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Comics Forum 2014: Lineup

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Coming up at Comics Forum 2014 on Thursday-Friday next week, we have a fantastic lineup of speakers! Our keynote speech will be delivered on Thursday afternoon by Professor Jane Chapman, and we look forward to welcoming a host of other top speakers to Leeds Central Library for two days of fascinating talks on violence. See below for the full list of speakers.

THURSDAY 13 NOVEMBER

Jane Chapman: ‘Unspoken Violence: Redefining of Cultural Record, 1914-18’

Kat Lombard-Cook Structural Subversion: Violence Against the Comics Form Roger Sabin Ally Sloper meets Jack the Ripper: comedy and violence in late 19th century London Alex Link Scales of Violence, Scales of Justice, and Nate Powell’s Any Empire Christopher J. Thompson “Boiled or Fried, Dennis?” Understanding the displacement of violence in ‘Dennis the Menace and Gnasher’ Olivia Rohan Onomatopoeia as an agent of violence in manga: multimodality and translation strategies in battle manga and horror manga Penelope Mendonça Drawing difficult truths; how can a humorous graphic novel include violence during pregnancy? Cameron Fletcher Censorship and the Control of Violent Comics: The Code of the West Dan Smith Architecture, Violence and Hope: A Visitor’s Guide to Mega City One Malin Bergström Will Eisner and the Art of War: The Role of Educational Comics within the American Defence Industry Bradley Reeder The life and death of the city in Watchmen Enrique del Rey Cabero Violence and memory: the role of comics in portraying the Spanish Civil War and the Francoist repression Kevin Chiat “The Curse of Superman”: Humanism, Masculinity and Violence in the Superman Mythos Harriet EH Earle The Whites of their Eyes: Implied Violence and Double Frames in Blazing Combat and The ‘Nam Kwasu David Tembo 72 Votes: A Death in the Family as Mimetic Crisis Mihaela Precup “I think we’re maybe more or less safe here”: Communities under Siege during the Lebanese Civil War in Zeina Abirached’s A Game for Swallows Kevin J. Wanner In a World of Super-Violence, Can Pacifism Pack a Punch? Examining the Theme of the Pacifist Superhero through the Character of Wonder Man in Marvel’s Uncanny Avengers Joan Ormrod Women on the Edge: Unruly Bodies, spectacle and violence post 9/11

FRIDAY 14 NOVEMBER

Brett Elhoffer The Yellow Peril Meets Superman: Depictions of the Chinese in 20th century American Comic Books Ian Horton No More Heroes Anymore? Representations of Violence in British War Comics of the 1970s Laurike in ‘t Veld The Depiction of Sexual Violence in Genocide Comics Ester Szép Trauma Theories and Joe Sacco’s Comics About Iraq Nicola Streeten The comics form and the ambivalence of sexual violence Jörn Ahrens Bring the War Back Home: Reflecting Violence in DMZ Louisa Parker (Una) Autobiographical Content and the Legacy of Artemisia, or Why Should We Care If Someone Was Raped? Joseph Willis Pushing Back the Apocalypse: Violence as Identity and Rebellion in the Post-Apocalyptic Julia Round Misty: Gothic for Girls in British Comics Fabio Mourilhe Practice of subjectivity in 300 Anna Madill Intimidating men: Patriarchal violence in Korean shonen-ai Let Dai Lynn Fotherington, Kieron Gillen and Stephen Hodkinson Story-telling, Historicity and the Depiction of Violence in Three – a conversation Jeffrey John Barnes To See What You Won’t Hear: Violence in Palestinian Arab Political Cartoons from the British Mandate through the Present Hugo Frey Adapting Jean-Patrick Manchette’s Le Petit bleu de la côte ouest (1977): the Comparative Politics of Cinema and Graphic Novel Re-interpretations Orla Lehane Animating “The Troubles”: Northern Ireland in Troubled Souls (1989) Ria Uhlig Violence in French graphzines Olga Kopylova Violence against violence? (Self-)destruction and plausibility of revenge in the manga Gankutsuō Paul Williams Violence, Regression and Therapeutic Narcissism in Jules Feiffer’s Tantrum (1979) Laura A. Pearson Seeing (in) Red: Reading Intersections of Violence in Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas’s Red: A Haida Manga

REGISTRATION

Tickets for Comics Forum 2014 are priced as follows:

1 day pass (13th or 14th): £10

2 day pass (13th and 14th): £20

4 day pass (two day Comics Forum pass + 2 day Thought Bubble Convention pass (SRP £24)): £40 (save £4!)

To register, simply email comicsforum@hotmail.co.uk with your name and how many tickets you’d like.

Comics Forum 2014 is supported by: Thought Bubble, the University of Chichester, Dr Mel Gibson and Molakoe.

 
 

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Comics and Cultural Work: Conclusion by Casey Brienza

As I wrote in my introduction to this Comics Forum Special Theme Month on Comics and Cultural Work:

[R]esearch into cultural work has thus far been broadly concerned with the following two questions: 1) Is cultural work distinctive from other forms of work? and 2) Is it exploitative? I will not rehearse the debates around these two questions as they have been performed in the study of other cultural sectors, from Hollywood to handicrafts, at this time. Instead, I ask you to watch this space and commend you to the thought-provoking contributions of Benjamin Woo, Paddy Johnston, and Tom Miller, which will be posted in the coming weeks. Each of these scholars has, each in his own way as researcher, reader, or cultural worker, begun to grapple with precisely these two questions.

(Brienza 2013)

You have now, I would hope, read and reflected upon these scholars’ three contributions and noted for yourself how each piece does indeed grapple with these two questions. Benjamin Woo has contemplated the ways in which both capitalist modes of production and ideologies of creativity and artistic integrity obscure a nuanced and systematic understanding of comics as labor. Paddy Johnston has provided a close reading of Conversation #2 by James Kochalka and Jeffrey Brown and analyzed the artists’ particular strategies for both creating comics and paying the bills. Last but not least, Tom Miller rounds off the month with an impassioned—and deeply personal—autobiographical account of working as an independent comics retailer in Ontario, Canada.

Well then, how exactly have they intervened in the debates around cultural work? There seem to be three particularly important issues at play here. Firstly, the boundary between “cultural” and “non-cultural” work is clearly in need of much better delineation. The working definition provided by Hesmondhalgh and Baker (2011) I quote previously is indicative but not all-inclusive. Is it possible, as Miller (2013) contends, that comics retail is also a form of cultural work? Certainly, his invocation of love for comics before his love for money is a well-known, even stereotyped, position-taking in the cultural field. Indeed, retailers purveying so-called cultural goods exist in ambivalently at between business and artistic values; as sociologist Laura Miller (2006, 6) writes in her study of American bookselling, ‘[R]etailing is more than just a competitive field in which the economically powerful and agile survive, it is also the site of conflicting visions of how both individual and collective life benefit from the circulation of material goods.’

Yet when considered alongside Johnston’s account of Brown’s day job at a Barnes & Noble, it’s hard to see book retailing as only a site of “conflicting visions.” As Brown notes, ‘I kind of like my job. I get to work with books and music, and it gives me [health] insurance. And I still have time to draw comics a lot’ (quoted in Johnston 2013). It would be wrong, in my view, to separate comics creation and “the day job” into separate categories of professional life. Instead, I would argue that we need to think more inclusively about cultural work and the way in which certain forms of arguably “non-cultural” work—as well as circumstances and life-chances which have nothing directly to do with comics, such as whether or not you happen to live in a country with a robust social safety net—both enable and/or constrain comics production. Brown would not even be worrying about his health insurance in the first place if he lived, say, in Britain with its socialized National Health Service, instead of the United States.

This leads me to the second issue that emerges strongly from this Theme Month. What counts as “exploitative” and what does not is never straightforward and depends both upon how exploitation is understood, either through the critical lens or the researcher or the cultural worker’s own subjective experience. Some researchers would square the circle by calling cultural work a form of “self-exploitation”—to wit, a situation where workers labor ever harder, eventually driving themselves into the ground, in order to succeed and advance. Miller might well appreciate this terminology. However, it does imply a sort of victim-blaming and ignores individual autonomy even in the face of structural forces, and, more importantly, it over-generalizes cultural work as an analytical category and ignores the real power imbalances between different roles, such as between a comics writer and a comics letterer. In fact, Woo (2013) himself over-generalizes when he discusses comics characters as publishers’ intellectual property; while this is certainly the case in American superhero comics publishing, it is not, for instance, the case for mostany manga titles in Japan, where copyright and associated intellectual property is normally assigned to the creator.

This reference to national difference leads me to my third and final issue. The Comics and Cultural Work Special Theme month is the self-selected result of an open call for contributions. Although I did reject some submissions outright as wholly out-of-touch with the theme, I could not include anything I did not receive, and what has actually resulted is a series of contributions from three men writing almost exclusively about comics created by other men, all from an Anglo-American perspective. If the field of comics studies is to take work seriously, this is not a bad start, but it also only a start. If we are to have a richly imagined and sociologically informed understanding of comics and cultural work, we must be absolutely clear about which comics and whose comics are at stake, and in the future, I hope to see a more diverse range of academic voices. If you are a woman, or writing about women, or from somewhere besides the US, Canada, or Britain, please join us! As I’ve said, these debates have only just begun—you’ll get in on the proverbial ground floor.

Works Cited:

Brienza, Casey. 2013. “Comics and Cultural Work: Introduction.” Comics Forum, December 2. https://comicsforum.org/2013/12/02/comics-and-cultural-work-introduction-by-casey-brienza.

Hesmondhalgh, David and Sarah Baker. 2011. Creative Labour: Media Work in Three Cultural Industries. London: Routledge.

Johnston, Paddy. 2013. “Comics and the Day Job: Cartooning and Work in Jeffrey Brown and James Kochalka’s Conversation #2.” Comics Forum, December 16. https://comicsforum.org/2013/12/17/comics-and-the-day-job-cartooning-and-work-in-jeffrey-brown-and-james-kochalkas-conversation-2-by-paddy-johnston/.

Miller, Laura J. 2006. Reluctant Capitalists: Bookselling and the Culture of Consumption. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Miller, Tom. 2013. “My Brief Adventure in Comic Book Retail.” Comics Forum, December 23. https://comicsforum.org/2013/12/23/my-brief-adventure-in-comic-book-retail-by-tom-miller/

Woo, Benjamin. 2013. “Why Is It So Hard to Think about Comics as Labour?” Comics Forum, December 9. https://comicsforum.org/2013/12/09/why-is-it-so-hard-to-think-about-comics-as-labour-by-benjamin-woo/

Casey Brienza is a sociologist and Lecturer in Publishing and Digital Media at City University London’s Department of Culture and Creative Industries. She holds a first degree from Mount Holyoke College, an MA in Media, Culture, and Communication from New York University, and a PhD in Sociology from the University of Cambridge. Her doctoral thesis, titled ‘Domesticating Manga: Japanese Comics, American Publishing, and the Transnational Production of Culture,’ and is currently being revised into a book manuscript. Casey also has refereed articles in print or forthcoming in International Journal of Cultural Policy, Journal of Popular Culture, Studies in Comics, Publishing Research Quarterly, Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, Logos, and International Journal of the Book. She may be reached through her website.

This article is part of a series on comics and cultural work, guest edited by Casey Brienza. To read the other articles in this series click here.

 
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Posted by on 2013/12/30 in Comics and Cultural Work

 

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Comics Forum 2013: Thank You and Announcements

Comics Forum 2013 took place at Leeds Central Library last week. A huge thank you to our speakers, who travelled from around the world to present a set of excellent papers and who made the event a resounding success. We would also like to extend a vote of thanks to the following people, who were all very helpful in running various aspects of the conference: Clark Burscough, Hugo Frey, Ben Gaskell, Mel Gibson, Nabil Homsi and the staff of Travelling Man, Roger Sabin, Dawn Stanley-Donaghy and the whole team at Leeds Central Library, Hannah Wadle and Lisa Wood Thanks also to our supporters, who made the event possible: Thought Bubble, the University of Chichester, Routledge, Travelling ManDr Mel Gibson and Molakoe.

The Comics Forum 2013 page on the website has now been moved into the Comics Forum Archives, where you can also download the full text of the conference programme (including abstracts and speaker biographies) and other relevant documentation. We’ll also be adding a selection of photos taken by conference photographer Craig Brogden shortly. Keep an eye on the site for details of Comics Forum 2014 as they are confirmed!

At Comics Forum 2013, Comics Forum Director Ian Hague announced eleven developments for Comics Forum, which will feed into the website and other areas over the next twelve months. Here’s the full list of announcements:

1. Comics Forum is shifting to become an unincorporated association.

Although we will still be running as part of the Thought Bubble festival, Comics Forum is establishing itself as a separate entity, called an unincorporated association, which will allow it to operate more autonomously. This means we’ve developed a constitution and set up a committee from the people who are involved in running the organisation. Full details of the constitution and the committee will be announced on the Comics Forum website in the next few months as this process is completed.

2. @ComicsForum is two years old.

The Comics Forum Twitter feed, run by Hattie Kennedy, launched at Comics Forum 2011 and has been providing regular updates on Comics Forum, and comics scholarship more generally, ever since. Why not follow @ComicsForum and keep up to date with all the latest as it happens?

3. Comics Forum’s Facebook page is eighteen months old.

Comics Forum’s Facebook page, run by Paul Fisher Davies, was launched in June 2012. Since then it’s offered all the latest and most interesting articles on comics from around the web. Like us on Facebook to receive updates!

4. The Comics Forum News Review is one year old.

The Comics Forum News Review, edited by Will Grady and contributed to by many correspondents, has now been running for a little over a year. If you would like to join our team and expand our coverage, contact Will at comicsforumnews@hotmail.co.uk. A huge thank you to all our correspondents for your great work so far!

5. Comics Forum will launch a reviews column in March 2014.

Hattie Kennedy has been appointed as Comics Forum’s reviews editor, and will launch a column covering book, conference and exhibition reviews to run monthly from March 2014. We are now recruiting reviewers; if you would like to join the team please contact Hattie at comicsforumreviews@outlook.com.

6. Comics Forum presents ‘Comics and Cultural Work’ in December 2013.

Guest edited by Casey Brienza, the Comics Forum website will be running a series of articles on Comics and Cultural Work in December 2013. The full line up of articles is as follows:

‘Comics and Cultural Work (Introduction)’, by Casey Brienza

‘Why Is It So Hard to Think about Comics as Labour?’ by Benjamin Woo

‘Comics and the Day Job: Cartooning and Work in Jeffrey Brown and James Kochalka’s Conversation #2’, by Paddy Johnston

‘My Brief Adventure in Comic Book Retail’, by Tom Miller

‘Comics and Cultural Work (Conclusion)’, by Casey Brienza

7. Research from the University of Lincoln’s ‘Comics and the World Wars’ research project will be available on the Comics Forum website from January 2014.

In association with the University of Lincoln, the Comics Forum website will be running materials from the AHRC funded research project ‘Comics and the World Wars’. Launching in January 2014, this exciting collaboration will see Comics Forum publish ‘Comics and the World Wars: A Cultural Record’ by Anna Hoyles. The site’s digital text archive will also be hosting ‘Representation of female war-time bravery in Australia’s Wanda the War Girl’ by Jane Chapman and ‘Multi-panel comic narratives in Australian First World War trench publications as citizen journalism’ by Jane Chapman and Dan Ellin, with more titles to be announced around mid-2014.

8. Comics Forum will host a bi-annual International Bande Dessinée Society column from January 2014.

From January 2014 Comics Forum will be hosting an ongoing bi-annual column from the International Bande Dessinée Society. Format and contributors are currently to be confirmed but we’re very pleased to be able to provide an ongoing presence for the study of BD on the site.

9. News and content from Germany’s Gesellschaft für Comicforschung will be translated in a bi-monthly column on Comics Forum launching in February 2014.

Starting in February, Paul Meyer, Stephan Packard and Lukas Wilde will be writing a bi-monthly column translating major articles and news from Germany’s pre-eminent Comics Studies association Gesellschaft für Comicforschung. We already host extensive archive material from the ComFor conference series in our affiliated conferences archive, and we’re delighted to be able to extend our collaboration and present more work from the highly productive German language comics scholarship field in translation.

10. A new monthly column on Manga Studies will launch on Comics Forum in April 2014.

From April 2014, Comics Forum will be running a monthly column on Manga Studies. The column’s editorial board comprises five experts in the field: Jessica Bauwens-Sugimoto (also our Japan correspondent for the News Review), Jaqueline Berndt, Ronald Stewart, CJ Suzuki and Nicholas Theisen. The column will include discussions of major manga critics, their works, impacts, and problems; themes and methodologies in manga studies; comparative approaches and current issues and longer term ideas. The column’s focus is not limited to Japanese manga will also cover related forms such as manhua and manhwa, and global manga. We’re very excited to be able to present work by this wonderful team, and we’re looking forward to seeing what they have up their sleeves!

11. Routledge will publish Representing Multiculturalism in Comics and Graphic Novels, a new book spinning out of Comics Forum 2012, in Winter 2014.

Following 2012’s very successful ‘Multiculturalism and Representation: A Conference on Comics’ we’re pleased to announce that Routledge will publish a book based on the conference. Edited by Carolene Ayaka and Ian Hague, the book will feature seventeen fantastic writers, including: Jacob Birken, Corey K. Creekmur, Brenna Clarke Gray & Peter Wilkins, Maria-Sabina Draga Alexandru, William H. Foster III, Mel Gibson, Lily Glasner, Simon Grennan, Sarah D. Harris, Ian Horton, Alex Link, Paul M. Malone, Andy Mason, Ana Merino, Dana Mihăilescu, Emma Oki and Mihaela Precup. Keep an eye on the site for more information on the book as we move through the production process.

2013 has been a very exciting year for Comics Forum, and it looks like 2014 will be bigger still. The Comics Forum team would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to everyone who has supported and contributed to the work we’ve been doing so far. If you have any suggestions for other things we can do to help develop comics scholarship, or you’d like to get involved, please let us know! You can contact us via Twitter or Facebook, or by email at comicsforum@hotmail.co.uk. Finally, don’t forget that you can sign up to receive every post from the Comics Forum website direct to your inbox by filling in the Email Subscription box on the right hand side of this page!

Carolene Ayaka, Paul Fisher Davies, Will Grady, Ian Hague, Hattie Kennedy and Rebecca Macklin

 

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