by Laura Oehme
Following up on Nina’s update from October, I am providing the sixth and last ComFor update on current developments in German comics studies for 2015. However, before I concentrate on the last two months of 2015 in Germany, I would like to point out that the first academic position for “Graphic Fiction and Comic Art” (connected to a PhD program) at Lancaster University also attracted much interest with the German press. The professorship marks a milestone in comics studies worldwide and, hopefully, the beginning of a trend, as the Scottish University of Dundee also uploaded a job advertisment for a lecturer in comics studies. It is still a long way to an interdisciplinary department solely dedicated to comics studies, but every little step counts. Congratulations to French graphic novelist Benoît Peeters for his appointment are in order!
Conferences, Workshops, Symposiums
Since the fall season for conferences has already passed, the last two months of 2015 brought only a few academic events focusing on comics to light. On November 24, ComFor member Daniel Stein organized a workshop with Björn Hammel titled “Mediamorphose: Die mediale Transformation der Graphic Novel TearTalesTrust” (“Mediamorphosis: The Medial Transformation of the Graphic Novel TearTalesTrust”) at the University of Siegen. A few days later, on November 27–28, an interdisciplinary student conference on “The Rise of Sequential History: Historische Comics in Theorie und Praxis” (Historical Comics in Theory and in the Field) took place at the LMU in Munich. On December 4, the University of Kiel hosted a study day on “Comic & Kunstgeschichte” (Comics & Art History). I would also like to mention the new PhD program “Die Arbeit und ihre Subjekte” (Work and its Subjects) at the University of Duisburg-Essen that explicitly touted for comics projects, for which applicants were able to get funding for three years beginning in 2016.
In November, the second issue of the very first German-language e-journal for comics studies Closure was released. It focuses on “the dark side” of comics, introduces the new category “ComicKontext,” and includes articles and reviews by numerous ComFor members. Additionally, as every December, two classical yearbooks went into print: Deutsche Comicforschung 2016, edited by Eckart Sackmann, and the Comic-Jahrbuch 2016 of ICOM, edited by Burkhard Ihme. Furthermore, Julia Abel and Christian Klein edited one of the first German-language introductions to comics and graphic novels with J.B. Metzler (Comics und Graphic Novels: Eine Einführung). It covers a wide area of disciplinary perspectives and features contributions by eight ComFor members.
Comics are slowly finding their way into more and more festivals and October and November 2015 have been very fertile months for comics at festivals all over Germany. From October 8 to 11, the worldwide biggest trade fair for nonelectronic games, the Spiel in Essen, featured with the “Comic Action 2015” a special section devoted to comic artists, publishers, and distributors. On the same weekend, Hamburg hosted its ninth comic festival. This year’s Frankfurt Book Fair (October 14–18) dedicated a special area and program to comics again, although both are usually clearly dominated by manga and cosplay. However, the independent group of artists Comic Solidarity organized an autonomous comic festival called “Comic Satellit Frankfurt” (see also this article from the Frankfurter Neue Presse) that focused on web comics and took place from October 15 to 18. The eighth Anime and Manga Convention (MMC) in Berlin opened its gates from October 23 to 25 and, for the first time, also welcomed other comic forms than manga. From October 23 to November 1, Freiburg held its second biennal “Festival für Illustration”(Festival for Illustrations). In November, Cologne hosted the first “Comicfestival Köln”(November 12–14), which featured well-known German comics artists, such as Flix and Ralf König, as well as young talents, workshops, discussions, and presentations. Another festival première took place in Dortmund where the first German Comic Con was held from December 2 to 4, 2015.
In the context of the “Comicfestival Hamburg,” fans could inspect several exhibitions of comic art within only one week (October 3–9). In September, two exhibitions were opened: one with the works of Line Hoven in Ottobrunn (September 23–October 24) and the “Duckomenta” in Mannheim (September 13–April 24). Furthermore, Berlin offered two comic exhibitions until early January 2016: “Redrawing Stories from the Past” (November 6–January 10) and “Comics, Bilder und Geschichten” (December 5–January 9).
In 2016, we can be looking forward to many more great comics events. Among them the annual media studies winter school in Tübingen (February), the 17th International Comic Salon in Erlangen (May), possibly another panel of the AG Comicforschung at the annual conference of the German Society for Media Studies in Berlin (October), the annual conference of the ComFor at the University of Duisburg-Essen (November), and many many more. I hope you all had restful holidays and on behalf of the ComFor’s online editorial team and the society as a whole, I wish you a happy new year, full of great new comics and fascinating comics research!
Laura Oehme, M.A. is currently writing her dissertation 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 in the DFG-funded project “Contemporary American Risk Fiction.” 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” (European Journal of American Studies).