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Category Archives: Guest Writers

The Bi-Monthly ComFor Update for March 2019

By Natalie Veith

In March, German universities are on term break, but it is rapidly coming to a close, so we are all busy getting ready for the summer semester that starts in April, preparing for our research and teaching duties, compiling reading lists and shuffling around seminar schedules. But that is not the only thing keeping us busy these days. In the field of comics studies as well as in the general German-language comics scene, this month in particular has been eventful.

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Amar Bari Tomar Bari Naxalbari: A Socio-Political Indian “Comic”

By Antarleena Basu

 

In 2015, while Paul Gravett was affirming that “the Indian graphic novel is here to stay” (Gravett), a 162-page comic/graphic novel that raised many an eyebrow for its dauntless representation of the Naxalite movement and the rise of the communist ideology across India was published in book form somewhere in Bhilai, a bustling industrial city in the state of Chattisgarh in India. The Naxalite movement, also known as the “peasant uprising”, refers to the armed struggle of the peasants against wealthy and exploitative land-owners and it was initiated by a small fraction of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) led by Charu Mazumdar in a small village of West Bengal in India called “Naxalbari”; hence the name “Naxal uprising”. Titled Amar Bari Tomar Bari Naxalbari (which roughly translates from Bengali as “my house and your house is Naxalbari” and echo the popular Bengali slogan of the Naxals), Sumit Kumar’s comic was the first of its kind—it not only dares to portray the serious topic of the Naxal and communist uprising through the verbal and visual interaction of the comic mode but also experiments with a wide array of styles and techniques in the text, thereby injecting the necessary dosage of plurality that could go into the making of an Indian comic. By amalgamating the present political events with those of the past, by invoking classics as well as pop-culture and its icons, by mixing colourful pages with stark blacks and whites, among his many binaries, Kumar creates a scathing, tragic-comic narrative that almost borders on the absurd.

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Posted by on 2019/02/27 in Guest Writers

 

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The Bi-Monthly ComFor Update for January 2019

by Julia Ingold

The first month of the new year always starts smoothly with a prolonged holiday period. German universities resume their daily activities only in the second week of January and so does ComFor’s editorial staff—as usual with our established retrospect about several ComFor members’ favorite comics of 2018. Shortly after Stephan Packard’s substantial bi-monthly update two months ago, ComFor’s editorial team posted a retrospect on the panel “Comics 4.0” that the Committee for Comics Studies contributed to the German Society for Media Studies’ (GfM) annual conference that took place in Siegen under the headline “Industry” in September 2018. ComFor Member Lukas R. A. Wilde gave a talk on “Von Remediation zum Intermedium: Formen, Formate und mediale Rahmungen digitaler Comics” (From Remediation to Indermedia: Forms, Formats and Medial Framings of Digital Comics). Tim Glaser shared his views on “Comics, Communities & Crowdfunding: Plattformen und deren Einfluss auf die Rezeption und Distribution von Webcomics” (Comics, Communities, and Crowdfunding: Platforms and their Influence on Reception and Distribution of Webcomics). Peter Vignold, for his part, presented on “From A(yn) to Z(ack): Objektivismus im zeitgenössischen Comicfilm” (From A(yn) to Z(ack): Objectivism in the Contemporary Film Adaptation of Comics). The first two presentations both took their cues from the concept of the infinite canvas that Scott McCloud introduced in his 2000 book Reinventing Comics. The panel expounded the question to what extent webcomics’ many new possibilities might collide with the fact that they still only receive widespread attention once they are transferred into traditional print media and thus lose aspects of their inherent mediality.

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The Bi-Monthly ComFor Update for November 2018

by Stephan Packard

After the traditional summer break, the winter semester has begun at German, Swiss and Austrian universities. A few weeks in, at least 15 courses and lecture series in those regions have begun work related to comics studies: the ComFor website’s staff has edited a useful and fascinating list. In addition to all of these courses, the Comic-Kolloquium in Berlin has started up again as well, boasting no less than ten announced talks from guests and regulars throughout the season. Topics range from Art Spiegelman to Preacher, from Eastern German history to 19th century sequential art, and from literary criticism to quantitative and network analysis. Back in June, the Comic-Kolloquium had contributed a dense series of talks packed with presentations that opened up comics studies for a popular audience at the Comic Invasion Berlin. The Kolloquium is organized by Matthias Harbeck, Linda-Rabea Heyden and Marie Schröer.

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Comics Literacy in the Classroom

by Lars Wallner

Comics as Narrative Tools[i]

Comics are a narrative form combining text and image in surveyable sequences (McCloud 9). In Sweden, comics are common reading for children, young readers and adults, even though comics reading among young people seems to have lessened, as have all types of reading—see, for example, Statens Offentliga Utredningar (231). Despite what these reading trends seem to indicate, publication of comics for children has grown in the past few years (The Swedish Institute for Children’s Books 25). Throughout my dissertation study (Wallner, Framing Education), I came in contact with many teachers from different levels of schooling who were interested in using comics in their classrooms. These contacts indicated not only an interest on the part of teachers, but also an interest on the part of students wanting to read, and to benefit from reading, comics in school.

Comics are also a prime material for studying how students engage in conversations on reading and writing—that is to say, literacy—especially because of how comics combine text and images. Because of this, a study of the use of comics in a school context can contribute greatly both to our knowledge of literacy construction with comics and to a better picture of what literacy entails.

In order to study this ongoing practice in the classroom, I made video recordings of three classes in Grade 3 (age 8-10) and one class in Grade 8 (age 13-15). In total, 77 students and 6 teachers, in two different Swedish cities, contributed to this study. 15 lessons were recorded with work in whole class, pairs and groups. As a researcher, I had no influence over the settings or materials: the teachers had already chosen the amount of time to be spent on comics, the material that they wanted to work with for each lesson and how they wanted to use said material. My role in the classroom was merely to film the activities that they planned and carried out.

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