#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!


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.

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.

Meet the Board: Member-at-Large Bryan Bove

In this installment of “Meet the Board” we hear from current Member-at-Large, Bryan Bove. Bryan is an M.A. student in Interdisciplinary Studies at New York University in the Center for Experimental Humanities and Social Engagement.

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

I first learned of CSS in March or April of 2018. I went to the three professors in my department at NYU who I was taking classes with and told them how I wanted to become more involved with other scholars in my field, and they encouraged me to find listservs and websites that suited my academic interests. Once I found CSS, I knew immediately it was the right community for me.

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 remember reading was Giant-Size X-Men #1 that was part of a bigger volume I bought on vacation at Universal Studios in Florida when I was about 13. I was drawn to the diversity of the team, and in later issues, to the sci-fi melodrama of writer Chris Claremont. I started buying other X-related titles that were out at the time, like Generation X, Peter Milligan and Mike Allred’s X-Force/X-Statix, and Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s New X-Men. As a closeted, lower-middle class queer teen living in Long Island, New York, the themes of tolerance, acceptance, and inclusion were deeply appreciated.

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

Recently I re-read America by Gabby Rivera and Joe Quinones and Young Avengers by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie for a paper I was working on about queer Latinx diaspora in Marvel comics, and I remembered how much I loved the inventiveness and boldness of both series. I’m also currently tearing through The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and trying to stay up-to-date on all the X-Men titles. I loved Multiple Man and New Mutants: Dead Souls by Matt Rosenberg.

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

I’m still fairly new to the field of comics studies and working on exploring it more deeply, but so far I’d say Ramzi Fawaz and Hillary Chute have had the greatest impact on my current research. Fawaz’s The New Mutants has been extremely helpful in shaping the ideas for my thesis, and Chute’s Why Comics? was a great read that allowed me to make connections outside of the world of mainstream comics.

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

I’m mostly excited about how much more respected comics studies is as a field compared to when I was first applying to masters programs in 2013, and I hope it continues to grow and find its place within the world of academia.

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

I’ve been lucky enough to meet a lot of influential writers and artists who I admire within the comics industry at various conventions, like the New York Comic Con or Flame Con, but I’d say the one writer/artist who has most influenced how I think about comics and what they can represent is Sina Grace, writer of the Iceman solo comic. I love what he’s done with that character, and how he’s made this unabashedly queer comic/hero while staying true to the mythos of the character. For the same reasons I really admire Gabby Rivera and her work on America. Grace, Rivera, and other LGBT+ writers and artists (like Kris Anka and Kevin Wada) are taking the preconceived notions of what a superhero is and can be and revolutionizing them in really fantastic ways for a wider audience, and I think that’s amazing.

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

It’s really hard to choose only one, but I’d love to meet Mike Allred. I was introduced to his work first through X-Force/X-Statix, but I’ve loved everything he’s ever done, from the obscure Citizen Nocturne and Red Rocket 7 to Madman and his run on Silver Surfer. I love the classic 1960s pop art vibe of his drawing style, and his wife Laura Allred’s color work is brilliant. I also love his storytelling, which is often nostalgic and heartbreaking. I may or may not have a tattoo of a scene from X-Force on my arm, that’s how much I love his work. Can I also give honorable mentions to Kelly Thompson and G. Willow Wilson? Because it seems like every time I find a new favorite, it’s written by one of them. They are geniuses.   

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

I’m currently working on my thesis for my master’s in interdisciplinary studies at NYU, which deals with sexual identity, non-normative masculinity, and continuity in Marvel’s X-Men comics. It focuses on three characters specifically (Iceman, Rictor, and Shatterstar) and has the working title “‘How Can They Be Gay?’ Writing Marvel Heroes Out Of The Closet And Into The Cape.” I plan on doing it as a comic, so right now I’m editing the written portion of it. I’m also working on my own comic and website, which I’m hoping to launch sometime this spring.

You can follow Bryan on Twitter @nerdbove and on Instagram @bboveart.

Meet the Board: Member-at-Large Hanah Stiverson

We are back again with another installment of our Meet the Board posts! This week is Member-at-Large Hanah Stiverson. Hanah is a Ph.D. Candidate (who recently passed her prelims! Yay, Hanah!) and Instructor in American Culture at the University of Michigan.

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

This is my first year working with CSS. I know Elizabeth (Biz) Nijdam, the CSS Vice President, from the University of Michigan where we both attended. When a position opened up she contacted me to see if I would be interested and I jumped at the chance to meet more comics folks! There are relatively few of us at my institution and I’m always looking for opportunities to branch out into the comics studies world and see what others are working on.

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

I read serial comics sporadically as a kid, generally ones that I would find in boxes labeled ‘free’ at yard sales and such. I grew up out in the boonies, so I didn’t have access to much beyond newspaper comic strips, which I still love for nostalgia if nothing else. The first actual comic book that I remember reading in full is one of the earlier Swamp Thing collections. I can’t be sure, but I would guess that it was during Alan Moore’s tenure because what impacted me was the cerebral darkness of the storyline. I’m not a fan of Moore in general, but Swamp Thing as a series had a way of bridging my twin interests of dark fantasy and superpowered beings in a way that I hadn’t experienced up to that point. However, a much more impactful read for me as a comics fan and scholar is Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’s Saga. I started reading that shortly after it debuted in 2012 and it radically altered how I thought about comics as a medium.

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

God, this is a hard question. I have so many titles to choose from! Probably everyone has read this already, but one of my favorites is Monstress by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda. The artwork by Takeda is beyond fantastic. It’s moody, intricate, and gently morose. I love the use of the dystopian Matriarchy which reminds me of some of my favorite SF writers, namely Ursula LeGuin and Sheri Tepper. I also have to mention a relatively new comic also published by Image called Prism Stalker, written and drawn by the fantastic Sloane Leong. It’s been likened to a trippy Sailor Moon, which I’m not sure I agree with, but it is definity trippy. More importantly it explores notions of settler-colonialism, indigeneity, and cultural erasure. I don’t know that she is the strongest writer or artist out there, but her use of both has created something a bit magical.

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

My research is heavily focused on systems of power and representation, so three scholars that I’m deeply indebted to are Adilifu Nama, Grace L. Dillon, and Kodwo Eshun. Dillon’s use of ‘Indigenous scientific literacies’ and ‘Ceremonial worlds’ is fantastic and vital, and Nama and Eshun both explore comics, power, and blackness in uniquely important and nuanced ways.

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

I’m going to have to echo Josh on this and say the aspect of comics studies that I’m most excited by is the growth in the field! There are so many innovative people and ideas that are emerging that it would be nearly impossible to pin down one aspect.

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

There have been a lot of scholars (and writers/artists) that have at different points shaped how I view this ever expanding and evolving field we’re in, but two recent reads have been wonderful for me to see the breadth of possibilities. Kate Polack’s work Ethics in the Gutter and Carolyn Cocca’s Superwomen are both fantastic books that helped me find my scholarly footing, so to speak.

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

I’m going to cheat a bit and say a creative team that I’d like to meet: Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples. Not only are they both unbelievably talented people, but they have a really unique partnership. Vaughan is such a huge name and yet it seems like Staples is still an equal partner both economically and in creative decisions. I’d love to sit down with them and talk about their individual and collective experiences working on Saga and their other projects.

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

Literally nothing for at least one more week! I just finished prelims/field exams and I am exhausted. In reality though, I’m beginning work on my dissertation which is broadly about the middle spaces in the comics industry that exist between ‘mainstream’ production and ‘alternative’ products, which can hold radical potential. I’ve just started writing the framework for a chapter about digital comics and forms of cultural capital – so it should be a fun project.

Meet the Board: Secretary/Treasurer Adrienne Resha

Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona, Cover by Cliff Chiang

Continuing our series of posts introducing the current board for the Graduate Student Caucus, this week features Secretary/Treasurer, Adrienne Resha. Adrienne is a Ph.D. Student in American Studies at the College of William & Mary.

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

My one year anniversary falls on January 9th, 2019, according to the receipt for my Inks subscription. I had been working on something (“The Blue Age of Comic Books”) that was perfect for the first annual conference. I sent the proposal just before New Year’s, and knew that if it was accepted (it was), then I had to be a member to attend and present. It’s not a particularly romantic story, but it doesn’t have to be.

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

I’ve read comics for most of my life, but I grew up reading manga, not American comic books. The first American comic that really had an impact on me was G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona’s Ms. Marvel. Kamala Khan was the first Muslim superhero to have her own title. To have a character like her in a tradition that spanned, then, seventy-five years meant that she was (to borrow from Wilson) part of something bigger. A lot of people have rightfully compared her to Peter Parker’s Spider-Man, but, for me, she’s most like Superman. That’s what I ended up writing my master’s thesis about, the series and Kamala Khan’s relationship to her antecedents, and I used an excerpt from that to apply to the doctoral program I’m in now. Ms. Marvel took me from reader to researcher.

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

The new Miles Morales: Spider-Man by Saladin Ahmed and Javier Garrón. I loved Ahmed and Christian Ward’s work on Black Bolt, and recommend it to everyone, but I’m really excited to see what Ahmed gets to do with Miles Morales. I’m also reading My Hero Academia by Kōhei Horikoshi. Now’s a great time to get started with the manga thanks to Shonen Jump’s new digital subscription service. And I’m not reading it now, but when Ahmed’s run on Ms. Marvel with Minkyu Jung starts in March, I’ll be reading that.

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

He wasn’t strictly a comics studies scholar, but, before Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People, Jack Shaheen studied representations of Arabs in comic books. He advocated for more nuanced representations of Arabs and Muslims in American popular media. His work, particularly on comics, informs my work on superheroes like Kamala Khan, Khalid Nassour (Doctor Fate), and Simon Baz (Green Lantern).

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

After I presented “Blue Age” at CSS18, Rebecca Wanzo tweeted, “one of the interesting things about comics studies is the interdisciplinary diversity and that there are SUCH divergent attachments to the field now. New people coming in without a long history of comics reading—producing very different perspectives.” I think that’s what I’m most excited about: that there are different perspectives emerging. I’m excited about being able to offer one of them, one of many.

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

I’m going to name two people since Josh gave about a dozen in one of his answers (and I could still name more). CSS Vice President Candida Rifkind and former GSC Secretary-Treasurer Rachel Miller. As much in their scholarship as in their service, they’ve shaped the way I relate to CSS and, more broadly, comics studies as a field.

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

G. Willow Wilson. I wouldn’t be where I am now if not for Ms. Marvel, and I’d love to be able to thank her in person. Sana Amanat, although neither a writer nor an artist, too.

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

I’m reading for my qualifying exams right now. I’m also writing for Women Write About Comics. And, this year, I’ll start working in earnest on my dissertation. It’ll be about Blue Age superheroes Kamala Khan, Khalid Nassour, and Simon Baz; the people who made/make their comics; and the people, like and unlike me, who they represent.

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

On Twitter @AdrienneResha or through my website adrienneresha.com.