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Lev Gleason Publications and Pre-Code PR:

Countering Critics through Social Reform and Education

by Peter W. Y. Lee

The 1954 Comics Code was intended to protect children by curtailing comic book content that contributed to juvenile delinquency. However, historians have pointed to how overzealous red-baiters wielded the Code to attack the industry as a figurative whipping boy for Cold War anxiety (J. Gilbert, Nyberg, Wright, Hajdu). EC Comics stands out, noted for its “New Trend” of social criticism, horror and crime in severed jugular veins that provoked readers (Whitted). Scholars have pointed to EC’s publisher and editor William Gaines’s testimony before the Senate Subcommittee’s hearing on juvenile delinquency as a show trial of sorts, in which Gaines had hoped to counter the criticism levied against his company, but caved in shortly afterwards instead.[1] But Gaines was not the first to defend the industry, nor was EC representative of many publishers flooding the market. By looking at different titles, scholars can gain a greater appreciation of how other creators negotiated the post-war public role of comic books.

This is the first part of a two-part article that looks at publisher Leverett Gleason’s comic books. Gleason’s publishing house, alternatively known as Comic House or Lev Gleason Publications, used various means to elevate comic books in the public eye. This part examines how Gleason and his gung-ho editor, Charles Biro, predated EC’s touting the educational merits of crime suspense stories and the medium’s potential as an art form. Gleason tried to pass off his crime-centred titles as progressive and artistic literature, belying the genre’s contemporary and enduring reputation as perpetrators of violence. The second article details Gleason’s tactics to expand the scope of comic books as serious literature by appealing to grown-ups.

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Posted by on 2020/07/10 in Guest Writers

 

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Conference Report: Fluid Images — Fluid Text: Comics’ Mobility Across Time, Space and Artistic Media (Cardiff University, Wales)

by Andrea De Falco

 

‘Fluid Images – Fluid Text’ was the title of an interdisciplinary conference that took place at Cardiff University (Wales) on 23-24 January 2020. The conference, organised by Dr Tilmann Altenberg (School of Modern Languages) and Dr Lisa El Refaie (School of English, Communication and Philosophy), hosted eighteen speakers from twelve institutions spread across seven different countries, featuring a wide range of backgrounds and approaches. The conference received financial support from Institute of Modern Languages Research (London), University Council of Modern Languages, Cardiff Comics Storytelling Network, Cardiff School of Modern Languages and Cardiff School of English, Communication and Philosophy.

The aim was to investigate from a transdisciplinary perspective three different and interlinked dimensions underpinning comics’ mobility: time, space and artistic media. The chronological dimension covers a broad field including the relationships between comics and history and the transformations investing their editorial and reading practices. Translation is the key word to understand how comics have been able to transcend national borders, by means of transmission in different languages and cultures. The last dimension leads us to comics’ adaptation in other media, investigating their relationships with different forms of artistic expression.

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Comics Forum 2019: Call for Contributions

Download a PDF of this Call for Contributions here.

Leeds Central Library (UK), 7-8 November 2019

Comics Forum 2019 will explore new approaches to comics scholarship, both in terms of examining comics from art and design perspectives, and experimenting with new ways to design the conference format itself, through a range of different events running in two parallel streams.

Stream A will comprise conference papers of 25 minutes.

Stream B will comprise a selection of alternative formats.

We are now seeking contributors for both streams, as detailed below.

‘Available spaces’ indicates the number of speakers/session leads we are seeking, not overall number of attendees. Joint submissions are welcome (e.g. two speakers can give one paper). You may submit for multiple formats, but please submit a separate proposal for each. Comics Forum welcomes speakers from a diverse range of backgrounds, ranging from students to senior academics, practitioners and beyond. No particular academic disciplines are preferred.

Proposals of up to 250 words in length are now being accepted at the following link: https://bit.ly/2wYNqYM. The deadline for submissions is the 16th of August 2019 and you will be notified of acceptance by or before the 30th of August 2019. Please include a short (100 word) biography with your proposal.

STREAM A: Art and Design in Comics

Conference Paper (25 mins)
Available Spaces: 21
While literary approaches and methodologies have tended to dominate the study of comics and related forms, in recent years art and design perspectives have been of growing interest to scholars, with research on narrative drawing, visual metaphor, book design, graphic design and materiality becoming increasingly prominent. Comics Forum 2019 will develop and extend these themes, through panels that consider visual, material and multisensory art and design as they relate to comics.
Subjects for discussion may include, but are not limited to:

  • Artistic canons of comics as distinct from literary canons
  • Art historical approaches to comics (e.g. periodisation, style,)
  • Typography and graphic design in comics
  • Artistic and/or technical production and practices (e.g. drawing, lettering, colouring,)
  • Labour in the creative industries
  • Non-linguistic aspects of comics
  • Comics and book design
  • Comics and moving image
  • Comics and curation
  • Comics as/against art
  • Interaction
  • Visual abstraction
  • Comics and participatory design/social design/community arts
  • The relationships between comics and other art forms

STREAM B: Redesigning the Comics Conference

Mini presentations – Teaching and Learning/Knowledge Exchange
Available Spaces: 10
For this session we are seeking 5 presentations on teaching and learning with comics, and 5 presentations on knowledge exchange practices (interpreted broadly) involving comics. Presentations in this session will be in the 20×20 format: this requires you to have 20 slides that run for 20 seconds each. Talks should ideally focus on case studies that can be used to develop good practice in these areas more generally.

Research Methods Demonstration
Available Spaces: 6
We are seeking up to 6 speakers for this session, which will apply different research methods to the same comic. Each speaker should propose one research method or approach they would like to take and give a brief (10-15 minute) overview of how it works or what it is concerned with. The comic to be analysed will be negotiated by the speakers once they have been confirmed, in advance of the event.

Live Practice Demonstration
Available Spaces: Negotiable
This 90-minute session aims to give an insight into one or a range of image making practices to explore how production can be foregrounded and explored in comics scholarship, and how we might develop better understandings of technical processes in the field. We are therefore open to submissions from one or more creative practitioners who are able to demonstrate and narrate a creation and production workflow/process to an audience. This could mean a digital workflow, or an analogue pencilling, inking, colouring and lettering sequence, or something completely different! If you are submitting to this session, please indicate which practices you would be prepared to demonstrate, any equipment you would require (beyond a standard data projector/screen) and the approach you would take. This session could accommodate multiple practitioners, so you may submit a programme for the full 90 minutes or a shorter demonstration that could be grouped with other practitioners.

Debate
Available Spaces: 4
We are seeking 4 speakers to debate the motion “Comics are middle class”. This will be a chaired formal debate with 2 speakers for the motion, and 2 against. Please indicate in your proposal whether you wish to speak for or against the motion or would be prepared to debate either side.
The debate will proceed as follows (timings indicated below will be observed strictly):

  • 10 mins: First speaker for the motion (to put the case for)
  • 10 mins: First speaker against the motion (to put the case against)
  • 10 mins: Second speaker for the motion (to respond to arguments against)
  • 10 mins Second speaker against the motion (to respond to arguments for)
  • 5 mins: Final summary for
  • 5 mins: Final summary against
  • 5 mins: Audience vote on the motion

Reading Group (Leads)
Available Spaces: 3
We are seeking 3 speakers to lead 3 x 30-minute reading group discussions of individual texts (to be circulated and read prior to the event). Although led by named speakers, these sessions are intended to be interactive and discursive, so the role is more one of a host or chair – this is not a conference paper. Speakers should propose the text they wish to discuss, along with a short rationale for that choice. Please note that priority will be given to texts that represent current and diverse approaches to comics scholarship.

Archives and (Special) Collections Showcase
Available Spaces: 6
We invite collectors, librarians and archivists to present their collections in a 90 minute “collector fair” format event, which will give attendees the opportunity to circulate around six tables of material and speak about that material to the collection holders or custodians. In your proposal, please indicate the range and type of material you would like to showcase, and how it might enhance our understanding of the field and/or offer opportunities for research and teaching.

Practice Based Research Demonstration
Available Spaces: 3
We are seeking up to three practice-based or practice-led researchers to give an overview of their methods and approaches in undertaking research, in talks of 20-30 minutes. Speakers should foreground the ways in which their practice informs understandings of comics and comics scholarship, and how it might be taken up more broadly in the field. Speakers may, but are not required to, present a demonstration of practice if appropriate. In your proposal, please indicate whether you would require any special equipment or materials for your talk.

 
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Posted by on 2019/06/25 in Comics Forum 2019, General, News

 

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