Last Post of the Year 2018

As in previous years, the editorial team of the Society for Comics Studies (ComFor) will take a brief holiday break. We wish a Happy New Year to all of our friends and members and hope that 2019 will be a successful year full of exciting reading experiences for all of us. We will be back on 7 January 2019 with regular news on comics studies. As usual, we will begin the new year with some reading recommendations by our ComFor members.

Happy holidays,
Robin-M. Aust, Alexandra Hentschel, Julia Ingold, Laura Oehme, Katharina Serles, Natalie Veith & Lukas R.A. Wilde

New Publication Series on Comics Studies

Recently, two new publication series on comics studies have been announced by their respective editors:

Wilfried Laurier University Press is currently preparing the series Crossing the Lines: Transcultural/Transnational Comics Studies, edited by Barbara Postema, Candida Rifkind and Nhora Lucía Serrano. This interdisciplinary publication series will focus on contemporary research that unites comics studies with impulses from the fields of gender studies, art history and visual studies as well as postcolonial and Diaspora studies. Further information and contact addresses can be found in the flyer. –> see flyer

Routledge is planning to release the series Routledge Focus on Gender, Sexuality, and Comics Studies, edited by Frederik Byrn Køhlert. This series will collect contributions from the fields of gender and sexuality studies that engage with comics and similar formats as well as their consumption. Further information and contact addresses can be found in the flyer. –> see flyer

The editors call for submissions of relevant publications. Please see the flyers for further information.

Conference Report: ComFor Annual Conference 2018

A Conference Report by J. Rehse, P. Zwirner, M. Pollich, Y. Neuhaus, S. Böhm, and L. Respondek (students of the University of Cologne), Photography by Philin Zwirner

From September 17th to 19th 2018 the 13th Annual Conference of the German Society for Comics Studies (ComFor) took place at the University of Cologne. Under the main theme “Spaces Between – Gender, Diversity and Identity in Comics” the conference schedule – planned and organized by Véronique Sina and Nina Heindl – offered a wide range of interesting insights into state-of-the-art research on the nexus between the medium of comics and categories of difference and identity such as gender, dis/ability, age, and ethnicity. Participants who already arrived on Sunday (the day before the official start of the conference) had the opportunity to become familiar with the city of Cologne. In the afternoon, the cultural program started with a guided tour through the exhibition “Avengers Assemble” held at the Cöln Comic Haus. With highly entertaining host(s) and a lot of interesting details, the visit of the exhibition was a perfect start for the conference. Afterwards, the group took a stroll along the Rhine in warm and shiny weather. With a boat-trip along the picturesque panorama of the most beautiful part of Cologne, the pre-program ended and gave the participants the opportunity to enjoy the rest of the evening in the historic center of Cologne.

At the official beginning of the conference on Monday, the conveners Véronique Sina and Nina Heindl, as well as Manuela Günter (Vice-Rector for Gender Equality and Diversity of the University of Cologne), and Stephan Packard (President of the German Society for Comics Studies) welcomed all speakers and guests. They stressed that it is their great pleasure to open a conference that not only focuses entirely on gender, diversity, and identity in comics, but also presents a majority of female speakers as well as an all-female organizational team – a premiere for the German Society for Comics Studies.

Continue reading

Exhibition Poster and Program Flyers for ComFor 2018

2018 07 11 12uhr - 2018 09 20
„SuperQueeroes. Unsere LGBTI*-Comic-Held_innen“

In less than two and a half months, ComFor’s Annual Conference 2018 will take place at the University of Cologne on the topic “Spaces Between – Gender, Diversity and Identity in Comics”. At the same time one can visit the exhibition “SuperQueeroes. Unsere LGBTI*-Comic-Held_innen”, which was designed in 2016 by the Schwules Museum Berlin and shown with great success. For the first time, queer comic heroes of various kinds were thematized in the German museum world. As part of the ComFor annual conference, the exhibition was brought to Cologne under the organization of Christine Gundermann and reworked for the university by students as part of a seminar.
The exhibition can be visited from 11 July to September 20 in the foyer of the Philosophikum of the University of Cologne. Vernissage is on the 11th of July from 12 o’clock, opening with a talk by and about comic artist Ralf König . Subsequently, the exhibition will be opened by Dr. Kevin Clarke, curator of the Schwules Museum Berlin.

The organizers of the conference, Véronique Sina and Nina Heindl, have now also published digital program flyers in German and English (design: Julia Eckel), which not only provide quick overviews of the topics and the schedule of the conference, but – with motifs by artist Aisha Franz – also turned out to be very appealing:

Program flyer in German
Program flyer in English

Continue to the conference’s page with information on the registration process

ComFor’s New Managing Committee:

As of April 27, 2017, ComFor has elected a new Managing Committee for the next two years.

After four and a half years, Dr. Catherine Michel and Dr. Felix Giesa had decided to conclude their tenures. Both our colleagues have supported and contributed to the reform of ComFor, newly founded as a public society in 2014, as well as to the decisive expansion of ComFor’s projects and services during that time. All of ComFor’s members owe them a great debt of gratitude; Stephan Packard, their colleague in the steering committee, would like to extend his special thanks for the productive and friendly work we did together.

The new management includes:


Prof. Dr. Stephan Packard joined ComFor in 2008 and has been its President since its new establishment as a public society in 2012. He organised and edited several of the society’s conferences and publications. He is a founding member of the Committee for Comics Studies at the German Society for Media Studies (GfM) as well as a Consultative Committee Member for the journal European Comic Art. His PhD thesis Anatomie des Comics was published in 2006. Further research interests include transmedia narratology, political uses of comics and other media, and the study of censorship. Packard holds the Professorship for „Popular Culture and Its Theory“ at Cologne University. Read more at his ComFor-profile page.

Vice President:

Dr. Véronique Sina has been a member of ComFor since July 2010. She is a media studies scholar at the University of Cologne and specialises in Gender and Queer Studies, Intersectionality, Intermediality, and Identity Studies. She received her Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees as well as her PhD at Ruhr University Bochum. Her dissertation at the Department of Media Studies was published as Comic – Film – Gender. The (Re-)Mediation of Gender in Comic Book Movies (transcript, 2016). She is Co-Founder of the Committee for Comic Studies (AG Comicforschung) of the German Society for Media Studies (GfM), for which she also serves as Chairwoman and as organizer of numerous workshops and events. For ComFor, she appears in 2018 as a co-organizer of the 13th Annual Conference on comics studies, on „Spaces Between – Gender, Diversity and Identity in Comics“. More information at her ComFor-profile page.


Dr. Lukas R.A. Wilde has been a member of ComFor since September 2012, and he has been coordinating ComFor’s editorial work online ever since: ComFor’s homepage underwent a major transformation during this time, and ComFor’s online magazine has become a steadily growing contact point and a source of information on conferences, publications, CfPs and other news from our field. In this context, Lukas Wilde also manages ComFor’s mailing list and the online profiles of its members. He is a media studies scholar at the University of Tübingen, where he received his PhD in 2017 through a dissertation on the ‚mangaization‘ of Japanese public spaces and the implementation of transmedial ‚characters‘ (kyara) within functional communication (Im Reich der Figuren, Cologne 2018). Together with Vanessa Ossa and Jan-Noël Thon, he will organize ComFor’s planned 15th Annual Conference in 2020 on „Comic/Mediation: Actors, Participation, and the Public“. Read more at his ComFor-profile page.

Conference Schedule of the ComFor-Conference 2018: “Spaces Between”

2018 09 17 - 2018 09 19

13th Annual Conference of the German Society for Comics Studies (ComFor):

Spaces Between – Gender, Diversity and Identity in Comics

Illustration: Aisha Franz 2018

Continue to the Call for Papers
Continue to information about the Exhibition
Continue to information about Directions & Accomodation
Continue to the Flyer

Continue to the Registration

Conference Schedule:

Monday, 17. September 2018
10:30h Meeting of the German Society for Comics Studies (ComFor)
12:00h Lunch Break
13:00h Welcome & Introduction
Conference Organisers | ComFor-Chair | Vice-Rectorate for Gender Equality and Diversity of the University of Cologne
13:30h Artistic Lecture
Philip Crawford (Berlin, GER)
My Noose Around That Pretty’s Neck (abstract)
Chair: Barbara Margarethe Eggert
14:15h Panel 1: Representations of Dis/Ability
Chair: Anne Waldschmidt
Olga Tarapata (Köln, GER)
Between Crooked Lines: Disability in E.T. Russian’s Feminist Comic Books (abstract)
Natalie Veith (Frankfurt a.M., GER)
Othering Voices and the Voice of the Other: The Depiction of Joseph Merrick in From Hell (abstract)
Jonas Neldner (Köln, GER)
Noir Surrealism: The Hybrid Bodies of Charles Burns (abstract)
15:45h Coffee Break
16:15h Panel 2: Graphic Medicine: Intersections of Comics, Health and Corporeality
Chair: Christina Maria Koch
Susan Merrill Squier (Pennsylvania, USA)
The Spaces Between: Negotiating Gender and Race in Transdisciplinary Comics Collaborations (abstract)
Irmela Marei Krüger-Fürhoff (Berlin, GER)
Telling and Showing Dis/Continuities: Comics on Dementia (abstract)
Alexandra Alberda (Poole, UK)
The Gaze, the Other and the Exhibit: Curating Graphic Medicine (abstract)
17:45h Coffee Break
18:30h Keynote 1
Tahneer Oksman (New York City, USA)
An Art of Loss (abstract)
Moderation: Véronique Sina
 20:30h Conference Dinner Haus Unkelbach (Luxemburger Str. 260 | 50937 Cologne)


Tuesday, 18. September 2018
9:30h Panel 3: Making Comics and Exhibiting their Physicality
Chair: Christine Gundermann
Erin La Cour (Amsterdam | Utrecht, NL)
No Longer In-Between: Towards a Social Abstraction in Comics Exhibitions (abstract)
Ann Miller (Leicester, UK)
The Nude and the Naked: from Fine Art to Comics (abstract)
Katharina Brandl (Basel, CHE) | Anne Elizabeth Moore (Detroit, USA)
Do What You Love, or: About Precarious Living and Working Conditions in the Comics Industry (abstract)
11:00h Coffee Break
11:30h Panel 4: (Trans-)Cultural Identities
Chair: Laura Schlichting
Anne Magnussen (Odense, DNK)
Mexican Comics and the Revolution (abstract)
Anna Nordenstam (Gothenburg, SWE) | Margareta Wallin Wictorin (Karlstad, SWE)
Talking Back Strategies in Swedish Feminist Comics (abstract)
Nina Mickwitz (London, UK)
Precarity and the Gendered Migrant Body in Nina Bunjevac’s Heartless (abstract)
13:00h Lunch Break
14:45h Panel 5: (De-)Constructing Race and Ethnicity
Moderation: Marie Schröer
Priscilla Layne (Chapel Hill, USA)
Weyhe’s Postcolonial Approach to the Documentary Graphic Novel (abstract)
Jonathan W. Gray (New York City, USA)
Descendants of Kings and Queens: Black Panther and Entangled African Cosmopolitanism (abstract)
Jaqueline Berndt (Stockholm, SWE)
Destabilizing Gender but not Race? Effeminate Boys, Caucasian Appearances, and Uncertain ›Gutters‹ in (Shōjo) Manga (abstract)
16:15h Coffee Break
16:45h Panel 6: Superheroes Revisited: Intersections of Gender and Genre
Chair: Stephan Packard
Jeffrey Brown (Bowling Green, USA)
Batman: Anchor for the Space Between (abstract)
Ranthild Salzer (Wien, AUT)
Objectifying the Male: Early Superhero Comics as Fantasies of Masculinity (abstract)
Olivia Hicks (Dundee, UK)
»No Place for Trespassers«: The Supercats and the British Superheroine (abstract)
18:15h Coffee Break / Snack
19:00h Keynote 2
Carolyn Cocca (New York City, USA)
Reproducing Inequality and Representing Diversity: The Politics of Gender in Superhero Comics (abstract)
Chair: Nina Heindl
Wednesday, 19. September 2018
9:00h Panel 7: Structures of Power and Difference in Superhero Comics
Chair: Lukas R.A. Wilde
Markus Engelns (Duisburg-Essen, GER)
The ›Man of Tomorrow‹ as Copy Template – Male Hegemony and its Reproduction in Superhero Comics (abstract)
Thomas P. Scholz (St. Louis, USA)
Deconstructing the Superhero Genre: BDSM, Hypersexuality and Marshal Law (abstract)
Juliane Blank (Saarbrücken, GER)
Rethinking the World of a Female Superhero. Marvel’s Jessica Jones as an Example of a Gender-Sensitive Marvel Adaptation (abstract)
10:30h Coffee Break
11:00h Panel 8: Queering Comics
Chair: Daniel Stein
Frederik Byrn Køhlert (Norwich, UK)
Queer as Style: Ariel Schrag’s High School Comic Chronicles (abstract)
Romain Becker (Lyon, F)
The Binary Comics of a Non-Binary Artist: How Vaughn Bodé’s Gender Structures his Work (abstract)
José Alaniz (Seattle, USA)
TranSiberia and Queer Comics in Russia (abstract)
12:30h Lunch Break
14:00h Panel 9: Fluide Körper [German]
Chair: Ole Frahm
Marina Rauchenbacher (Wien, AUT) | Katharina Serles (Dresden, GER)
Gerahmt und zerstückelt. Zeichenhaftigkeit und Wahrnehmung von Körpern in Comics (abstract)
Anna Beckmann (Berlin, GER)
Strategien der Ambivalenzen – Uneindeutige Geschlechteridentitäten im Comic (abstract)
Daniela Kaufmann (Graz, AUT)
Color Change & Gender Fluidity. Zur Korrelation von Farbe und Geschlecht bei George Herrimans Krazy Kat (abstract)
15:30h Coffee Break
16:00h Panel 10: Alternative Comics und Feminismus [German]
Moderation: Markus Streb
Sylvia Kesper-Biermann (Hamburg, GER)
»…denkt lieber mal nach, wie das so zu Hause bei euch läuft«. Geschlechterverhältnisse in Alternativ-Comics der 1970er Jahre (abstract)
Kalina Kupczynska (Łódź, PL)
BLUT, oder: Gender und Nationalität im polnischen Comic (abstract)
Sophie Bürgi (Basel, CHE)
»Common scents«: Geruchsregime und affektive Zwischenräume in Lynda Barrys Comic One! Hundred! Demons! (abstract)
17:30h Concluding Discussion
Chair: Nina Heindl | Véronique Sina

Social Media
#ComFor 2018


Christine Gundermann (University of Cologne | Department of History)
Nina Heindl (University of Cologne | a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School for the Humanities Cologne)
Véronique Sina (University of Cologne | Department of Media Culture and Theatre)

Conference organisation

Nina Heindl (University of Cologne | a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School for the Humanities Cologne)
Véronique Sina (University of Cologne | Department of Media Culture and Theatre)

The conference organisers are supported by
Bettina Begner, Stephan Böhm, Jan Harms, Yasmin Neuhaus, Anja Pflugfelder, Michaele Pollich, Jacqueline Rehse, Lukas Respondek, Elea Thieser, Alina Valjent, Elsa Weiland, Lies Weimer, and Philin Zwirner.

Exhibition organisation

Organisation of the exhibition “Comics and Disability Studies”:
Véronique Sina (University of Cologne | Department of Media Culture and Theatre)

Organisation of the exhibition “SuperQueeroes. Unsere LGBTI*-Comic-Held_innen”:
Christine Gundermann
(University of Cologne | Department of History)



Attendants are kindly asked to register until August 31st 2018 at

The conference fee will be:
35 € for professors and postdocs
25 € for PhD-students and ComFor-members
15 € for students.

Please transfer the conference fee to our account (see below) no later than September 3rd 2018 (received payment!).

– closed –

The conference is being sponsored by: DFG, German Research Foundation | Finanzfonds der Universität zu Köln zur Umsetzung des gesetzlichen Gleichstellungsauftrags | | the equal rights commissioner of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the University of Cologne | the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) | MedienStiftung Kultur | a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School for the Humanities Cologne | Department of Media Culture and Theatre, University of Cologne .

Cooperation Partners

Cöln Comic Haus

Elbenwald GmbH

CFP COMFOR-Conference 2018: “Spaces Between – Gender, Diversity and Identity in Comics”

2018 09 17 - 2018 09 19

Deadline: 1st of April, 2018
Spaces Between – Gender, Diversity and Identity in Comics

13th Annual Conference of the German Society for Comics Studies (ComFor), University of Cologne, 17/09/2018 – 19/09/2018

Illustration: Aisha Franz 2018

For decades, comics have been perceived as a mass phenomenon situated in popular culture, which manifests, establishes and perpetuates stereotypical (gender)  representations. Hence, the image of a particularly helpless, passive, but all the more attractive female victim is at home in the repertoire of the medium no less than the representation of a radiant, muscular, white, heterosexual hero, whose first duty consists of protecting the world and its inhabitants from catastrophe. In this sense, comics might seem alike to other forms of mass media in the age of mechanical reproduction and their tendency towards generalisations and clichés. From a historical perspective, reactions to the worldwide anti-comics campaigns of the 1950s, including self-censorship among numerous comic book publishers, also exemplarily point to heteronormative and xenophobic tendencies within mass media comics culture, which was in turn long reflected in the demographics of its readership. However, as a popular and oftentimes marginalised medium, comics never completely became one with this role of a (reactionary) stabilising force. Rather, comics are imbued with a socio-political dimension that has always encouraged comics artists to use the spaces between in a creative way,  and to question and subvert (social) norms.

Comics are both visual and sequential art: they constitute a visual medium that is defined by  the sequence of its static images as well as by the spaces between the panels. Hence, the succession of sequential images in comics is by no means seamless. Rather, the conglomeration of (blank) spaces interconnects and separates them at the same time. These ‚spaces between’ might be used or construed as a reference to a realm of the ‚unshown’, wherein notions of a final, self-contained truth  are renounced and alternative worldviews that challenge the social status quo are enhanced. At the same time, the theme of the planned conference on ‚spaces between’ refers to the hybridity and ambiguity of the art form that combines picture and text: As an ‘inter-medium’, comics constitute a transgressive form which resists common classifications and mechanisms of exclusion based on hierarchical and hegemonic structures. In this respect, comics have the potential to destabilise and blur binary oppositions such as subject/object, nature/culture, man/woman, authentic/artificial, good/bad, normal/abnormal or black/white that are usually perceived as ‘natural’ and ‘given’. In certain circumstances, the medium thus has the potential to break up rigid dichotomies, and to open up spaces for the representation of ‘shades between’ – of fractions, differences and diversity.

The 13th annual conference of the German Society for Comics Studies will examine this productive potential of comics by uncovering and analysing different forms of the ‘spaces between’ within the art form itself, but also within its production and its audience. The internationally and inderdisciplinarily assembled  talks will focus on the question how gender, identity and diversity are represented and negotiated in sequential art. The conference topic Spaces Between – Gender, Diversity and Identity in Comics will draw our attention to the nexus between the medium of comics and categories of difference and identity such as gender, dis/ability, age, and ethnicity, in order to open and deepen an interdisciplinary conversation between comics studies and intersectional identity studies within the international comics studies community. In this respect, the 13th annual conference of the German Society for Comics Studies will not only contribute to the disclosure of exclusions, power structures and (hetero-)normative allocations in comics, but will also critically analyse their socio-political and communicative forms of (re-)production.

Potential topics for contributions may include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • constructions of gender in comics
  • the interplay of gender and genre in comics
  • conceptions of identity and their (de-)construction in comics
  • intersectionality and comics
  • the (re-)production and constitution of difference and power structures in comics
  • manifestations of heteronormative structures and allocations in comics
  • mechanisms of hegemonic exclusion(s) in comics
  • queerness and comics
  • historic dimensions of identities in comics
  • diversity and normalisation processes in comics
  • race, class and ethnic stereotypes in comics
  • comics and postcolonial studies
  • body images in comics
  • representations of dis/ability in comics
  • the interrelation of comics, health and corporeality in the realm of graphic medicine
  • economies of difference: gender, identity and diversity on the (international) comics market
  • spaces between, centres and peripheries: transnationality and diversity in comics culture
Open Workshop:

Beyond the discussion of each year’s special topic, the German Society for Comics Studies aims to further co-operation and dialogue in all areas of comics research. The 13th Annual Conference in Cologne will therefore continue an open workshop format that allows researchers to present and gather feedback on on-going projects within comics studies in all stages of development, and without any thematic restrictions – not limited to the conference topic. The invitation stands for colleagues in all phases of academic careers to discuss any projects on which they are currently working.

Submissions and contact:

Please address your abstracts of roughly 300 words plus a short biography (as a word and pdf file) no later than April 1st 2018 to:

Contributions to the conference will be accepted in English or German and should not exceed 20 minutes. The presentations in the open workshop are limited to 15 minutes.

We plan to publish selected contributions in an edited volume.

Participants are not required to be members of the German Society for Comics Studies. Contributions from non-members welcome!


Christine Gundermann (University of Cologne, Department of History)
Nina Heindl (University of Cologne, a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School for the Humanities Cologne)
Véronique Sina (University of Cologne, Department of Media Culture and Theatre)

Program of the 12th Annual ComFor Conference in Bonn: “Comics and their Popularity”

2017 12 01 - 2017 12 03

The University of Bonn warmly invites to the 12th annual research conference of the German Society for Comics Studies (ComFor) from December 1 to 3, 2017: “Comics and their Popularity”. It is organized by Joachim Trinkwitz and Rolf Lohse.

Visitors are kindly requested to register at The conference fee will be 30 € for guests (ComFor-members pay a reduced fee of 20€ and students 10 €). Please transfer to:

Universitätskasse Bonn
Sparkasse KölnBonn
IBAN: DE08 3705 0198 0000 0576 95
Important notice: Please always include the follwing:
61 117 / 282 11 / PN 73125016

Short invitation:

“Comics might currently seem to show some ambivalence towards their own popularity. On the one hand, multitudes have access to these media that provide entertainment and, increasingly, information. On the other hand, it is their very popularity that has in the past given rise to popular suspicions against comics. It is no later than in the 1950s that parents and pedagogues all over the world begin to fear that comics might lead children and teenagers astray, prompting them to limit access, which has in turn constrained the formal and topical development of the art form. At the same time, rendering comics as harmless entertainment for kids attracted criticism of immaturity, excluding it from the canonical reading for self-defined members of the educated classes. In the 1970s, the art form could thus be rediscovered as a subversive mode of expression. The attempt to use the term ‘graphic novel’ as a vehicle to approach new audiences was again met with ambivalence: While the traditional fan scene, often wary of outsiders, saw its identity and large parts of its reading conventions at risk, publishers, reviewers and book sellers saw an opportunity to gain new readership and popularity. For some parts of academia, it was only then that comics became an object of cultural research. It is these dialectics of exclusions and inclusions, access and constraint, that the conference on Comics and their Popularity at Bonn University will discuss. ”

Zum vollständigen Programm