This special issue of the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics (Taylor & Francis) explores practice-based approaches to comics-based-research and the various methodologies of communicating academic research through the comics format. In recent years the continued growth of comics-based research has been enriched by the increased visibility of research-based comics in academic journals, scholarly presses, and other platforms.
Monica Sassatelli considered and discarded the term “research-based comics” in favour of the term “research comics”(2021) and Marcus Weaver-Hightower has also used the latter term to describe his own work (2017). “Research comics” are comics-formatted publications, aimed at an academic audience, which make use of the accepted norms and standards of scholarly writing. In addition to research articles and book chapters these types of comics include academic book reviews, graphic editorials, and reports from the field. Research comics seek to present abstract ideas or study results in the comics format, breaking away from a logocentric approach to research communication. Significant models of this type of work are found in Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art (1993), and Nick Sousanis’ Unflattening (2015), but the true range is expansive, from Footnotes in Gaza (Joe Sacco, 2009) to Paul Fisher Davies’ illustrated book review (2018) of Simon Grennan’s A Theory of Narrative Drawing (2017), to John Swogger’s collaboration with Michael Whalen and Paul Minnis (2018) presenting archaeological research.
Thanks to the groundwork laid by earlier comics-based research from the above-mentioned authors as well as; Stuart Medley, Neil Cohn, John Miers, Eszter Szep, among many others, some scholars have recently made their entry into the field with full dissertations and articles conceived from the outset as comics, these include Bruce Mutard, Kay Sohini, and Giada Peterle. Recent arts-based research handbooks include instructions on “How to Draw Comics the Scholarly Way: Creating Comics-based Research in the Academy” (Marcus Weaver-Hightower, Nick Sousanis, Paul Kuttner, 2017). Journals such as Sequentials publish research comics regularly, and field-specific journals such as Sociologia (Re-formats: Envisioning Sociology, 2021) have issues dedicated to carving out a place for comics-based research in their field.
This brief summary is by no means exhaustive, as there have been substantial developments and experimentation in graphic journalism, graphic medicine, ethnographics, and historiographics, to name only a few fields. This special issue aims to gather together representations of the current state of the art in the practice and theory of research comics, embracing the diversity and fluid evolution of the topic. We invite proposals for research comics that can address (but are not limited to) the following topics:
- CBR theory illustrated
- Challenges of composition and layout
- Embodiment and positionality
- Emerging practices in ethnographics, graphic medicine, graphic journalism, historiographics, etc.
- Future directions in research-based comics
- Graphic argumentation
- Image comprehension
- Limits of the format
- Mimetic and antimimetic visualization
- Peer reviewing research in comics form
- Practice as research in CBR
- Sketch noting
The proposed research comic should fulfill or conform to a recognisable genre of scholarly activity or academic composition, and authors are encouraged to make use of the specific textual conventions associated with that type of activity or composition. As well as being an academic article the research comic might take the format of a book review, a scholarly interview, notes from the field, event report, etc.
Please submit by April 1, 2024:
- proposal of 300 words, or a graphic proposal of one A4 page (210 × 297 millimeters or 8.27 × 11.69 inches);
- 5 to 7 keywords;
- An expected page count and proposed methodology or description of the visual and creative choices.
Submit by August 1 2024:
Submit script and/or roughs for editorial feedback.
Submit by January 10 2025, the final (or near final) version for peer review:
Final submissions of up to 15 pages will be due by January 10 2025. Research comics should be submitted with a 500-word text-only methodological appendix, 300-word abstract, and 5-7 keywords. The submission should a separate script and image descriptions with page thumbnails, for peer review and text-to-voice software accessibility.This special issue of the JGNC will come out in 2025 .
The technical specifications of the final submissions are as follows:
- In-text citation, endnotes and footnotes are both accepted, the author may choose the citation style guide
- It is not possible to do a full bleed page or double-page spread.
- Exact maximum size of image: 131 x 209 mm (total page area 174 x 244 mm)
- There is not a guarantee that the first page will be a recto or verso.
- Due to the limited number of color pages allowed per issue, submissions should be in black and white or grayscale, unless directly addressing a question of color.