CfP: The Dark Side: A Supervillain Reader

edited by Robert Moses Peaslee and Robert G. Weiner
at University Press of Mississippi
Stichtag: 15.10.2016

It seems as though everywhere one looks the villain and anti-hero is at the forefront of popular culture, especially where sequential art characters appear on film and television. From the popularity of characters like Walter White, Frank Underwood, and Wilson Fisk, to Gotham’s second season (subtitled Rise of the Villains) and the 2016 release of Suicide Squad, to Captain America: Civil War’s heroes being considered villains depending on one’s perspective, the supervillain is truly having a moment. But our fascination with villainy has a much longer history, one that provides rich context for what we’re seeing today.

If a superhero is only as substantial as the villains she or he faces, what happens when the line between villainy and heroism is blurred? How do we account for this narrative shift in focus toward the villain’s point of view? How should we read the villain in the 21st century?

This call seeks original and reprinted contributions to a reader on supervillains (similar to Hatfield,’s Superhero Reader and Coogan and Rosenberg’s What is a Superhero?), a volume that will be useful in both undergraduate and graduate courses, but also have general audience appeal.

This project is under contract with the University Press of Mississippi. Manuscript submission is scheduled for summer 2017, with publication to follow according to review, revision, and publication schedules.

Possible topics include but should not be limited to:

  • Proto-supervillains in theology, classics, mythology, literature, etc.
  • “Super” villains in cinema like Darth Vader, Voldemort, Agent Smith and Anton Chigurh
  • Specific comics villains like Dr. Doom, Darkseid, Captain Cold, Paste Pot Pete, The Plutonian, The Red Skull, etc.
  • Conceptual discussions of (heroism and) villainy
  • Means versus ends philosophies and supervillainy (for example, Magneto as civil rights activist)
  • Political and economic power as explored in supervillains or hero/villain dichotomies
  • Evolution of supervillains in popular culture
  • Audience engagements, fandom and relationships with supervillains (cosplay, etc.)
  • Complexity of problems, simplicity of solutions – the villain as fixer
  • Anti-heroes: taxonomy, characterization, conceptualization, impact (e.g., Diabolik, The Punisher, Lobo)
  • Reverses and opposites – heroes’ “evil” mirror images
  • Gender, sexuality and supervillains
  • Race, ethnicity and supervillains
  • The hero as villain (e.g., Marvel’s Civil War, Superman as killer, etc.)
  • The villain as hero (e.g., Suicide Squad, Lucifer)

Original Submissions:

Contributors of new material should seek to develop short, tight essays of 3,000-4,000 words that explore ideas related to villainy and the concept of the supervillain. We seek a balance between pieces that relate to villainy in general and those that focus on sequential art characters from various media, including film, television, videogames, comic strips, comics, and graphic novels. Please send a 200-300 abstract to and by October 15, 2016. Authors of accepted abstracts should be prepared to submit final essays no later than December 31st.

Reprinted Submissions:

Authors of previously published work that would be interested in having their pieces reprinted or excerpted as part of this volume should submit to and by October 15, 2016 a citation, abstract, pdf of the piece (if possible), and written confirmation of the previous publisher’s and/or the author’s permission and rights to reprint.

Please note that all submissions will be reviewed by the editors and are not guaranteed for publication until final review and official acceptance.

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