CFP: The Gutters: Comics, Cinema, and Cultural Capital

Vernon Press - edited collection 
Edited by Reginald Wiebe (Concordia University of Edmonton)
Stichtag: 01.10.2021

Vernon Press invites chapter proposals on Adaptation in Comics and Television for an edited collection The Gutters: Comics, Cinema, and Cultural Capital, edited by Reginald Wiebe (Concordia University of Edmonton).

All areas of study, with a common goal of engaging the cultural, social, philosophical, and material significance on the topic of cultural capital and respectability in cinematic adaptations of comicbooks are invited to participate.

Despite and Black Panther (2018) being nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, very few – arguably no – comicbook movies are valued as “important.” At the same moment comics and graphic novels are being considered as serious literature, exemplified by Nick Drnaso’s Sabrina (2018) being nominated for the Man Booker prize, cinematic comicbook adaptations have no comparable canon of great works. Logan, the final movie (to date) starring Hugh Jackman as the X-Men’s Wolverine, is one of the most well reviewed cinematic comicbook adaptations. Brian Truitt in his review for USA Today, characterizing the film in the same vein as most of his contemporaries, describes it as “a gripping film that transcends the comic-book genre by saying something important.” Comicbook adaptations are often given praise with Truitt’s caveat: they are good in spite of their source material. They are best athletes on their little league team. Given the immense popularity of many comicbook adaptations, there is a tendency in studies of cinematic adaptations of comics to focus on the successes: namely, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Batman, and Superman. But there have been cinematic comicbook adaptations since the 1930s, and the vast majority of them are dismissed and critically ignored or, at best, given credit for transcending their origins. Comicbooks adaptations themselves often seem to disown their sillier (and much more popular) history in favour of discourses of respectability. There is much critical attention paid to cinematic adaptations of comicbooks, but little focus on the movies that fall outside these discourses of respectability. The question is not about which movies are better than others, but about the cultural capital that provides the rationale for such evaluations. What factors have resigned cinematic comicbook adaptations to the gutters of academic study?

The scope of the present call is broad. All topics regarding the intersection of comicbooks, cinema, and cultural capital will be considered. Possible topics include:

  • *canonicity in cinematic comicbook adaptations
  • *failed franchises (e.g. The Rocketeer, Judge Dredd, Mystery Men, The Adventures of Tintin, RIPD)
  • *cult hits (e.g. Dick Tracy, Scott Pilgrim vs the WorldDredd)
  • *critically derided adaptations (e.g. Howard the Duck, Barb Wire, Batman & RobinCatwoman, The Spirit)
  • *superhero movies not based on comicbooks (e.g. Condorman, Darkman, Meteor Man, Hancock, Unbreakable/Split/Glass, The Incredibles/The Incredibles 2)
  • *Marvel Movies not in the MCU or X-Men franchises (e.g. Howard the Duck, Elektra, Punisher)
  • *Sequels that fail to meet the commercial expectations of their predecessors (e.g. Men in Black and The Mask sequels)
  • *Franchise readjustments (e.g. Batman, Batman Begins, Superman ReturnsMan of Steel)
  • *Comic strip adaptations (e.g. Popeye, Annie, The Addams Family, Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers)
  • *Comicbook movies directed at children (e.g. Riche Rich, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Dennis the Menace, Garfield, The Smurfs)

Deadline for proposals: October 1, 2021

Deadline for first drafts: July 1, 2022

How to submit your proposal:

Please submit one-page proposals (200 words approx.) including an annotated summary and a short biographical note.

For further questions or to submit your proposal, you can email Reginald Wiebe (

A paper that has been published previously may not be included.

Selected abstracts will be notified by the end of October 2021, and full chapters should be submitted by July 1, 2022. Complete chapter lengths should be between 6000-7000 words.


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