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Literature > Comics and Graphic Novels

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The Comics of Chris Ware Cover

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The Comics of Chris Ware

The Comics of Chris Ware: Drawing Is a Way of Thinking brings together contributions from established and emerging scholars about the comics of Chicago-based cartoonist Chris Ware (b. 1967). Both inside and outside academic circles, Ware's work is rapidly being distinguished as essential to the developing canon of the graphic novel. Winner of the 2001 Guardian First Book Prize for the genre-defining Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth , Ware has received numerous accolades from both the literary and comics establishment. This collection addresses the range of Ware's work from his earliest drawings in the 1990s in The ACME Novelty Library and his acclaimed Jimmy Corrigan , to his most recent works-in-progress, "Building Stories" and "Rusty Brown.

A Comics Studies Reader Cover

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A Comics Studies Reader

Jeet Heer

A Comics Studies Reader offers the best of the new comics scholarship in nearly thirty essays on a wide variety of such comics forms as gag cartoons, editorial cartoons, comic strips, comic books, manga, and graphic novels.

The anthology covers the pioneering work of Rodolphe Töpffer, the Disney comics of Carl Barks, and the graphic novels of Art Spiegelman and Chris Ware, as well as Peanuts, romance comics, and superheroes. It explores the stylistic achievements of manga, the international anti-comics campaign, and power and class in Mexican comic books and English illustrated stories.

A Comics Studies Reader introduces readers to the major debates and points of reference that continue to shape the field. It will interest anyone who wants to delve deeper into the world of comics and is ideal for classroom use.

Contemporary Comics Storytelling Cover

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Contemporary Comics Storytelling

Karin Kukkonen

What if fairy-tale characters lived in New York City? What if a superhero knew he was a fictional character? What if you could dispense your own justice with one hundred untraceable bullets? These are the questions asked and answered in the course of the challenging storytelling in Fables, Tom Strong, and 100 Bullets, the three twenty-first-century comics series that Karin Kukkonen considers in depth in her exploration of how and why the storytelling in comics is more than merely entertaining.

Applying a cognitive approach to reading comics in all their narrative richness and intricacy, Contemporary Comics Storytelling opens an intriguing perspective on how these works engage the legacy of postmodernism—its subversion, self-reflexivity, and moral contingency. Its three case studies trace how contemporary comics tie into deep traditions of visual and verbal storytelling, how they reevaluate their own status as fiction, and how the fictional minds of their characters generate complex ethical thought experiments. At a time when the medium is taken more and more seriously as intricate and compelling literary art, this book lays the groundwork for an analysis of the ways in which comics challenge and engage readers’ minds. It brings together comics studies with narratology and literary criticism and, in so doing, provides a new set of tools for evaluating the graphic novel as an emergent literary form.

Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss Cover

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Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss

How an Unlikely Couple Found Love, Dodged the FBI, and Transformed Children's Literature

Philip Nel

Crockett Johnson (born David Johnson Leisk, 1906-1975) and Ruth Krauss (1901-1993) were a husband-and-wife team that created such popular children's books as The Carrot Seed and How to Make an Earthquake. Separately, Johnson created the enduring children's classic Harold and the Purple Crayon and the groundbreaking comic strip Barnaby. Krauss wrote over a dozen children's books illustrated by others, and pioneered the use of spontaneous, loose-tongued kids in children's literature. Together, Johnson and Krauss's style--whimsical writing, clear and minimalist drawing, and a child's point-of-view--is among the most revered and influential in children's literature and cartooning, inspiring the work of Maurice Sendak, Charles M. Schulz, Chris Van Allsburg, and Jon Scieszka.


This critical biography examines their lives and careers, including their separate achievements when not collaborating. Using correspondence, sketches, contemporary newspaper and magazine accounts, archived and personal interviews, author Philip Nel draws a compelling portrait of a couple whose output encompassed children's literature, comics, graphic design, and the fine arts. Their mentorship of now-famous illustrator Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are) is examined at length, as is the couple's appeal to adult contemporaries such as Duke Ellington and Dorothy Parker. Defiantly leftist in an era of McCarthyism and Cold War paranoia, Johnson and Krauss risked collaborations that often contained subtly rendered liberal themes. Indeed, they were under FBI surveillance for years. Their legacy of considerable success invites readers to dream and to imagine, drawing paths that take them anywhere they want to go.

The Dark Night Returns Cover

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The Dark Night Returns

The Contemporary Resurgence of Crime Comics

By Terrence Wandtke

Crime comic books in the 1950s caused controversy leading to their suppression and near extinction. Twenty-five years later, the dark hero, femme fatale, and bleak outlook of crime story comic books are even more striking and subversive. Terrence Wandtke traces the history of crime comics from their beginnings to the current resurgence and analyzes the cultural forces that give rise to influential works like Frank Miller’s Sin City, Brian Azzarello’s 100 Bullets, and Ed Brubaker’s Criminal.

Darkroom Cover

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Darkroom

A Memoir in Black and White


Darkroom: A Memoir in Black and White is an arresting and moving personal story about childhood, race, and identity in the American South, rendered in stunning illustrations by the author,
Lila Quintero Weaver.
 
In 1961, when Lila was five, she and her family emigrated from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Marion, Alabama, in the heart of Alabama’s Black Belt. As educated, middle-class Latino immigrants in a region that was defined by segregation, the Quinteros occupied a privileged vantage from which to view the racially charged culture they inhabited. Weaver and her family were firsthand witnesses to key moments in the civil rights movement.  But Darkroom is her personal story as well: chronicling what it was like being a Latina girl in the Jim Crow South, struggling to understand both a foreign country and the horrors of our nation’s race relations. Weaver, who was neither black nor white, observed very early on the inequalities in the American culture, with its blonde and blue-eyed feminine ideal. Throughout her life, Lila has struggled to find her place in this society and fought against the discrimination around her.

Dave Sim Cover

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Dave Sim

Conversations

Eric Hoffman

In 1977, Dave Sim (b. 1956) began to self-publish Cerebus, one of the earliest and most significant independent comics, which ran for 300 issues and ended, as Sim had planned from early on, in 2004. Over the run of the comic, Sim used it as a springboard to explore not only the potential of the comics medium but also many of the core assumptions of Western society. Through it he analyzed politics, the dynamics of love, religion, and, most controversially, the influence of feminism--which Sim believes has had a negative impact on society. Moreover, Sim inserted himself squarely into the comic as Cerebus's creator, thereby inviting criticism not only of the creation, but also of the creator.

What few interviews Sim gave often pushed the limits of what an interview might be in much the same way that Cerebus pushed the limits of what a comic might be. In interviews Sim is generous, expansive, provocative, and sometimes even antagonistic. Regardless of mood, he is always insightful and fascinating. His discursive style is not conducive to the sound bite or to easy summary. Many of these interviews have been out of print for years. And, while the interviews range from very general, career-spanning explorations of his complex work and ideas, to tightly focused discussions on specific details of Cerebus, all the interviews contained herein are engaging and revealing.

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Death, Disability, and the Superhero

The Silver Age and Beyond

by José Alaniz

The Thing. Daredevil. Captain Marvel. The Human Fly. Drawing on DC and Marvel comics from the 1950s to the 1990s, and marshaling insights from three burgeoning fields of inquiry in the humanities—disability studies, death and dying studies, and comics studies— José Alaniz seeks to redefine the contemporary understanding of the superhero. Beginning in the Silver Age, the genre increasingly challenged and complicated its hypermasculine, quasi-eugenicist biases through such disabled figures as Ben Grimm/The Thing, Matt Murdock/Daredevil, and the Doom Patrol.

Alaniz traces how the superhero became increasingly vulnerable, ill, and mortal in this era. He then proceeds to a reinterpretation of characters and series—some familiar (Superman), some obscure (She-Thing). These genre changes reflected a wider awareness of related body issues in the postwar U.S. as represented by hospice, death with dignity, and disability rights movements. The persistent highlighting of the body’s “imperfection” comes to forge a predominant aspect of the superheroic self. Such moves, originally part of the Silver Age strategy to stimulate sympathy, enhance psychological depth, and raise the dramatic stakes, developed further in such later series as The Human Fly, Strikeforce: Morituri, and the landmark graphic novel The Death of Captain Marvel, all examined in this volume. Death and disability, presumed routinely absent or denied in the superhero genre, emerge to form a core theme and defining function of the Silver Age and beyond.

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Drawing from Life

Memory and Subjectivity in Comic Art

Jane Tolmie

Autobiography has seen enormous expansions and challenges over the past decades. One of these expansions has been in comics, and it is an expansion that pushes back against any postmodern notion of the death of the author/subject, while also demanding new approaches from critics.

Drawing from Life: Memory and Subjectivity in Comic Art is a collection of essays about autobiography, semiautobiography, fictionalized autobiography, memory, and self-narration in sequential art, or comics. Contributors come from a range of academic backgrounds including English, American studies, comparative literature, gender studies, art history, and cultural studies. The book engages with well-known figures such as Art Spiegelman, Marjane Satrapi, and Alison Bechdel; with cult-status figures such as Martin Vaughn James; and with lesser-known works by artists such as Frédéric Boilet.

Negotiations between artist/writer/body and drawn/written/text raise questions of how comics construct identity, and are read and perceived, requiring a critical turn towards theorizing the comics' viewer. At stake in comic memoir and semi-autobiography is embodiment. Remembering a scene with the intent of rendering it in sequential art requires nonlinear thinking and engagement with physicality. Who was in the room and where? What was worn? Who spoke first? What images dominated the encounter? Did anybody smile? Man or mouse? Unhinged from the summary paragraph, the comics artist must confront the fact of the flesh, or the corporeal world, and they do so with fascinating results.

Drawing New Color Lines Cover

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Drawing New Color Lines

Transnational Asian American Graphic Narratives

Edited by Monica Chiu

The global circulation of comics, manga, and other such visual mediums between North America and Asia produces transnational meanings no longer rooted in a separation between “Asian” and “American.” Drawing New Color Lines explores the culture, production, and history of contemporary graphic narratives that depict Asian Americans and Asians. It examines how Japanese manga and Asian popular culture have influenced Asian American comics; how these comics and Asian American graphic narratives depict the “look” of race; and how these various representations are interpreted in nations not of their production. By focusing on what graphic narratives mean for audiences in North America and those in Asia, the collection discusses how Western theories about the ways in which graphic narratives might successfully overturn derogatory caricatures are themselves based on contested assumptions; and illustrates that the so-called odorless images featured in Japanese manga might nevertheless elicit interpretations about race in transnational contexts. With contributions from experts based in North America and Asia, Drawing New Color Lines will be of interest to scholars in a variety of disciplines, including Asian American studies, cultural and literary studies, comics and visual studies.

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