CFP: Comics in Conflict

Graduate Comics Organization Annual Conference
University of Florida. (Gainesville, FL)
April 14-16th, 2023
Stichtag: 24.02.2023

Historically, comics have always been a medium rife with conflict. Whether it be the publication of Fredric Wertham’s anti-comics Seduction of the Innocent, present-day banning of comics in classrooms, or even the hypervisibility of comics within the public realm, comics have a habit of ruffling the feathers of the status quo. Comics are often bound up in controversy and contention, and have been frequently situated as subversive or threatening. With this in mind, one could ask: what is it about the medium of comics that seems to be so intrinsically linked with conflict?  

 We invite a wide range of presentations, from both scholars and comics creators, exploring the myriad of ways in which comics intersect with conflict. In particular, we seek presentations that go beyond exclusively exploring Western comics and media and situate these conversations on a global scale. Our conference aims to explore historical and cultural ways in which comics have been at the center of conflict, as well as the ways in which comics lean into friction and controversy concerning narrative content, publication, and censorship. 

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

  • Comics and marginalized identity: how do comics offer new spaces and pathways for individuals whose voices are not prioritized within the mainstream? How is race accurately or inaccurately represented in comics? How is sexuality, queerness, and gender accurately or inaccurately represented in comics?  
  • Comics and subversion: what makes comics particularly at risk for being labeled as “subversive”? What is considered too obscene in comics?  
  • Comics and controversy: What is the relationship between controversy and comics? Where does the controversy seem most prevalent? Who is influencing or substantiating this controversy? Whom does the controversy affect?  
  • Comics and history: How have historical events influenced comics and the way they are challenged? How did the Red Scare’s containment culture affect comics? How can comics be political or in what ways do they attack politics?  
  • Comics and war: How have comics been used in connection with war? How have comics been used for war propaganda? How have comics influenced the general public’s sense of nationalism, especially in times of war or conflict? 
  • Comics and adaptation: what happens when characters are renegotiated for film or TV adaptations and stray from their original forms (especially when race, gender, or sexualities shift to be more “palatable” for a wider audience)? How much agency and creative control should creators maintain as their creations are adapted and re-envisioned?  
  • Comics and education: How are comics used in the classroom? What are the benefits of comics and pedagogy? How can educators continue to fight to keep banned comics on their syllabi?  
  • Comics and publishing: How do different formats affect our understanding of the narrative (i.e. digital versus print). In what ways does visual formatting hinder or promote a comic’s story? How have publishing houses eliminated/disbarred creator’s comics? 
  • Comics and fandom: What happens when a fandom becomes toxic or exclusionary? How do we deal with comics icons being co-opted by extremist groups (ex. The Punisher)? 

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. Proposals should be 200-300 words and include any A/V requirements–optionally including your present job title. All individual proposals should be submitted to by February 24, 2023. 

Discussion panels from multiple presenters coordinated around a central topic or theme are welcome. Panel proposals should also be 200-300 words in length, and include the panel’s A/V requirements–optionally including your present job title. Panel proposals should be submitted to by February 24, 2023. 

This conference will be held in person at the University of Florida’s Gainesville campus. If you wish to participate but cannot attend in person due to financial or health concerns, please notify us to see if a hybrid option can be arranged.