by Dr. Samantha Langsdale
SPOILERS: the following post DOES contain spoilers, so if you prefer not to have various plot points of the film revealed, read no further.
For those of us who enjoy superhero films, the last couple of years have been game changing. True, Hollywood has been producing superheroic blockbusters for decades, but the last two years in particular have given us a lot of firsts. Wonder Woman (2017), Black Panther (2018), Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018), they all gave us something groundbreaking and put heroes on our screens that we had only caught glimpses of before (if ever). Captain Marvel (2019), starring Brie Larson, is the newest entry in this “Whoa! What was that!?” hall of fame. As Marvel’s first full-length feature with a solo female lead, and as a film that uses an unprecedented level of de-aging technology, Captain Marvel (CM) is definitely novel. But what really struck me, and I imagine, a lot of other women, was how intensely relatable the film was—not only because, for only the second time ever, the main superhero protagonist was a woman, but also because her greatest enemy was one that I too fight on a regular basis. And I’m not talking about Skrulls. Read more
Fan’s of the CW’s Riverdale know Cheryl Blossom as the unscrupulous rich girl with serious fashion sense who lives by her own moral code. But many viewers might not know that Cheryl has a longer history in the Archieverse than her latest TV incarnation. Cheryl Blossom #1 (Archie Comics, December 2018) invites us to remedy that knowledge gap by highlighting some of Cheryl’s earliest appearances in Archie Comics.
We recently completed the first semester of our UNT Comics Studies Reading Group, and held our first meeting of 2019. The group has readers from UNT and TCU, including faculty, staff, librarians, and students. We’ve had a regular attendance of 4-6 people, plus occasional others who have contributed to the conversations about some really interesting comics, graphic novels, and web-comics. We’re hoping to expand both our membership and our readings this semester, so come join us if you’re interested! Just email firstname.lastname@example.org to get on the mailing list for upcoming meetings. Our next one is Saturday, March 23, 2019, from 1-2:30 p.m. at Denton Brewing Co. (Note: This was rescheduled from February!) Read more
If you haven’t seen Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) yet, you might want to treat yourself and your kids to a viewing over the holidays. It’s a fun, action-packed, visually stunning film for all ages, and one that should appeal to old-school and new Spider-fans alike. A few of our Comics Studies Reading Group regulars offered some reflections on the film below. There are no strong spoilers here, but feel free to hold off until you’ve seen it and join the conversation in the comments below! Read more
On Friday, August 17, 2018, we had the first organizational meeting for our new Comics Studies Reading Group at UNT. This is a group devoted to reading and discussing comics & graphic novels, as well as interesting scholarship, popular media, or films related to comics studies. Read more
I’ve been on a bit of a crime spree lately—in the library. It all started with my friend Krista Gehring’s new graphic textbook series, CrimComics. Each issue offers insights into specific aspects of criminology and criminal justice, including history, theory, biographical and case studies, and contemporary issues in crime & punishment, all told through the medium of graphic narrative. Gehring herself is a Criminal Justice professor at the University of Houston-Downtown who specializes in women offenders, criminological theory, gender-responsive policies & practices, and risk/needs assessment. She also happens to be a great fan of crime and horror comics, films, and popular culture. Thinking that this might be a great way to combine her passions while also doing some creative teaching with students who had trouble grasping theoretical concepts in criminology, Gehring got together with an old friend from grad school, Michael R. Batista, who also happens to be a freelance artist, and began working on a graphic textbook concept in early 2010. Read more
If you’re ever in Washington, DC, stop by the James Madison Building at The Library of Congress and see what has been touted as the largest publicly available Comic Book Collection in the United States. Most of the current comic books at the Library of Congress have been acquired through copyright deposit, but a small selection of foreign titles are also available. In addition, a recently-signed agreement with the Small Press Expo (SPX) allows the Library to collect independent comics and cartoons that are not available through copyright deposit. Read more
I thought I’d share some of the recent acquisitions of comics studies books that we’ve recieved here at the UNT Libraries. This list doesn’t include the many new graphic novels that we’ve recently added as part of our graphic novel collection enhancement, which you’ll hear more about soon. These are just a few of the scholarly books on comics, graphic novels, and media related to comics studies that have come in this year. Read more
I recently had an opportunity to present on a comics panel at the 2018 Popular Culture Association National Conference, along with a colleague, Dr. Samantha Langsdale, from the UNT Department of Philosophy and Religion, and two fellow comics scholars from other institutions. For those who aren’t familiar with it, the PCA is a scholarly organization devoted to popular culture studies across multiple disciplines and dozens of subject areas,including the Comics & Comic Art Section, that organize panels throughout the four-day conference. Read more
The cover of DPN #2, 1991
At the Perspectives on Graphic Medicine panel discussion, I presented some preliminary research I’ve been doing on the visual culture of the early years of the AIDS epidemic, exploring how the HIV positive body is reproduced and represented in ephemera and popular culture. In my talk, I introduced Captain Condom, a serial comic that appeared in AIDS zine Diseased Pariah News from 1990-1999.
People living with AIDS resisted images of the dying body – typified by journalism student Therese Frare’s 1990 photo of gay activist David Kirby on his deathbed, surrounded by his grieving family – as the sole representation of themselves and their community. Zines – DIY, self-published and -circulated works – were one medium among many that the community used to assert a different image of themselves. Diseased Pariah News, a zine published in San Francisco from 1990 to 1999, sought to “bring some much-needed levity to the experience of HIV infection,” and also to reclaim the HIV positive body as an object of desire. To this end, DPN included the serial comic Captain Condom, along with centerfolds of HIV-positive men, meme-like slogans and images, recipes to help readers “Get Fat, Don’t Die,” and porn reviews that rated videos on how well they integrated condom use. Read more