Open Letter to the University of Bonn

Securing and maintaining the Bonn Online Bibliography for Comics Research (BOBC)

To the Dean of Philosophy and the Chancellor at Bonn University,

The Bonn Online Bibliography for Comics Studies (BOBC, was launched in 2008 under the direction of Dr. Joachim Trinkwitz, research assistant at the Institute for German Studies, Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies at the Rheinische FriedrichWilhelms-Universität Bonn. Initially designed as a tool for teaching, it was later published online as a service for the research community. Since then, it has been continuously expanded under Trinkiwtz’ direction. Thanks to his tireless effort, it now offers more than 13,500 international entries for researcher in interdisciplinary comics studies. Particularly noteworthy is the rich indexing of all entries (the dynamically expanded keyword catalogue now includes almost 4,800 entries, each in English and German), made possible by Dr. Trinkwitz’ decades of expertise and interdisciplinary knowledge.

The BOBC has become an irreplaceable, unique resource for international comics studies: it is a central point of reference for this growing field. It is acknowledged well beyond the German-speaking world by renowned researchers as well as international institutions of comics research, who regularly use it and recommend it to young academics (see also the attached research report by Prof. Dr. Bart Beaty and Prof. Dr. Benjamin Woo from the Universities of Calgary and Carleton, Canada). Every month, up to 150,000 database queries and hundreds of individual page views are counted by visitors from all over the world (18% of whom come from the USA and Canada). The bibliography has become an indispensable tool not only in German studies, but also in art and media studies, cultural studies and multimodal linguistics, as well as for many other philologies – such as American studies, English studies, Romance studies, Scandinavian studies, and Japanese studies – which we can no longer conceive their teaching and research into comics without this tool. Recently, even representatives of seemingly more remote disciplines such as medicine, religious studies/theology, and geography have become users of the bibliography.

The German Society for Comics Studies (ComFor e.V.) has been supporting the BOBC for almost a decade with regular sums from its membership fees to finance student staff positions for the initial recording of the ever more rapidly growing number of relevant new publications in our research fields. In order to maintain this indispensable resource, however, beyond this continuous technical labour, there is the need for constant indexing, coherence checking, and qualitative data control, for which an experienced colleague such as Dr Trinkwitz is needed.

In order to secure the future of this important resource even after the imminent retirement of our esteemed colleague, we therefore turn to the University of Bonn and its Faculty of Philosophy with two urgent questions in particular:

  • 1) How can the technical infrastructure for the BOBC be secured?
    The BOBC is currently running on a server of the Bonn Institute under the open source database software “WIKINDX”, which is currently maintained steadily and with commitment, but only through the efforts of a few individuals worldwide. Sooner or later, therefore, it will be necessary either to make a switch to a more expensive alternative database system that is professionally maintained, or to set up a (half-time) IT and information technology position that can continue to update and maintain WIKINDX.
  • 2) How can the professional maintenance of the BOBC be secured?

    Quality control, maintenance, and indexing of new entries require the continued work of a fully employed academic at no less than postgraduate level. Additional support by auxiliary staff for data entry can still be ensured through partner institutions such as the German Society for Comics Studies. We would therefore like to invite you to enter into a dialogue with the German Society for Comics Studies to discuss these needs in order to ensure the continued availability of this internationally and interdisciplinarily renowned research resource at the University of Bonn.


Dr. Joachim Trinkwitz for the BOBC

PD Dr. Christina Meyer, Dr. Lukas R.A. Wilde and Dr. Vanessa Ossa
for the Society for Comics Research (ComFor)

Working Group BOBC within ComFor:

Nicolas Gaspers (Düsseldorf),
PD Dr. Christina Meyer (Braunschweig),
Prof. Dr. Stephan Packard (Köln),
Dr. Joachim Trinkwitz (Bonn),
Dr. Lukas R.A. Wilde (Tübingen)

Supporting Institutions:

AG Animation, Gesellschaft für Medienwissenschaft (GfM), Dr. Erwin Feyersinger

AG Comicforschung der Gesellschaft für Medienwissenschaft (GfM), Dr. Véronique Sina

Arbeitsstelle für Graphische Literatur (ArGL), Universität Hamburg, Prof. Dr. Astrid Böger

CLOSURE, Kieler e-Journal zur Comicforschung, Dr. Susanne Schwertfeger

Institut für Jugendbuchforschung, Universität Frankfurt am Main, Dr. Felix Giesa

Interdisziplinäres Comicforschungsnetzwerk Düsseldorf (icon), Nicolas Gaspers

Netzwerk Comicforschung an der Universität zu Köln, Prof. Dr. Stephan Packard

Initial Supporting Colleagues:

Prof. Dr. Jörn Ahrens, Kultursoziologie, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen & Extra Ordinary Professor of Social Anthropology, North-West University, South Africa

Prof. Dr. Bart Beaty, Department of English, University of Calgary, Canada, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada

Prof. Dr. Jaqueline Berndt, Department of Asian Studies, Stockholm University, Sweden

PD Dr. Juliane Blank, Germanistik, Universität des Saarlandes

Prof. Dr. Prof. Dr. Stephan Köhn, Japanologie, Universität zu Köln

Prof. Dr. Irmela Marei Krüger-Fürhoff, Deutsche und Niederländische Philologie, Freie Universität Berlin

Dr. Pascal Lefèvre, Comics Studies LUCA School of Arts, Campus Sint-Lukas, Belgium (Brussels)

Prof. Dr. Markus Oppolzer, Englische Literaturwissenschaft und Fremdsprachendidaktik, Universität Salzburg

Prof. Dr. Stephan Packard, Medienkultur und Theater, Universität zu Köln

Prof. Dr. Monika Schmitz-Emans, Allgemeine und Vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft, Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Prof. Dr. Marie Schröer, Kultursemiotik und Kulturen romanischer Länder, Universität Potsdam

Prof. Dr. Daniel Stein, Seminar für Anglistik, Universität Siegen

Dr. Brett Sterling, Dept. of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures, University of Arkansas, USA (AR)

Prof. Dr. Jan-Noël Thon, Medienwissenschaft, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway

Assistenzprofessorin Dr. Janina Wildfeuer, Chair Group Multimodal Communication, Communication and Information Studies, University of Groningen, Netherlands

Additional Supporting Colleagues:

Christian Alexius, GRK Konfigurationen des Films, Universität Marburg/Universität Frankfurt

Prof. Maaheen Ahmed, Department of Literary Studies, Ghent University, Belgium

Associate Professor Robert Aman, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Linköping University, Sweden

Lorenza Antognini, Master en Histoire de l’art, Université de Lausanne, France

Jonathan Anuik, independent scholar

Dr. Christian A. Bachmann, Vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft, Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Prof. Dianna Baldwin, Ph.D., Director, Writing Center, Longwood University, USA (VA)

Sebastian Bartosch, M.A., Medienwissenschaft, Universität Hamburg

Dr. Arnold Bärtschi, Seminar für Klassische Philologie, Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Prof. John A. Bateman Ph.D.., Department of Linguistics, Universität Bremen

Hartmut Becker, ComFor

Romain Becker, Germanistik, Ecole Normale Supérieure/Université d’Angers, France

Prof. Eric Berlatsky, Ph. D., Department of English, Florida Atlantic University, USA (FL)

Dr. Marc Blancher, Romanistik, Universität Stuttgart

Helene Bongers, Doktorandin, Kunstgeschichte, Freie Universität Berlin

Felix Brinker, wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter, American Studies, Leibniz Universität Hannover

Prof. Michelle Bumatay, Ph.D., Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics, Florida State University, USA (FL)

Prof. Dr. Frank Thomas Brinkmann, Ev. Theologie, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

Laura Caraballo, postdoctoral researcher, Université Clermont Auvergne, France

Dr. Benjamin Caraco, Deputy-Head Librarian, University of Strasbourg, France

Adrean Clark, MFA, independent scholar

Professor Matthew Costello, Ph.D.. Department of Political Science, Saint Xavier University, USA (IL)

Brannon Costello, James F. Cassidy Professor of English, Louisiana State University, USA (LA)

Prof. Sam Cowling, Ph.D., Department of Philosophy, Denison University, USA (OH)

Dr. Benoît Crucifix, Ph.D., Department of Literary Studies, Ghent University, Belgium

Dr. Michel De Dobbeleer, Department of Literary Studies / Department of Languages and Cultures, section Slavic and East European Studies, Ghent University, Belgium

Anne Deckbar, M.A., Universität Siegen

Dr. Blanche Delaborde, independent scholar

Elke Defever, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of French and Italian, Indiana University, USA (IN)

Dr. Subir Dey, Ph.D., Department of Design, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, India

Christophe Dony, Ph.D., ULiège Library, University of Liège, Belgium

Prof. Randy Duncan, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Comics Studies, Henderson State University, USA (AR)

Annabelle Dupret, editor, publisher & comic book critic

Nina Eckhoff-Heindl, M.A., Kunstgeschichte, Universität zu Köln/Universität Zürich

Dr. Markus Engelns, Germanistik, Universität Duisburg-Essen

Charlotte Johanne Fabricius, Ph.D., independent scholar

Dr. Mario Faust-Scalisi, Universität Bayreuth

Leonhard Flemisch, M.A. North American Studies Universität Bonn

Dileydi Florez, PHD student, Drawing specialization, Faculty of fine Arts, University of Lisbon, Portugal

PD Dr. Ole Frahm, Arbeitsstelle für Graphische Literatur (ArGL), Universität Hamburg

Keith Friedlander, Ph.D.; Communications faculty, Olds College, Canada; President of the Canadian Society for the Study of Comics

Dr. Amadeo Gandolfo, Freie Universität Berlin, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

Prof. Dr. Laurent Gerbier, Department of Philosophy, University of Tours

Dr. Benoît Glaude, Ghent University, Belgium

Laura Glötter, Universität Heidelberg

Prof. Wendy Goldberg, Lecturer, University of Mississippi, USA (MS)

Prof. Ivan Lima Gomes, Ph.D., Faculty of History, Federal University of Goiás, Brazil

Dr. Felipe Gómez, Modern Languages Dept., Carnegie Mellon University, USA (PA)

Oscar Gual, Ph.D. in History and Associate Lecturer in Contemporary History, University of Valencia, Spain

Jun-Prof.’in Dr. Christine Gundermann, Historisches Institut, Universität zu Köln

Matthias Harbeck, FID Sozial- und Kulturanthropologie, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Prof. (i.R.) Dr. Thomas Hausmanninger, Christliche Sozialethik

Dr. Michael Heinze, Philosophische Fakultät, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf

Frida Heitland, MSt English and American Studies, University of Oxford, UK

Philipp Hennings, Hannover

Dr. Susanne Hochreiter, Institut für Germanistik, Universität Wien

Björn Hochschild, M. A., Filmwissenschaft, Freie Universität Berlin

Max Höllen, Projektkoordinator “EMPAMOS” (Empirische Analyse motivierender Spielelemente), Technische Hochschule Nürnberg

Dr. phil. Aleta-Amirée von Holzen, Schweizerisches Institut für Kinder- und Jugendmedien SIKJM, Schweiz (Zürich)

Assistant Professor Tiffany Hong, Ph.D., Department of Japanese Studies, Earlham College, USA (IN)

Katharina Hülsmann M.A., Japanologie, Universität zu Köln

Martin de la Iglesia M.A., Universität Heidelberg/Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel

Dr. Catherine Labio, Department of English, University of Colorado Boulder, USA (CO)

Dr. Laurike in ‘t Veld, independent scholar

Julia Ingold, Neuere deutsche Literatur, Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg

Dr. Dale Jacobs, Professor, Department of English and Creative Writing, University of Windsor, Canada

Ralf Kauranen, DSocSci, School of History, Culture and Arts Studies, University of Turku, Finland & Research Unit for Languages and Literature, University of Oulu, Finland

Prof. Dr. Sylvia Kesper-Biermann, Historische Bildungsforschung, Universität Hamburg

Assist. Prof. Dr. Kenan Koçak, Faculty of Arts, Department of English Language and Literature, Erciyes University, Turkey

Christina Maria Koch, Amerikanistik, Philipps-Universität Marburg

Dr. Jessica Kohn, Ph.D., France (Noisy-le-Grand)

Nicholas Kraus, independent scholar

Prof. Nicolas Labarre, Ph.D., Department of English, University Bordeaux Montaigne, France

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Frank Leinen, Romanistik, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf

Prof. Sylvain Lesage, Ph.D., Department of History, University of Lille, France

Julia Ludewig, Assistant Professor of German, Allegheny College, USA (PA)

Lisa Martincik, Librarian, University of Iowa, USA (IO)

Marin Martinie, Ph.D. student, Department of Art studies, University of Lille, France

Dorothee Marx, Amerikanistik, Universität Kiel

Mark McKinney, Ph.D., Professor of French, Department of French, Italian and Classical Studies, Miami University, USA (OH)

Prof. Gert Meesters, Ph.D., Departement of Applied Foreign Languages, University of Lille, France

Mark Minett, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Film & Media Studies and English, University of South Carolina, USA (SC)

Dr. Agatha Mohring, Ph.D., Department of Hispanic Studies, University of Angers, France

Pedro Moura, Ph.D., independent scholar, Portugal (Lisbon)

Dr. Pierre Nocérino, École des hautes études en sciences sociales, France (Paris)

Camila Núñez, Ph.D. student/Teaching Assistant. University of Iowa, USA (IO)

Prof. Andrew O’Malley, Ph.D., English Department, Ryerson* University (*Currently X University, while institutional renaming is underway), Canada

Kenneth Oravetz, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of English, Northeastern University, USA (MA)

Stéphanie Paulus, author

Elisabeth Pfeiffer, Masters candidate, Trent University, Canada

Morgan Podraza, Ph.D. Candidate, Ohio State University, USA (OH)

Dr. Karoline Pohl, Erziehungswissenschaften, Universität Göttingen

Álvaro M. Pons, Ph.D., Cátedra de Estudios del Cómic, University of Valencia, Spain

Prof. María Porras Sánchez, Ph.D., Department of English Studies, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain

Dr. Barbara Postema, Department of English Language and Culture, University of Groningen, Netherlands

Dr. Alexander Press, Lektor für Kunst- und Filmwissenschaft, Universität Bremen

Maël Rannou, director of the library of the International City of Comics and Images, Phd student, Université de Versailles Saint Quentin en Yvelines, France (Paris)

Dr. Marina Rauchenbacher, Universität Wien

M.A. Sebastian Reinhard Richter, Philosophie, Universität Düsseldorf

Leonard Rifas, Ph.D., Instructor, Division of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Seattle Central College, USA (WA)

Professor Candida Rifkind, Ph.D., Department of English, University of Winnipeg, Canada

Michael Rhode, independent scholar, Comics Research Bibliography

Dr. Philippe Rioux, Postdoctoral Fellow, Concordia University, Canada (Montréal)

Jenny E. Robb, Curator and Associate Professor, Billy Ireland Cartoon Library, Ohio State University, USA (OH)

Prof. Dr. Roger Sabin, University of the Arts, UK (London)

Zachary J.A. Rondinelli, PhD Student, Faculty of Education, Brock University, Canada

Prof. Francisco Saez de Adana, Universidad de Alcalá, Spain (Madrid)

Mag. Ranthild Salzer, Anglistik, Universität Wien

Professor Nicholas Sammond, Ph.D., Cinema Studies Institute and Centre for the Study of the United States, University of Toronto, Canada

Dr. Elisabeth Scherer, Hochschuldidaktik/Japanologie, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf

Andrea Schlosser, Amerikanistik, Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Susanna Schoch, M.A, Allgemeine und Vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft, Universität Zürich

Dr. Janek Scholz, Portugiesisch-Brasilianisches Institut, Universität zu Köln

Dr. Susanne Schwertfeger, Cristian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

Mag.a Katharina Serles, Institut für Germanistik, Universität Wien

Prof. Greg M. Smith, Ph.D., School of Film, Media & Theatre, Georgia State University, USA (GA)

Matthew J. Smith, Ph.D., Dean, College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences, Radford University, USA (VA)

Dr. Philip Smith, Associate Chair of Liberal Arts and Professor of English, Savannah College of Art and Design, USA (GA)

Prof. Nick Sousanis, Coordinator Comics Studies Program, School of Humanities/Liberal Studies, San Francisco State University, USA (CA)

Dr. Rik Spanjers, Media and Culture, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands

J.Prof. Dr. Anna Stemmann, Germanistik, Universität Leipzig

Markus Streb, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

PD Dr. Karen Struve, derz. Vertretungsprofessorin Französische Literatur- und Kulturwissenschaft, Technische Universität Dresden

Hanspeter Reiter M.A.,

Dr. Lise Tannahill, School of Modern Languages and Cultures, University of Glasgow, UK

Prof. Carol Tilley, Ph.D., School of Information Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA (IL)

Dr. Cristina Tosetto, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3, France

PD Dr. Florian Trabert, Germanistik, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf

Prof. Pablo Turnes, Ph.D., Instituto de Investigaciones Gino Germani, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina/Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Latin American Institute, Freie Universität Berlin

Dr. Orion Ussner Kidder, Fairleigh Dickinson University Vancouver, Canada

Eva Van de Wiele, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Literary Studies, Ghent University, Belgium

Prof. Dr. Dirk Vanderbeke, Institut für Anglistik/Amerikanistik, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

Natalie Veith, Englische Literaturen und Kulturen, Universität Stuttgart

Andreas Veits, Medienwissenschaft, Cristian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

Dr. Sathyaraj Venkatesan, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, National Institute of Technology Trichy, India

Lars Wallner, Ph.D., Department of Behavioral Sciences and Learning, Linköping University, Sweden

Martin Wambsganß, Dipl. Psych., Sozialwesen, Duale Hochschule Villingen/Schwenningen

Kaja Wegener, Papierrestauratorin M.A.

Associate Professor Paul Williams, Ph.D., Department of English & Film, University of Exeter, UK

Prof. Scott J. Wilson, Writing Across the Disciplines Program and Department of English, Luther College at the University of Regina, Canada

Dr. Lynn L. Wolff, German Studies, Michigan State University, USA (MI)

Anna Wołosz-Sosnowska, M.A., Adam Mickiewicz University, Poland

Leonard S. Wong, English Department Head, Templeton Secondary School, Canada

Benjamin Woo, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Communication & Media Studies, Carleton University, Canada

Research Report from Prof. Dr. Bart Beaty and Prof. Dr. Benjamin Woo:

In addition to adding our names to this letter, we wanted to add a brief specification about the way that the Bonn Online Bibliography of Comics Research has been mobilized as a research tool in comics studies. In 2016 we published The Greatest Comic Book of All Time: Symbolic Capital and the Field of American Comic Books (Palgrave-MacMillan). The central thrust of our argument was that the differing conceptions of cultural value have fundamentally shaped the development of comics studies. In order to provide an empirical foundation for this observation, we studied peer-refereed publications on selected authors in works in what we deemed the two most important data sources in the field: The Modern Language Association (MLA) International Bibliography and the Bonn Online Bibliography of Comics Research, reporting extensively on the findings in our book. That work has been cited nearly one hundred times in the five years since it appeared and, specifically, it is the empirical findings of bias revealed by the BOBC that have proved most influential to a generation of scholars. Without this tool, our research would have been inconceivable; there would have been no possible way for us to take on the enormity of reconstructing such a comprehensive database. The risk of losing the BOBC is the risk that an entire field of scholarship will be hamstrung for a generation. It is vital to the international scholarly community that it be maintained.

Prof. Dr. Bart Beaty (University of Calgary)

Prof. Dr. Benjamin Woo (Carleton University)