New Book: Representing Multiculturalism in Comics and Graphic Novels

Representing Multiculturalism in Comics and Graphic Novels

A collection of fifteen articles, originally presented as conference papers at Comics Forum 2012, has been published by Routledge as Representing Multiculturalism in Comics and Graphic Novels, edited by CF2012 conference directors Carolene Ayaka and Ian Hague. Here’s the synopsis:

Multiculturalism, and its representation, has long presented challenges for the medium of comics. This book presents a wide ranging survey of the ways in which comics have dealt with the diversity of creators and characters and the (lack of) visibility for characters who don’t conform to particular cultural stereotypes. Contributors engage with ethnicity and other cultural forms from Israel, Romania, North America, South Africa, Germany, Spain, U.S. Latino and Canada and consider the ways in which comics are able to represent multiculturalism through a focus on the formal elements of the medium. Discussion themes include education, countercultures, monstrosity, the quotidian, the notion of the ‘other,” anthropomorphism, and colonialism. Taking a truly international perspective, the book brings into dialogue a broad range of comics traditions.

And here are the contents and abstracts for each of the chapters; a huge thank you to all the authors who contributed to the volume!

  1. Multiculturalism Meets the Counterculture: Representing Racial Difference in Robert Crumb’s Underground Comix


Although underground comix were recognized as a key component of the 1960s counterculture in the United States, their controversial representation of African Americans suggests an ambivalent relationship between the counterculture and the simultaneous rise of multicultural perspectives following the earlier Civil Rights era.  Focusing specifically on Robert Crumb’s controversial images of African Americans in various underground comix, this article seeks to locate those images in their historical context in order to better understand their frequent recourse to antiquated, “racist” stereotypes in an era otherwise increasingly defined by images celebrating racial identity and difference.  This essay also considers the frequently contradictory claims made about these images within the critical and historical work on underground comix.

  1. The Impact of Latino Identities and the Humanizing of Multiculturalism in Love and Rockets


This article analyses the importance of the Hernandez Brothers work as prominent authors of the alternative fiction landscape of comics. Pioneers of multicultural style, they also developed a proto-feminist narrative adulthood in their comics. Over the course of three decades they developed in their work a multicultural sensibility that describes other realities where members of Latino communities are the main characters. They took the risk to represent through comics the contradictions of the American society with a political ethnic conscience.

  1. The Presidential Penis: Questions of race and representation in South African comic and satirical art­­


The reproduction of racial and ethnic stereotypes has long played an ideological role in South African comic art. As I have shown in my historical study of South African cartooning (2010), the stereotype of the African male as a threatening savage ‘other’ endowed with prodigious erotic power – a source of both revulsion and admiration amongst the colonial and neocolonial elites – is visible in the early popular visual literature of the colonial period and has endured into the post-apartheid period, where it is used ‘knowingly’ (in the postmodern sense) by cartoonists and satirical artists. But seldom has this tendency been so visible as in a scandalous slew of satirical images in which pictorial representations of Jacob Zuma’s penis were employed symbolically to refer to the state of South African politics and society.

The article examines usages of such imagery by three satirists: Zapiro (Jonathan Shapiro), Brett Murray and Ayanda Mabulu. These usages have all been controversial and hotly debated in the nation’s media, but two instances in particular – Zapiro’s 2008 “Rape of Justice” cartoon, and Brett Murray’s 2012 painting “The Spear” – have aroused unprecedented levels of public response, both angry and appreciative, revealing deep cultural and ideological fissures in post-apartheid society.

Critical theorists in a range of disciplines have taken positions on these two images. For example, journalist Glenda Daniels (2012) examines the lawsuits advanced by Zuma against Zapiro as instances of the ANC government’s intention to intimidate critics and restrict press freedom; cultural theorist Steven C. Dubin (2012) sees the brouhaha around “The Spear” as a vindication of his contention that South African society is riven by “culture wars”; and political geographer Daniel Hammett (2010) visualises public responses to “The Rape of Lady Justice” as an ideological demographic ranged around the cartoon to reveal contestation around the nation’s constitutional project. I also refer to my 2010 article “The Cannibal Ogre and the Rape of Justice” which argues for a reception theory approach to Zapiro’s infamous cartoon.

The article argues that while contextual factors surrounding the production of comic art in South Africa, from the highly repressive apartheid period to the post-apartheid cultural renaissance, have allowed unusual levels of freedom of expression and experimentation, this has unfortunately been accompanied in some cases by intercultural insensitivities that may have had the effect of reinforcing racial attitudes amongst sections of the public, with a deleterious effect on interracial reconciliation. While strongly advocating the right to freedom of expression, the article makes a case for cultural sensitivity amongst cartoonists working in multicultural contexts.

  1. Recognition and resemblance: facture, imagination and ideology in depictions of cultural and national difference


This chapter explores the idea that depictions embody their producers and readers in specific relationships between subject, social institution, material and idea, in order to examine depiction in the context of narrative drawings of cultural and national differences. Citing examples of the works of Kerry James Marshall, Dr Lakra and Kunisada Utagawa, among others, the chapter brings together theorisations by Michael Podro, Louis Althusser, Pierre Bourdieu, Robert Hodge and Gunter Kress. The chapter aims to elucidate the roles of imagination and habituation in the production of ideology, considering the implications of objectification in cases where depictions are approached as resemblances of the situations that they depict.

  1. ‘Badgers? We don’t need no steenkin’ badgers!’ Talbot’s Grandville, anthropomorphism and multiculturalism


This chapter investigates how issues around multiculturalism are explored in the Grandville series of graphic novels by Bryan Talbot. Grandville, Grandville Mon Amour and Grandville Bête Noire depict a steampunk world in which animals are dominant and every species is considered equal, whether duck, fish or horse. This does not stop intolerance or prejudice, however. Humans also exist within this world, but are a minority seen by the animals as lesser beings. In considering these relationships and tensions, the chapter first looks at how economics and multiculturalism are linked in Grandville and then turns to a brief consideration of how language and national identity operate. It next looks at Talbot’s use of colour and art as a mechanism for signifying difference and diversity. Finally, it will focus down on issues of cultural intolerance, dominance and the terrorist other.

  1. The Image of the Foreigner in Historical Romanian Comics under Ceauşescu’s Dictatorship


Nicolae Ceauşescu’s humorless and ultra-nationalist dictatorship took its comics seriously, and even held official party meetings in order to establish what children’s magazines—the main space for comics at the time—should publish. Historical comics had to teach a version of the Romanian past that would boost nationalist sentiment and justify a negative perception of the outside, while painting Romania as a country of pure-hearted valiant and hard-working men (and rarely women), permanently assailed by evil forces.

This chapter examines the image of ”the foreigner” in several historical comic strips published in long-standing communist children’s magazines, where foreign nationals were extremely frequent, and generally evil. However, the representational code used by the artists in these didactic cartoons was quite realistic. The most frequently represented episodes from the (proto)Romanian past were the Roman conquest of Dacia (second century AD), the first unification of the Romanian provinces under the same political leadership (1600), a Russian-Romanian battle against the Ottoman Empire (1877), and World War II. The representations of foreigners in communist cartoons showed three main groups: the Romans (morally inferior conquerors of the proud Dacians, the Romanian ancestors), the Germans (always depicted as sly smirking uniformed Nazis, even decades after the end of World War II), and the Turks (Ottomans whose sole purpose was to conquer, pillage, and plunder). The comics contained a mixture of fictitious characters and actual participants in history, all of them treated as if they were equally “real.” During Ceauşescu’s dictatorship, the national superhero was a virtuous man (never a woman, despite the self-proclaimed feminist party line) endowed not only with heightened moral sense and loyalty to a nation whose identity had not yet been articulated, but also with uncommon physical prowess and an uncanny awareness that his bravery would help build something grand in the future, more specifically, Ceauşescu’s Romania.

  1. The Monster Within and Without: Spanish Comics, Monstrosity, Religion, and Alterity


Francisco Goya’s most famous proto-comic, “The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters” (1799), forms part of a series of prints called Caprices, implying whimsical playfulness. Nonetheless, these prints were far from playful. Meant to reveal, through the interplay of images and ironic captions, insidious social ills, this series suggests Goya’s Spanish contemporaries are more monstrous than the bogeymen they invented. In contrast, more than a century later and published under fascist dictatorial rule, several early 20th century Spanish adventure comics villianize and make monsters of specific religious elements of Spain’s multicultural past. One of the best-known series, Manuel Gago’s The Masked Warrior, (1944-1980) pits a medieval Christian hero against his duplicitous and Muslim murderer-rapist stepfather. Working within the confines of totalitarianism, this comic distances itself, in time and place, from Franco’s modern enemies to promote the same values as its dictator: One Spain, One Race, One Religion. This chapter explores the depiction of monstrosity and alterity from these two divergent moments in Spain. More specifically, it argues that these two examples represent two extremes in a range of practice of using stereotype to represent multiculturalism.

  1. Colonialist Heroes and Monstrous Others: Stereotype and Narrative Form in British Adventure Comic Books


This paper explores the representation of colonialist stereotypes and the colonised ‘Other’ in British comic book adventure stories using Edward Said’s theories of Orientalism. From the 1940s to the 1990s comic books, such as the Eagle, Hotspur and Victor, used ‘exotic’ locations and caricatured representations, visual and textual, to maintain these stereotypes and shape narrative structure so continuing the traditions of early 20th century boy’s illustrated magazines. These stereotypes were also central in driving the narrative within more innovative contemporary comic books such as Rogon Gosh and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen where additionally the image of an eroticised ‘Other’ emerged as a new archetype.

  1. Set Pieces: Cultural Appropriation and the Search for Contemporary Identities in Shōnen Manga


When does cultural appropriation become inappropriate? Focussing on contemporary Manga as D.Gray-man, Fullmetal Alchemist or Blue Exorcist, which use European history and Christian ico-nography as an eclectic backdrop or even visual “repository” for fiction, this chapter discusses how eclectic imagery and narratives can be (mis-)interpreted as political practice. Starting out from the historical discourses of post-colonial critique and the post-modern, it aims to analyse how the trope of ‘identity crisis’ and cultural eclecticism in Manga might offer a both critical and utopian counter-part to common models of multiculturalism.

  1. Narrative Exploration against Mentality Issues: Indirect Education for Multiculturalism in Tintin


This chapter aims to show that, despite accusations of stereotypical thinking, particularly of racism, Hergé’s classic The Adventures of Tintin is pervaded by the author’s intention to educate his audiences with respect to the world’s plural nature. In its various translations (such as into Catalan, a minority language with a spectacular history of emancipation), the Tintin series has gradually become representative of far more progressive attitudes than the ones it was initially associated with. The changing history of Tintin’s reception also suggests that comic strips can be highly effective in questioning received ideas about the world.

  1. Embracing Childish Perspective: Rutu Modan’s A Royal Banquet With the Queen


Studies on multiculturalism and children usually adopt a paternalistic perspective. This approach doesn’t take into consideration the possibility that a child’s perspective can positively affect the welfare of adults.

This article points to an alternative viewpoint based on the writings of psychologist Alice Miller and psychotherapist Piero Ferrucci. This viewpoint is further explored in light of Rutu Modan’s comic book for children. Modan’s narrative advocates a mutual respect which leads to a genuine dialogue and to a mutual transference of values between children and adults. Thus, in turn, Modan’s comic book enables us to reevaluate children’s role within the frame of multicultural discourse.

  1. An Innocent at Home: Scott Pilgrim and His Canadian Multicultural Contexts


This paper examines the coding of Canada and its relationship to multiculturalism in Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim. It both situates Scott Pilgrim in the history of Canadian Superhero comics and the Canadian culture industry and offers a reading of O’Malley’s critique and revision of Canadian identity.

At first read, Scott Pilgrim is a typical story of American youth. The name “Pilgrim” identifies Scott with both the origin story of the United States and atemporal myth. That he must fight a series of epic battles against increasingly threatening foes gives the story a Jungian feel, as though it were a graphic variant of Joseph Campbell’s A Hero’s Journey. Because the American origin story depends on just such a universal, mythical quality, Scott Pilgrim appears to fit into the tradition of redemptive American narratives.

We argue that O’Malley in fact undercuts this apparent universality with “Canadian” signifiers that transform the comic into a mediation of Canada’s relationship to the grand American narrative and more particular cultural micronarratives. Many of these signifiers are visual cues embedded in t-shirts and signs that create a “secret” Canadian language for readers in the know. But the central relationship between Scott and Ramona Flowers is itself such a signifier; it invokes the relationship between Canada and the United States generally, with Ramona the worldly American and Scott the parochial Canadian. This cultural antagonism structures other antagonisms, such as that between Scott and his Chinese Canadian girlfriend, Knives Chau, who holds up a mirror to Scott that shatters the myth of the bland and blond Canadian “nice guy.” In spite of his occupying the structural position of hero in the narrative, Scott is incapable of mastering either the grand narrative or micro-narratives.

Thus, we present the series as a critique of Canadian helplessness in relation to both American hegemony and multiculturalism. This comic really is Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, a battle in which the Canadian hero is a hapless and oblivious slacker who finds himself embroiled in conflict almost by accident, his apparent innocence absolving him of responsibility and engagement.   

  1. The Lower East Side as Mishmash of Jewish Women’s Multicultural Images in Leela Corman’s Unterzakhn


New York’s Lower East Side has been widely documented in historical literature as a place of diversity rather than a local, limited Jewish phenomenon, in seminal works by Hasia R. Diner, Jeffrey Shandler, Beth S. Wenger and Deborah Dash Moore. I argue that Leela Corman’s 2012 graphic novel, Unterzakhn, complements historians’ works with an unexplored representation of the early twentieth century multicultural Lower East Side, which also touches on the process of assimilation but is primarily filtered through women’s images and private lives. My chapter will trace the graphic novel’s varied and at times controversial representations of womanhood in relation to traditional Judaic Eastern European lore and American mass media views of the early twentieth century by an analysis of three main articles of women’s dress featured in the narrative–head scarfs, shirts-and-waists, and corsets.

  1. They All Look Alike? Representations of East Asian Americans in Adrian Tomine’s Shortcomings and Scenes from an Impending Marriage


Adrian Tomine is, along with Derek Kirk Kim, Tak Toyoshima, and Gene Luen Yang, one of the most popular contemporary Asian-American comics creators. He has been praised not only for his artistic and storytelling skills but also for the way he addresses issues pertaining to race and identity. This chapter examines how East Asian Americans, especially those of Japanese descent, are represented in two of Tomine’s works, namely Shortcomings (2007) and Scenes from an Impending Marriage (2011).

  1. Tulips and Roses in a Global Garden: Speaking Local Identities in Persepolis and Tekkon Kinkreet


This article examines the way in which both Persepolis (2003) by Marjane Satrapi, and Tekkon Kinkreet (1994) by Taiyo Matsumoto, approach the articulation of local, popular expressions of cultural identity in strikingly similar ways.  On the surface, the narratives seem nothing like one another.  Persepolis tells of growing up in the context of the rise of the Iranian theocratic regime.  Tekkon Kinkreet concerns two superpowered Japanese urchins defending “Treasure Town” from colonization by a diabolical global corporation.  In both cases, however, we encounter narratives that recognize the articulation of cultural identity as contested space, in which popular ownership of that identity has to compete with more powerful or authoritative expressions of it that also lay claim to authenticity.  Both narratives recognize the complexities of speaking cultural identity in a global context, in which such an identity must be fixed enough to be specific, but also fluid enough to accommodate difference and cross-cultural communication.  The two narratives also suggest, in form and content, how both comics and myth offer a bridge between the self-representation of popular, local, cultural identity and its situation and participation in a global context.

At the heart of both Persepolis and Tekkon Kinkreet is the question of who, precisely, can speak cultural identity, and whether, when, and how it might be spoken.  They represent popular voices raised in opposition to, in the former, an oppressive regime that lays sole claim to speaking Iranian identity in collusion with its western antagonists; and in the latter, a potentially homogenizing, or at least disenfranchising, global corporate entity that among other things suggests the global city might be a colonizing culture unto itself. Each defends local specificity against a global entity while drawing from myth as a paradoxically global narrative wellspring of indigenous identity, and from comics as itself an increasingly global medium.

Ultimately, this essay concludes, both narratives make specific cultural content secondary to the right to its expression by popular voices through such popular channels as comics.  In both graphic novels, representing the fluid specificity of cultural identity in a manner that articulates it, and its immediate pressing concerns, without fixing it, shifts narrative emphasis to the fact of, and commitment to, self-representation perhaps above all else, while acknowledging a place in a world of many cultures, stories, and comics styles.


To find out more, or to order Representing Multiculturalism in Comics and Graphic Novels, click here to visit the Routledge product page.

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If you’re an author or journal editor, and would like to review Representing Multiculturalism in Comics and Graphic Novels, click here to request a review copy (you will need to have a publication venue secured to receive a review copy).


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News Review: November 2014




Bart Beaty will speak about his research into Archie at the Modern Literature and Culture Research Centre, Ryerson University, on the 8th December. Link (English, WG)

United States


The publisher that has brought the franchise, Assassin’s Creed, to the video game console has signed a distribution agreement with Diamond Comic and Diamond Book Distributors. Ubisoft currently offers their game-inspired graphic novels to book markets such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble, but these will soon be available at the local comic book stores as well. Link (English, MB)

Walking Dead #132 (Image), Death of Wolverine #4 (Marvel) and Thor #1 (Marvel) took the top three spots of Top 100 Comics for October, based on total unit sales invoiced. Other superhero stories to finish in the top ten included Avengers, X-Men, Batman, Spider-Man and Harley Quinn. Link (English, MB)

Marvel’s Ms Marvel Volume 1: No Normal and Hawkeye Volume 3: LA Woman placed in the top two spots for the Top 100 Graphic Novels for the month of October, based on total unit sales invoiced. Batman Volume 4: Zero Year Secret City from DC Comics rounded out in the third spot overall. Link (English, MB)


The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and the Museum of Comic & Cartoon Art will host a holiday celebration at the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame Gallery on the 10th December in New York City. Special guests include Paul Pope, Chip Kidd, Bob Fingerman, and Gregory Benton. Link (25/11/2014, English, MB)

Ohio State University’s Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum will be celebrating the opening of the exhibition, King of the Comics: William Randolph Hearst and 100 Years of King Features, which takes place between the 13th December and the 15th March 2015, with a series of events taking place on the 13th December. Link (20/11/2014, English, MB)

Diamond Comic Distributors has announced they will partner with Baltimore Comic Con to bring the 2015 Retailer Summit to Baltimore. The show, in its 15th year, will take place between the 25th and 27th September 2015. Link (English, MB)

The Columbus, Ohio based Cartoon Crossroads Columbus (CXC) has announced its formation and intention to stage a four-day, yearly comics festival beginning in Fall 2016. Link (English, WG)


Andrews McMeel Publishing just released the hardcover of The Art of Richard Thompson, by Bill Watterson, Nick Galifianakis, Chris Sparks, David Apatoff, and Michael Rhode. Thompson was the creator of the comic strip Cul de Sac. Link (25/11/2014, English, MB)

Michigan State University has announced its annual Comics Forum will be held between the 20th and 21st February 2015, with guest speaker the award winning cartoonist Sergio Aragones. The deadline for proposals for the conference is the 20th December. Link (24/11/2014, English, MB)

The Modern Language Association has announced it is seeking proposals addressing various approaches to teaching comics in the upcoming meeting titled, Developments in Comics Pedagogy, which is being held in Austin, Texas between the 7th and 10th January 2016. Statements summarising approaches are due by the 1st March  2015. Link (19/11/2014, English, MB)

The collection edited by Joseph J. Darowski, The Ages of the Avengers: Essays on the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in Changing Times, has been published through McFarland. Link (English, WG)

Death, Disability, and the Superhero: The Silver Age and Beyond, by José Alaniz, has now been published through the University Press of Mississippi. Link (English, WG)

American Comics, Literary Theory, and Religion: The Superhero Afterlife, by A. David Lewis, has now been published through Palgrave Macmillan. Link (English, WG)




Kyoto International Manga Museum’s exhibition “Crossing Borders: Mahler’s Manga Park”, showcasing works by Austrian cartoonist Nicolas Mahler, is running from the 2nd December until the 8th February 2015. On the 6th December, there is a related event, where the artist will talk about his views of cartoons, comics, and manga. Link (English, JBS)

The exhibition “Yasuko Aoike’s 50th anniversary; A world of beautiful artwork from Eroica to Falco”, at Kyoto International Manga Museum is open until the 1st February 2015. On January the 17th, the artist will hold an autograph session. Link (Japanese, JBS)

Literary and poetry magazine, Eureka, published a special issue on the Yuri genre on the 27th November. The special issue contains essays by both Japanese and foreign experts. Link (27/11/2014, Japanese, JBS)

Professor and manga artist Keiko Takemiya, President of Kyoto Seika University, received the Purple Ribbon Award (by the Japanese government) for outstanding performance in the field of academic or artistic invention, improvement, and creation. Link (Japanese, JBS)


The gender and sexuality group of the JSSCC (Japanese Society for Studies in Cartoons and Comics) is holding its 40th research meeting on the 21st December. Link (Japanese, JBS)




A 30 minute documentary feature on Nicolas Mahler was shown on German-language television. Link (23/11/2014, German, MdlI)



Bande dessinée publisher Dargaud is in talks to open a bande dessinée school to train artists in Marcinelle, Belgium. Link (27/11/2014, French, LTa)



A watercolour of Corto Maltese auctioned in Paris has sold for €391,800, beating the “world record” for works concerning Hugo Pratt’s iconic character. Link (23/11/2014, French, LTa)

Satirical BD newspapers Charlie Hebdo and Siné Mensuel are both in serious financial difficulties, and are calling on readers for support. Link 1 (18/11/2014, French, LTa), Link 2 (14/11/2014, French, LTa)


Titeuf creator Zep and satirical cartoonist Plantu have both launched bande dessinée blogs on the website of Le Monde. Link (13/11/2014, French, LTa)

The programme for the 2015 Angoulême Festival has been revealed. Link (27/11/2014, French, LTa)



Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung has ceased publishing comic strips. Link (02/11/2014, German, MdlI)


The Intercomic comics fair took place in Cologne on the 8th November; guests included Sarah Burrini and Burkhard Ihme. Link (02/11/2014, German, MdlI)

An exhibition of artists’ biographies in comics is shown in Ludwigsburg from the 23rd November until the 8th February 2015. Link (06/11/2014, German, MdlI)

Keith Knight held a series of lectures on ethnicity and police violence at universities in Siegen, Bremen, Osnabrück, Bochum and Berlin. Link (17/11/2014, English, MdlI)

The 15th annual comic market report, COMIC!-Jahrbuch, has been published. Link (20/11/2014, German, MdlI)


Mosaik creator Hannes Hegen died on the 8th November. Link (13/11/2014, German, MdlI)


Björn Hammel has published a book on webcomics. Link (German, MdlI)

The first issue of Closure, a new comics studies journal from Kiel, has been published and is available online. Link (German, MdlI)

Daumenkino, an online film magazine, has published a series of essays on comics-to-film adaptations. Link (German, MdlI)



From the 5th to the 7th December, the city of Matosinhos will be hosting Comic Con Portugal, the first mega-event of pop culture. The program includes a range of national and international artists. Link (English & Portuguese, RR)

On the 21st November, João Amaral published the comic book, A Viagem do Elefante (The travel of the elephant). The book consists of the comics version of the book with the same title by well-known Portuguese author José Saramago. Link (12/11/2014, Portuguese, RR)



The first edition of ICE Comic Con took place in Bucharest. It featured American and European cartoonists, as well as workshops, exhibitions, gaming and cosplay competitions. Link (English, MP)



The exhibition Francisco Ibáñez, el mago del humor, which explores the work of the most successful Spanish comics author, is being shown at Círculo de Bellas Artes (Madrid) from the 21st October until the 18th January 2015. Link (20/10/2014, Spanish, EdRC)

The 15th edition of Encuentro del cómic y la Ilustración de Sevilla, which includes talks, exhibitions and workshops, will take place between November and December in Sevilla. Link (15/11/2014, Spanish, EdRC)

Juan Díaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido have been awarded 2014’s Premio Nacional del Cómic (National Comics Prize) for their album Blacksad 5: Amarillo. Link (11/11/2014, English, EdRC)

Black is Beltza, a multimodal exhibition project about the comic of the same name, written by Herkaitz Cano and Jorge Alderete, is being shown at La Alhóndiga, Bilbao, from the 13th November until the 2nd February 2015. Link (05/11/2014, Spanish, EdRC)

Paco Roca. Dibujante ambulante, an exhibition about the work of Paco Roca, is being shown at Fundación Telefónica, Madrid, from the 20th November until the 15th February 2015. Link (10/11/2014, Spanish, EdRC)

Antonio Altarriba and Iosu Mitxelena will be hosting Cómic. Tertulia literaria, a cycle of conferences and analysis of major contemporary international comics from October 2014 to June 2015 in San Sebastian. Link (20/10/2014, Spanish/Basque, EdRC)

Issue 110 of the literature magazine, Peonza, is dedicated to international graphic novels. Link (22/11/2014, Spanish, EdRC)


El cómic: nueva y poderosa herramienta en ética y comunicación, a seminar about the role of comics in medicine and ethics took place on the 12th November at the University of Zaragoza. Link (12/11/2014, Spanish, EdRC)


Javier Mesón has started a crowd-funding project to self-publish Historia de un gángster sin alma, a book about the famous Spanish comic Torpedo. Link (25/11/2014, Spanish, EdRC)

Manga: Made in Japan, the eleventh and last volume of the encyclopedic Del tebeo al manga. Una historia de los comics, by Antonio Guiral, has been published and was presented on the 21st November. Link (18/11/2014, Spanish, EdRC)



Forbidden Planet report on Thought Bubble 2014. Link (26/11/2014, English, WG)


The University of Dundee has advertised places for AHRC-funded PhD studentships available in English. Specifying research proposals relative to Comics Studies, applications are due by the 22nd December. Link (14/11/2014, English, WG)


The Inaugural Lecture of Professor Laurence Grove, “How to Get Away with Reading Comics in an Ancient University”, will take place on the 17th December at 5.15pm in The Humanity Lecture Theatre, University of Glasgow. Details can be found through the link under the “Inaugural Lectures” tab. Link (English, WG)

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News Editor: Will Grady (

Correspondents: Jessica Bauwens-Sugimoto (JBS, Japan), Michele Brittany (MB, North America), Enrique del Rey Cabero (EdRC, Spain), William Grady (WG, UK), Martin de la Iglesia (MdlI, Austria & Germany), Mihaela Precup (MP, Romania), Renatta Rafaella (RR, Portugal), Lise Tannahill (LTa, Belgium & France).

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Posted by on 2014/12/04 in News Review


Comics Forum 2014: Lineup


Coming up at Comics Forum 2014 on Thursday-Friday next week, we have a fantastic lineup of speakers! Our keynote speech will be delivered on Thursday afternoon by Professor Jane Chapman, and we look forward to welcoming a host of other top speakers to Leeds Central Library for two days of fascinating talks on violence. See below for the full list of speakers.


Jane Chapman: ‘Unspoken Violence: Redefining of Cultural Record, 1914-18′

Kat Lombard-Cook Structural Subversion: Violence Against the Comics Form Roger Sabin Ally Sloper meets Jack the Ripper: comedy and violence in late 19th century London Alex Link Scales of Violence, Scales of Justice, and Nate Powell’s Any Empire Christopher J. Thompson “Boiled or Fried, Dennis?” Understanding the displacement of violence in ‘Dennis the Menace and Gnasher’ Olivia Rohan Onomatopoeia as an agent of violence in manga: multimodality and translation strategies in battle manga and horror manga Penelope Mendonça Drawing difficult truths; how can a humorous graphic novel include violence during pregnancy? Cameron Fletcher Censorship and the Control of Violent Comics: The Code of the West Dan Smith Architecture, Violence and Hope: A Visitor’s Guide to Mega City One Malin Bergström Will Eisner and the Art of War: The Role of Educational Comics within the American Defence Industry Bradley Reeder The life and death of the city in Watchmen Enrique del Rey Cabero Violence and memory: the role of comics in portraying the Spanish Civil War and the Francoist repression Kevin Chiat “The Curse of Superman”: Humanism, Masculinity and Violence in the Superman Mythos Harriet EH Earle The Whites of their Eyes: Implied Violence and Double Frames in Blazing Combat and The ‘Nam Kwasu David Tembo 72 Votes: A Death in the Family as Mimetic Crisis Mihaela Precup “I think we’re maybe more or less safe here”: Communities under Siege during the Lebanese Civil War in Zeina Abirached’s A Game for Swallows Kevin J. Wanner In a World of Super-Violence, Can Pacifism Pack a Punch? Examining the Theme of the Pacifist Superhero through the Character of Wonder Man in Marvel’s Uncanny Avengers Joan Ormrod Women on the Edge: Unruly Bodies, spectacle and violence post 9/11


Brett Elhoffer The Yellow Peril Meets Superman: Depictions of the Chinese in 20th century American Comic Books Ian Horton No More Heroes Anymore? Representations of Violence in British War Comics of the 1970s Laurike in ‘t Veld The Depiction of Sexual Violence in Genocide Comics Ester Szép Trauma Theories and Joe Sacco’s Comics About Iraq Nicola Streeten The comics form and the ambivalence of sexual violence Jörn Ahrens Bring the War Back Home: Reflecting Violence in DMZ Louisa Parker (Una) Autobiographical Content and the Legacy of Artemisia, or Why Should We Care If Someone Was Raped? Joseph Willis Pushing Back the Apocalypse: Violence as Identity and Rebellion in the Post-Apocalyptic Julia Round Misty: Gothic for Girls in British Comics Fabio Mourilhe Practice of subjectivity in 300 Anna Madill Intimidating men: Patriarchal violence in Korean shonen-ai Let Dai Lynn Fotherington, Kieron Gillen and Stephen Hodkinson Story-telling, Historicity and the Depiction of Violence in Three – a conversation Jeffrey John Barnes To See What You Won’t Hear: Violence in Palestinian Arab Political Cartoons from the British Mandate through the Present Hugo Frey Adapting Jean-Patrick Manchette’s Le Petit bleu de la côte ouest (1977): the Comparative Politics of Cinema and Graphic Novel Re-interpretations Orla Lehane Animating “The Troubles”: Northern Ireland in Troubled Souls (1989) Ria Uhlig Violence in French graphzines Olga Kopylova Violence against violence? (Self-)destruction and plausibility of revenge in the manga Gankutsuō Paul Williams Violence, Regression and Therapeutic Narcissism in Jules Feiffer’s Tantrum (1979) Laura A. Pearson Seeing (in) Red: Reading Intersections of Violence in Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas’s Red: A Haida Manga


Tickets for Comics Forum 2014 are priced as follows:

1 day pass (13th or 14th): £10

2 day pass (13th and 14th): £20

4 day pass (two day Comics Forum pass + 2 day Thought Bubble Convention pass (SRP £24)): £40 (save £4!)

To register, simply email with your name and how many tickets you’d like.

Comics Forum 2014 is supported by: Thought Bubble, the University of Chichester, Dr Mel Gibson and Molakoe.


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News Review: October 2014




Nancy Pedri at Memorial University is seeking an MA student and a PhD student who are interested in working on comics and/or photography in literature. Those interested in this funding opportunity should apply by the 15th January 2015 for a September 2015 admission. Link (English, WG)


The Department of English at the University of Calgary invites applications for a tenure-track position at the rank of Assistant Professor, in Children’s Literature and/or Young Adult Literature. The position explicitly seeks a secondary research and teaching area in “graphic novels.” Link (08/10/2014, English, WG)

The English Department at the University of Windsor is seeking a Cartoonist-in-Residence for fall 2015 (September-December). Link (English, WG)


There is a call for papers for the annual conference of the Canadian Society for the Study of Comics, taking place at the Toronto Reference Library on the 7th and 8th May 2015. The deadline for submissions is the 15th December. Link (English/French, WG)

United States


Diamond News reported that Marvel’s Death of Wolverine #1 and #2 took the top two spots for September total unit sales invoiced. Batman Future’s End #1 from DC rounded out the top spots. Link (English, MB)

Batman: Death of the Family Book & The Joker Mask Set (DC) took the top spot for Diamond News’ Top 100 Graphic Novels, based on total unit sales invoiced for the month of September. Forever Evil and Yu-Gi-Oh! 5DS Volume 6 were second and third respectively. Link (English, MB)


Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, Congressman John Lewis, Nate Powell and Andrew Aydin will discuss the movement and the graphic memoir, March, which tells Congressman Lewis’ experience. The event is free and is being held at the Archie M. Griffin East Ballroom at The Ohio State University on the 15th November. Link (English, MB)


The International Comic Arts Forum is being held between the 13th and 15th November at the Bill Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum at The Ohio State University in Columbus. The keynote speaker is Dr. Bart Beaty and attendance is free. Link (English, MB)

Historian and New Yorker writer Jill Lepore has penned the book The Secret History of Wonder Woman, published recently by Knopf. In it, she discusses newly found private papers of William Moulton Marston, the creator of Wonder Woman and seeks to tie Marston’s superheroine with that of the feminist movement of the 20th century. Link (English, MB)

There is a call for papers for the conference, Queers & Comics, taking place at the City University of New York between the 7th and 8th May 2015. Link (English, WG)




The ACME Comics Research Group at the University of Liège has announced the launch of its scholarly book series.The two titles published to date include: La bande dessinée en dissidence. Alternative, indépendance, auto-édition / Comics in Dissent: Alternative, Independence, Self-Publishing, edited by Christophe Dony, Tanguy Habrand & Gert Meesters; and Mythologies du superhéros. Histoire, physiologie, géographie, intermédialités, edited by François-Emmanuël Boucher, Sylvain David & Maxime Prévost. Link (English/French, WG)



Jean-Claude Fournier, best known as the artist behind Spirou from 1969-79, has been made a chevalier of the French Order of Arts and Letters. Link (11/10/2014, French, LTa)

A new Corto Maltese album will be published in October 2015, 20 years after the death of the series’ creator Hugo Pratt. Link 1 (06/10/2014, French, LTa), Link 2 (07/10/2014, French, LTa)



CAMP, a new “comics, illustration and trivial culture” magazine, is launched by Edition Alfons on the 12th November. Link (02/10/2014, German, MdlI)


Josh Elder gave a talk on Reading With Pictures in Berlin on the 21st October. Link (09/10/2014, German, MdlI)

A comics exhibition on childhood in the German Democratic Republic, including works by Flix, Mawil and others, opened in Berlin on the 1st November and runs until the 22nd November. Link (13/10/2014, German, MdlI)

An Uli Knorr exhibition is shown in Munich from the 16th October 2014 until the 3rd February 2015. Link (23/10/2014, German, MdlI)


The Roland Faelske awards 2014 go to Beeke Hadeler and Jochen Ecke for their respective comics-related thesis. Link (27/10/2014, German, MdlI)

The “Holocaust im Comic” exhibition in Bochum is accompanied by a lecture series from the 6th November 2014 until the 29th January 2015. Link (30/10/2014, German, MdlI)



The Library of Odivelas (Biblioteca Municipal D. Dinis) is hosting an exhibition titled “O fantástico na obra Eternus 9 – Um Filho do Cosmos” (The fantastic in Eternus 9 – A cosmos son). The exhibition is dedicated to the work of Victor Mesquita, and featured the author and some other illustrators and authors talking about their projects, their life, and their techniques of making comics. Link (22/10/2014, Portuguese, RR)

The Art Center of São João da Madeira is organising a comics workshop guided by Sofia Neto, alongside an annual course of comics. The workshop will take place on the 1st November in Oliva Creative Factory, whereas the course will begin on the 5th November. Link (Portuguese, RR)

From the 10th October until the 31st December, the bedeteca of Beja will be hosting an exhibition titled “Notícias da frente” (Early News), dedicated to works that portray some scenes from WWI and the following hundred years. Link (15/10/2014, Portuguese, RR)


The third edition of CONFIA has released its call for papers. Those interested are instructed to submit a full paper in English or in Portuguese by the 31st December. The conference will take place in Braga, between the 10th and 12nd April 2015. Link (01/10/2014, English & Portuguese, RR)



A new publishing house specialising in Spanish comics, Grafito Editorial, has been created. Link (01/10/2014, English, EdRC)

Planeta de Agostini Comics, the biggest comics publisher in Spain, has been renamed as Planeta Comics. Link (18/10/2014, Spanish, EdRC)


Komikigunea, a new public library with a collection of more than 30,000 documents (including comics, fanzines and comics studies material), is now open to the public in Donostia. Link (09/10/2014, Spanish, EdRC)

Spanish comic artists Juan Díaz Canales and Rubén Pellejero have been announced as the authors of the new album of Corto Maltese, which will be released in October 2015 (the last one was published in 1988). Link (07/10/2014, English, EdRC)

Spanish comic specialist Yexus hosted a conference about the history of comics in Cantabria (a region in the north of Spain) at Ateneo de Santander on the 21st October. Link (21/10/2014, Spanish, EdRC)


The UNED, the National Spanish Open University, is organising a university seminar called “Una mirada antropológica al mundo de la viñeta”. It will take place in Gran Canaria (and online) from the 3rd to the 14th November. Link (01/10/2014, Spanish. EdRC)



A Joost Swarte exhibition is shown at Cartoonmuseum Basel from the 15th November 2014 until the 23rd February 2015. Link (06/10/2014, German, MdlI)



Plymouth University is hosting an exhibition on Pat Mills and Joe Colquhoun’s Charley’s War, taking place between the 3rd and 14th November. On the 4th November, Mills will be giving a talk on the series in the Levinsky Building (same venue as the exhibition), at 7pm. Link (English, WG)

Additional information on the exhibition, Southeast Asian Comics, taking place at The Proud Archivist – Library, London, between the 24th October and 2nd November (reported on last month), can be found on the Facebook page. Link (English, LCT)

Downthetubes has published a photo review of Dundee Comics Day 2014, which took place at the University of Dundee in October. Link (02/11/2014, English, WG)

*                    *                    *

News Editor: Will Grady (

Correspondents: Michele Brittany (MB, North America), Enrique del Rey Cabero (EdRC, Spain), William Grady (WG, UK), Martin de la Iglesia (MdlI, Germany & Switzerland), Renatta Rafaella (RR, Portugal), Lise Tannahill (LTa, France), Lim Cheng Tju (LCT, UK).

Click here for News Review correspondent biographies.

Click here to see the News Review archive.

Suggestions for articles to be included in the News Review can be sent to Will Grady at the email address above.

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Posted by on 2014/11/04 in News Review


The Bi-Monthly ComFor Update: October 2014 by Laura Oehme

Just like my predecessors, Stephan Packard and Lukas Wilde, I will use this fifth column of the German Society for Comics Studies (ComFor) in order to briefly summarize the latest news from the German comics studies scene. While all scholars seem to have been enjoying their summer break in August, September sounded the bell for a highly interesting fall season, full of conferences, festivals, and exhibitions.

Conferences, Workshops, Symposiums

Germany’s capital appears to have become the current hub of comics studies events, starting with the undisputed highlight of this year’s midsummer: the ninth annual conference of the German Society for Comics Studies. For four days (September 25–28), German and international comics scholars from various disciplines gathered at the Humboldt University in Berlin. Under the motto “Drawing Boundaries, Crossing Borders,” they discussed the transgressive potential of comics and their academic study. Whether media or genre conventions, geographical or political borders, the limits of medium or imagination – comics are bound to break them. The ComFor conference featured renowned comic scholars such as Roger Sabin, Neil Cohn or Michael Chaney and numerous established ComFor members, but also young scholars who are only beginning to explore the field of comics studies. Furthermore, participants were able to enjoy an exhibition by the Black Kirby artist group, an open forum that brought academia, publishers and artists together, and they also learned the latest news about Closure, the first German online journal for comics studies. Speaking of Closure, the editorial team announced at the conference that the first issue of the journal will be available on their brand new website by November 5th. Also during the annual conference, the new and improved ComFor website was released. Thanks to the new calender tool and a general bilingualism, it is now easier than ever before to stay informed about the most important events and publications concerning comics studies in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

On September 26th, simultaneously to the ComFor conference, two other events took place in Berlin: the symposium “Grenzenlos: Comics im Unterricht”, where participants discussed how comics may be integrated into the curriculum, and the special training “Comics in Bibliotheken” for librarians. Both events are proof of increasing acceptance and acknowledgement of comics, not only in academia but also in the public sphere.

In mid-September, the research group “Digital and Cognitive Approaches to Graphic Narrative,” represented by Alexander Dunst and Jochen Laubrock, hosted the workshop “Empirical Approaches to Comics” in Berlin. Aiming to bring together American Studies and Cognitive Psychology, the workshop included talks by internationally acclaimed comics scholars such as Neil Cohn and Karin Kukkonen. Researchers Alexander Dunst and Rita Hartel also used the workshop to present a browser-based WYSIWYG-editor that allows for the easy commenting of scanned comic book pages on the basis of John A. Walsh’s “Comic Book Markup Language” (CBML). Even more complicated layouts, like those of Chris Ware, seem to work fine with algorithmic recognition of frames, balloons and characters.

Early this October, the “AG Comicforschung” – a research group for comics studies within the German Society for Media Studies (GfM), which Lukas already introduced in his April update – was represented at the annual GfM conference with a panel on “Comics and Law”. Comics scholars Jakob F. Dittmar, Andreas Rauscher, and Hans-Joachim Backe addressed three dimensions of how law and/or justice figure in comics and the discourses surrounding them. Their papers investigated the fine line between plagiarism and appropriation in the process of making comics, the issue of authorship in the comics industry, and the aesthetic dimensions of the discourse(s) on justice in revisionist superhero comics.


Two important German publications in the field of comics studies this summer are an essay collection and a special journal issue. The volume Bildlaute & Laute Bilder: Zur “Audiovisualität” von Bilderzählungen (Image Sounds & Loud Images: About the “Audiovisuality” of Picture Stories), edited by Christian A. Bachmann, collects essays that deal with the intermedial strategies of making sound visible in the works of Carl Barks, Lyonel Feininger, Winsor McCay, Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Chris Ware, and many more. In August, a special “Comics” issue of the weekly journal supplement Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte (Politics and Contemporary History) was published by the Federal Agency for Civic Education. The 56-page booklet, which features contributions by internationally renowned scholars like Thierry Groensteen and many ComFor members, can easily be ordered or downloaded from the agency’s website.


On September 14th, the fourth Graphic Novel Day took place as part of the International Literature Festival in Berlin. The festival is best known for last year’s release of the “comic manifesto.” This year, the four discussion rounds featured representatives from the German and European comics scene. Only four days later, the International Graphic Novel Salon at the Hamburg Instituto Cervantes invited comic artists Philippe Ôtiè, Gabriella Giandelli, Sohyun Jung, and Alfonso Zapico, who came together to talk about their current graphic novels. Soon after, the Comicfestival Hamburg (October 2–5) took place for the eight time and again focused on European independent comics. Among the special focus areas this year were the Finnish comics scene, Luke Pearson, Till Thomas, Hamburg artist groups, the First World War, and the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Last but not least, this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair (October 8–12) eliminated its traditional “Comic Center,” and instead incorporated various comics-related events into the general program. Among them were comic book readings, exhibitions, the finale of the German Cosplay Championship 2014, and the German Cartoon Prize.


Finally, and instead of elaborating on the numerous comics-related exhibitions that took place during the summer or are still ongoing, I would like to draw your attention to an upcoming show. For the first time, the travelling exhibition “Holocaust in Comics” will be hosted by the university library in Bochum. From October 23rd until the end of January 2015, visitors can see examples of comics that grapple with the representation of the Holocaust, as well as numerous original drawings on the topic by German comic artists completely free of charge. The exhibition was originally put together by Ralf Palandt in 2001 and is now curated in Bochum by Nina Heindl and Véronique Sina. It will be accompanied by an interdisciplinary lecture series entitled “Representations of the Holocaust”, which investigates the negotiation of the Holocaust beyond the medium of comics. By the way, an exhaustive overview of past and future exhibitions can be easily achieved by a new German information portal for comics by the name of “Dreimalalles,” which only took off in July and features a very convenient calender tool. More updates from the German Society for Comics Studies in December!

Laura Oehme, M.A. is currently writing her doctoral thesis on “Risk Technologies and Global Catastrophe in Contemporary Science Fiction Comics” in the field of American Studies at the University of Bayreuth, where she also works as a research assistant. She is a member of the German Society for Comics Studies (ComFor), as well as the AG Comicforschung, and is part of the editorial team of the ComFor website. Together with Jeanne Cortiel, she has written an article on “The Dark Knight’s Dystopian Vision: Batman, Risk, and American National Identity,” which is forthcoming in the European Journal of American Studies.

Click here for previous editions of the Bi-Monthly ComFor Update.

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Posted by on 2014/10/31 in ComFor Updates


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