris Ware.

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Thursday, July 09, 2009

R.I.P. Martin Vaughn-James

Sad news for fans of avant-garde comics: Martin Vaughn-James, author of the enigmatic album The Cage, passed away on July 3. See Tom Spurgeon's obituary for Vaughn-James at, as well as this brief story at ActuaBD. (And thanks to afNews where I first learned this sobering news.)

If you're not familiar with The Cage, here are a couple of images to give you a feel for it. It's sort of a trip inside an apparently abandoned building, with no people anywhere to be seen. Even with the accompanying "explanatory" text, The Cage doesn't exactly present any sort of traditional narrative. It's also not a tour or even a travelogue. The Cage is, simply (or better, complexly) The Cage.

At the 2002 Popular Culture Association conference in Toronto, the Comic Art & Comics Area was honored to present a lecture by noted comics critic and scholar Thierry Groensteen on The Cage. By happy coincidence, not only had Vaughn-James produced The Cage while living in Toronto, but Prof. Groensteen himself had recently published a study of book, La construction de "La Cage." I was the Chair of the CA&C Area for 2002, and when I received Thierry's abstract, I knew that this presentation deserved a special session all its own. We had an overflow crowd for the talk, and I believe Thierry made a lot of converts that day.
Sadly, The Cage hasn't been available in English since its original publication in 1975, but it is in the collections of several libraries. It is also back in print in French, from the Belgian publisher Les Impressions Nouvelles. Even if you can't read French, it's an amazing, mind-blowing work. I can't recommend The Cage highly enough - it's near the top of my "Why Isn't This Book Available in English???" list.

Forgot about image credits! Self-portrait and images from
La Cage @ 2009 Martin Vaughn-James, sourced from Les Impressions Nouvelles web pages. Comic Art & Comics flyer @ 2002, 2009 Gene Kannenberg, Jr. and the Comic Art & Comics area of the Popular Culture Association.

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