CfP: Freaked and Othered Bodies in Comics

Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics
Special Issue
Stichtag: 15.03.2016

How do we define ‘normal’? Quite literally it comes from the Latin norma meaning ‘carpenter’s square’. Straight. And ‘abnormal’? That’s from the Greek, anomalos, and the Latin abnormis, meaning ‘monstrosity’. We leap cognitively, thanks to those boy-fucking, poison-guzzling, sheet-wearing Olympians right to ‘monster.’ Normal? Square. Abnormal? Monstrous.”
— from the Eisner-award-winning and Harvey-award-rejecting comic, Sex Criminals (#12, Sept. 2015), by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky

The freak has become an established figure of study across academic disciplines, from history (Leslie Fiedler, Michel Foucault) to film studies (Julia Kristeva, Niall Richardson) to disability studies (Rosemarie Garland Thomson, Donna Haraway) to literary studies (G. Thomas Couser, Elaine Showalter). However, despite the fascination with the body as a physical spectacle in comics and graphic narratives, little has been done to explore the representation of freaks, monsters, and mutants, or deformed, grotesque and othered bodies. This collection of essays aims to lay a foundation for the study of “freaked” bodies in comics.

We invite papers that investigate the representation of freaked and othered bodies in comics, including superhero, scifi, horror, underground, alternative and autobiographical. Graduate students, independent scholars, and academics of all disciplines are welcome to submit abstracts.

The essay collection will be published by the peer-reviewed Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics. Abstracts of 150 words, with a 50-word biography, should be submitted by 15 March 2016; articles of 5000-7000 words will be due by 31 July 2016.

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • Comics that (re-)inscribe the constructions of freakery and normality, conformity and deformity
  • Grotesque self-representation as freaking or queering and “coming out” as a freak
  • How nonconforming bodies are used as commentary on or exploration of social issues
  • Posthuman bodies and inhuman bodies; the freak as a dehumanising agent
  • Freak/monster as a representation of fear, disgust, admiration, or aspiration
  • “Freaking” as visual coding of madness, mental illness, or evil
  • Freaks as born or made

Please send all questions and submissions to both Aidan Diamond ( and Lauranne Poharec (

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