Posted by & filed under Comics in the library.

 

Comics studies at UNT dates back to at least 2011 when Dr. Shaun Treat, a Communications Studies faculty member, organized the first UNT Comic Studies Conference.   This was a scholarly and pedagogical conference devoted to, “broadly surveying the diverse disciplinary approaches to studying or using comics as a resource for education, criticism, or critical engagement with relevant social issues.” 

Facebook page for the UNT Comics Studies Conference

Facebook page for the UNT Comics Studies Conference

The conference included sessions on Teaching Comics across the Curriculum, Analyzing Comics and Culture, Exploring Comics in Communities, and Integrating Comics in the Classroom. In addition to scholars and educators, the conference also invited local creators, comic shop owners, and industry professionals, as well as special guest speakers, and helped build an active community of comics studies enthusiasts in the UNT community. The conference ran for two years, until 2014, when the last event was canceled due to poor weather. While the conference itself has not been revived, the UNT Comics Studies Conference Facebook page remains an active site for news and local comics-related events.

Hand-drawn flier for the "Monstrous Women in Comics Conference", May 26-27, 2017

Hand-drawn flier for the “Monstrous Women in Comics Conference”, May 26-27, 2017

In May of 2017, another group of UNT faculty members, led by Dr. Samantha Langsdale, from the Philosophy & Religion department, organized the Monstrous Women in Comics Conference, an interdisciplinary academic conference focused on the relationship between women and the comics industry. The conference drew on feminist scholarship and recent iterations of Monster Studies to develop a call-for-papers that invited “interdisciplinary examinations of monstrous women in comics not only in order to critically question and contest normative boundaries, but also to begin to imagine how the relationship between women and comics might be otherwise.”  The conference featured panels, individual papers, guest speakers, and a pop-up exhibition of artwork by women creators.

Coinciding with the Monstrous Women conference was an exhibit at the UNT Libraries entitled “Bam! Pow! Boom! Comics in the Library, which ran from April-August of 2017, and was curated by Dr. Spencer Keralis, Head of Digital Humanities & Collaborative Programs, and Dr. John Martin, Scholarly Communication Librarian. This exhibit grew out of a series of discussions, beginning in March of 2017, with librarians and staff from across the Libraries about organizing a series of events around comics to take advantage of some of our unique collections and diverse expertise, as well as to support those faculty and classes that might be interested in using these materials. It included contributions from our own Library’s Graphic Novels and General collections, our Government Documents repository, the Texas Fashion Collection, the UNT Music Library, and Special Collections.  

Poster for Bam! Pow! Boom! Comics in the Library Exhibit

Poster for Bam! Pow! Boom! Comics in the Library Exhibit

The exhibit featured sections on queer comics, international comics, African-American, Native American, and Asian-American comics, women in comics, government comics, and comics-themed items related to fashion, music, film, and television.  The display (seen below) utilized the three primary colors used in comics printing throughout much of the 20th century to give the exhibit a bright, vibrant look and to draw people into the exhibit space. Hundreds of students and visitors had the opportunity to view the exhibit during its four-month run, including attendees at the Monstrous Women conference and students from a local middle-school.

"Comics in the Library" Exhibit at UNT Willis Library,, April 10th-August 15th, 2017

“Comics in the Library” Exhibit at UNT Willis Library, April 10th-August 15th, 2017

The opening of the exhibit also featured a panel discussion, “Comics in the Academy, that included faculty from UNT and Texas Christian University discussing some of the ways they use comics in their scholarship and teaching. The nearly two-hour discussion gave attendees an opportunity to talk about their own interest in and love for comics, and to hear how scholars from different disciplines approach comics through their own unique lenses.

Slide from "Comics in the Academy" Panel Presentation at Willis Library, April 2017

“Comics in the Academy” Panel Presentation at Willis Library, April 2017

After the exhibit, the Libraries held several follow-up events to keep the momentum going. In June of 2017, we hosted a webinar and virtual chat with poet, cartoonist, and librarian Sommer Browning, who talked about “Comics as Poetry” and how the two forms come together in her work. In July 2017, we held a film screening and discussion of Wonder Women: The Untold Story of American Superheroines, at the UNT Media Library. And in the Fall of 2017, the Libraries’ Collection Development department approved funds for an enhancement to our Graphic Novel Collection for the coming year (see our post on Comics Studies Resources @UNT”). 

Looking forward, we have several events planned for the Spring of 2018, including the launch of a Comics Studies Reading Group , a Pop-Up Museum event, and one or more film-screenings that will be open to the public.  We also hope to offer continued support and space for new courses utilizing comics and graphic novels, for researchers interested in comics studies materials, and for speakers on comics-related topics from a range of disciplines. 

In subsequent blog posts, some of our faculty and staff will share the work they’ve been doing with comics, either in the classroom, at conferences, or in their scholarly research and writing.  Hopefully, new ideas will emerge from this blog for continued programming at the Libraries and in the broader UNT community.

If you have ideas, reflections, or questions about any of these things, or ideas for new events, please share them in the comments below!

Posted by & filed under Comics in the library, Scholarship.

 

The UNT Libraries has a number of resources for folks interested in studying comics for research, coursework, collecting, or plain old pleasure reading.  Below are a few places to get started.

These aren’t the only places you can find useful information, though, since every discipline may have its own approaches to comics as art, as literature, as a form of education, as digital media, as an industry,as  a social or cultural phenomena, etc.–so it may be worth looking at books or articles in those areas of study as well (consult with a subject librarian, if you aren’t sure where to begin). But these resources might be of special interest to comics scholars from a variety of disciplines.

Image of UNT Libraries graphic novels collection, Willis Library, 3rd floor

UNT Libraries Graphic Novels collection, Willis Library, 3rd floor

This online guide for comics studies includes links to books, articles, databases, websites, videos, and events related to comics, including conferences and conventions. If you have links you’d like to add, just contact the subject librarian listed on that page. 

This is our browsable, circulating collection of graphic novels, comics anthologies, and other books related to comics studies. Come sit and relax in a window seat while you peruse some of the classics, like Maus or Watchmen, or catch up on some of your favorite series, like The Walking Dead or Saga.  You may also find a few unknown treasures here that you’ll enjoy.

This is where you’ll find books about comics and comics studies—especially scholarly or critical studies, histories, and guides. The best place to begin a search of the general collection is in the Library’s online catalog. There are some suggested search terms on the Comics Studies Guide’s “Researching Comics” page. But if you like to browse, you can begin on the 3rd Floor of Willis Library under the following call numbers: PN 6700-6790 (Comics history, theory, and scholarship) or NC 1700-1790 (Cartoons, animation, and manga).

The Comic Books Collection at the University of North Texas was developed after librarian Doug Campbell’s donation of 1,600 comic books on behalf of his grandmother, Floydine Campbell (1917-2014), who purchased many of them at her job at the Leonard Pharmacy in Leonard, Texas (see our “Comic Books in Action” exhibit from 2014). The collection also includes the 98 Classics Illustrated comic books donated by Clifford and Shaun Seibel in 2008. These materials are available by special request only, and a research appointment is required to view them.

Patrons who want to request materials from Special Collections should visit the website to view policies and request procedures: http://www.library.unt.edu/special-collections

Many people aren’t aware of the wide range of government publications that have included comics, comic art, or information on legal cases or government hearings involving comics. Our government documents collection includes a number of materials related to these and other topics. Visit the Eagle Commons Library Service Desk for assistance in locating government comics at UNT.

Many government comics are also available online at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Government Comics Collection web site.

Image of Government comics from the UNT Eagle Commons Library

Government comics from the UNT Eagle Commons Library

The Libraries are open to the public, and you can use any of our resources on-site, even if you don’t have borrowing privileges.  UNT faculty, students, and staff can check out or reserve any of these materials for research or classes. If you have a card from a participating TexShare library, and are over 18 years old, you can also check out circulating materials according to UNT’s TexShare lending policies.

If you have questions or would like help in locating other comics-related materials, please contact John.Martin@unt.edu

Posted by & filed under Comics in the library.

Poster for "Comics in the Library" Exhibit, April-August, 2017

Welcome to the brand new Comics Studies at UNT Blog. This blog is a project of the UNT Libraries, and will include contributions from across the Libraries’ divisions, as well as from faculty, students, and others in the UNT community who share an interest in comics studies.

We include under “comics studies” the scholarly or critical examination of comic books, comic strips, graphic novels, cartoons, animation, films, and other forms of graphic narrative or sequential art. This examination may, but doesn’t have to, conform to traditional modes of scholarly inquiry. We encourage alternate ways of thinking and writing about comics, including interviews, images, videos, or multimedia artwork.  Our scope is purposely broad in order to reflect the interests and range of disciplinary expertise in the comics studies community, as well as the scope of the collections and resources available at the UNT Libraries.

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Over the next few months we’ll feature submissions from various members of the UNT community who have an interest in any aspect of comics: theory, history, popular culture, production, creation, collecting, or pedagogy. While we hope to use this forum to highlight both the collections of the UNT Libraries and the work being done by members of our community, we’re also interested in broader conversations around comics and their cultural, artistic, and intellectual value.

Among the topics we hope to include are:

  • Comics in the Libraries–highlighting resources, collections, or comics-related events at UNT Libraries.
  • Comics Scholarship–overviews of scholarly projects by UNT community members.
  • “A Closer Look”–articles offering close analysis of panels or pages for scholarly or teaching purposes.
  • Diversity in comics–frank discussions about issues of diversity in comics.
  • “Comics in the news”–insightful articles about current events or happenings in the world of comics.
  • Interviews with comics scholars, creators, collectors, retailers, or others in the field.
  • Critical reviews  of new comics, graphic novels, films, or comics scholarship.

We’re also open to creative uses of media, including videos, artwork, and, of course, comics!

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In our next few posts, we’ll offer a retrospective of some of the recent comics-related events here at the UNT Libraries, share some resources we’ve put together for those who want to study comics, and chat with some of our community members about their interests in comics.

Bookmark this page and check back each week for new posts!