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Literature > Comics and Graphic Novels
Combining the Worlds of Contemporary Comics
One of the most eclectic and distinctive writers currently working in comics, Grant Morrison (b. 1960) brings the auteurist sensibility of alternative comics and graphic novels to the popular genres-superhero, science fiction, and fantasy-that dominate the American and British comics industries. His comics range from bestsellers featuring the most universally recognized superhero franchises (All-Star Superman, New X-Men, Batman) to more independent, creator-owned work (The Invisibles, The Filth, We3) that defies any generic classification.
In Grant Morrison: Combining the Worlds of Contemporary Comics, author Marc Singer examines how Morrison uses this fusion of styles to intervene in the major political, aesthetic, and intellectual challenges of our time. His comics blur the boundaries between fantasy and realism, mixing autobiographical representation and cultural critique with heroic adventure. They offer self-reflexive appraisals of their own genres while they experiment with the formal elements of comics. Perhaps most ambitiously, they challenge contemporary theories of language and meaning, seeking to develop new modes of expression grounded in comics' capacity for visual narrative and the fantasy genres' ability to make figurative meanings literal.
Critical Essays on Autobiography and Graphic Novels
Some of the most noteworthy graphic novels and comic books of recent years have been entirely autobiographical. In Graphic Subjects, Michael A. Chaney brings together a lively mix of scholars to examine the use of autobiography within graphic novels, including such critically acclaimed examples as Art Spiegelman’s Maus, David Beauchard’s Epileptic, Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, Alan Moore’s Watchmen, and Gene Yang’s American Born Chinese.
The Comics Art of Jack Kirby
Jack Kirby (1917-1994) is one of the most influential and popular artists in comics history. With Stan Lee, he created the Fantastic Four and defined the drawing and narrative style of Marvel Comics from the 1960s to the present day. Kirby is credited with creating or cocreating a number of Marvel's mainstay properties, among them the X-Men, the Hulk, Thor, and the Silver Surfer. His earlier work with Joe Simon led to the creation of Captain America, the popular kid gang and romance comic genres, and one of the most successful comics studios of the 1940s and 1950s. Kirby's distinctive narrative drawing, use of bold abstraction, and creation of angst-ridden and morally flawed heroes mark him as one of the most influential mainstream creators in comics.
In this book, Charles Hatfield examines the artistic legacy of one of America's true comic book giants. He analyzes the development of Kirby's cartooning technique, his use of dynamic composition, the recurring themes and moral ambiguities in his work, his eventual split from Lee, and his later work as a solo artist. Against the backdrop of Kirby's earlier work in various genres, Hand of Fire examines the peak of Kirby's career, when he introduced a new sense of scope and sublimity to comic book fantasy.
With Essays by Baru, Bart Beaty, Cécile Vernier Danehy, Hugo Frey, Pascal Lefèvre, Fabrice Leroy, Amanda Macdonald, Mark McKinney, Ann Miller, and Clare Tufts In Belgium, France, Switzerland, and other French-speaking countries, many well-known comics artists have focused their attention on historical and political events. In works ranging from comic books and graphic novels to newspaper strips, cartoonists have addressed such controversial topics as French and Belgian collaboration and resistance during World War II, European colonialism and U.S. imperialism, anti-Semitism in France, the integration of African immigrant groups in Europe, and the green and feminist movements. History and Politics in French-Language Comics and Graphic Novels collects new essays that address comics from a variety of viewpoints, including a piece from practicing artist Baru. The explorations range from discussion of such canonical works as Hergé's Tintin series to such contemporary expressions as Baru's Road to America (2002), about the Algerian War. Included are close readings of specific comics series and graphic novels, such as Cécile Vernier Danehy's examination of Cosey's Saigon Hanoi, about remembering the Vietnam War. Other writers use theoretical lenses as a means of critiquing a broad range of comics, such as Bart Beaty's Bourdieu-inspired reading of today's comics field, and Amanda Macdonald's analysis of bandes dessinées (French comic books) in New Caledonia during the 1990s. The anthology establishes the French-language comics tradition as one rich with representations of history and politics and is one of the first English-language collections to explore the subject. Mark McKinney is associate professor of French at Miami University, Ohio. With Alec G. Hargreaves, he edited Post-Colonial Cultures in France.
One of the most distinctive voices in mainstream comics since the 1970s, Howard Chaykin (b. 1950) has earned a reputation as a visionary formal innovator and a compelling storyteller whose comics offer both pulp-adventure thrills and thoughtful engagement with real-world politics and culture. His body of work is defined by the belief that comics can be a vehicle for sophisticated adult entertainment and for narratives that utilize the medium's unique properties to explore serious themes with intelligence and wit.Beginning with early interviews in fanzines and concluding with a new interview conducted in 2010 with the volume's editor, Howard Chaykin: Conversations collects widely ranging discussions from Chaykin's earliest days as an assistant for such legends as Gil Kane and Wallace Wood to his recent work on titles including Dominic Fortune, Challengers of the Unknown, and American Century. The book includes 35 line illustrations selected from Chaykin, as well. As a writer/artist for outlets such as DC Comics, Marvel Comics, and Heavy Metal, he has participated in and influenced many of the major developments in mainstream comics over the past four decades. He was an early pioneer in the graphic novel format in the 1970s, and his groundbreaking sci-fi satire American Flagg! was an essential contribution to the maturation of the comic book as a vehicle for social commentary in the 1980s.>
Vol. 1 (2017) through current issue
Inks, the new journal of the Comics Studies Society, features scholarly research on sequential art, graphic narrative, and cartooning. The journal seeks to bring together scholarly essays, archival materials, and insights and discoveries from leading comics professionals. Inks highlights scholarship from a variety of disciplines and invites essays on all periods of comic history, as well as considering both a US or an international comics focus.
Rediscovering Forgotten Famous Comics and Their Creators
Many fans and insiders alike have never heard of Bill Hume, Bailin’ Wire Bill, Abe Martin, AWOL Wally, the Texas History Movies, or the Weatherbird at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. And many insiders do not know why we call comic books “comics” even though lots of them are not at all funny.
Robert C. Harvey, cartoonist and a veteran comics critic, author of several histories of comics and biographies of cartoonists, tells forgotten stories of a dozen now obscure but once famous cartoonists and their creations. He also includes accounts of the cartooning careers of a ground-breaking African American and a woman who broke into an industry once dominated by white men.
Many of the better known stories in some of the book’s fourteen chapters are wrapped around fugitive scraps of information that are almost unknown. Which of Bill Mauldin’s famous duo is Willie? Which is Joe? What was the big secret about E. Simms Campbell? Who was Funnyman? And why? And some of the pictures are rare, too. Hugh Hefner’s cartoons, Kin Hubbard’s illustrations for Short Furrows, Betty Swords’ pictures for the Male Chauvinist Pig Calendar of 1974, the Far East pin-up cartoon character Babysan, illustrations for Popo and Fifina, and Red Ryder’s last bow.
A Milt Gross Comic Reader
Milt Gross (1895-1953), a Bronx-born cartoonist and animator, first found fame in the late 1920s, writing comic strips and newspaper columns in the unmistakable accent of Jewish immigrants. By the end of the 1920s, Gross had become one of the most famous humorists in the United States, his work drawing praise from writers like H. L. Mencken and Constance Roarke, even while some of his Jewish colleagues found Gross’ extreme renderings of Jewish accents to be more crass than comical.
Working during the decline of vaudeville and the rise of the newspaper cartoon strip, Gross captured American humor in transition. Gross adapted the sounds of ethnic humor from the stage to the page and developed both a sound and a sensibility that grew out of an intimate knowledge of immigrant life. His parodies of beloved poetry sounded like reading primers set loose on the Lower East Side, while his accounts of Jewish tenement residents echoed with the mistakes and malapropisms born of the immigrant experience.
Introduced by an historical essay, Is Diss a System? presents some of the most outstanding and hilarious examples of Jewish dialect humor drawn from the five books Gross published between 1926 and 1928—Nize Baby, De Night in de Front from Chreesmas, Hiawatta, Dunt Esk, and Famous Fimmales—providing a fresh opportunity to look, read, and laugh at this nearly forgotten forefather of American Jewish humor.
A Serious Study of the Clown Prince of Crime
Along with Batman, Spider-Man, and Superman, the Joker stands out as one of the most recognizable comics characters in popular culture. While there has been a great deal of scholarly attention on superheroes, very little has been done to understand supervillains. This is the first academic work to provide a comprehensive study of this villain, illustrating why the Joker appears so relevant to audiences today.
Batman’s foe has cropped up in thousands of comics, numerous animated series, and three major blockbuster feature films since 1966. Actually, the Joker debuted in DC comics Batman 1 (1940) as the typical gangster, but the character evolved steadily into one of the most ominous in the history of sequential art. Batman and the Joker almost seemed to define each other as opposites, hero and nemesis, in a kind of psychological duality. Scholars from a wide array of disciplines look at the Joker through the lens of feature films, video games, comics, politics, magic and mysticism, psychology, animation, television, performance studies, and philosophy. As the first volume that examines the Joker as complex cultural and cross-media phenomenon, this collection adds to our understanding of the role comic book and cinematic villains play in the world and the ways various media affect their interpretation. Connecting the Clown Prince of Crime to bodies of thought as divergent as Karl Marx and Friedrich Nietzsche, contributors demonstrate the frightening ways in which we get the monsters we need.
Comic Art in Russia
José Alaniz explores the problematic publication history of komiks--an art form much-maligned as "bourgeois" mass diversion before, during, and after the collapse of the USSR--with an emphasis on the last twenty years. Using archival research, interviews with major artists and publishers, and close readings of several works, Komiks: Comic Art in Russia provides heretofore unavailable access to the country's rich--but unknown--comics heritage. The study examines the dizzying experimental comics of the late Czarist and early revolutionary era, caricature from the satirical journal Krokodil, and the postwar series Petia Ryzhik (the "Russian Tintin"). Detailed case studies include the Perestroika-era KOM studio, the first devoted to comics in the Soviet Union; post-Soviet comics in contemporary art; autobiography and the work of Nikolai Maslov; and women's comics by such artists as Lena Uzhinova, Namida, and Re-I. Alaniz examines such issues as anti-Americanism, censorship, the rise of consumerism, globalization (e.g., in Russian manga), the impact of the internet, and the hard-won establishment of a comics subculture in Russia. Komiks have often borne the brunt of ideological change--thriving in summers of relative freedom, freezing in hard winters of official disdain. This volume covers the art form's origins in religious icon-making and book illustration, and later the immensely popular lubok or woodblock print. Alaniz reveals comics' vilification and marginalization under the Communists, the art form's economic struggles, and its eventual internet "migration" in the post-Soviet era. This book shows that Russian comics, as with the people who made them, never had a "normal life."