by Laura Oehme
As usual, July and August have been comparably quiet months for German comics studies, but there were some interesting developments nevertheless. We, the online editorial team of the German Society for Comics Studies (ComFor), still managed to publish two posts each week about conferences, publications, exhibitions, and other developments concerning comics studies in Germany with lots of information I don’t want to keep from you, starting off with some very sad and some very good news.
The very sad news reached us only days before the deadline of this column: Unfortunately, Christian Maiwald discontinues his German-language comics blog “dreimalalles”. Maiwald’s thorough documentation of anything connected to comics enriched Germany’s comics landscape tremendously and often served as a source for our own ComFor posts. In the name of the whole ComFor editorial team, I would like to take the opportunity to thank Christian Maiwald for two years of hard work and dedication to the comics community.
On a much lighter note, “Comics und Comicforschung” (“comics and comics studies”) have only recently entered the most widespread German-language classification scheme for scientific libraries, the so-called “Regensburger Verbundklassifikation” (RVK), with their own category. Following a suggestion of the ComFor, Dr. Angelika Steinmaus-Pollak (Regensburg), Matthias Harbeck (HU Berlin), and Michael Franke-Maier (FU Berlin) developed a distinct classification of comics and comics studies that spans the shelfmarks AP 88500 to AP 89999, as a subcategory of media and communication studies.
Conferences, Workshops, Symposiums
July and August had only a few academic events up their sleeves, one of them being a one-day workshop on “Uncertainty and Speculation in Contemporary American Comics” at the University of Bayreuth that I hosted myself. Held on July 15, the English-language workshop presented the climax of an American studies research seminar by the same title in which students developed their own projects only to present them in a lively poster session at the end of the semester. The workshop was complemented by contributions from Karin Kukkonen (Oslo), Jeanne Cortiel and Christine Hanke (Bayreuth), and Johannes Fehrle (Mannheim). The end of June saw the conference “Emoticons, Emoji and Kaomoji – The Transformation of Communication in the Digital Age”, which was organized by the Japanese studies department at the Free University of Berlin and featured at least one comic-related paper by our very own Lukas R.A. Wilde (Tübingen) who talked about “Japanese ‘Working Characters’ as Semiotic Hybrids of Emojis and Pictograms.”
Over the past two months, Lukas Wilde published two of his famous “Monitor” posts, which collect recent publications with relation to comics studies from (German- and English-speaking countries) all over the world, and number 24 of his publication monitors featured two new publications by German authors: First,Tim Eckhorst’s biography Gus Dirks: Käfer, Kunst & Kummer (Gus Dirks: Bugs, Art and Suffering), which was published with Christian A. Bachmann in Mai 2016 and deals with the life and works of Rudolph Dirks’ less famous younger brother. The second publication is the essay collection Novel Perspectives on German-Language Comics Studies: History, Pedagogy, Theory, which came out in June 2016 with Rowman & Littlefield and was edited by Lynn M. Kutch. Its international contributors represent a multitude of methods, subject matters, and approaches that are united by the common research object of German-language comics. While the last bi-monthly ComFor column, written by Nina Heindl, announced the opening of the Frankfurt exhibition “Pioniere des Comics” (pioneers of the comic), Lukas’ next Monitor post will feature an overview work by the same title, published by Hatje Cantz and edited by Alexander Brauna and Max Hollein.
After the big Erlangen Comic-Salon in May (again, see Nina Heindl’s last column), German comic festivals took a summer break in July and August, but I would like to point you to two supplementary services from past festivals. For one, (almost) all the talks from the ComFor lecture series at the Erlangen Comic-Salon were recorded and are now available on the “Splashcomics” YouTube channel. In a similar fashion, the Lucern University of Applied Sciences and Arts uploaded numerous interviews with renowned comic artists who participated in the symposium “Drawing as a Language” this spring. The symposium took place during the 25th edition of the International Comix-Festival Fumetto in April this year.
While everyone else take their summer holidays, German museums do not take a break from comic exhibitions. Since the beginning of July, the Wilhelm Busch Museum in Hannover shows “Lachen auf Französisch. Karikaturen von Jacques Callot bis Charlie Hebdo” (Laughing in French. Cartoons from Jacques Callot to Charlie Hebdo), which is still open to visitors until November 6, 2016. About three hundred kilometers to the southeast, the municipal museum of Gera presents a special exhibition on “Comic in der DDR” (Comics in the GDR) that takes place from August 6, 2016 to February 19, 2017. Another exhibition in Hamburg is slowly coming to a close on September 11, but not before a last guided tour through the exhibition “Raymond Pettibon. Homo Americanus” with an expert on the US-American artist. A lot more exhibitions, which were already announced in the last columns, are still under way, so that every comics enthusiast will find something to do during the summer break.
The rest of the year promises to be much more eventful with regard to comics events and comics studies. Among others, we are looking forward to the sixth Graphic Novel Day at the International Literature Festival Berlin on September 11, as well as a conference on superheroes and their religious implications at the end of September, also in Berlin. Most importantly, however, the next annual ComFor conference is coming up in November and, as Nina Heindl already announced in the last ComFor update, it will focus on comics and/in school. We will soon provide more information about the program on the ComFor website. Although the conference will not take place until after the next ComFor update, I would already like to cordially invite you to our eleventh annual meeting at the University of Duisburg-Essen. Enjoy your summer vacation and the remaining four months of a great year for comics enthusiasts!
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 published an article on “The Dark Knight’s Dystopian Vision: Batman, Risk, and American National Identity” in the open-access European Journal of American Studies.