Meet the Board – Sydney Heifler

How long have you been involved with CSS? What brought you to CSS?

I have been involved with CSS since 2020 when I became a member-at-large for GCS. I really wanted to be more involved in the comics studies community and find my community.

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 ever read was an Archie comic or a Betty and Veronica comic. I used to borrow my older sister’s Archie digests that she got from the grocery store. I remember really loving them and getting lost in the imagery. It felt like a safe, funny world to be a part of and that I could spend as much time as I wanted to in it since there was no set pace to it, like when you watch a movie. 

What are you reading now that you think others should look into?

I am currently reading Élodie Durand’s Parenthesis. It’s so very good. I’ve also, for very obvious reasons, been recommending Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer to everyone. It made me feel seen when I read it and I think it’s done that for a lot of people. 

What comics scholar has most impacted your current research, and why?

In terms of lineage, my work on romance comics builds off the work of Michelle Noland, Trina Robbins, and Joan Ormrod. They have all done a lot of work on women’s and romance comics. I’ve also been doing a lot of graphic medicine work and that’s been informed by Andy Kunka and Hillary Chute’s writings in a big way. I draw inspiration from the broader graphic medicine community all the time. 

Is there any recent shift in the field of comics studies that you are particularly excited about?

I have been excited to see the commentary surrounding lgbtqia+ creators and the graphic works that deal with this topic. On that note, I love graphic scholarship and really like the work that people like Kay Sohini are doing to advance it. 

Who is the comics writer/artist/scholar that has most influenced the way you think about the field?

This is an impossible question to answer. But really, talking to other grad students, hearing what they’re working on and the concerns they have with our field has really challenged me in a good way. It’s made me realize the gaps in my scholarship and how to better address things that I need to address, which makes sense. Grad students are in the process of writing what feels like the most important document of our lives. We have to build off previous work, critique it, fix it if it needs fixing, and create something new. We are thinking about the big and small issues all the time. 

If you could choose one comic writer or artist to meet, who would it be and why?

I’ve been super lucky in that regard. I have met many of my heroes, but I still hope to meet Maia Kobabe. 

What are you currently working on and do you have plans for future projects?

I’m currently working on a chapter concerning Jack Kirby and romance comics as well as an autobiographical graphic medicine comic. I have an interview with Trina Robbins on fashion and comics that’s underway as well. After I finish those projects it’s going to be completely focused on my generals prep and then my dissertation! 

How can folks get in contact with you to talk more about comics or your research?

You can catch me on twitter @romancecomicbks. 

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