CfP: How to Analyze and Review Comics

Editor: Forrest C. Helvie
Stichtag: 15.03.2016

Have you ever read a review of a comic or graphic novel on a website and felt like you were only reading a book report? How many of you noticed an article in an academic journal that focused on one of your favorite graphic novels, but it ended up glossing over – or completely forgetting to mention – aspects of the art and dryly deconstructed the narrative?

Comics continue to grow in popularity within high school and college classrooms across the country. However, teachers less familiar with comics may struggle to integrate these accessible books into their classroom and would benefit from an easy to read and concise primer on how to analyze and review this up-and-coming medium. Along similar lines, students may be unfamiliar with the medium and unable to fully appreciate the various elements of the comic book format from an academic and critical perspective. Likewise, many bloggers, online journalists, or academics struggle with providing a comprehensive analysis of the visual elements of comics due to a lack of familiarity with the conventions of the medium in a way that is both critical and yet appealing to a general audience.

This collection seeks to address these concerns and more through providing readers with a brief and accessible primer on how to approach comics from a critical perspective. Whether one is a teacher looking for a means to dissect an original graphic novel as part of a new lesson plan, a student seeking a deliberate method for better understanding visual storytelling to helping, or a budding journalist desiring to write more thorough literary analysis, this book seeks to fill that need. Many comic professional lament the number of reviews and articles being published in popular, mainstream outlets that fail to “get” comics, and while this collection does not aim to address every possible aspect of writing about comics, it does look to help guide writers in a better direction than what many are presently taking.

For this collection, the editor seeks essays along the following lines:

Essays (1,000-2,500 words) that cover HOW TO ANALYZE:

  • Story (Visual representations of figurative language)
  • Story (Common comic tropes and narrative devices)
  • Line work
  • Inks
  • Colors
  • Lettering
  • Format conventions (monthly serialization, trade paperbacks, original graphic novels, web comics)

ESSAYS (1,000-2,500 WORDS) that cover the following topics:

  • Fact v. Opinion: Keeping It Professional
  • Tone: Using an Objective, Active Voice While Keeping Your Personality
  • It’s a MEDIUM, not a GENRE: Superheroes and Beyond
  • Context, Summaries, and Spoilers: Don’t Give It All Up
  • Sexy Lamps, Refrigerators, and Other Narrative Pitfalls
  • Longform v. Short form Critiques
  • Conducting an Interview: The Basics

Please submit a 250 word abstract along with your CV to Forrest C. Helvie at by March 15th. Notice of acceptance will be given by March 25th. Completed chapters will be due by May 15th.

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