Monthly Archives: May 2016

Introduction: Francesca Lyn, Member at Large

10363347_10106570690510361_4712203260538544823_nHello! My name is Francesca Lyn and I am currently a doctoral candidate in Media, Art & Text at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. I am originally from North Lauderdale, Florida and I received both my BFA and my MA from the University of Florida, where I started off as a painter and printmaker. My master’s thesis was on music mashups and online culture.

After graduating with my Master’s, I took a year off from school and worked in an office doing public relations. I always planned to return to my studies eventually, but wanted to take some time off to really think about my future and research programs of study.

While working at my office job, I decided to take classes at the Sequential Arts Workshop (SAW), a comics arts school in Florida that was also conveniently located two blocks away from my apartment. While I was always a comics reader, taking these classes sparked a deeper interest in comics and I have since taken several classes at SAW, including a week-long workshop with autobiographical cartoonist Gabrielle Bell.

I wrote reviews for the comic and pop culture news website Comics Bulletin. I read critical theory on comics for fun, and I revisited Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics. My collection of comics continued to grow, with friends introducing me to incredible examples of small press works. Comics became more and more important. Eventually I transitioned from studying gendered digital representations to studying gendered representations in comics.

My dissertation “Graphic Intimacies: Identity, Humor, and Trauma in Autobiographical Comics by Women of Color” examines five texts by women of color written in the new millennium. I am interested in how autobiographical comics offer a new framework for exploring transgenerational trauma through the complex and intersecting themes of race and gender.

My teaching is also focused on comics, and I have created and taught an interdisciplinary course called “Gender, Race and Comics”. In this course students learn how to do comics research with special emphasis on utilizing VCU’s Comic Arts Collection. Students explore how the formal qualities of comics are utilized in order to tell compelling memoirs as well as fictional narratives. Particular emphasis is given to graphic narratives created by women of color.

In my free time I enjoy performing both standup and improv comedy. I have taken several classes at Coalition Theater and enjoy looking very silly.

Introductions: Rachel Miller, Secretary-Treasurer


Following our recent CSS elections, we wanted to introduce our two new board members. First up is Rachel Miller, our new Secretary-Treasurer -ed.

Hey y’all! I’m Rachel Miller, current PhD student in the Ohio State University’s English Department, lover of mini comics, zines, and hanging out on the many porches of Columbus (even in the winter months). In my academic life, I work on Post-1945 American lit, gender and sexuality, and popular culture (especially as it pertains to the “trash[ed]” culture of teenage girls 1984 – present). I received my MA from Ohio State, defending a paper about Ghost World, the Riot Grrl movement and what teen girl bedrooms can tell us about periodization and literary history; and I hold a BA from the University of Chicago.

My current project considers how teenage girlhood, particularly as it emerges through feminist activist archives in the early 90s and across a range of pop culture text from this period, might help us resituate dominant modes of talking about what happens to postmodernism at the end of the millennium (and after). I consider how the archival methods of teenage girls (bedroom culture, diary keeping, etc.) represented in film and comics; the use of “girl” and girl culture as both a marketing ploy and a feminist rallying point during the early 90s; and the ties between feminist comics, small press, and arts practices of the period might point towards methods of rethinking time, history, and the archive (or something like that, who knows.) I work a lot with comics by Phoebe Gloeckner, Lynda Barry, and Dan Clowes, but I also hope to excavate the really rich comics made by women and girls at the smallest of small presses (early work by Ariel Bordeaux, Ariel Schrag, Jessica Abel, etc. etc. etc. there are a lot of them).

In my non-academic life, I run the blog Trash Queens where I write about and review (what else) contemporary comics, mini comics, webcomics and zines by girls and women. I also care for and mother a small black pug named Wallace – our life is eerily similar to the above panel from Plutona (except I don’t live with my mom and my pug’s name is Wallace not Loki, though that is, admittedly a pretty rad name for a pug).

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