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CfP: Graphic Realities: Comics as Documentary, History, and Journalism

Graphic Realities: Comics as Documentary, History, and Journalism

International Conference

22.-23.02.2018, Justus-Liebig-University Giessen/GCSC

While comics have traditionally been associated with fictional, especially funny and/or fantastic stories, they have in recent decades become a major vehicle for nonfiction, as well. This development coincides with a time that has been described as ‘post-truth’, in which established news media face a crisis of confidence. The turn towards comics is a turn towards a medium, which inherently promotes simplification and exaggeration. Cartoon imagery thus immediately exhibits the subjectivity of the artist and her or his interpretation – but what could be considered a hindrance towards factual reporting has become an important resource. The overt display of subjectivity and medial limitations as a show of honesty has been described as an authentication strategy of graphic nonfiction. In contrast to formats based on camera-recorded images like photography and film nonfiction comics cannot lay claim to indexing premedial reality. Rather, individual graphic styles index their own creator who as witness becomes the main authenticator. Thus, comics shift the weight of authentication from medial prerequisites towards their authors and artists and thus the textual properties referencing them. One of the questions that will be discussed at the conference is thus the relation of inherent medial properties of comics as vehicle for nonfiction. While among graphic nonfiction life

While among graphic nonfiction life writing in particular has received widespread scholarly attention, this conference will focus on recent approaches to comics as documentary, history, and journalism. As opposed to graphic memoirs in which authors reflect upon their own lives and experiences, these works focus on the lives and experiences of others. Thus, authors and artists need to do justice towards their subjects, as well as to their own experience and negotiate their own voices within their stories. This becomes especially relevant as a majority of graphic reportages centers around highly traumatizing crises and catastrophes, such as war, displacement, natural disasters, and oppression. The conference is intended to explore how authors and artists utilize the medium of comics for nonfiction and address these ‘graphic realities’.

Invited Speakers:
 Prof. Dr. Jörn Ahrens (Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen)
 Dr. Nina Mickwitz (University of the Arts London)
 Prof. Dr. Dirk Vanderbeke (Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena)
 Prof. Dr. Wibke Weber (Züricher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften
Winterthur)

Submission for talks should address one or more of the following questions:
 How is the medium of comics employed for reportage, history writing, and to report
on war, crises, and trauma?
 Which narrative and aesthetic strategies do authors and artists employ to present and
authenticate their comics as nonfiction?
 How do the genres of ‘documentary’, ‘history’, and ‘journalism’ in comics relate to
each other and how do they relate to other genres of graphic nonfiction such as ‘lifewriting’ or educational formats?
 Does the medium of comics inherently support nonfictionality, or does it depend on con- and paratexual framing practices?
 How do different ‘transfer media’ such as comic books or webcomics affect the
potential of comics for factual reporting?
 How and to what extent is nonfictionality created through intermediality, especially
with regard to more conventionally ‘factual’ media such as photography and film?
 In how far do different comics traditions differ transnationally and -culturally with
regard to their status as nonfiction?

Please submit your proposals (no longer than 300 words) for talks (20 min) and a short CV including your affiliation to graphicrealities@gcsc.uni-giessen.de until November 3rd, 2017.

The conference is organized as collaboration between the International Centre for the Study of Culture Giessen (GCSC) and the Comics Studies Working Group (AG Comicforschung) of the German Society for Media Studies (GfM) by Laura Schlichting (Justus-Liebig-University Giessen) and Johannes C. P. Schmid (University of Hamburg).

A membership in the Comics Studies Working Group is not mandatory for participation.

 
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Posted by on 2017/09/04 in ComFor Updates, General, News

 

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CFP: Comics and their Popularity

The German Society for Comics Studies (ComFor) invites abstracts for their 12th annual research conference, to be held at Bonn University, Dec 1st-3rd, 2017. Deadline: April 30th.

Please click here for a PDF with more details.

 
 

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An Interview With Dirty Rotten Comics

One of the amazing, unique and encouraging things about comics is the sense of community that is fostered across the broad range of readers and writers. It is massively refreshing to see academic readers of comics in open and equal conversation with die-hard fans, writers, artists and even ‘casual readers’. This is a form that brings people together across backgrounds. Dirty Rotten Comics is a small press anthology that seeks to be an outlet for creators of comics who are starting out and brilliant. I spoke to Kirk Campbell and Gary Clap to learn more about Dirty Rotten Comics and Throwaway Press.

HE: Tell me a little bit about you – why comics? How did you get into the publishing world?

GC: We started writing and drawing comics together back at university, with a couple of friends. We were just writing throwaway gag strips for one another, playing around with ideas and seeing who could come up with the most outrageous punchline. We did this for a few years, and over time found that we had enough material to publish. So we threw together some cheap A5 collections and toured the small press comic fairs and conventions that were around at the time. It was all fairly basic stuff but good fun nonetheless, and it was a thrill to have our comics reach a wider audience. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 2017/03/23 in General, Interviews

 

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Comics Forum Opportunities

Comics Forum is seeking to appoint three or more individuals to the roles of Articles Editor(s), News Editor(s), and Reviews Editor(s) on the Comics Forum website (www.comicsforum.org). Each of the roles is outlined below:

Articles Editor

The articles editor will:

  • Actively source articles for the Comics Forum website (by attending conferences, staying up to date with developments in comics scholarship, approaching possible contributors)
  • Edit guest articles (with a keen eye for textual organisation, argument, and structure)
  • Be engaged in ongoing communication with guest contributors
  • Format and publish articles on our website (WordPress), liaising with the other website & social media editors

News Editor

The Comics Forum News Review is a monthly roundup of articles relevant to comics scholarship from around the internet, sourced by an established body of international comics scholars from across the continents of Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe, Oceania (see https://comicsforum.org/category/news-review/ for reference).

The responsibilities of a News Editor include the collating of news reports from a range of international correspondents (these arrive on the last day of a given month), editing these reports into a News Review post, and publishing it on the Comics Forum website on the 4th day of the following month. Secondary to this, the News Editor is responsible for the development of the News Review as and when possible, including sourcing and expanding its pre-existing body of correspondents that feed into the News Review.

Reviews Editor

The reviews editor will:

  • Actively source texts to review and reviewers for the Comics Forum website (by staying up to date with developments in comics scholarship, approaching possible contributors, developing and maintaining good relationships with publishers)
  • Edit reviews (with a keen eye for textual organisation, argument, and structure)
  • Be engaged in ongoing communication with reviewers
  • Format and publish articles on our website (WordPress), liaising with the other website & social media editors

All three roles require:

  • Excellent communication skills, both written and verbal
  • A strong knowledge of English
  • Meticulous proofreading
  • Academic writing skills
  • Deadline driven
  • Knowledge of comics scholarship (and willingness to stay up-to-date)
  • Reasonably tech-savvy (You’ll be working with Word, WordPress, and social media)
  • Strong organisational skills
  • Previous editorial experience is desirable but not essential

All roles are voluntary positions.

To apply for one of these roles, please email your CV (including publications if possible) and a cover letter to comicsforum@hotmail.co.uk. The deadline for applications is the 25th of September.

 

Comics Forum Online: Year Two Review and Comics Forum 2013 Call for Papers

The Comics Forum website is two years old today! Following on from last year’s round up of articles, in this post I’ll be providing a review of all the pieces we’ve published this year, and launching the Comics Forum 2013 call for papers.

Comics Forum 2013: Call for Papers

After a fantastic event last year, I’m pleased to announce that the theme of our fifth conference is ‘Small Press and Undergrounds’. Leeds Central Library has agreed to host the event for a second time, and the call for papers is out now (see below).

CF2013 - CFP

Click here to download a PDF of the call for papers.

We very much look forward to welcoming a diverse selection of academics, researchers and creators to Leeds for what is sure to be a lively and engaging event covering a wide range of aspects of small press and underground comics. We’re working on lining up a great set of keynotes and will announce them here in due course.

The Comics Forum 2013 page on the website is also online now, and we’ll be updating that with all the details as and when they’re confirmed so keep an eye on that to stay up to date. If you’d like to receive all the latest updates as soon as they’re released you can also sign up to our RSS feed (click the orange button at the top of this box) or put your email address in the box on the right hand side of this page to get every update delivered straight to your inbox.

As in previous years the call for papers was designed by Ben Gaskell of Molakoe Graphic Design. A huge thank you to Ben for his hard work; we think it’s really paid off!

Comics Forum Online: Year Two

The second year of the Comics Forum website kicked off with the launch of a new set of resources in our Affiliated Conferences section as we added information and documentation from 2011’s Comics & Medicine: The Sequential Art of Illness. Later in the year we added many more conferences to the archive, including: the Dundee Comics Day series, Germany’s Gesellschaft für Comicforschung (ComFor) conferences, Graphic Details Symposium: Talking About Jewish Women and Comics, The International Comics Conference and Women in Comics. The Transitions series also joined the archive, and was the subject of an article by Nina Mickwitz. This archive is open for submissions; if you are a conference organiser (or have been in the past) and would like to archive your conference materials with us we’d be happy to host them. Get in touch at comicsforum@hotmail.co.uk to talk about setting up your archive. Don’t forget that Comics Forum also hosts a number of other resources including a Scholar Directory and a Digital Texts archive, both of which are open to submissions. The Digital Texts section saw a significant update this year with the release of Steven E. Mitchell’s ‘Evil Harvest: Investigating the Comic Book, 1948-1955′, which is available for download in full and for free now.

This year saw the launch of a brand new monthly column in the form of the Comics Forum News Review. Edited by Will Grady and featuring a top line up of international contributors, the review (published on the 4th of each month) launched in November and pulls together all the major stories from comics scholarship around the world. New contributors are always welcome, particularly for countries that aren’t already covered by our existing correspondents, so if you’d like to get involved contact Will at: comicsforumnews@hotmail.co.uk. Year two also saw the continuation of our column in association with major online journal Image [&] Narrative. Charlotte Pylyser, Steven Surdiacourt and Greice Schneider contributed a series of fascinating articles on a wide range of topics including blank panels, comics and poetry, social aspects of comics, Chris Ware’s Lint as a comic strip opera, and the depiction of boredom in comics. Head over to the column archive to read all the instalments in this fascinating series, which will be continuing into the next year.

We were also very lucky to be able to feature articles by a wonderful group of guest authors this year. The study of comics was the subject of my interview with Mel Gibson and an article by James Chapman. Padmini Ray Murray considered the importance of book history for the discipline, and Michael D. Picone looked at the problem of definition. Christina Blanch discussed the massive open online course (MOOC) on Gender Through Comics that she started running in April 2013, while John Swogger considered the possibility of using comics for archaeology, a topic he also spoke on at the 2012 conference. Sara Duke took us on a tour of the comics collection of the United States Library of Congress, demonstrating the importance of looking at original art in an article illustrated with a range of beautiful examples. The intersections of politics and comics came under scrutiny in articles by Cord Scott and Jason Dittmer. Laurence Grove looked at the early history of comics in his guest article, while Martha Kuhlman considered the possibility of avant-garde comics in hers. Elisabeth El Refaie wrote on visual authentication strategies in autobiographic comics, and Louise Crosby and Helen Iball talked about the launch of Laydeez do Comics Leeds.

We also featured a range of case studies, with Malin Bergström discussing Darren Aronofsky and Kent Williams’ The Fountain, Nicolas Labarre taking a detailed look at David Mazzucchelli and Paul Karasik’s adaptation of Paul Auster’s City of Glass and Aletta Verwoerd addressing Art Spiegelman’s In the Shadow of No Towers. Eric Berlatsky looked at homosociality, misogyny and triangular desire in early Superman comics. Other writers who considered specific works included Barbara Uhlig, who looked at Lorenzo Mattotti and Jorge Zentner’s Caboto, and Gwen Athene Tarbox, who talked about the graphic novels of Bastien Vivès. Hannah Miodrag discussed The Long and Unlearned Life of Roland Gethers by Shane Simmon, and Fabrice Leroy talked about Joann Sfar’s Pascin. Most recently, Philip Smith has looked at the use of hybrid languages in Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese.

September 2012 saw the start of a month long series dedicated to the short works of Alan Moore. Edited by Maggie Gray, who also introduced and concluded the collection, Rummaging Around in Alan Moore’s Shorts included articles by Lance Parkin, Daniel L. Werneck, K. A. Laity, and two articles by Marc Sobel. José Alaniz also wrote an article for the series, and later in the year presented a fantastic talk on Death and the Superhero at the Henry Moore Institute in the second of our ‘Comics Forum presents…’ talks.

A number of our guest-authored articles were nominated for 2012’s Hooded Utilitarian Award for Best Online Comics Criticism; a thank you to HU for the nod. The final list of articles can be found here.

Coming Soon

Over the next year we’ll be looking to continue expanding our offerings on the website and presenting articles by top writers on the medium. We’ll soon be making available MP3s of the two events in the ‘Comics Forum presents…’ series so far and launching permanent pages for each of these events. Later in the year we have the 2013 conference to look forward to, and members of the Comics Forum team will also be hosting a table at the Thought Bubble sequential art festival as we did in 2012. This was great fun last year; thanks to everyone who came over to see us for a chat! I will also be speaking on comics scholarship and Comics Forum at Laydeez do Comics Leeds on the 20th of May (next Monday). The event takes place at Wharf Chambers in Leeds from 1830-2130; do come along if you can.

A massive vote of thanks to all our readers, authors and guests. We really appreciate your support for Comics Forum and it’s only thanks to you that the conference and the website are able to continue and develop. Suggestions and comments are always welcome either through the comments section on website posts or by email to comicsforum@hotmail.co.uk. I would also like to extend my personal thanks to the whole Comics Forum team, who have been generous enough to give a lot of time and effort over the years to make sure the conference and website run smoothly.

Here’s to another wonderful year.

Ian Hague

Director, Comics Forum

 
 
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