CFP: comics as sound objects

Publication
Comicalités
Special issue edited by Benoît Glaude (UGent) & Ian Hague (London College of Communication, UAL)
Stichtag: 01.12.2022

Comicalités and the editors invite contributions to a special collection about comics as sound objects. The collection will examine how comics can be adapted, remediated and/or transformed into aural works. Drawing on the rich history of audible comics and audio adaptations, we invite researchers from any academic field to explore the affordances and constraints sounds offer to the presentation of this ostensibly visual form. In doing so, we draw on the accounts of comics practitioners such as Jacques Martin and Dennis O’Neil, both of whom have emphasised the importance of sounds in the development of their creative practices.

“One day, as I was going to my piano class, I walked by the open window of the Châtenay-Malabry patronage [catholic youth club] and heard intriguing exclamations. I entered to see what was happening. A slideshow was being displayed, from the adventures of Tintin, while the commentator performed the different voices, whilst mimicking the action. […] Stunned by this amazing discovery, I went home to tell my parents that I wanted to become a cartoonist.” (Jacques Martin (1921-2010) quoted by Thierry Groensteen, Avec Alix, Tournai, Casterman, 1984, p. 17)

“You know, one of the things we haven’t talked about is the old Superman radio show. […] I think maybe that was a bigger influence upon me than the Superman comic books. That was everyday during my childhood, Monday through Friday, 5:15, St. Louis radio. Comic books were maybe once a week, until I got older and into the habit of trading them with my friends. But we all listened to those radio shows.” (Dennis O’Neil (1939-2020), interviewed in The Krypton Companion, Michael Eury (ed.), Raleigh, NC, TwoMorrows, 2006, p. 119.)

The collection’s scope includes songs, radio dramas, audiobooks, and other aural forms; works which use comics to produce an audible output, such as a spoken reading of a comic would also be included. The key point is that the outcomes should be audible in nature or effect a rethinking of a comic through the aural mode. Audio-visual media such as adaptations into film or theatre, or adaptations of sounds into visual comics (e.g., a drawn adaptation of a piece of music) are not included in the scope of this collection. Contributions should consider the cultures in which the selected objects sit, and the ways in which those cultures might connect to works in different ways.

Possible themes for consideration may include (but are not limited to):

Reading comics aloud

The oral reading of comics, live, without prior rewriting, but potentially with some commentary and improvisation. This may include adult-child reading practices, screenings with voice overs and/or sound effects, and expert commentaries on comics pages (during research seminars, author interviews), etc.

  • Narratological issues of the passage from visual narration to sound narration (audionarratology).
  • Adaptation processes
  • Cultural issues: the social and cultural contexts of oral reception.
  • Multimodal, multisensory stakes: the practice shows that the narrator and/or the listener often read through the source work at the same time, generating a multisensory reading.

Recording comics

Both the performance of a comics story to make an audio recording (with prior rewriting) and its (delayed) broadcast to listeners. This would include radio dramas, audiobooks, songs, etc.

  • Adaptation processes: comics remediation, intermedia relationships.
  • Performing comics texts: onomatopoeia vs. creating additional sound content (music and sound effects).
  • Singing
  • Formats of sounds and their supports: radio, record, book-and-record set, cassette tape, computer, etc., sound formats, their archiving and preservation.
  • Acoustic notation: how might we account for the score of a song or the text of a radio sketch?

Accompanying comics

Listening to a soundtrack while reading a comic strip, as in the case of a comics soundtrack, motion comics and other types of digital comics, etc.

  • Accompaniment, paratext, autonomous work. What is the degree of autonomy of the soundtrack as a work?
  • What is the relationship between the temporality of the sound recording (homochrony) and that of the graphic narrative (heterochrony)?
  • In its relation to fiction, does the content of the soundtrack have a diegetic or extra-diegetic status?
  • In terms of the reception experience, does the addition of sound have an effect on fictional immersion?

Guidelines for submission

This call for papers is open to all researchers, regardless of their status and origin, who write in French or English. We invite them to respond by submitting two documents:

  • A short biographical note.
  • An anonymous abstract in French or English of a maximum of 3000 characters, including spaces (approx. 500 words). The abstract should outline the proposed article’s themes and theoretical position, identify the corpus, and summarise the main conclusions that are expected.
  • Formats for submissions include:
  • Short works such as presentations of theses, archives, or collections (maximum 15,000 characters, including spaces (approx. 2300-3000 words))
  • Longer articles (maximum 50,000 characters, including spaces (approx. 7600-10000 words))
  • Interviews (for example with creative practitioners or academic specialists in relevant fields such as sound studies)
  • Proposals for other formats will be considered; please contact the editors to discuss these.

All proposals will be evaluated anonymously by the journal’s editorial board. Accepted submissions will receive feedback and completed submissions will be due by the 1st of June 2023.

Proposals should be sent in Word format (.doc or .docx) to benoit.glaude@ugent.be and i.hague@lcc.arts.ac.uk. The deadline for proposals is the 1st of December 2022.

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