GSC Call for Nominations

The CSS Executive Board has created two committees for which they are seeking members: the Accessibility Committee and the Code of Conduct Committee.

As part of the motions to establish these committees, the Board decided that one member of the CSS Graduate Student Caucus should serve on each committee to ensure graduate student representation.

We are still looking for a member of the GSC to serve on the Code of Conduct Committee. If you are interested in nominating yourself, please contact GSC President Biz Nijdam at elizabeth.nijdam@gmail.com.

Zack Kruse on the 2020 MSU Comics Forum

In an effort to amplify not only the voices of graduate students and contingent faculty but also events central in comics studies, it is our pleasure to feature this post by Panel Coordinator Zack Kruse on the 2020 MSU Comics Forum.

One of the great joys of my academic life is being a part of the Comics Forum at Michigan State. Before coming to MSU for my Ph.D. program, I attended the Forum for a number of years as both a comics maker and a nascent scholar. In fact, a major part of my motivation for coming to MSU was that the Comics Forum’s director, Ryan Claytor, asked me to join him on the Forum to develop a more robust slate of academic panels. Since taking on that role in 2015, the academic panels have doubled in number in each subsequent year. I’m really proud of that not because we’ve collected more scholars to populate panels but because I think that we’ve helped the Comics Forum become one of the places where new and interesting ideas in Comics Studies are being incubated and hatched. One of the ways we’ve been able to achieve that is by emphasizing the role of graduate students as generators of those new and significant ideas.

As a part of our aim to develop a sort of critical boutique, incoming-Panel-Coordinator Julian Chambliss and I have shifted the Forum’s attention to critical discourses in Comics Studies that we believe will help amplify the important work being done by emerging scholars, as well as scholarship that may have been on the periphery of earlier conversations. So, for the 2020 Comics Forum, we have made a deliberate effort to draw attention to the foundational work provided by comics librarians through critical librarianship and the absolutely crucial work archival work also being done by librarians. In conjunction with our interest in archival work, we’re also looking towards the Digital Humanities as a place for Comics Studies to flourish by thinking through how collections operate as data. In other underserved areas, we have partnered with MSU’s Graphic Narratives Network to include programming that focuses on the important work being done in non-Anglophone comics and comics in translation—a partnership that emerged, largely, because of the outreach done by current GSC President, Biz Nijdam, when she and I first connected in 2015. We have also been intentional in our panel formation to ensure that we platform some of the most important ongoing conversations in comics studies, particularly those involving race and identity. However, what all these efforts bank on are not our good intentions but the phenomenal work being done by so many of us in graduate programs and contingent positions.

Of course, many of our friends and mentors in tenured positions are doing incredible work that helps sustain the field, and we rely on those voices at the Comics Forum, too. But what I think we’ve been most successful at during my time with the Forum is developing an open and inviting space for scholars who may not have access to larger events. And, in so doing, we have uniquely positioned ourselves to be a forum for young, fresh ideas in the field. To ensure that accessibility, the Comics Forum does not charge registration fees of any kind—even though this may be a relatively small gesture, it’s one that is meant to be in comity and solidarity with those scholars who are most underserved or for whom such fees limit their ability to participate.

The 2020 MSU Comics Forum will be held on February 21-22 at the Michigan State University Library. Our artist keynote will be delivered by Emil Ferris (My Favorite Thing Is Monsters) and our scholar keynote will be delivered by Nick Sousanis (Unflattening).The Forum also features a full artist alley, which shares a floor space with our academic panel rooms. The deadline for proposals is Monday, September 23. The CFP can be viewed and proposals can be submitted at: http://www.comicsforum.msu.edu/forms/

I hope to see you there! 

Zack Kruse

Zack Kruse is a Ph.D. candidate in English at Michigan State University, and his first monograph, Mysterious Travelers: Steve Ditko and the Search for a New Liberal Identity, is in press at the University Press of Mississippi. He is currently the panel coordinator of the Michigan State University Comics Forum, and he previously served as the Managing Editor of The Journal of Popular Culture. With a unique blend of good-natured comity and over-the-top bravado, he will gladly tell you about all of the other comic booky stuff he’s done at the earliest opportunity. He can be found on Twitter at @zackkruse.

#CSS19 Sneak Peek: Francesca Lyn’s “Feels Bad Man: Anxiety and the Archives of Meme Culture” & “Against Universality: Embodiment in Women’s Autobiographical Comics”

The Comics Studies Society 2019 conference, “Comics/Politics” begins tomorrow! As folks are travelling to Toronto for the annual meeting, we wanted to offer one more Sneak Peek into events at #CSS19. This time we get a look at two presentations by former GSC board member and recent winner of the John A. Lent Scholarship in Comics Studies, Francesca Lyn. We can’t wait to see everyone in Toronto!

I am thrilled to be presenting the two research projects. The first “Feels Bad Man: Anxiety and the Archives of Meme Culture” will be presented as part of a roundtable titled Archival Anxieties: The Politics of Comics Preservation. This roundtable broadly centers on the archive and the ephemeral nature of comics. My brief presentation explores the challenges of preserving Internet memes. Examining memes and meme culture presents itself with several practical and conceptual obstacles. Memes are viral and often characterized by there wide dissemination. Additionally they are frequently altered and very rarely attributed. Here I focus on the controversial Pepe memes which appropriate Pepe the Frog, a character originally created by cartoonist Matt Furie. Pepe became a frequent fixture on the image board website 4chan and then became associated with alt-right politics. In October 2017, Furie addressed his own horror at Pepe’s evolution in The Nib. In the comic “Pepe the Frog: To Sleep Perchance to Meme” Furie depicts a somber Pepe first transforming into a soft-serve coiffed Trump surrogate. I also look at the social media campaign #SavePepe launched by Furie and The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), examining why it was a failure, eventually leading Furie to finally symbolically lay Pepe to rest in a 2017 comic strip.

My second project “Against Universality: Embodiment in Women’s Autobiographical Comics” builds on research from my dissertation Graphic Intimacies: Identity, Humor, and Trauma in Autobiographical Comics by Women of Color which examines works of comics art about the lived experience of the comics’ creator. My dissertation considered how the comics form represents the intersectionality of identity and feminism, exploring how the fragmentary nature of comics can embody trauma and identity in autobiographical comics written by women of color. These comics compress reality, representation, and subjectivity. Many of these comics employ the use of simplified forms and draw from an established vocabulary of conventions in comics such as panels, motion lines, and speech balloons.These graphic narratives address racialized difference and the construction of identity while also using humor to negotiate their narrations of traumatic events. Comics can allow for the representation of trauma as being intimately linked to corporeality. The comics medium allows creators to make visible and present fractured versions of the self, a product of traumatic fragmentation. I am most interested in how autobiographical cartoonists depict their embodied selves. Comics represent a collapsing of representation, a flattening of subject and meaning, the autobiographical comic compresses the self and bodily representation in a way that allows the cartoonist to portray complicated states of emotion and how these states can be expressed through the body.

In Understanding Comics (1994), Scott McCloud argues that comics derive meaning from their iconicity, stating that the more simplistic a rendering is the more easily we can identify with it. While comics, including autobiographical comics, do use symbolic language in order to derive meaning, many comics also resist or challenge their indexical nature. I argue that many of the most salient examples of women’s autobiographical comics resist iconicity as a strategic manipulation of the medium. These comics are often perceived as being messy and disjointed. or viewed critically due to their perceived reliance on the primacy of text in the narrative. In these comics the text complicates rather than explain the comic’s imagery, enabling autobiographical comics to perform the difficult task of portraying lived experiences. These comics challenge the dominant discourse on the gendered and raced body, presenting narratives that reject notions of a universal subject position.

Francesca’s roundtable will be Thursday, July 25 at 11:30am and her panel will be on Friday, July 26th at 8:30am.

#CSS19 Sneak Peek: Alexandra Lampp Berglund’s “Analyzing ‘The Truth’: An Examination of Gender and (Dis)ability in Wonder Woman”

CSS19, Comics/Politics begins in just 10 days! Continuing our Sneak Peek series is GSC Member-at-Large Alexandra Lampp Berglund on her presentation “Analyzing ‘The Truth’: An Examination of Gender and (Dis)ability in Wonder Woman.” We’ll be back next week with the final installment of #CSS19 Sneak Peek!

The 2nd Annual CSS Conference is fast approaching, and I can’t wait to learn with and from so many of you while there!

At this year’s conference, I will be presenting a paper titled, “Analyzing ‘The Truth’: An Examination of Gender and (Dis)ability in Wonder Woman.” As a part of the panel, “Feminist Theory and Contemporary Comics,” I will be presenting my research alongside Jocelyn Sakal Froese and Miriam Kent. Before the conference, I wanted to share my research with you all, including my conference proposal submission and the title slide of my presentation.

My paper began as a course project in the Spring 2018 and has continued to expand and evolve since I began. As a critical (dis)ability scholar and a lifelong reader of Wonder Woman comics, I knew I had to explore many of the poignant images featured in the Rebirth reboot, specifically the seven-part arc “The Truth.” 

I even include one of these images on the cover slide of my presentation, featured above. In addition to the image, I’ve also included the title of my presentation–a title inspired by the title of the arc itself–my name, institution, and Twitter handle. The latter three elements will appear on every slide in the presentation. Below my personal information, I have also included credit for the image used for the background (Wonder Woman (2017-2019) #15 by Greg Rucka). Each time art is featured, credit will also be provided on the same slide, as shown below. 

This will be my first time attending and presenting at a comics conference, so learning these appropriate presentation conventions before the conference from my peers on the CSS-GSC was so helpful (Thanks, Adrienne!). 

To share more about my research, I’ve included my conference proposal below: 

Wonder Woman and the sense of awe she inspires is in stark contrast to typical depictions of (dis)ability. Readers may find it difficult to associate Wonder Woman and her renowned visual representation with stereotypical characteristics of (dis)ability. Yet, one comic sought to change this. With the latest reboot of DC Comics, Rebirth, the creators of Wonder Woman designed a storyline that features Wonder Woman as a patient within Nightsong Hospital, an apparent asylum, crippled with the knowledge of her origin. The seven-issue arc explores the events that cause Wonder Woman’s admittance, her stay, and later release from the mental health facility.

This paper seeks to examine the ways in which (dis)ability and feminist theories intersect within one particular issue of this arc, “The Truth: Part One,” and how different elements of the comic enforce varying representations of (dis)ability and gender. Through the use of line style, panel transitions, and word picture relations, the writer, artist, and colorist collectively have issued a graphic text that visually depicts these conceptions. Additionally, throughout the single issue, repetitive themes and reappearances of certain elements create a sense of related narrative elements or general arthrology (Groensteen, 1999) that further assert a complex depiction of (dis)ability and gender. Throughout the presentation, these elements of the comic will be analyzed and critiqued using the feminist theory of (dis)ability to explore the myriad ways the creators have sought to portray the lived experiences of both (dis)ability and femininity.

My presentation is on Friday (full program). Come say hi, and let’s chat about Wonder Woman!

#CSS19 Sneak Peek: Safiyya Hosein’s “The American Dream: Representation of Muslim Masculinity in the Green Lantern”

Continuing the countdown to the Comics Studies Society 2019 Conference “Comics/Politics,” here is another sneak peek, featuring the work of the new Secretary/Treasurer of the Graduate Student Caucus, Saffiya Hosein. As always, if you’d like to share your work, reach out to the Grad Student Caucus board at gradcaucus.web@gmail.com.

After reading the CFP for the “Comics/Politics” conference, I was inspired to organize a panel that tackled the question of diversity in comics. This was something atypical for me since I normally prefer to submit an individual abstract and leave it to organizers to place me appropriately. But ComicsGate made its impression on me, and as a visible woman of colour occupying a space in comics scholarship and comics fiction, I wanted to do more. I spoke to my colleague, Erika Chung, and she was on board with the panel idea. I reached out to Kate Tanski from Women Write About Comics with the hopes that she could connect me to someone suitable for the third panel member, and that’s how I met Adrienne Resha (vice-president of the Graduate Student Caucus). After many discussions with Adrienne and Erika, we decided that the panel would more concretely tackle marginalized superheroes. And just like that the “Marginalized Representation and the Superhero” panel was born. I’m especially proud that this panel is an all-woman team.

My research interests are somewhere in the areas of Muslim superhero representation and Muslim fandoms. I decided I’d explore the Green Lantern, Simon Baz, in my paper because there simply isn’t much scholarship devoted to him. This is a shame because there aren’t that many Muslim male superheroes and Simon Baz’s storyline was unique for its confrontation of Islamophobia. As an intersectional feminist scholar, I couldn’t help but question how deeply the representation of Muslim masculinities factored into his storyline and I pondered the point that the writer, Geoff Johns, was trying to make about Baz. I’ll be tackling this very concept in my paper, “The American Dream: Representation of Muslim Masculinity in the Green Lantern.” In general, postcolonial feminist scholars have explored Muslim masculinities in their work and have pointed out the numerous stereotypes of Muslim men as violent and hyper-sexualized. They’ve approached this in tandem with exploring Muslim femininities in relation to White saviourism which are often realized in perspectives of the necessity to rescue Muslim women from Muslim men.

Considering the symbolism rampant in Baz’s debut in Green Lantern #0, my paper will also incorporate a semiotic analysis based on research in ideographs. Having written an entire master’s thesis on visual ideographs in political cartoons, I saw many similarities in Simon Baz’s debut. I’m also excited to conduct ideographical research in superhero scholarship as well because I’ve only seen it used in research on political cartoons.

As a Ryerson PhD candidate and a proud Torontonian, I’m elated to see the Comics/Politics conference take place in my university. Toronto is a beautiful city brimming with more diversity and cultural tolerance than I’ve seen in any other international city I’ve been to. There is no doubt in my mind that many will enjoy their time here. My presentation takes place on July 25th at 4:15. Hope to see interested participants there!

#CSS19 Sneak Peek: Adrienne Resha’s “‘Part of Something…Bigger’: Clark Kent, Peter Parker, and Kamala Khan

As we get closer to the Comics Studies Society “Comics/Politics” Conference next month at Ryerson University in Toronto, we are going to be featuring some sneak peeks of some presentations taking place at the conference. Here is a peek at Grad Student Caucus Vice President Adrienne Resha’s presentation:

We’re just a few weeks away from the 2nd Annual CSS Conference!

At this summer’s conference, COMICS/POLITICS, I’m presenting a paper titled “‘Part of Something… Bigger’: Clark Kent, Peter Parker, and Kamala Khan” on a panel titled “Marginalized Representation and the American Superhero.” I am privileged to be presenting with my co-panelists Erika Chung and Safiyya Hosein (GSC Secretary-Treasurer). In advance of the conference, I wanted to share my proposal and a sneak peek of my presentation.

My paper is kind of a mash-up between my master’s thesis, “The ‘Embiggening’: Marvel’s Muslim Ms. Marvel and American Myth” (abstract), and my CSS18 paper/presentation, “The Blue Age of Comic Books,” which is explicitly referenced in the proposal below.

In the second issue of the digital bestseller Ms. Marvel (2014-2015), the not-yet eponymous character, Kamala Khan, asks, “Could it be that what just happened to me is part of something… more?” Although Kamala’s question is more immediately concerned with the fact that she just emerged from a cocoon, it is also one that co-creator and writer G. Willow Wilson poses to the reader: could it be that this Pakistani-, Muslim American teenaged girl is part of something… bigger? In many ways, Kamala Khan was the first (or, sometimes, most—as in most popular) of her kind, but she is not exceptional as what some might term a “diverse” superhero character. She is exceptional as a superhero character.

Like Clark Kent’s Superman and Peter Parker’s Spider-Man before her, Kamala Khan’s Ms. Marvel embodies so much of what it means to be an American superhero and, by extension, an American citizen, particularly an American citizen of immigrant descent. Understanding superheroes to be exceptional, super-citizens, this paper argues that Kamala Khan is emblematic of the Blue Age of superhero comic books because her origin story synthesizes and adapts Golden and Silver Age origin conventions in a Millennial context, for Generation Y (or, as the series names it, Generation Why). Wilson, artist Adrian Alphona, and editors Sana Amanat and Stephen Wacker’s creation is only as exceptional as any other American, and that is what makes her so super, what makes her a hero. I’m pretty sure that last line was the result of having watched this Captain Marvel (2019) trailer about a hundred times.

My title slide has the title of my paper, “‘Part of Something… Bigger’: Clark Kent, Peter Parker, and Kamala Khan,” which is from Ms. Marvel (2014-2015) #2 by G. Willow Wilson. My name, university, and Twitter handle will appear on this first slide and every subsequent slide, and the final slide will include a contact email. The artwork, part of the cover of Ms. Marvel (2015-2019) #1 by Cliff Chiang, used for the background on this slide is credited in the bottom left hand corner. Art will be credited to the artist wherever it appears.

My presentation is on Thursday (full program). You’ll find me there, at the Graduate Student Caucus meeting on Friday or my workshop with Osvaldo Oyola on Saturday (if you’ve registered!) for sure. Otherwise, in Toronto or not, check my Twitter or the GSC’s: I’ll be live tweeting!

A Message from the CSS Grad Student Cacus

With our 2019 conference just around the corner, I wanted to reach out to introduce myself, announce some of our GSC programming at Ryerson, and take care of some administrative tasks in advance of our Annual General Meeting on Friday, July 26th at 1pm.

First things first: My name is Biz Nijdam, and I recently stepped into the role of GSC President. I’ve been on the GSC Executive Committee since 2014 and am honored to follow in the footsteps of former president Joshua Abraham Kopin in leading the GSC as we continue to establish our long-term goals. In particular, I am excited to collaborate with the other officers on GSC’s Executive Committee, Adrienne ReshaSafiyya HoseinHanah StiversonAlex Lampp Berglund and Jeremy M. Carnes, to continue our work supporting graduate students, contingent faculty and postdoctoral fellows in professional development and job market preparation over the course of the next academic year.

To this end, the GSC has organized several events to take place at CSS 2019:

On Thursday, July 25th (8:30am to 9:45am), we will host our second Job Market Clinic, which will take the form of an open conversation between GSC members and tenure-track and tenured faculty. This event is intended to give graduate students, contingent faculty and postdoctoral fellows the opportunity to ask questions about the job market process and discuss their job market documents (CVs, Cover Letters, Teaching and Research Statements) with faculty with search committee experience. Anyone contemplating the job market is encouraged to participate. Please see the flier below for more details.

Also on Thursday, July 25th (11:30am to 12:45pm), Hanah Stiverson will moderate the GSC-sponsored roundtable “Best Practices in Comics Scholarly Publishing”. With publishing being such an important part of securing a tenure-track position in today’s academic job market, the GSC is dedicated to helping foster the skills necessary for graduate students and contingent faculty to attain publishing success. This roundtable will feature comics scholars with specific expertise in different types of academic publishing in the field of comics studies and beyond. Each presenter will speak to one topic for 6 minutes, offering best practices and an informational handout, before we open the floor for questions.

In conjunction with this roundtable, the GSC is organizing an Academic Mentorship Program. This program will create opportunities for motivated graduate students, postdocs and contingent faculty to connect with established scholars in the field of comics studies. After sharing one piece of writing with their mentor, mentor and mentee will meet once over the course of the conference to discuss turning the project into a journal article or book chapter. Please see the flier below for more information.

Lastly, below you will find the recently redrafted Constitution of the Graduate Student Caucus, which we will be voting on in Toronto in July. Please review this document in advance of our Annual General Meeting on Friday, July 26th at 1pm in order to prepare for any discussion that may occur.

On behalf of all of us on the GSC Executive Committee, I would like to wish those of you who can make it safe travels to Canada! We look forward to seeing you all in Toronto! And please keep an eye on the GSC Website over the next 6 weeks, as we will be posting more event information, introductions to our new officers, and helpful tips on exploring the city of Toronto!

Sincerely,

Biz
GSC President

Comics Studies Society 2018 Award & Prize Winners

The Comics Studies Society is pleased to announce the winners of its 2018 Awards and Prizes. The CSS Prizes recognize outstanding contributions to the study of comics art. Nominees should draw on original research, advance existing scholarship where relevant, and reflect the highest standards of rigor and professionalism. 
2018 prize-winners will be publicly recognized at the CSS’s next conference, to be held at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada, July 25-27, 2019. 

2018 Hillary Chute Award for Best Graduate Student Conference 

Isabelle Martin(University of Illinois at Chicago)
“‘The Weight of Their Past’: Reconstructing Memory and History through Reproduced Photographs in Thi Bui’s Graphic Novel The Best We Could Do,” presented at the Comics Arts Conference, San Diego, July 2018.

2018 Gilbert Seldes Prize for Public Scholarship

Osvaldo Oyola (New York University)https://themiddlespaces.com/

  • “Guess Who’s Coming Home for the Holidays: Intergenerational Conflict in Bitch Planet,” The Middle Spaces, Dec. 11, 2018
  • “‘I AM (not) FROM BEYOND!’: Situating Scholarship & the Writing ‘I’”, The Middle Spaces, Dec. 25, 2018 
  • “YA = Young Avengers: Asserting Maturity on the Threshold of Adulthood,” The Middle Spaces, Oct. 16, 2018, which has been selected for publication in INKS.

2018 CSS Article Prize

André M. Carrington (Drexel University)
“Desiring Blackness: A Queer Orientation to Marvel’s Black Panther, 1998–2016,” American Literature 90.2 (June 2018).
*Free for next 3 months: https://doi.org/10.1215/00029831-4564286

Honorable Mention:
Nicholas E. Miller (Valdosta State University)
“‘Now That It’s Just Us Girls’: Transmedial Feminisms from Archie to Riverdale,” Feminist Media Histories 4.3 (Summer 2018).https://doi.org/10.1525/fmh.2018.4.3.205

2018 Charles Hatfield Book Prize

Lara Saguisag (College of Staten Island, City University of New York)
Incorrigibles and Innocents: Constructing Childhood and Citizenship in Progressive Era Comics, Rutgers UP, 2018.
https://www.rutgersuniversitypress.org/incorrigibles-and-innocents/9780813591797

Congratulations to all!

Meet the Board: Vice President Elizabeth “Biz” Nijdam

For our final Meet the Board post before the upcoming elections, we focus on our current Vice President and incoming President, Elizabeth “Biz” Nijdam. Biz is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Whitman College in Film/Media Studies & German Studies. Her research focuses on graphic medicine and comics on disability, visual culture studies and Art History, East German memory culture.

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

I joined the CSS in 2014 at the International Comic Arts Forum (ICAF) conference at Ohio State University, where it was founded, and immediately took on one of the Member-At-Large positions. Having recently turned my focus to comics studies, I wanted to really entrench myself in the field and help define the role of graduate students as CSS grew.

What was the first comic that you remember reading, or the first that really had an impact on you as a reader?

Watchmen. I was never a comics reader as a child and only came to comics during my undergraduate degree at the University of Victoria on Vancouver Island. I was struck by the political nature of the text and, as an art history student, the role of images in constructing its political undertones.

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

I’m currently reading Vietnamerica: A Family’s Journey by GB Tran and loving it.

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

The way Charles Hatfield has written about authenticity in comics has been fundamental in how I think about the role of comics in representing history. His Alternative Comics (2005) opened a lot of theoretical doors for me. Hillary Chute’s work Drawing Disaster (2016) has also been essential in how I think about comics and witnessing as well as Nina Mickwitz’s Documentary Comics (2016). More recently, Maaheen Ahmed and Benoît Crucifix’s edited volume Comics Memory: Archives and Styles (2018) has helped me develop how I think about the role of memory in comics and comics in memory.

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

I am among several scholars that have started looking at comics’ relationship to the archive and I’m excited to be able to discuss this turn in comics studies with some of the field’s most promising individuals.

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

Hillary Chute and Kelly Sue DeConnick.

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

Hillary Chute. So much of her work in comics studies made my work possible. I wrote my dissertation on Anke Feuchtenberger and her role in the evolution of German comics after 1989, which was heavily informed by the way Chute talked about women in comics in Graphic Women (2010). My current project – on the role of comics in representing history – is equally shaped by Chute’s Disaster Drawn. Furthermore, as an important female comics scholar, I think of her as a role model.

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

In addition to my current book project “Paneled Pasts: History, Media and Memory in the German Graphic Novel,” I’m starting a smaller project on comics on and for blind or visually impaired individuals.

You can follow “Biz” on twitter @bizabeth.

And if you have any writing that you think might work as a feature on this blog, feel free to reach out at gradcaucus.web@gmail.com. Our editors are looking forward to hearing from you!

Meet The Board: Web Editor Jeremy M. Carnes

We are continuing our Meet The Board posts this week with Web Editor, Jeremy M. Carnes. Jeremy is a Ph.D. Candidate and AOP Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the Department of English, on the Literature and Cultural Theory track.

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

I joined CSS as a founding member at the International Comic Arts Forum in 2016 in Columbia, SC. That was my first time at a comics studies conference, and it seemed like a boon to get in on the ground floor of this new organization. Shortly after ICAF 2016, I began working with then Vice President Josh Kopin and former President Colin Beineke to develop a plan for the web presence of the Graduate Student Caucus.

What was the first comic that you remember reading, or the first that really had an impact on you as a reader?

I actually don’t remember the very first comic I read. For some reason, when I get asked this question, the comic that always sticks out is Giant Size X-Men #4 from 2005. This issue focuses in large part on the “Legacy of Thunderbird” the Apache mutant introduced back in Giant Size X-Men #1 and promptly killed off two issues later. I think part of the reason this particular issues sticks out to me though is because of my work in indigenous studies. In one bound issue, Marvel reproduces the bulk of Thunderbird’s story, and the issues of indigenous erasure are hard to miss or forget.

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

One of my favorite new publishers to keep up with is Native Realities Press, which focuses on Indigenous comics. I especially love Elizabeth LaPensée (Anishinaabe) and Jonathan R. Thunder’s (Ojibwe) “Deer Woman: A Vignette” and the accompanying Deer Woman: An Anthology. I also think everyone should read Arigon Starr’s (Kickapoo) SuperIndian and Volumes 1 and 2 of Moonshot: The Indigenous Comics Collection (Volume 3 is coming soon).

I am also really enjoying Sina Grace’s continuation of Iceman, now with Nate Stockman on art. Nnedi Okorafore and Leonardo Romero’s Shuri is incredible, issue after issue. I still am enjoying Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Black Panther and Captain America, but understand why these aren’t appealing to everyone. Finally, I am continually longing for more issues of David F. Walker, Chuck Brown, and Sanford Greene’s Bitter Root; Tee Franklin and Alitha Martinez’s Jook Joint, and Chelsea Cain and Kate Niemczyk’s Man-Eaters.

I also just finished Thi Bui’s The Best We Could Do, which is incredibly beautiful.

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

I got the pleasure of meeting Ramzi Fawaz back when I was an M.A. student at Ball State University before his book, The New Mutants, came out. It was a singular experience. His book and the more recent “Queer About Comics” special issue of American Literature he edited with Darieck Scott have been formative in my thoughts about the medium. I also find myself returning to Hillary Chute and Charles Hatfield, whose work has been so foundational to the field.

More specifically though, my grad student and early career colleagues in comics studies help me to actually do the hard work. They inspire me every day. Margaret Galvan and Nicholas Miller have been amazing writing partners and brilliant people to think alongside. Osvaldo Oyola has been singularly kind in encouraging my work, and in splitting room costs with me at pretty much every comics studies conference. Further, the work of folks like Adrienne Resha, Leah Misemer, Francesca Lyn, Rachel Miller, Colin Beineke, Josh Kopin, Biz Nijdam, Andréa Gilroy, Joshua Plencner, and Sean Guynes has been so important in my own development as a comics studies scholar. I really wouldn’t be doing what I am without these folks and their brilliant work.

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

In his 2010 article “Indiscipline, or, The Condition of Comics Studies” Charles Hatfield wrote about how comics studies has been an import discipline; approaches from other fields, like literary studies or film studies, have been brought in to make sense of comics. I think, following on Hatfield’s hope he describes later in the same piece, comics studies is beginning to flip this approach. I am very heartened by the notion that approaches to comics on their own terms can exist and that these approaches can actually help us to think differently about literature, film, language, philosophy, medicine, or art history, etc.

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

Again, Ramzi Fawaz has been a huge influence in this way. However, I also recently finished Hannah Miodrag’s book Comics and Language, which has totally made me rethink the ways we talk about the form of comics. I think this is one of the most important works in comics studies in the past five years and really affects every facet of the field.

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

I’m going to cheat and name three writers, all of whom are working or worked on related projects: Ta-Nehisi Coates, Nnedi Okorafore, and Roxane Gay. I have so many things I’d love to discuss with them about the particular decisions they made in their respective Black Panther (or BP adjacent) series. The Wakanda that we’ve seen emerge in the past three years is quite different from the Wakanda of the 1960s and 1970s. I’d love to just hear them talk about these series.

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

I have a handful of articles that are going through the editorial process right now, but the main project is my dissertation. Tentatively titled Historical Dissidence: The Radical Possibilities of Comics Form, this project explores the various ways comics depict temporality and how these depictions can complicate our understanding of history. I am focusing on critical indigenous theory and queer theory to argue that comics form carries radical possibilities for the queering and decolonization of both time and history.

I’m also hoping a certain X-Men project comes together with a couple of colleagues!

You can follow Jeremy on Twitter @jmcarnes or email him at jcarnes@uwm.edu.

Next week will be our final Meet The Board Post until after elections! We get to hear more about our current Vice President and incoming President, Biz Nijdam.