by Stephan Packard
For comics studies in the German speaking parts of the world, the last two months of this year were dominated by two major conferences.
On the one hand, the annual ComFor conference took place in early December. Hosted for the first time at Bonn University, the conference focused on Comics and their Popularity. With this topic, organisers Joachim Trinkwitz and Rolf Lohse brought the continuously expanding discussion in the German Society for Comics Studies back to some aspects that had almost been neglected in several years of research, as the discipline had moved towards perspectives on advanced, avant-garde and aesthetically unique comics. This year returned our attention to the art form as a decisively popular genre and thus revisited questions of seriality, popularity, ideology and culture industry. Beginning with the by now traditional open workshop for planned and ongoing research, the conference then moved on to discussing practices of identity, political and ideological aspects, discourses of cultural legitimacy, facets of authorship and finally the concept of the popular itself. In their keynote lectures, Julia Round (Bournemouth) and Martin Lund (Växjo/New York) discussed canonicity and aestheticism in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman and the popular propaganda of Jack T. Chick’s ‘chick tracts’ respectively.