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  • Introduction(No Soapbox, Radio)
  • Jared Gardner

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Figure 1.

F. M. Howarth, “His First Attempt,” Life, December 12, 1889, 334−35.

IT IS WITH GREAT pleasure that we welcome you to the first issue of Inks: The Journal of the Comics Studies Society. The journal is named in honor of the original INKS: Cartoon and Comics Art Studies (1994–97), edited by Lucy Shelton Caswell and an all-star team of comics studies pioneers. The original INKS was ahead of its time, a peer-reviewed journal published by an academic press at a time when such a thing seemed unimaginable. Like most things ahead of their times, harsh realities intervened. [End Page 1]

I recently had the pleasure of reading through the complete run of the original INKS for Drawing the Line, a collection of “greatest hits” that will be published by the time this issue hits the stands. What struck me most immediately was that, even as twenty years ago the field was considerably smaller than it is today, it was in other ways considerably more expansive. True, there were far fewer scholars, courses, and venues for publication. But in the pages of the original INKS one encounters a version of the field that included aspects of comics history we have neglected in our period of institutionalization: newspaper comic strips, historical international comics, editorial and political comics, nineteenth-century illustrated magazines, etc. For all our remarkable growth and myriad achievements in the intervening decades, we also have some catching up to do.

Of course, that is what makes working in this field at this moment so exciting: there is so much to read and so many discoveries to make. There’s gold in these here hills, and part of the job of the new Inks is to create a space where we can mine it all. This is not the work of a year or even a generation. It is not the work of an individual or of academic scholars alone. It is an ongoing, collective project that will require collaborations between academics, independent scholars, fans, collectors, archivists, curators and comics professionals.

This was the vision that brought the Comics Studies Society together. Several years ago, over lunch at some conference or another, Charles Hatfield mentioned to me his dream of a national learned society devoted to comics studies. I fear I far too obviously expressed my doubts that such a society could come into being in the twenty-first century. Sensing his disappointment in my response, I offered to edit the society’s journal if he ever managed to make it happen. Imagine my surprise, then, when at the 2014 International Comic Arts Forum conference in my hometown of Columbus, I found myself in a packed room, counting the “ayes” while Charles presided over the founding meeting of the Comics Studies Society.

So here we are. And I could not be happier. I get to work with and for a remarkable board at CSS. And I am fortunate beyond measure in my editorial colleagues here at the journal.

Two of my favorite people in comics help me manage the “Essays” section of Inks. Qiana Whitted (University of South Carolina) and Benjamin Saunders (University of Oregon) are fierce advocates for the field and insightful readers of every essay that comes through our doors. My remarkable colleagues at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, Jenny Robb and Caitlin McGurk, somehow find time to oversee the “Archives” and “Field” departments even as they run the world’s largest institution devoted to comics.

Our book review editor is Ben Novotny Owen, the former (and founding) president of the Graduate Student Caucus of the Comics Studies Society and—around the time you are reading this—a freshly-minted PhD. Our assistant editor is Rachel Miller, newly-launched on the dissertation sea. I have learned more from Ben and Rachel in my years working with them than I could ever whave hoped to teach them. This first issue is dedicated to them and to all young scholars in comics studies. Your passion, faith, and [End Page 2] brilliance inspires us all, and we will do all we can...


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