by Laura Oehme
The summer term has started and the past two months since Julia’s update were rich in comics-related events in academia (and beyond) all over Germany. With regard to the ComFor itself, the biggest news is the new board of the society that was elected at the end of April. As part of the ComFor’s current online editorial team, I am particularly happy to see that Lukas R.A. Wilde – the longest-serving member and absolutely vital coordinator of the editorial team – has been chosen for the position of treasurer, but I am equally ecstatic about the reelection of Stephan Packard as president and the election of Véronique Sina as vice president of the society. For more information on all three board members, please see our introduction of the “ComFor’s New Managing Committee”.
Comics Studies Events
The semester started off with two talks, both given by ComFor members. The first was about the construction of gender stereotypes in comics and film (“La Femme Piège – Zur Inszenierung einer Comicheldin in Enki Bilals ‘La Triologie Nikopol’ und ‘Immortel (ad vitam)’ ”) by Véronique Sina on May 7, that was held in the context of the opening of an exhibition about hero(ine)s at the Institut Français in Mainz. About a week later, on May 15, Tilmann Courth gave a presentation on bodies in U.S. superhero comics (“GAMMA STRAHLEN: Körper im U.S. Superhelden Comic”) in the Cöln Comic Haus, Cologne. Also, only recently, the latter interviewed the former about gender roles in comics narratives and comics production; the interview was published in a special issue of the journal Comixene dedicated to the theme “Women in Comics.”
This summer, the Berlin Comic Colloquium has again put together a series of talks dealing with diverse topics within the realm of comics studies. While some of the presentations (by Jeff Thoss, Matthias Harbeck, Florian Hadler and Maria Weilandt) have already been given in April and May, Anna Beckmann’s and Thomas Greven’s contributions will soon conclude the colloquium, at least for the current semester.
In addition, on June 18, a poster session titled “Comics & Disability Studies”, organized by Véronique Sina, presented student projects from a seminar at the University of Cologne. Also, from June 18 to 19, the research group “Hybrid Narrativity” hosted an English-language “Workshop on Comics Annotation: Designing Common Frameworks for Empirical Research” with, among others, John Bateman and Neil Cohn as their guests.
18th Erlangen International Comic Salon
As already announced in the previous update, Erlangen hosted the International Comic Salon again, from May 31 to June 3. A program of academic talks on “Comics and Journalism” was organized by ComFor’s Clemens Heydenreich and some of them are now available on YouTube. The rich program of the Salon also comprised two ceremonies for the “Max und Moritz” Award and the ICOM Independent Comic Award, which bestowed prizes upon, for instance, Reinhard Kleist (“Max und Moritz” Award as Best German-language Comic Artist), Ulli Lust’s Wie ich versuchte, ein guter Mensch zu sein [How I Tried To Be A Good Person] (“Max und Moritz” Award as Best German-language Comic”), and volume 12 of the Jazam! anthology (ICOM Award as Best Independent Comic).
This May saw the publication of a special issue of the German-language online journal Closure (#4.5) about “Formen der Selbstreflexivität im Medium Comic” [“Forms of Self-reflexivity in the Comics Medium”], guest-edited by ComFor members Nina Heindl and Véronique Sina. The issue collects selected contributions to the third workshop of the AG Comicforschung [Comics Studies Working Group], which took place in March 2017. Also, an issue on “German Comics” appeared in the German Studies journal Colloquia Germanica. Edited by Lynn Kutch and ComFor member Brett Sterling, the issue is based on a number of panels from the 2015 annual conference of the German Studies Association (GSA) and features articles on comics adaptations as well as the history of comics by U.S. American as well as European comics scholars.
Regarding monographs, I am particularly happy to announce that our very own chief editor, Lukas Wilde, just published his dissertation with the Herbert von Halem publishing house. Under the title “Im Reich der Figuren: Meta-narrative Kommunikationsfiguren und die ›Mangaisierung‹ des japanischen Alltags” [“Empire of Characters: Meta-narrative Communicational Characters and the ‘Mangaization’ of Everyday Japan”], Wilde investigates the functions of iconic ‘characters’ without stories (kyara) within everyday communication of contemporary Japanese society, for whose understanding comic book and manga theory plays a particularly salient role.
Finally, I would like to point out that the Roland Faelske foundation and the University of Hamburg have again tendered the biannual Roland Faelske Award for outstanding bachelor or master theses and doctoral theses dealing with comics and/or animated film. The deadline for submissions is July 1, 2018.
Since Alexandra Hentschel, museum director of the Erika-Fuchs-Haus, has joined our online editorial team to document exhibitions in Germany that are comics-related, our website provides quite a comprehensive list that I will only hint at with a few of the currently running exhibitions: “GLÜCK AUF! Comics und Cartoons von Kumpel Anton über Jamiri bis Walter Moers” in Oberhausen (May 2–September 9, 2018); “Avengers Assemble!” in Cologne (May 5–October 28, 2018); “Simon Schwartz: Geschichtsbilder – Comics & Graphic Novels” in Erfurt (May 18–September 9, 2018); and “FIX & FOXI – Rolf Kauka, der deutsche Walt Disney, und seine Kultfüchse”, also in Oberhausen (June 10–September 9, 2018). As usual, the Erlangen International Comic Salon also featured numerous exhibitions – some of them were only open during the Salon, but some are still running.
Last but not least, we are looking forward to this year’s annual ComFor conference, which will be held on September 17–19 in Cologne. Go ahead and check out the recently released flyer and conference schedule that revolves around the general topic “Spaces Between – Gender, Diversity and Identity in Comics” and feel free to join us there in the fall!
Laura Oehme is currently writing her dissertation on risk technologies and global catastrophe in contemporary U.S. American science fiction comics at the University of Bayreuth, where she 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 titled “The Dark Knight’s Dystopian Vision: Batman, Risk, and American National Identity” in the open-access European Journal of American Studies.
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