2019 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award Nominee, Best Academic/Scholarly Work
In Between Pen and Pixel: Comics, Materiality, and the Book of the Future, Aaron Kashtan argues that paying attention to comics helps us understand the future of the book. Debates over the future of the book tend to focus on text-based literature, particularly fiction. However, because comics make the effects of materiality visible, they offer a clearer demonstration than prose fiction of how the rise of digital reading platforms transforms the reading experience. Comics help us see the effects of alterations in features such as publication design and typography, whereas in print literature, such transformations often go unnoticed.
With case studies of the work of Alison Bechdel, Matt Kindt, Lynda Barry, Carla Speed McNeil, Chris Ware, and Randall Munroe, Kashtan examines print comics that critique digital technology, comics that are remediated from print to digital and vice versa, and comics that combine print and digital functionality. Kashtan argues that comics are adapting to the rise of digital reading technologies more effectively than print literature has yet done. Therefore, looking at comics gives us a preview of what the future of the book looks like. Ultimately, Between Pen and Pixel argues that as print literature becomes more sensitive to issues of materiality and mediacy, print books will increasingly start to resemble to comic books.
Winner of the 2016 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award for Best Academic/Scholarly Work
Winner of the 2016 Ray and Pat Browne Award for Best Edited Collection in Popular Culture and American Culture by the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association
Winner of the 2016 PEN Oakland-Josephine Miles Award for Excellence in Literature
When many think of comic books the first thing that comes to mind are caped crusaders and spandex-wearing super-heroes. Perhaps, inevitably, these images are of white men (and more rarely, women). It was not until the 1970s that African American superheroes such as Luke Cage, Blade, and others emerged. But as this exciting new collection reveals, these superhero comics are only one small component in a wealth of representations of black characters within comic strips, comic books, and graphic novels over the past century.
The Blacker the Ink is the first book to explore not only the diverse range of black characters in comics, but also the multitude of ways that black artists, writers, and publishers have made a mark on the industry. Organized thematically into “panels” in tribute to sequential art published in the funny pages of newspapers, the fifteen original essays take us on a journey that reaches from the African American newspaper comics of the 1930s to the Francophone graphic novels of the 2000s. Even as it demonstrates the wide spectrum of images of African Americans in comics and sequential art, the collection also identifies common character types and themes running through everything from the strip The Boondocks to the graphic novel Nat Turner.
Though it does not shy away from examining the legacy of racial stereotypes in comics and racial biases in the industry, The Blacker the Ink also offers inspiring stories of trailblazing African American artists and writers. Whether you are a diehard comic book fan or a casual reader of the funny pages, these essays will give you a new appreciation for how black characters and creators have brought a vibrant splash of color to the world of comics.
The past decade has seen the medium of comics reach unprecedented heights of critical acclaim and commercial success. Comics & Media reflects that, bringing together an amazing array of contributors--creators and critics alike--to discuss the state, future, and potential of the medium.
Loaded with full-color reproductions of work by such legends as R. Crumb, Art Spiegelman, Alison Bechdel, Chris Ware, Daniel Clowes, and Lynda Barry, the book addresses the place of comics in both a contemporary and historical context. Essays by such high-profile figures as Tom Gunning, N. Katherine Hayles, Patrick Jagoda, and W. J. T. Mitchell address a stunning range of topics, including the place of comics in the history of aesthetics, changes to popular art forms, digital humanities, and ongoing tensions between new and old media. The result is a substantial step forward for our understanding of what comics are and can be, and the growing place they hold in our culture.
Latin American comics and graphic novels have a unique history of addressing controversial political, cultural, and social issues. This volume presents new perspectives on how comics on and from Latin America both view and express memory formation on major historical events and processes. The contributors, from a variety of disciplines including literary theory, cultural studies, and history, explore topics including national identity construction, narratives of resistance to colonialism and imperialism, the construction of revolutionary traditions, and the legacies of authoritarianism and political violence. The chapters offer a background history of comics and graphic novels in the region, and survey a range of countries and artists such as Joaquín Salvador Lavado (a.k.a Quino), Héctor G. Oesterheld, and Juan Acevedo. They also highlight the unique ability of this art and literary form to succinctly render memory. In sum, this volume offers in-depth analysis of an understudied, yet key literary genre in Latin American memory studies and documents the essential role of comics during the transition from dictatorship to democracy.
Comics and Nation offers a fresh perspective on the role of popular culture in the one-hundred-year history of the Polish state, from its foundation in 1918 to the present. Drawing on dozens of press articles, interviews, and readers’ letters, Ewa Stańczyk discusses how journalists, artists, and audiences used comics to probe the boundaries of national culture and scrutinize the established notions of Polishness. Critical moments of Poland’s political transformation ––the establishment of the interwar Polish Republic, the Cold War, the liberalization of the 1970s, the 1989 democratic transition, the turn to memory politics in the 2000s––have all been reflected in the history of Polish comics. Stańczyk offers new insights into how the production of homegrown comics and the influx of foreign works enabled commentators to express their fears, hopes, and disillusionment with political, economic, and cultural changes in Poland and beyond. At its core, Comics and Nation rethinks the impact of popular culture and transnational exchange on Polish nation building, citizenship formation, and the legitimation of power.
It is hard to discuss the current film industry without acknowledging the impact of comic book adaptations, especially considering the blockbuster success of recent superhero movies. Yet transmedial adaptations are part of an evolution that can be traced to the turn of the last century, when comic strips such as “Little Nemo in Slumberland” and “Felix the Cat” were animated for the silver screen. Representing diverse academic fields, including technoculture, film studies, theater, feminist studies, popular culture, and queer studies, Comics and Pop Culture presents more than a dozen perspectives on this rich history and the effects of such adaptations.
Examining current debates and the questions raised by comics adaptations, including those around authorship, style, and textual fidelity, the contributors consider the topic from an array of approaches that take into account representations of sexuality, gender, and race as well as concepts of world-building and cultural appropriation in comics from Modesty Blaise to Black Panther. The result is a fascinating re-imagination of the texts that continue to push the boundaries of panel, frame, and popular culture.
Eszter Szép’s Comics and the Body is the first book to examine the roles of the body in both drawing and reading comics within a single framework. With an explicit emphasis on the ethical dimensions of bodily vulnerability, Szép takes her place at the forefront of scholars examining comics as embodied experiences, pushing this line of inquiry into bold new territory. Focusing on graphic autobiography and reportage, she argues that the bodily performances of creators and readers produce a dialogue that requires both parties to experience and engage with vulnerability, thus presenting a crucial opportunity for ethical encounters between artist and reader. Szép considers visceral representations of bulimia, pregnancy, the effects of STIs, the catastrophic injuries of war, and more in the works of Lynda Barry, Ken Dahl, Katie Green, Miriam Katin, and Joe Sacco. She thus extends comics theory into ethical and psychological territory that finds powerful intersections and resonances with the studies of affect, trauma, gender, and reader response.
2022 Eisner Award Winner for Best Academic/Scholarly Work
Japanese comics, commonly known as manga, are a global sensation. Critics, scholars, and everyday readers have often viewed this artform through an Orientalist framework, treating manga as the exotic antithesis to American and European comics. In reality, the history of manga is deeply intertwined with Japan’s avid importation of Western technology and popular culture in the early twentieth century.
Comics and the Origins of Manga reveals how popular U.S. comics characters like Jiggs and Maggie, the Katzenjammer Kids, Felix the Cat, and Popeye achieved immense fame in Japan during the 1920s and 1930s. Modern comics had earlier developed in the United States in response to new technologies like motion pictures and sound recording, which revolutionized visual storytelling by prompting the invention of devices like speed lines and speech balloons. As audiovisual entertainment like movies and record players spread through Japan, comics followed suit. Their immediate popularity quickly encouraged Japanese editors and cartoonists to enthusiastically embrace the foreign medium and make it their own, paving the way for manga as we know it today.
By challenging the conventional wisdom that manga evolved from centuries of prior Japanese art and explaining why manga and other comics around the world share the same origin story, Comics and the Origins of Manga offers a new understanding of this increasingly influential artform.
In hard-hitting accounts of Auschwitz, Bosnia, Palestine, and Hiroshima’s Ground Zero, comics display a stunning capacity to bear witness to trauma. Investigating how hand-drawn comics has come of age as a serious medium for engaging history, Disaster Drawn explores the ways graphic narratives by diverse artists, including Jacques Callot, Francisco Goya, Keiji Nakazawa, Art Spiegelman, and Joe Sacco, document the disasters of war.
Hillary L. Chute traces how comics inherited graphic print traditions and innovations from the seventeenth century and later, pointing out that at every turn new forms of visual-verbal representation have arisen in response to the turmoil of war. Modern nonfiction comics emerged from the shattering experience of World War II, developing in the 1970s with Art Spiegelman’s first “Maus” story about his immigrant family’s survival of Nazi death camps and with Hiroshima survivor Keiji Nakazawa’s inaugural work of “atomic bomb manga,” the comic book Ore Wa Mita (“I Saw It”)—a title that alludes to Goya’s famous Disasters of War etchings.
Chute explains how the form of comics—its collection of frames—lends itself to historical narrative. By interlacing multiple temporalities over the space of the page or panel, comics can place pressure on conventional notions of causality. Aggregating and accumulating frames of information, comics calls attention to itself as evidence. Disaster Drawn demonstrates why, even in the era of photography and film, people understand hand-drawn images to be among the most powerful forms of historical witness.
Winner of the Best Book Award in Comics History from the Grand Comics Database Honorable Mention, 2019-2020 Research Society for American Periodicals Book Prize
The term “graphic novel” was first coined in 1964, but it wouldn’t be broadly used until the 1980s, when graphic novels such as Watchmen and Maus achieved commercial success and critical acclaim. What happened in the intervening years, after the graphic novel was conceptualized yet before it was widely recognized?
Dreaming the Graphic Novel examines how notions of the graphic novel began to coalesce in the 1970s, a time of great change for American comics, with declining sales of mainstream periodicals, the arrival of specialty comics stores, and (at least initially) a thriving underground comix scene. Surveying the eclectic array of long comics narratives that emerged from this fertile period, Paul Williams investigates many texts that have fallen out of graphic novel history. As he demonstrates, the question of what makes a text a ‘graphic novel’ was the subject of fierce debate among fans, creators, and publishers, inspiring arguments about the literariness of comics that are still taking place among scholars today.
Unearthing a treasure trove of fanzines, adverts, and unpublished letters, Dreaming the Graphic Novel gives readers an exciting inside look at a pivotal moment in the art form’s development.
Experiencing Visual Storyworlds illuminates how comics express what characters and narrators see, think, and feel. Drawing on the narratological concept of focalization, which describes the filtering of a story through the minds of characters and narrators, Silke Horstkotte and Nancy Pedri analyze comics from a range of genres, including graphic memoir, graphic historiography, silent comics, and metafictional comics. Through a series of close readings—including Jason Lutes’s Berlin, Charles Burns’s Black Hole, Ellen Forney’s Marbles, Eric Drooker’s Flood!, and Craig Thompson’s Habibi—Horstkotte and Pedri argue that the visual form of comics storytelling is uniquely suited to invite readers into storyworld experiences. The authors break down the ways focalization in comics is cued by features such as color, style, panel size and positioning, and genre—showing how these features regulate how readers access the experiences of characters and narrators.
Winner, Charles Hatfield Book Prize, Comic Studies Society, 2020
A CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title, 2019
The history of America’s civil rights movement is marked by narratives that we hear retold again and again. This has relegated many key figures and turning points to the margins, but graphic novels and graphic memoirs present an opportunity to push against the consensus and create a more complete history. Graphic Memories of the Civil Rights Movement showcases five vivid examples of this:
Ho Che Anderson's King (2005), which complicates the standard biography of Martin Luther King Jr.; Congressman John Lewis's three-volume memoir, March (2013–2016); Darkroom (2012), by Lila Quintero Weaver, in which the author recalls her Argentinian father’s participation in the movement and her childhood as an immigrant in the South; the bestseller The Silence of Our Friends, by Mark Long, Jim Demonakos, and Nate Powell (2012), set in Houston's Third Ward in 1967; and Howard Cruse's Stuck Rubber Baby (1995), whose protagonist is a closeted gay man involved in the movement.
In choosing these five works, Jorge Santos also explores how this medium allows readers to participate in collective memory making, and what the books reveal about the process by which history is (re)told, (re)produced, and (re)narrativized. Concluding the work is Santos’s interview with Ho Che Anderson.
Nominated for the 2022 Eisner Award - Best Academic/Scholarly Work
The Life and Comics of Howard Cruse tells the remarkable story of how a self-described “preacher’s kid” from Birmingham, Alabama, became the so-called “Godfather of Gay Comics.” This study showcases a remarkable fifty-year career that included working in the 1970s underground comics scene, becoming founding editor of the groundbreaking anthology series Gay Comix, and publishing the graphic novel Stuck Rubber Baby, partially based on his own experience of coming of age in the Civil Rights era.
Through his exploration of Cruse’s life and work, Andrew J. Kunka also chronicles the dramatic ways that gay culture changed over the course of Cruse’s lifetime, from Cold War-era homophobia to the gay liberation movement to the AIDS crisis to the legalization of gay marriage. Highlighting Cruse’s skills as a trenchant satirist and social commentator, Kunka explores how he cast a queer look at American politics, mainstream comics culture, and the gay community’s own norms.
Lavishly illustrated with a broad selection of comics from Cruse’s career, this study serves as a perfect introduction to this pioneering cartoonist, as well as an insightful read for fans who already love how his work sketched a new vision of gay life.
The roster of Muslim superheroes in the comic book medium has grown over the years, as has the complexity of their depictions. Muslim Superheroes tracks the initial absence, reluctant inclusion, tokenistic employment, and then nuanced scripting of Islamic protagonists in the American superhero comic book market and beyond.
This scholarly anthology investigates the ways in which Muslim superhero characters fulfill, counter, or complicate Western stereotypes and navigate popular audience expectations globally, under the looming threat of Islamophobia. The contributors consider assumptions buried in the very notion of a character who is both a superhero and a Muslim with an interdisciplinary and international focus characteristic of both Islamic studies and comics studies scholarship. Muslim Superheroes investigates both intranational American racial formation and international American geopolitics, juxtaposed with social developments outside U.S. borders.
Providing unprecedented depth to the study of Muslim superheroes, this collection analyzes, through a series of close readings and comparative studies, how Muslim and non-Muslim comics creators and critics have produced, reproduced, and represented different conceptions of Islam and Muslimness embodied in the genre characters.
Redrawing French Empire in Comics by Mark McKinney investigates how comics have represented the colonization and liberation of Algeria and Indochina. It focuses on the conquest and colonization of Algeria (from 1830), the French war in Indochina (1946–1954), and the Algerian War (1954–1962). Imperialism and colonialism already featured prominently in nineteenth-century French-language comics and cartoons by Töpffer, Cham, and Petit. As society has evolved, so has the popular representation of those historical forces. French torture of Algerians during the Algerian War, once taboo, now features prominently in comics, especially since 2000, when debate on the subject was reignited in the media and the courts. The increasingly explicit and spectacular treatment in comics of the more violent and lurid aspects of colonial history and ideology is partly due to the post-1968 growth of an adult comics production and market. For example, the appearance of erotic and exotic, feminized images of Indochina in French comics in the 1980s indicated that colonial nostalgia for French Indochina had become fashionable in popular culture. Redrawing French Empire in Comics shows how contemporary cartoonists such as Alagbé, Baloup, Boudjellal, Ferrandez, and Sfar have staked out different, sometimes conflicting, positions on French colonial history.
Resurrection: Comics in Post-Soviet Russia traces the “kopecks to rubles” journey of Russian comics at the turn of the century. As the follow-up to José Alaniz’s groundbreaking Komiks: Comic Art in Russia (2010), Resurrection authoritatively and exhaustively details the Russian comic landscape of the last three decades: beginning after the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union and encompassing the fourth Putin administration, the COVID-19 crisis, and beyond. Bolstering his analysis with interviews with some of the major figures in Russia’s comics industry, Alaniz particularly focuses on the representation of masculinity, disability, historical trauma, and superheroes, as well as on the recent rise of fandom, alternative micropresses, and nonfiction graphic narrative. Resurrection is a sweeping discussion of the metamorphosis of contemporary Russian comic art from its rebirth to its entry into mainstream culture.