Starting a new scholarly journal in 2017 was a risky venture for all involved. After all, these are not auspicious times for university presses, scholarly societies, or the arts in general. And while comics studies as a field is surely more visible than ever before, the current realities of higher education means that visibility will not often translate—as it did for past "emerging fields" like film studies—into new resources, departments … or institutional subscriptions.
Despite the grim landscape, hundreds of folks signed up to be members of the Comics Studies Society and subscribers to Inks (pro-tip: joining the Society gets one a subscription to the journal; subscribing to the journal makes one a member of the Society). And thanks to the daily support of our Society, Press, contributors, readers, and the community of editors who put Inks together, the first year was a success. One year later we find ourselves realizing this is for real. And the second year promises to be more exciting.
For the Society, 2018 will see the launch of an annual conference, hosted this August by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Information about our inaugural conference can be found at comicssociety.org/ conference. In addition, the Comics Studies Society is in the process of judging its first annual awards: the CSS Article Prize, the Gilbert Seldes Prize for Public Scholarship, the CSS Book Prize, and the Hillary Chute Award for Best Graduate Student Conference Presentation.
Here at Inks we have some exciting things coming up, including our first guest-edited cluster later this year. In addition, we have slowly begun launching a new website, Extra Inks, which will provide more content and opportunities for community-building throughout the year. You can find Extra Inks in the menu bar at the journal's website (inks.comics-society.org) or you can dial us up directly at extra-inks.comicssociety.org. If you have ideas for things you'd like to see at Extra Inks or in the journal, let us know at our online forum or write us directly at email@example.com.
This issue is itself a special thing, we believe. It has always been our goal that Inks be something a bit different than the standard academic journal. After all, our membership includes not only university-employed scholars but also comics professionals, public scholars, and the dedicated fans of the form who made "comics studies" a reality long before universities caught on to the act. And even our professorial subscribers tend to be a bit, well, different—pursuing a field of study that has found fertile ground in academia just as the powers-that-be seem poised level the arts and humanities and salt the earth in their wake. [End Page v]
Yes, we are a different breed from the run-of-the-mill scholarly society, which is why we sometimes fantasize about Inks as a hybrid of an academic journal and a zine: fulfilling our mission to publish peer-reviewed scholarship of the highest standards while also working to expand the archive of what scholarship can look like and what it can accomplish.
Towards that end, in addition to book reviews and three excellent peer-reviewed essays this issue, we have two features that came our way via comics festivals. The first, by Andrew White, I encountered at the Small Press Expo (SPX) in Bethesda in September 2017, where this unique work of comics scholarship was being sold as a mini in a print run of fifty, alongside more traditional SPX fare. The discovery of this exciting scholarship about the comics of Kevin Huizenga in a mini-comic was a reminder of the important role of the cartoonist-critic—from Colton Waugh to Scott McCloud—and of the growing possibilities for presenting scholarship in new hybrid formats and distributing it outside of the traditional venues for such work.
Just a week later, at Cartoon Crossroads Columbus (CXC), where Huizenga was a guest, he introduced me to his pedagogical zine, Comix Skool USA, inspiring the creation of a new occasional feature in Inks called "From the Classroom." If you have unique classroom materials for the teaching of...