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Author Archives: Annick Pellegrin

The Bi-Monthly ComFor Update for February 2017

By Lukas R. A. Wilde

The ComFor editorial team concluded the last year – which already feels like ages ago – with a more detailed self-introduction of our new staff and started off again with the 2016/17 installment of comic book reading recommendations by some of ComFor’s members. Shortly after, an extensive and long-awaited ComFor-publication was released by the Christian A. Bachmann publishing house: Comics an der Grenze. Sub/Versionen von Form und Inhalt [Comics Crossing Borders. Sub/versions of Form and Content], edited by Matthias Harbeck, Marie Schröer and Linda Heyden. This collection of 25 articles (with a sensational cover illustration by Paul Paetzel) collects some of the papers presented at ComFor’s 9th annual conference held in Berlin in 2014. Scholars from various fields question, on the one hand, the many medial, cultural, national, generic and disciplinary boundaries that are crossed by comics as a form, as well as, on the other hand, the representations of threshold conditions of gender, bodies and borders within individual works. Five of the contributions are in English, including a must-read conversation with Black Kirby (an artist collective comprised of John Jennings and Stacey ‘Blackstar’ Robinson) that created a spectacular exhibition on the intersections of Black history, AfroFuturism and comic book culture.

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Posted by on 2017/02/15 in ComFor Updates

 

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The Bi-Monthly ComFor Update for October 2016

by Stephan Packard

 

It has been a comparatively quiet summer for comics studies in Germany, but that is about to change with autumn, as several conferences, exhibitions and projects get back into gear.

The German Society for Comics Studies’ (ComFor) annual conference will be held in Essen this year from November 16th to 19th. Dedicated to the use of comics in schools—teaching comics and teaching other subjects through comics—the conference takes up an array of topics that have attracted increasing attention for the last several years. The conference starts with the popular workshop format, in which comics scholars present ongoing and planned projects for joint discussion and feedback. For this year’s topic, many of these presentations will be from young scholars studying to be teachers; they will consider possible uses of comics in school settings. During the next three days, speakers will examine several dimensions of comics’ didactic uses and challenges, from issues of mediality and materiality through visual literacy and language acquisition, on to philosophical and historical treatments in comics to specific didactic programs and projects. As always, anyone interested in the topic is welcome to join in the discussion; see full program and information about registration here.

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Posted by on 2016/10/08 in ComFor Updates

 

Review: Take It as a Compliment by Maria Stoian

By Harriet Earle

 

Winner of the 2016 SICBA Best Graphic Novel Award and the Independent Publisher’s 2016 Outstanding Book of the Year Independent Spirit Award.

Unfortunately, it’s probably happened to all of us. We find ourselves in a situation that does not feel quite right—perhaps it was a stranger on the bus standing uncomfortably close or a sense of being followed when walking home in the late evening. Unfortunately, it’s probably happened to a large number of us that we’ve been in situations far more dangerous. Sexual harassment and assault exists on a scale and it is wrong to suggest that the ‘lower’ end of the scale should be dismissed. Often, such actions are dismissed and victims are told to ‘take it as a compliment’, a grim suggestion when we consider how uncomfortable and personally violated these behaviours can make us feel. The issue of sexual harassment and assault have become of increasing importance in the social conversation of the 21st century but often the focus is on men targeting women and ignores the wider issue of female-to-male and same-sex harassment. Enter Maria Stoian’s 2016 comic Take It as a Compliment. Taking that horrible yet common phrase as its title, this not really Stoian’s story—it’s a collective memoir of sexual assault, created by survivors and filtered through Stoian’s artwork.

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Review: At War with Yourself: A Comic about Post-Traumatic Stress and the Military by Samuel C. Williams

Review: At War with Yourself: A Comic about Post-Traumatic Stress and the Military by Samuel C. Williams

By Harriet Earle

 

In my last review for Comics Forum, I asked my father to give his opinion on two medical education comics. As a non-scholar and an infrequent reader, I thought he would be able to offer a different perspective and he may be a better representative of the target audience than me, someone who practically eats comics for breakfast. For this review, I asked for his help again, partly because of his ‘lay status’ but also because he is a retired RAF officer and the topic of Samuel C. Williams’ At War with Yourself is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in a retired soldier, his friend Matt. PTSD is a relatively recent and hotly contested condition; it entered the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1980 and since then has been a staple in pop culture representations of returning veterans, plagued with nightmares and hair-trigger alertness. However, this representation is not only largely incorrect, it is also very unhelpful to those with the condition.

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Posted by on 2016/09/02 in Comics Forum 2016, Reviews

 

Review: Trauma is Really Strange and Pain is Really Strange by Steve Haines, with art by Sophie Standing

By Harriet Earle

 

The titles of these books do not lie; both trauma and pain are really strange. Indeed, it is in their strangeness that both of these common phenomena find their power. We do not know much about them (comparatively speaking) and their diagnosis and treatment is neither standardised nor, oftentimes, effective. However, as with so much in life, knowing is half the battle and being able to understand the basics of a condition can lead to more effective self-management, if not multi-levelled treatment by medical professionals. That’s where these two books come in. Bodyworker and fervent advocate of a number of alternative treatments Steve Haines has worked with illustrator Sophie Standing to create two accessible and plain-speaking guides to pain and trauma. The result? Nothing short of excellent.

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