Johannes Schmid on “Documentary: Framing Strategies in Graphic Nonfiction”

 on 22. April 2021 at 18:15, Johannes C.P. Schmid (Europa-Universität Flensburg; Amerikanistik) will present “Comics as (Post-) Documentary: Framing Strategies in Graphic Nonfiction” and discuss it online.

The presentation will focus on framing, using examples by Joe Sacco, Sarah Glidden, and Derf Backderf to look into visual, material, and narrative strategies of framing in documentary comics. Schmid will present approaches from his current monograph “Frames and Framing in Documentary Comics”, published in February 2021 at Palgrave MacMillan.

The presentation will be held via Zoom and in English. Questions can be raised after the presentation in English or German.

Please register on April 21 at the latest by sending an email to

You will receive all access-details shortly before the start of the presentation.

More information on the series of presentations and discussions at the “Comic Kolloquium Nord” are here:

Kind regards from the organisers,
Andreas Veits

CfP: Drawing Memory in Jewish Women’s Graphic Novels

A Collection of Essays to be Published with Wayne State UP edited by Victoria Aarons

Chapter proposals are invited for a collection of essays under contract with Wayne State University Press on Jewish women’s graphic novels. 

The collection will include a variety of approaches and perspectives on Jewish women’s graphic novels and comics narratives. Broadly conceived, the essays will examine the various modes of graphic and literary representation—those structures, tropes, patterns, ironies, and overall tensions—that characterize the genre. The essays might consider the complex ways Jewish identity is complicated by gender, memory, generation, and place, that is, the spaces—emotional, geographical, psychological—that women inhabit. Some of the topics the essays might address include: individual, imagined, historical, and collective memory; the transmission of trauma; Jewish cultural identity; the psychological tensions of post-Holocaust Jewish identity; generational dislocation and anxiety; the ways in which place frames and informs identity; the gendered self; the imaginative recreation/reconstruction of the past; embodiment and bordered spaces; self-reinvention; and the future of Jewish self-expression.

Interested contributors should send a proposal/abstract of no more than 500 words and a brief 150-word bio to Victoria Aarons by May 1, 2021

Completed essays due: September 1, 2022

Fully revised manuscripts due: December 31, 2022

Essay length: approximately 6,000 words including notes and bibliography.

Only original essays will be considered.

Submissions should be sent electronically to as Word e-mail attachments, indicating “Drawing Memory” in the subject line. Manuscripts should be prepared using the current MLA Style Guide. Submissions must be in the English language. It is the responsibility of the author to obtain permission for using any previously published material, including images. 

Queries are welcome.

CFP: Online conference: Cartoons and comic strips between 1930 and 1945

    Organizers: Dr. Iris Haist and Sarah Kühnel M.A., Erich Ohser – e.o.plauen Foundation

    The world has been in turmoil since at least 1939, but the political situation in Germany and the rest of Europe was already in disarray well before that. (German) newspapers and magazines printed biting political caricatures, but they also featured short, apolitical pictorial stories with recurring figures. These characters were conceived and drawn with wit and warmth, and usually had both a moralizing and entertaining aspect, distracting readers from the difficult conditions of their reality. In contrast to the satirical caricatures, these “standing figures” in comic strips invoked harmony and well-being.

    Erich Ohser, alias E.O. Plauen, created his popular heart-warming “father and son” (Vater und Sohn) picture stories in 1934. Kurt Kusenberg recalled in 1962 the profile the cartoonist had in mind for the main characters of the new strip in the Berliner Illustrirten (sic!) Newspaper:

    “They must be created with wit, with love, and they certainly need public opposition to assert themselves. They are well received at once, so strength flows to them; they become more and more self-sufficient, more and more physical, and then live as long as they deserve, months or even years.”

    Despite the mandatory neutrality, a certain critique of social and political changes can be inferred from the “father and son” picture stories. Later, these popular characters, (and even their creator, Erich Ohser, and his son), were used for propaganda purposes – such as in advertisements for the “Winterhilfswerk”, or as decoration on fighter jets.

    This online conference is intended to bring together individual examples of standing figures and comic strips created between 1930 and 1945, as well as overviews on this topic. In addition to examples from Germany, international comic strip concepts are also welcome. The aim is to achieve a solid contextualization of the origin of these pictorial stories, their reach, their viewers, and instrumentalizations. The meeting is scheduled for July 30, or July 31, 2021. The technical details will be sent to you promptly after the selection of the speakers.

    The abstract should have between approx. 300 to 500 characters and present a rough outline of the idea of your contribution. Ideally, but not necessarily, it would have a connection to the work of Erich Ohser. Please send your contribution to Dr. Iris Haist ( and Sarah Kühnel M.A. ( Submissions can be in German, English, Italian or French. The deadline for submission is May 16, 2021, and feedback will be given by May 23, 2021.

    Reference / Quellennachweis:
    CFP: Cartoons und Comicstrips zwischen 1930 und 1945 (online, 30-31 Jul 21). In:, Apr 4, 2021. <>.

Crisis Lines – Coloniality, Modernity, Comics

ConferenceJune 9-10, 2021
Online (Zoom)
Convenors: Dominic Davies (City, University of London), Haya Alfarhan (King’s College London)

Colonial modernity has materially reshaped our world through the force of the line. Epitomized in the modern cartographic map, the colonial line is deployed as a  technology of delimitation and enclosure, often in relation to land, but also to seas and to skies. It is drawn across territories, fragmenting communities and framing populations, and prioritising occupation and ownership over habitation and presence. It authorizes borders, inscribing with pens and walls and satellites an imperial !visuality” (to use the nineteenth-century term expertly scrutinised by Nicholas Mirzoeff) onto the surface of the earth. Beginning in the slave plantation and settler colony, evolving through the heights of European imperialism, and calcifying into the military-media complex of our screen-oriented age, visuality has combined the lines of maps with other information-lines – treaties, bureaucracies, infrastructures, code – to contrive colonial modernity into a self-evident and indisputable reality.

However, while the colonial line extends into the present moment by controlling the very crises it has advertently created, it is not the only genre of line. As Tim Ingold has shown, lines can also trace modes and chart histories of resistance. There are hand-drawn lines, sketch lines, story lines, wayfaring lines; lines that carry counter-histories, that index the sway of rebellions lost and revolutions overturned. These lines orient positionalities and denote relationalities, both situating us on and habituating us into the world. As a gesture of encounter, they take place against structures of power, a ground from which “the right to look” might be claimed. This is not only an ocular but also an acoustic ground, an atmosphere that slips through and away from the frame, or as Tina Campt suggests, a frequency into which we might tune to better apprehend the affects and impacts of the image. “When the painted image is not a copy but the result of a dialogue,” John Berger writes, “the painted thing speaks if we listen.”

This conference invites papers that contend with the ways in which these lines are manifested and contested in comics, graphic novels, photo essays, zines, picture books, and other combinations of image and text. Amidst the intensifying crisis of colonialist and capitalist endeavour, we are searching for contributions that consider the constructive role of lines, their utility as technologies and tools of analysis and resistance, and as bridges between conceptual and concrete worlds. We are looking for lines that sketch new futures, methods, and modes of engagement, and that collaborate against modernity’s cartographic vision. Lines unravel but they can also contain; they disentangle but they can also build. In the architect’s hand, the line is a weapon that concretizes into steel and cement; in the painter’s, the line dissolves the subject-object distinction that undergirds modern thought. We welcome submissionsthat consider how lines operate on the page and through multiple dimensions of hearing, feeling, and sight, shaping and reshaping our perception of reality itself.

Papers might respond to the following issues or themes:

  • hand-drawn lines and the material of the page
  • peripheral realism and realist/modernist lines
  • genealogical lines (blood, kinship, affiliation
  • climate crisis and the entangled lines of the Anthropocene
  • racial lines and anti-racist movements
  • lines of sight and the distribution of the sensible
  • lines of movement, stasis, and flight
  • colonialism and empire in/as crisis (partitions, occupations, legacies)
  • Indigenous cosmologies, cultures, and ways of being
  • political and artistic representation (photography, portraiture, sketches)
  • „the migrant “crisis” and the global border regime
  • acoustic atmospheres, sound waves, sonic lines
  • architectural lines, blueprints for future worlds
  • neoliberal lines (managerialism, bureaucracy, deadlines)

300 word abstracts for 20 minute papers should be submitted to Dom Davies ( and Haya Alfarhan ( before midnight on Friday 9 April 2021. We particularly welcome papers that bridge pages with problems, and lines with lives. Our aim is to begin with drawings and to draw out from them new discussions and communities. We aim to be back in touch with speakers by mid-April.

A note on format

The conference will use an experimental panel-responder-roundtable format. There will be three parallel sessions, with a panel of two papers in each stream. A respondent will sit on each panel and offer a 10-15 minute response to panelists’ papers. Panelists will then be given the opportunity to respond to the respondents, with plenty of time allocated for a wider Q&A. The conference will conclude with a Roundtable session, in which respondents will re-convene for a final discussion of central and emerging themes.

N.B. This format means that panelists will be required to submit written drafts or detailed outlines of their papers to their respondents by Monday 24 May 2021. Please bear this deadline in mind when submitting an abstract for this conference.

Confirmed respondents: Professor Tim Ingold; Professor Hillary Chute; Professor Frederick Luis Aldama; Professor Candida Rifkind

Call for Papers: Graphic Narratives and Trauma

20th– and 21st-Century German Forum / MLA Conference 2022

This series of panels explores the representation of trauma in German-language graphic narratives. Recent decades have seen an increase in graphic narratives that deal with various traumatic experiences, including trauma related to warfare, genocide, terrorism, racism, sexual violence, domestic violence, illness, disability, migration, natural disasters and climate-change related suffering. Indeed, some scholars have argued that graphic narratives are particularly well-suited to portraying traumatic experiences through the lens of individual memories. Hillary Chute, for example, has suggested that the “fragmentary and condensed form” of comics panels corresponds to the fragmentary and condensed nature of traumatic memories. Because graphic memoirs both show and tell, they push “on conceptions of the unrepresentable” and capture what might otherwise be considered “unsayable.” Similarly, Gillian Whitlock states that “comics has a distinctive role to play in the work of representing traumatic memory and may be partly adept at finding room to maneuver amid spaces of contradiction and extreme states of violent contestation.” 

We encourage submissions that parse the representation of trauma in fictional and non-fictional graphic narratives. Possible topics include, but are not limited to the following issues:

  • How do graphic narratives relate to a visual archive of trauma?
  • How do comics address issues of gender and race in representations of trauma?
  • How do nonmainstream graphic narratives give voice to individual, highly personal experiences of trauma?
  • How do these texts negotiate the aesthetics and ethics of trauma?
  • How do varying conceptualizations of temporality impact the representation of trauma? 
  • How can the language of comics, exemplified by concepts such as iconic solidarity (Groensteen), subtend notions of social justice (see the 2020 double issue of Seminar on social justice,
  • Does graphic narrative’s oft-cited proclivity for self-reflectivity and realism enhance or diminish its capacity to bear witness to trauma?
  • How do the formal and aesthetic features of comics (e.g., the gutter, the reader’s habit to form single panels into a coherent whole) impact our understanding of trauma?
  • In which ways are graphic memoirs invested in what Leigh Gilmore calls “the ethics of testimony”? Do they indeed form part of an “alternative jurisdiction”?
  • How does the democratizing potential of comics, evidenced in an artist’s ability to produce substantial work without much funding (for example, through serial online publication), encourage the telling of stories that would be marginalized in mainstream media?

Please submit 300-word abstracts and a short bio to Elisabeth Krimmer ( by March 15, 2021. If your proposal is accepted, you must be an MLA member by April 7, 2021. You may only have two roles at the convention.

Special issue: The Social, Political and Ideological Semiotics of Comics and Cartoons

The Social, Political and
Ideological Semiotics of Comics and Cartoons
Special issue of Punctum. International Journal of Semiotics
EDITORS: Stephan Packard and Lukas R.A. Wilde

Deadline for Abstracts: April 30, 2021
Notice of Acceptance of the Abstract: May 15, 2021
Deadline for Submission of Full Papers: September 1, 2021
… Publication Date: Winter 2021-22

What more can semiotics do for comics? As early as the 1960s and through to the first decades of the 21st century, comics studies have attracted a large and perhaps disproportionate amount of attention from analytical semiotic approaches that foreground description and theory building: Their combination of pictures and text offering a challenge to any attempt towards a systematic theory of signs, and their experimental treatment of their semiotic inventory as well as the genres, imageries, and conventions of other media and art forms inviting descriptive scrutiny as well as playful engagement. Scott McCloud’s famous Understanding Comics (1993), both praised and criticized for its essentially semiotic approach, provided the foundation for the rise of sequential comics studies. Even the relatively more practice-based earlier work of Will Eisner (Comics & Sequential Art, 1985), on which McCloud built his own, focuses on a description of formal semiot-ic and semantic relationships. Thierry Groensteen’s Système de la bande dessinée (1999), on the other hand, elaborated a semiological approach to the comics images’ ’iconic solidarity.’ For semantics rather than syntax, Umberto Eco’s treat-ment of Superman (1962) had already extended a semiological perspective to examining plot and character.

The influence of these authors might wrongly cloud the plethora of early international contributions to a semiotic study of comics, including Ullrich Krafft’s Comics lesen (1978), Ursula Oomen’s Wort – Bild – Nachricht (1975), Daniele Barbieri’s Il linguaggio del fumetto (1990), and Anne Magnussen’s Peircean approach in Comics & Culture (2000, with Hans-Christian Christiansen), among many others. Natsume Fusanosuke’s and Takekuma Kentarō’s collection Manga no yomikata (漫画の読み方 1995, roughly: How to Read Manga) inspired a similar Japa-nese wave of formal-aesthetic and semiotic reflections of writing, images, and abstract line-art in the manga tradition, although this has hardly been noticed internationally due to a lack of translations. More recently, the multimodality approach of Kress and van Leeuwen (2006) has given rise to new methods, such as Janina Wildfeuer’s empirical discourse analysis of comics (2018ff.), Paul Fisher Davis’ multimodal systemic-functional linguistics (2019), or large-scale formal corpus analytics (cf. Alexander Dunst, Quantitative Analysis of Comics, 2018). Simultaneously, the combination of semiotics and cognitive linguistics has opened new venues, such as Neil Cohn’s description of distinct visual languages of comics (Cohn 2013).

And yet, many of these approaches have been accused of treating their subjects with arbitrary abstraction and an overload of theory, neglecting political and material conditions of comics production, contents, distribution, and fandom, and reproducing distinctions of class, race, and gender by elevating the body depictions of a popular genre to the metaphysical dignity of seemingly ahistorical semiotic principles (cf. Horrocks 2001; Frahm 2006). In the face of this criticism, we contend that a semiotic approach to comics studies always has and can continue to engender a thorough and critical engagement with comic books’ social, political, and ideological dimensions.

The naturalization of ‘improper,’ comical, and deformed shapes in comics can be exposed at the very heart of its ideological tendencies and implicit traditions. Carefully examining the cartoonish depiction of bodies and stereotypes against the political history of caricature offers insight into the reproduction processes that structure these comical signs. The formation and transformation of plot and figural schemata in serial storytelling invites closer looks at the currents shaping and tearing at the conventions of both the popular genres and experimental or avant-garde forms of comics. The drawing pen’s freedom inevitably leads to a pictorial database in which all aspects of the depicted world are specifically appropriated and invite interpretation. The reinvention of panels, pages, habits, and means of inferences in webcomics demand specific formal scrutiny alongside the social implications of their extended and postdigital usages. If we are to see transnational mainstream comics enter a ‘Blue Age,’ as Adrienne Resha has recently argued (2020), it is not least in the reordering of code, address, and com-municative situation that the expansion of topics and reader bases has to take place.

More fundamentally, what has been neglected in much of existing comics scholar-ship is the social implications of semiotics that should be understood as the exami-nation of an inherently social process of “unlimited community” (Peirce), as the “science of the life of signs in society” (Saussure). A comprehensive understanding of sign usage rhetorics requires an adequate account of its ideological dimension (Barthes).
Against this background, we invite abstracts that focus on the socio-political semiotics of comic books, manga, graphic storytelling, and political cartooning. More analytically, abstracts can be about topics such as, but not limited to:

• various forms of cartoonish representation in historical context;
• new approaches to the pictorial ideology of comics conventions and traditions;
• studies into the semiotic techniques of fandom appropriation and remixes;
• engagements with the sequential and serial forms of comic books and their social and economic conditions;
• narratological criticisms and revisions of ‘reality principles’ and ‘natural’ forms of meaning-making;
• inter- and transcultural adaptations, negotiations, and appropriations as semiotic transcriptions;
• research into specific comic genres and their conventionalized forms of expressions (e.g., superheroes, shōnen manga, funny strips, etc.) between conservatism and subversion, and many more.

Prospective authors are asked to submit an abstract of approximately 500 words by mail to the guest editors, Prof. Dr. Stephan Packard ( and Dr. Lukas R.A. Wilde (, including their affiliation and contact information. Acceptance of the abstract does not guarantee publication, given that all research articles will be subjected to the journal’s double peer-review process.

CfP: ‘Beyond the Graphic’ – Considering Violence, Sexuality and Obscenity in Comics

PublicationSpecial blog series – US Studies Online
Edited by Harriet Earle (Birkbeck College, University of London)

Since the 1970s, the comics form has skyrocketed in popularity and the types of comics we are reading – and how we are engaging with them – has changed dramatically. This new and developing type of comic is often referred to as a ‘graphic novel’, a term that is not universally accepted but allows readers to understand the ways in which the form is being used to tell multifaceted stories. However, it is a problematic term because it is so often applied to comics that are not fictional (as most novels are) and the word ‘graphic’ comes with a host of connotations related to sex, violence, swearing and ‘mature themes’. Additionally, despite a growing academic interest and a huge number of critically acclaimed comics being published each year, the reputation of the form has not developed accordingly; for some, comics is still a cheap, ‘pop’ form that does not engage with authentic social history and intricate narratives and themes. In truth, the comics form is ideally suited to the retelling of complex, nuanced stories and to the effective and affective representations of sex and violence. Rather than disposable, needlessly ‘graphic’ stories of no value, a vast number of comics narratives are finely constructed, rather than straight-up debased, providing a platform for the telling of ‘difficult tales’, of which there is no shortage in America!

This blog series aims to provide a side-long look at comics and the ways in which the form engages with both traditionally ‘graphic’ narrative themes and arcs, and also its own ignominious past. Comics studies is a multi- and inter-disciplinary field that incorporates aspects of comics history, publications & media history, textual & visual analysis, questions of reception & reader response, sociological theory, psychoanalysis, and literary criticism & theory.

We invite contributions from researchers and academics in any field within the remit of comics studies. Suggested topics for posts may include:

  • Physical violence on the comics page
  • Violence and social comment
  • Crime comics
  • Sexual violence and rape
  • Swearing, ‘obscenity’ and the ‘grawlix’
  • The history and development of comics as a form for ‘difficult stories’ (especially the rise of autographics and historical conflict narratives)
  • Representing sex and intimacy
  • Porn comics and Tijuana Bibles
  • Controversial texts and debates around reception (e.g. Werthem’s Seduction of the Innocents or the Murderdome debacle)

Please refer to the USSO submission guidelines for further information on style:

c. 250 word abstracts or expressions of interest should be sent to

A full schedule of publication and firm submissions deadline will follow in due course.

CfP: “The Philosophies of Stan Lee”

Call for Papers
This is an invitation for scholars to submit an essay proposal to be included in “The Philosophies of Stan Lee” for the University Press of Mississippi as part of their internationally respected publications in the field.This work is to celebrate the significant contributions made by Stan Lee as one of the most influential individuals in 20th century popular culture. Thus, I am seeking academics who possess a strong familiarity with his work and most importantly, can provide well-reasoned argumentation that is supportive of the book’s aim. Since this project is an appreciation of the man and his creativity it is the aim for it to be available for what would have been Lee’s 100th birthday in 2022.

Audience: Undergraduate university students in 1st/2nd year philosophy and / or comics studies.Writing style: accessible, serious and philosophically rigorous.

The collection seeks to offer philosophical analyses of a broad range of Lee’s endeavours based upon such things as:
•            Specific superhero characters
•            Non-superhero characters
•            Specific storylines and arcs
•            Historical eras in Comics (e.g., Gold, Silver, Bronze)
•            Various genres (e.g., Western, Horror, Humour)
•            Stan’s Soapbox
•            POW! Projects
•            Outside projects & collaborations (including educational talks)
•            Non-comics writing (e.g., captions magazines, newspaper strips, script treatments, etc.)
•            Other media forms (e.g., film and television productions)
•            as a professional in the comics industry (e.g., as editor, publisher, co-creator etc.)
•            as an industry spokesperson

Throughout the book I will be including brief reflections by well known comic book artists and writers who gained a “Lesson from Lee”. Already 25 individuals are signed up to participate.

Please send a note of interest and intent to:<

A more formal abstract and brief CV will be required early in the new year. Please also forward this CFP to other interested parties and professional discussion lists. I would be happy to respond to any rough ideas you’d like to toss my way. I look forward to hearing from you soon!

/Best Wishes, Jeff

////Dr. Jeff McLaughlin Ph.D.//Full Professor (Philosophy) and Chair//Department of Philosophy, History, and Politics//Thompson Rivers University//805 University Drive//Kamloops BC Canada//V2C 0C8/

Contemporary Nordic Comics Research Conference October 7- 8 2021 Malmö University

The contemporary Nordic comics scene is diverse and multifaceted. Classic characters from the 30s are still popular and exist side by side with avantgarde, feminist, and political comics. A mainstream Nordic comic could very well be represented by semi-autobiographical funny animals published in a daily newspaper; alternately we also find self-published manga and epic genres (noir, fantasy, horror). Twenty-five years ago, the situation was radically different. Many feared that comics would soon be obsolete due to the fast growth of digital media. Since then, however, both comics and comics research has undergone an almost explosive development in the Nordic region. This is especially noticeable in Malmö, branded as The City of Comics, with a rich infrastructure of comics-related initiatives including education, research, professional artists’ networks, publishing companies, comics organizations and The Swedish Comics Archive.

In recent years, academic interest in Nordic comics has also increased substantially, both in the Nordic countries and beyond, in disciplines such as comparative literature, media and communication studies, and art history, as well as within the emerging field of comic studies.

The Contemporary Nordic Comics Research Conference aims to present and discuss current research on Nordic comics, as well as share resources including academic networks, archives, and collaborative projects. A long-term goal is to contribute to the development of both research about Nordic comics and comics research in the Nordic countries through facilitating collaborations between comics researchers in the Nordic countries and researchers in other countries who are also interested in Nordic comics.

We therefor invite the submission of papers to the Contemporary Nordic Comics Research Conference at Malmö university.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:
* Trends in Nordic comics
* Comparisons between comics in the Nordic countries and abroad´
* The role of comics in Nordic culture(s)´
* The history of Nordic comics
* Nordic comics viewed from abroad
* Comics and the Nordic welfare states
* Nordic comics in dialogue with the world

Please, send proposals of 250 words, plus a short biography to: and no later than March 15.

If the covid pandemic should make it impossible to host the conference in Malmö, it will take place online.