CFP: Comics in Community

Graduate Comics Organization
University of Florida, Gainesville
March 27 - 29, 2020
Stichtag: 10.01.2020

The Graduate Comics Organization at the University of Florida now invites proposals to our 17th annual conference: “Comics In Community.” The conference will be held March 27th through 29th, 2020. We welcome applicants from all stages of their careersto submit papers addressing any aspect of the conference topic. Independent scholars, as well as creative and community practitioners, are especially encouraged to apply.

Comics are a particularly rich site to imagine community both on and off the page. Our conference hopes to foreground relationships realized through Image/Texts and their circulation. Forms of community including, but not limited to, zine fests, cartoonist unions, letter columns, comics shops, art scenes and conferences have shown how form and content are reciprocally determined between comics and communities. This spirit of community throughout comics and comics scholarship prompts questions about the “representation” of communities, whether marginalized identities or subcultural affinities, on the page and in person. Creators, scholars, and readers have used comics to develop new communities, explore utopian feeling, imagine alternative communities, and encourage queer theoretical modes.

At the same time, deep and abiding histories of racism, misogyny, homophobia and transphobia, including moments like Comicsgate, have shown how “community” and identity in comics can be weaponized against marginalized people. And cultural heritage sites, such as archives, develop their comics collections from community resources and collector communities, provoking questions about the legitimization and exclusion of different communities in and around comics. How, then, is “community” in comics navigated, celebrated, weaponized, and canonized, and by whom? How has this conception changed over time, with the emergence of comics studies as an academic field, and within different eras of comics creation? How do geographies form, enable, and transform communities in comics, and how has this shaped comics history?

We are particularly interested in queer communities and communities of color in comics; new and emerging communities, including new or regional comics conventions; practitioner and publisher communities; the erotic as a community site in comics; digital communities and sites; labor and community in comics, including unionization efforts; and refugee and prisoner comics. We also welcome contributions for a special panel on the work of the late Don Ault, whose overall impact on comics scholarship as a community, and the comics community at UF especially,  are enduring meaningful.

Possible topics may include but are by no means limited to:

  • Comics as a community or particular communities within “comics”
  • Publishing and publishers as sites of community, particularly the works of particular publishers or publishers with a community focus, like Short Box or Koyama Press
  • Regional and local hubs as or with comics communities, particularly those less extensively documented as arts hubs and those in the Southeast
  • Comics and related mediums in relationship to marginalized communities, including queer comics, Black comics, Latinx and Chicanx comics, and Asian and Asian-American comics
  • Marginalized communities within broader “fandom” umbrellas, including Blerd conventions and queer fan events like Flamecon
  • Comics and community in archives, galleries, libraries, and museums, including comics in grassroots archives like the Lesbian Herstory Archives
  • Comics and labor, labor communities in comics, including unionization efforts and the intersections of race, gender, and labor in comics
  • Crowdfunding and comics, like Iron Circus, the Elements anthologies, and Kickstarter
  • Crowdsourced creative work and creative transformation, “copyleft,” “copywrong,” and fair use as community practice
  • Subcultures, including fashion subcultures, in comics, including punk, lolita, and cosplay, and the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and subcultures, like the Hernandez Brothers’ work, or Ben Passmore’s punk comics
  • Distribution and circulation, including online comics and the relationships between race, gender, community, and circulation, and comic stores as community hubs
  • Webcomics collectives, like Blank Label or Dumbrella, and studio communities, like Pizza Island
  • Communities around particular publishing areas, such as erotica, or autobiography

We encourage presentations on any of these themes, including traditional academic papers. We especially welcome creative and hybrid creative/academic work by scholar-practitioners. Presentations should be 15-20 minutes in length. We are unable to evaluate abstracts in languages besides English, but we welcome multilingual presentations and will do our best to support such work. Sign language interpreters will be made available on request. Discussion panels from multiple presenters coordinated around a central topic or theme are welcome. Proposals of 200-300 words, plus a short bio, optionally including your present job title and A/V requirements, should be submitted to by December 1st, 2019.

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