by Nina Heindl
The first half of 2016 has passed and it is time for a new bi-monthly update on comics studies-related news from Germany. Let me start with one of the biggest and certainly one of the highlights regarding comics-related events in Germany, the 17th Erlangen International Comic-Salon, which took place from May 26 to 29. A central part of the Comic-Salon is the trade fair with more than 150 exhibitors. Among the many simultaneous exhibitions was one dedicated to manga artist Jiro Taniguchi, one about comics and satire in Turkey, and one on Indian comics. As in past years, the ComFor contributed a lecture series to the supporting program. Organized by Clemens Heydenreich, five comics scholars gave talks on different aspects of the general topic “Drawn Borderline Walks. Comic Culture(s) Internationally”. The webcomic initiative Comic Solidarity also had an astonishing program, entitled “Webcomic in Focus” and directed by Lukas R.A. Wilde and organized by Eva Junker, with talks, discussions, workshops on digital comics, and book-signing sessions.
Half time for 2016 also means time for a new issue of the German online journal for comics studies “Closure”. Issue no. 2.5, like all half-year issues, is dedicated to reviews of primary material and secondary literature. Moreover, the new category “ComicKontext” takes a closer look at comics and their didactic dimensions. Comics in didactics and comics in school are topics that will continue to be of concern to German comics studies this year. 2016’s annual ComFor conference will be held from November 16th to 19th at the University of Duisburg-Essen and will also focus on didactics and comics in school. Organized by Markus Engelns alongside Ulrike Preußer and Clemens Kammler, there will be workshops, talks, and discussions on the topic. A detailed announcement on the specific program will soon be available on the ComFor website.
But before we take a closer look into the near future, I would like to mention a comics workshop that took place recently: From May 26 to 27, the working group ““Weiter sehen. Dresdener Beiträge zur interdisziplinären Serienforschung” and the ERC research group “The Principle of Disruption” hosted the workshop “The Walking Dead und die Hölle der Serialität” at the TU Dresden. The workshop focused on seriality and different concepts of post-humanity, politics, and social constructs.
Besides the Erlangen Comic-Salon, many more (mostly smaller in scale but nevertheless) terrific festivals and cultural events involving comics took place over the past few months. It’s a natural course of action to mention the 5th annual Graphic Novel Days in Hamburg in this context, which took place from May 9 to 12. Furthermore, the symposium “Worlds Collide – When Comics verfilmt werden” (“Worlds Collide – When Comics become Films”) took place from June 17 to 16 as part of the 1st Mannheim design festival “Uncover.” In Erlangen, Barbara Yelin was awarded the Max & Moritz Prize 2016 as Best German-language Comic Artist. A few weeks earlier, Uli Oesterle received the Comicbuchpreis of the Berthold Leibinger Stiftung for his comic “Vatermilch” (Father’s Milk).
There are also diverse exhibitions on comics and comic art in Germany beyond the aforementioned festivals. Just to pick some of a wide range, in Frankfurt just started an exhibition on pioneers of the comic strip at the Schirn gallery. Together with the ongoing exhibition on Richard Mc Guire’s “Here” at the Museum for Applied Arts () Frankfurt currently has a lot to offer for comics fans. In Hamburg the “Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe” presents its rich collection of Japanese woodcuts, contemporary manga, anime and video games. Another exhibition, that I am really excited about, is the one hosted from June 11 to July 2 at the Coelln Comic Haus about Belgian Independent Comics. For an overview on comics exhibitions in Germany, I’d like to recommend Christian Maiwald’s formidable calendar at dreimalalles.info.
So much from my compact ComFor Update for June 2016. For the second six months of the year, we can again expect plenty of interesting conferences, lectures, festivals and exhibitions. Besides the annual ComFor meeting in November, which I already mentioned, there will be a comic-specific panel and workshop at the annual meeting of the German Society of Media Studies at the end of September, and an exciting conference entitled “Ästhetik des Gemachten in Animation und Comic – Interdisziplinäres Symposium deutschsprachiger Animations- und Comicforschung” hosted by the AG Comicforschung (Comics Studies Working Group) and the AG Animation (Animation Working Group) of the German Society of Media Studies in November. Expect an update on these events on the AG’s website.
Nina Heindl, M.A., is on the editing board of the website of the German Society of Comic Studies (ComFor) and a member of the Comic Studies Working Group of the German Society for Media Studies (GfM). She is a doctoral candidate at the department for art history at the Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany. Her dissertation project is about artistic forms of comics based on Chris Ware’s oeuvre and is funded by the RUB Research School PLUS. Recent publications on comics: “Becoming Aware of One’s Own Biased Attitude: The Observer’s Encounter with Disability in Chris Ware’s Acme Novelty Library No. 18” In: The Review of Disability Studies. An International Journal (2014:10.3&4), pp. 40–51; “Die leisen Bildlaute des Chris Ware. Wirk- und Seinsweisen von Sprechblasen und Onomatopöien” In: Christian Bachmann (ed.): Bildlaute und laute Bilder. Zur ‚Audiovisualität‘ von Bilderzählungen, Berlin 2014, pp. 149–168.