How long have you been involved with CSS? What brought you to CSS?
I am new to CSS as of 2022. In reflecting on my journey through graduate school, it has become clear how much comics studies and comics spaces have been my academic home, and I felt that joining CSS would be another opportunity to engage with this community. One of the most meaningful ways that I have participated in comics spaces has been through contributing to ongoing efforts to organize comics programming that grows the field, so joining the CSS Graduate Student Caucus has been a great way to learn new ways to do so.
What was the first comic that you remember reading, or the first that really had an impact on you as a reader?
I remember being in preschool when I received one of Naoko Takeuchi’s Sailor Moon manga for the first time. From then on, I became so enthralled with visual narratives of transformation. Even before I could really read what the words said, the images in the manga kept my attention and motivated me to learn how to read. By first grade, Sailor Moon really became my personality. I was decked out in Sailor Moon-inspired hair clips, keychains, backpack–you name it! Witnessing the “moon prism power” sequence on page and on-screen was so impactful that perhaps it is no surprise that as an adult, I express myself through self-adornment practices like bright makeup, glitter, and accessorizing with big earrings.
What are you reading now that you think others should look into?
I am always bouncing between a few comics at a time, but right now, my recommendations short list is Sebastian Kadlecik, Kit Steinkellner, and Emma Steinkellner’s Quince: The Definitive Bilingual Edition (Fanbase Press), Gabby Rivera’s Juliet Takes a Breath: The Graphic Novel (BOOM! Box), Sharon Lee De La Cruz’s I’m a Wild Seed (Street Noise), and Lawrence Lindell’s From Truth With Truth: A Graphic Memoir (self-published).
What comics scholar has most impacted your current research, and why?
Doctora Fernanda Díaz-Basteris at Cornell College. As someone who is interested in drawing points of connection between film and television, comics, and social media in my dissertation, I have really appreciated learning from her work on Puerto Rican webcomics. In her writing and in her conference presentations, she often talks about Latinx comics creators’ use of social media platforms and how these spaces act as sites of resistance. I especially want to shout out her Forum contribution titled “Traumatic Displacement in Puerto Rican Digital Graphic Narratives” to a/b: Auto/Biography Studies in 2020 (vol. 35, no. 2). Doctora Díaz-Basteris is also so supportive of and engaged with independent Latinx creators at comics festivals. I love learning from her as to how I can bring the comics I collect from exhibitor alleys into my own classes. Overall, she is a big inspiration to me of what is possible as a comics scholar.
Is there any recent shift in the field of comics studies that you are particularly excited about?
I read a lot of comics on Instagram, and I am really interested to see how comics studies and social media studies can come together through scholarship on webcomics. Additionally, I love when comics creators talk about their use of and relationship to social media on panels and in interviews. I am excited to see where the field of comics studies will be in the next 5-10 years, and how we will continue to see social media tools incorporated into our scholarship, reading, and narrative creation.
Who is the comics writer/artist/scholar that has most influenced the way you think about the field?
It’s hard to pick just one, so I have to shout out all of the incredible scholars and comics creators I have met through SOL-CON: The Brown, Black, and Indigenous Comics Expo, The Latinx Comic Arts Festival (LCAF), and MSU Comics Forum. I am so appreciative of how spaces like exhibitor alleys at comics events and panels focused on BIPOC creators have opened up so many new doors to friendships, collaborations, and learning. I am grateful to be in community with so many wonderfully talented people, but also so many fiercely kind people.
If you could choose one comic writer or artist to meet who would it be and why?
My absolute favorite artist is Jen Bartel. The work that she did on the Image Comics series Blackbird is so beautiful and has been so impactful to me on so many levels. I have never connected with a comic artist’s style more than hers. I would really love to just thank her for creating such a beautiful comic series that follows main characters who are Latinas with magic powers and who are healing from generational trauma.
What are you currently working on and do you have plans for future projects?
I am really proud of the work I am contributing to The Latinx Comic Arts Festival (LCAF) at Modesto Junior College as Co-Coordinator of Programming & Marketing Support and an Advisory Board member. I am also working on my dissertation. With this project, I am actively thinking through how Latina girls and women innovatively use the Internet to produce self-mediation methodologies that envision ways of being beyond what is portrayed through legacy media forms. I am excited that some of what I am working through is forthcoming in TikTok Cultures in the United States (Routledge, 2022) and was just published in Latinx TV in the Twenty-First Century (U of Arizona P, 2022).
How can folks get in contact with you to talk more about comics or your research?
I can be reached via email (email@example.com), or feel free to say hi via Twitter (@KMSweeneyRomero).