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Literature > Comics and Graphic Novels

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My Life with Charlie Brown Cover

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My Life with Charlie Brown

While best known as the creator of Peanuts Charles M. Schulz (1922-2000) was also a thoughtful and precise prose writer who knew how to explain his craft in clear and engaging ways. My Life with Charlie Brown brings together his major prose writings, many published here for the first time.Schulz's autobiographical articles, book introductions, magazine pieces, lectures, and commentary elucidate his life and his art, and clarify themes of modern life, philosophy, and religion that are interwoven into his beloved, groundbreaking comic strip. Edited and with an introduction by comics scholar M. Thomas Inge, this volume will serve as the touchstone for Schulz's thoughts and convictions and as a wide-ranging, unique autobiography in the absence of a traditional, extended memoir Inge and the Schulz estate have chosen a number of illustrations to include. With the approval and cooperation of the Schulz family, Inge draws on the cartoonist's entire archives, papers, and correspondence to allow Schulz full voice to speak his mind. The project includes his comics criticism, his introductions to Peanuts volumes, his essays about philanthropy, his commentary on Christianity, his newspaper articles about the creation of his characters, and more. My Life with Charlie Brown will reveal new dimensions of this legendary cartoonist

Narrative Structure in Comics Cover

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Narrative Structure in Comics

Making Sense of Fragments

by Barbara Postema

In Narrative Structure in Comics: Making Sense of Fragments, Barbara Postema seeks to explain how comics communicate and create meaning, with an emphasis on two aspects of comics. She first examines the pictorial quality of comics, which receives more emphasis than verbal/textual elements. Her second focus is upon the storytelling and narrative qualities of comics, as well as the literary explorations they provide. The “narrative structure” refers to the potential of images, the story telling capacities of panels, and the sequence of panels, in addition to the more traditional narratological concepts. Overall, the author presents a credible rationale for the way in which comics structure their narratives. At every level of communication, comics rely on gaps or absences to create meaning and guide the reader to a meaningful experience. RIT Press is pleased to announce Narrative Structure in Comics: Making Sense of Fragments as the first book published in its Comics Monograph Series. Take a detailed look at the narrative qualities of beloved comics in ways that will educate and excite the reader.

The Origins of Comics Cover

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The Origins of Comics

From William Hogarth to Winsor McCay

Thierry Smolderen

In The Origins of Comics: From William Hogarth to Winsor McCay, Thierry Smolderen presents a cultural landscape whose narrative differs in many ways from those presented by other historians of the comic strip. Rather than beginning his inquiry with the popularly accepted "sequential art" definition of the comic strip, Smolderen instead wishes to engage with the historical dimensions that inform that definition. His goal is to understand the processes that led to the twentieth-century comic strip, the highly recognizable species of picture stories that he sees crystallizing around 1900 in the United States.

Featuring close readings of the picture stories, caricatures, and humoristic illustrations of William Hogarth, Rodolphe Töpffer, Gustave Doré, and their many contemporaries, Smolderen establishes how these artists were immersed in a very old visual culture in which images--satirical images in particular--were deciphered in a way that was often described as hieroglyphical. Across eight chapters, he acutely points out how the effect of the printing press and the mass advent of audiovisual technologies (photography, audio recording, and cinema) at the end of the nineteenth century led to a new twentieth-century visual culture. In tracing this evolution, Smolderen distinguishes himself from other comics historians by following a methodology that explains the present state of the form of comics on the basis of its history, rather than presenting the history of the form on the basis of its present state. This study remaps the history of this influential art form.

The Rise of the American Comics Artist Cover

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The Rise of the American Comics Artist

Creators and Contexts

Starting in the mid-1980s, a talented set of comics artists changed the American comic-book industry forever by introducing adult sensibilities and aesthetic considerations into popular genres such as superhero comics and the newspaper strip. Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (1986) and Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons's Watchmen (1987) revolutionized the former genre in particular. During this same period, underground and alternative genres began to garner critical acclaim and media attention beyond comics-specific outlets, as best represented by Art Spiegelman's Maus Publishers began to collect, bind, and market comics as "graphic novels," and these appeared in mainstream bookstores and in magazine reviews.The Rise of the American Comics Artist: Creators and Contexts brings together new scholarship surveying the production, distribution and reception of American comics from this pivotal decade to the present. The collection specifically explores the figure of the comics creator--either as writer, as artist, or as writer and artist--in contemporary U.S. comics, using creators as focal points to evaluate changes to the industry, its aesthetics, and its critical reception. The book also includes essays on landmark creators such as Joe Sacco, Art Spiegelman, and Chris Ware, as well as insightful interviews with Jeff Smith, Jim Woodring and Scott McCloud As comics have reached new audiences, through different material and electronic forms, the public's broad perception of what comics are has changed. The Rise of the American Comics Artist surveys the ways in which the figure of the creator has been at the heart of these evolutions

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Serial Fu Manchu

The Chinese Supervillain and the Spread of Yellow Peril Ideology

The evil mastermind—and master of disguise—Fu Manchu has long threatened to take over the world. In the past century, his dastardly plans have driven serialized novels, comic books, films, and TV. Yet this sinister Oriental character represents more than an invincible criminal in pop culture; Fu Manchu became the embodiment of the Yellow Peril.
 
Serial Fu Manchu provides a savvy cultural, historical, and media-based analysis that shows how Fu Manchu’s irrepressibility gives shape to—and reinforces—the persistent Yellow Peril myth. Ruth Mayer argues that seriality is not merely a commercial strategy but essential to the spread of European and American fears of Asian expansion. 
 
Tracing Fu Manchu through transnational serials in varied media from 1913 to the 1970s, Mayer shows how the icon evolved. She pays particular attention to the figure’s literary foundations, the impact of media changes on his dissemination, and his legacy.

In the series Asian American History and Culture, edited by Sucheng Chan, David Palumbo-Liu, Michael Omi, K. Scott Wong, and Linda Trinh Võ

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Super Black

American Pop Culture and Black Superheroes

By Adilifu Nama

The Superhero Reader Cover

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The Superhero Reader

Charles Hatfield

Despite their commercial appeal and cross-media reach, superheroes are only recently starting to attract sustained scholarly attention. This groundbreaking collection brings together essays and book excerpts by major writers on comics and popular culture.

While superhero comics are a distinct and sometimes disdained branch of comics creation, they are integral to the development of the North American comic book and the history of the medium. For the past half-century they have also been the one overwhelmingly dominant market genre. The sheer volume of superhero comics that have been published over the years is staggering. Major superhero universes constitute one of the most expansive storytelling canvases ever fashioned. Moreover, characters inhabiting these fictional universes are immensely influential, having achieved iconic recognition around the globe. Their images and adventures have shaped many other media, such as film, videogames, and even prose fiction.

The primary aim of this reader is twofold: first, to collect in a single volume a sampling of the most sophisticated commentary on superheroes, and second, to bring into sharper focus the ways in which superheroes connect with larger social, cultural, literary, aesthetic, and historical themes that are of interest to a great many readers both in the academy and beyond.

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Superheroes in Crisis

Adjusting to Social Change in the 1960s and 1970s

by Jeffrey K. Johnson

As the founding fathers of the superhero comic books, Superman and Batman have defined a genre of American mythology from the mid-twentieth century to the present. The author describes how the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight dealt with their midlife crises brought on by the cultural and social changes of the 1960s and 1970s. Johnson describes how the superheroes’ problems and adaptations mirror much of American societal changes during that time. RIT Press is pleased to announce Superheroes in Crisis as the second book published in its Comics Studies Monograph Series. The series editor is Dr. Gary Hoppenstand, Professor of English at Michigan State University.

Viva la historieta Cover

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Viva la historieta

Mexican Comics, NAFTA, and the Politics of Globalization

Bruce Campbell

¡Viva la historieta! critically examines the participation of Mexican comic books in the continuing debate over the character and consequences of globalization in Mexico. The focus of the book is on graphic narratives produced by and for Mexicans in the period following the 1994 implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), an economic accord that institutionalized the free-market vision of relationships among the United States, Mexico, and Canada.

Eight chapters cover a broad range of contemporary Mexican comics, including works of propaganda, romance and adventure, graphic novels, a corporate "brand" series, didactic single-issue books, and a superhero parody series. Each chapter offers an examination of the ways in which specific comics or comic book series represent Mexico's national identity, the U.S.'s influence, and globalization's effects on technology and economics since the passage of NAFTA.

Through careful attention to how recent Mexican comics portray a changing nation, author Bruce Campbell reveals a contentious range of perspectives on the problems and promises of globalization. At the same time, Campbell argues that the contrasting views of globalization that circulate widely in Mexican historietas reflect a still unsettled relationship between Mexico and its superpower neighbor.

Will Eisner Cover

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Will Eisner

Conversations

M. Thomas Inge

Will Eisner's innovations in the comics, especially the comic book and the graphic novel, as well as his devotion to comics analysis, make him one of comics' first true auteurs and the cartoonist so revered and influential that cartooning's highest honor is named after him. His newspaper feature The Spirit (1940-1952) introduced the now-common splash page to the comic book, as well as dramatic angles and lighting effects that were influenced by, and influenced in turn, the conventions of film noir. Even in his tales of crime fighting, Eisner's writing focused on everyday details of city life and on contemporary social issues. In 1976, he premiered A Contract with God, and Other Tenement Stories, a collection of realist cartoon stories that paved the way for the modern "graphic novel." His 1985 book, Comics and Sequential Art, was among the first sustained analyses and overviews of the comics form, articulating theories of the art's grammar and structure. Eisner's studio nurtured such comics legends as Jules Feiffer, Wally Wood, Lou Fine, and Jack Cole.

Will Eisner: Conversations, edited by comics scholar M. Thomas Inge, collects the best interviews with Eisner (1917-2005) from 1965 to 2004. Taken together, the interviews cover the breadth of Eisner's career with in-depth information about his creation of The Spirit and other well-known comic book characters, his devotion to the educational uses of the comics medium, and his contributions to the development of the graphic novel.

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