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
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
Although some of you have gotten a preview of it on our Facebook page, this week marks the official debut of our new Comics Studies at UNT logo (now appearing in the top right corner of this blog)! This logo was designed by Kaleb Privett, a junior Communication Design major at UNT and a student assistant in the Libraries’ External Relations department. His overall goal as a communication designer is to create things that are artistic, helpful, and informative.
We talked to Kaleb about his process in designing this logo, and here’s what he told us:
This is a continuation of my previous post on the film Winchester (2018) and its earlier comic book adaptations. I want to take a look at a page from Peter J. Tomasi and Ian Bertram’s House of Penance (Dark Horse Comics, 2017) and think about how it brings together several elements of the real and speculative histories associated with the Winchester House, while also adding its own emotional and spiritual undercurrents.
Coming to theaters this Friday, February 2, is Winchester (2018), the new horror thriller by the Spiereg Brothers (Daybreakers, Jigsaw), starring Helen Mirren, Sarah Snook, and Jason Clarke. It’s a film I’m excited to see, not only because it offers the incomparable Helen Mirren another juicy role in a genre she hasn’t explored much even in her diverse & distinguished career, but because the story itself is one that has haunted my imagination since I first encountered it in the pages of Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, over 30 years ago (more on that in a moment).
If you’ve been standing in one place spinning in circles on the first floor of Willis Library looking for the Graphic Novels section, you’re not hallucinating, they really did move!
You can find them in their own section on the third floor of Willis. Just take the elevator (or the stairs if you’re feeling frisky) and you’ll find them front and center.
We’re building up our graphic novels collection this semester, so look for those shelves to fill up!
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.”