In this installment of “Meet the Board” we hear from current Member-at-Large, Bryan Bove. Bryan is an M.A. student in Interdisciplinary Studies at New York University in the Center for Experimental Humanities and Social Engagement.
How long have you been involved with CSS? What brought you to CSS?
I first learned of CSS in March or April of 2018. I went to the three professors in my department at NYU who I was taking classes with and told them how I wanted to become more involved with other scholars in my field, and they encouraged me to find listservs and websites that suited my academic interests. Once I found CSS, I knew immediately it was the right community for me.
What was the first comic that you remember reading, or the first that really had an impact on you as a reader?
The first comic I remember reading was Giant-Size X-Men #1 that was part of a bigger volume I bought on vacation at Universal Studios in Florida when I was about 13. I was drawn to the diversity of the team, and in later issues, to the sci-fi melodrama of writer Chris Claremont. I started buying other X-related titles that were out at the time, like Generation X, Peter Milligan and Mike Allred’s X-Force/X-Statix, and Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s New X-Men. As a closeted, lower-middle class queer teen living in Long Island, New York, the themes of tolerance, acceptance, and inclusion were deeply appreciated.
What are you reading now that you think others should look into?
Recently I re-read America by Gabby Rivera and Joe Quinones and Young Avengers by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie for a paper I was working on about queer Latinx diaspora in Marvel comics, and I remembered how much I loved the inventiveness and boldness of both series. I’m also currently tearing through The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and trying to stay up-to-date on all the X-Men titles. I loved Multiple Man and New Mutants: Dead Souls by Matt Rosenberg.
What comics scholar has most impacted your current research, and why?
I’m still fairly new to the field of comics studies and working on exploring it more deeply, but so far I’d say Ramzi Fawaz and Hillary Chute have had the greatest impact on my current research. Fawaz’s The New Mutants has been extremely helpful in shaping the ideas for my thesis, and Chute’s Why Comics? was a great read that allowed me to make connections outside of the world of mainstream comics.
Is there any recent shift in the field of comics studies that you are particularly excited about?
I’m mostly excited about how much more respected comics studies is as a field compared to when I was first applying to masters programs in 2013, and I hope it continues to grow and find its place within the world of academia.
Who is the comics writer/artist/scholar that has most influenced the way you think about the field?
I’ve been lucky enough to meet a lot of influential writers and artists who I admire within the comics industry at various conventions, like the New York Comic Con or Flame Con, but I’d say the one writer/artist who has most influenced how I think about comics and what they can represent is Sina Grace, writer of the Iceman solo comic. I love what he’s done with that character, and how he’s made this unabashedly queer comic/hero while staying true to the mythos of the character. For the same reasons I really admire Gabby Rivera and her work on America. Grace, Rivera, and other LGBT+ writers and artists (like Kris Anka and Kevin Wada) are taking the preconceived notions of what a superhero is and can be and revolutionizing them in really fantastic ways for a wider audience, and I think that’s amazing.
If you could choose one comic writer or artist to meet who would it be and why?
It’s really hard to choose only one, but I’d love to meet Mike Allred. I was introduced to his work first through X-Force/X-Statix, but I’ve loved everything he’s ever done, from the obscure Citizen Nocturne and Red Rocket 7 to Madman and his run on Silver Surfer. I love the classic 1960s pop art vibe of his drawing style, and his wife Laura Allred’s color work is brilliant. I also love his storytelling, which is often nostalgic and heartbreaking. I may or may not have a tattoo of a scene from X-Force on my arm, that’s how much I love his work. Can I also give honorable mentions to Kelly Thompson and G. Willow Wilson? Because it seems like every time I find a new favorite, it’s written by one of them. They are geniuses.
What are you currently working on and do you have plans for future projects?
I’m currently working on my thesis for my master’s in interdisciplinary studies at NYU, which deals with sexual identity, non-normative masculinity, and continuity in Marvel’s X-Men comics. It focuses on three characters specifically (Iceman, Rictor, and Shatterstar) and has the working title “‘How Can They Be Gay?’ Writing Marvel Heroes Out Of The Closet And Into The Cape.” I plan on doing it as a comic, so right now I’m editing the written portion of it. I’m also working on my own comic and website, which I’m hoping to launch sometime this spring.
You can follow Bryan on Twitter @nerdbove and on Instagram @bboveart.