Journals, Collections, and Book Series

Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies

Call for Papers: German Comics and Graphic Literature

While contemplating the sequential art of Rodolphe Töpffer, the Swiss grandfather of modern comics, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe made an insightful observation on the potential of the medium. He commented that“[i]f Töpffer did not have such an insignificant text before him, he would invent things which would surpass all our expectations.” Since that historic remark in 1830, Goethe’s assessment of comics’ potential has manifested globally. Today, comic art is regarded as an important transnational medium that broaches a range of subject matter, engaging both regional and global themes. In German-speaking Europe, in particular, graphic narrative has emerged as an essential form to examine German history and memory while representing the experiences of marginalized groups.


The multimodal dimensions of the comics medium renders it a unique form through which to discuss social justice and human rights issues. With its history of radical politics worldwide and ability to visualize bodies, comics draw attention to issues of representation – as well as to representation itself – in ways unlike other media. Through visualization and spatial and temporal fragmentation, the articulation of social justice themes – as well as our reading experience of them – differs dramatically from their engagement in more traditional texts. Visual cues of ethnicity, gender, class, religion and ability are not easily flattened into single-issue subjects, making comics fundamentally intersectional, while the history of the form itself asks readers to question assumptions, stereotypes and the impact of specific narrative strategies on social justice issues. Moreover, comics demonstrate why representation matters, communicating experiences that are often difficult to translate into words alone, such as chronic illness, depression, oppression, trauma and silence. Finally, through comics written by and about the LGBTQ community, people of colour and other minority groups, authors and artists are able to communicate subjective experiences of oppression and segregation visually, contributing a first-person perspective into larger discourses of inequality, bigotry or discrimination.


This special issue of Seminar seeks to demonstrate the diverse themes of German comics studies with a particular interest in social justice and human rights issues. How do German-language comics and graphic novels engage ethnicity, class, religion and ability through form and content? How are German-language comics and graphic novels in dialog with comics outside of German-speaking Europe through their social justice and human rights concerns? And what work do German-language comics and graphic novels still have to do?


We welcome submissions with a variety of focal points in German, Austrian and Swiss comics and graphic literature, including but not limited to the following:

  • comics and the experience of migration and displacement
  • comics and the representation of ethnicity and racialized identities
  • comics and the representation of marginalized or persecuted communities
  • graphic medicine and the representation of disability in comics
  • comics and LGBTQ rights and representation
  • comics and social justice work/activism
  • political cartoons and caricature
  • teaching social justice and human rights issues with comics and graphic narratives in the post-secondary German Studies curriculum


Please send a 500-word abstract and short bio to Biz Nijdam ( and Charlotte Schallié ( by June 15, 2019. The editors will notify contributors by June 30, 2019 and final submissions (5000- 9000 words; MLA 8th ed.) will be due no later than December 1, 2019 (preferably earlier). Submissions are welcome in English, French or German. 

The guest editors invite contributors to explore histories, audiences, methods, and industries at the intersections of comics and technical communication. There is a long history of overlap between the two areas of comics and technical communication: from Rudolphe Töpffer’s 19th-century physiognomy diagrams (Töpffer & Figueiredo, 2017), to Will Eisner’s (1969) “M16A1 Operation and Preventative Maintenance” manual for the US Army, to Scott McCloud’s (2008) comic on the inner workings of Google Chrome, and to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s comic, “Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic” (2012).

Comics address multiple audiences, from readers of instruction manuals to fans who then perform uptake of work in various technical environments. Comics represent complex data in engaging ways but also raise new ethical questions on visual representation and accessibility. These questions have led to a series of recent experiments in the design, purpose, and production of graphic storytelling, such as Andre Berg’s 3D app- based interactive comic, Protanopia; Ozge Samanci and Anuj Tewari’s 2010 place-based mobile comic, GPS Comics; Phillip Meyer’s braille-based tactile comic for people who are blind, Life; and Guy Hasson’s Comics Empower, an online store offering audio comics for visually impaired audiences. Moreover, comics industries and production processes provide rich data sources for expanding technical communication research and practice (see Woo, 2018).

In particular, this special issue investigates the following questions grounded in the following four themes. We specify “comics” for the sake of brevity but extend the inquiry to include other forms of graphic storytelling. We invite submissions that address how comics and technical communication can foreground marginalized voices and perspectives. Graphic approaches to any of the following are encouraged:

Histories, Theories, and Contexts

  • What are the historical relationships between comics and technical communication?
  • What theoretical approaches help us understand relationships between comics and technical communication?
  • What are the contexts in which comics and technical communication overlap?

Audiences, Users, and Perspectives

  • How do technical communicators use comics to engage with audiences?
  • How do users engage comics in navigating their information environments?
  • In what ways do comics and technical communication foreground marginalized voices and perspectives? In what ways have they failed to do so?

Data, Methods, and Ethics

  • How do comics effectively or ineffectively represent complex data in a variety of contexts?
  • How can technical communicators think through issues of human data representation in comics form?
  • How do comics increase information access and/or raise new accessibility challenges?

Industries, Applications, and Production

  • Where does technical communication take place in the comics industries?
  • What is the role of technical communication in comics production?
  • What technologies do readers use to engage digital comics?

Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

  • Visual data and accessibility
  • Visual storytelling and narrative methods
  • Technical communication practices in the comics industries
  • Histories of comics in technical communication
  • Comics’ potential to facilitate inclusion, legitimate marginalized knowledge, and support social justice in technical communication
  • The role of comics in facilitating user experience
  • Audience engagement with technical comics
  • Affordances and constraints of comics as information design tools
  • Ethics of visual representation
  • Digital technologies and experimental narrative

Materiality is the mediating force through which our senses engage information. As print and digital technologies alike have become increasingly more sophisticated, accessible, and affordable, some creators, scholars, and consumers have embraced innovative digital technologies, while others remain devoted to more familiar materials and formats. Differences in income, education, geographical location, and other factors heavily influence the technologies—digital and physical—through which we produce and consume content, conduct business, and communicate with others.

For Sequentials’ fourth Call For Comics, we seek visual interpretations of materiality in its myriad forms. How does form dictate content, and vice versa? How do digital platforms impact engagement and accessibility? Where do we situate the digital/analog divide? In short: how do we understand and navigate the material considerations of our world?

Submissions must be illustrated in comics form and can visualize one or more aspects or interpretations of the subject. Possible topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Print forms/technologies
  • Book/publishing history
  • Digital materiality
  • Experimental or atypical formats
  • Transitions from print to digital (or vice versa)
  • Non-visual texts
  • Haptic interfaces
  • Intersections between comics and materiality

More information can be found at:


The editor of Adapting Superman is seeking abstracts for essays that could be included in an upcoming collection.  Essays should examine the practices of adaptation and the relationship between stories or characters among the DC comic books featuring Superman and various media, including but not limited to: film, television, cartoon, radio, novel, comic strip, and video games.  Analysis should demonstrate adaptation theory as applied to the particular techniques utilized in moving from a comic book into a different medium.  Proposals which demonstrate how particular adaptation or set of adaptations reflect and critique their contemporary culture may also be considered.

Potential chapter topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Superman’s Transmedia Origin: Building the Mythos across Media Platforms
  • The Man of Steel on the Airwaves
  • The Man of Tomorrow on the Technology of Tomorrow: The Adventures of Superman on the Small Screen
  • “You’ll Believe a Man Can Fly”: Richard Donner’s Superman: The Movie
  • Saturday Morning Superman: Animating the Man of Steel
  • Superhero to Soap Opera in Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman
  • From Mad Scientist to Businessman: Recasting Lex Luthor on Superman: The Animated Series
  • Smallville: Recreating the Superman Mythos for the Twenty-First Century
  • Superman Goes Dark: Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel in a Post-9/11 World
  • Tyrant Superman in Injustice: Gods among Us

Essays should focus on adaptations that heavily feature Superman or characters closely associated with Superman.  Superman’s appearances as part of a team, such as film or cartoon Justice League, or being featured in episodes of non-related series, such as cartoon Batman Beyond, would be acceptable topics for analysis.  Similarly, essays focusing on key characters such as Lois Lane or Lex Luthor would also be welcome in this collection.  Topics should be limited in scope, examining the transmedia movement from one medium to another (e.g. comic book to film) or compare and contrast works within a single medium in context (e.g. 1978’s Superman: The Movie v. 2013’s Man of Steel).  Completed essays should be approximately 15-20 double-spaced pages in MLA format.

Submissions should be sent to John Darowski at

The series promotes outstanding research on comics and graphic novels from communication theory, rhetorical theory and media studies perspectives. Additionally, the series aims to bring European, Asian, African, and Latin American comics scholarship to the English speaking world. The series includes monographs and themed anthologies.

For proposal guidelines contact:


Randy Duncan
Henderson State University


Matthew J. Smith
Radford University