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[ecrea] CFP - Comics and material culture special issue of Comicalités: Studies in Graphic Culture
Thu May 17 07:21:09 GMT 2018
*COMICS AND MATERIAL CULTURE *
Editors: Sylvain Lesage and Bounthavy Suvilay
In the past few years, the notion of material culture has been the
object of renewed interest. It offers a conceptual tool in which to root
our understanding of comics in its materiality. Stemming from material
bibliography, the reflexion we would like to expand relies on the idea
that the material form of the book is a device in which non-verbal
elements and spatial dispositions have an expressive function in
conveying? meaning (McKenzie, 1986). This issue of Comicalités: Studies
in Graphic Culture aims to broaden our understanding of the materiality
of comics: from paper to screen, from original art to mugs, and from
plastic action figures to deluxe editions.
With electronic publishing, new ways of ‘mattering’ comics/material
forms have emerged. It makes a critical return to the materiality of
comics even more pressing. Supports and objects carry comic art which is
mediated by technical limitations, editorial uses, marketing choices...
All of these contribute to determine readers’ uses. Even before opening
a comic book, the choice of binding, the weight of the paper and the
gloss of lamination, contribute to setting expectations that determine
the reader’s experience. A hardback edition does not provide the same
experience as the serial issues, nor does reading a strip in the
newspaper have the same effect as browsing through annuals. Alternative
publishing is a good example of this importance of format, with the use
of the graphic novel as a distinctive publishing medium.
Understanding the role of comics in a material culture also means
analyzing the merchandising uses of comics. From Bill Watterson’s Calvin
and Hobbes to Charles Schulz’s Peanuts, a wide range of options are open
to creators: preservation of a graphic universe on paper, use on a large
number of objects. Merchandising in Europe is also an important aspect
of the business: the rights of Tintin are held by Moulinsart, which
tries to adapt Hergé’s creation in all possible forms, from bed sheets
to statues. With the death of the author and the refusal to continue the
series, merchandising has become a key element of the financial balance
of Moulinsart; as for the Smurfs, estimates run as high as 700 different
licences across the world. But licensing does not just have a commercial
impact; it also transforms the reader’s experience. What is Mickey for a
child who discovered Disney’s creations through socks or plastic toys?
But merchandising also influences creative processes: it is not
surprising in this context that Todd McFarlane simultaneously launched a
publishing house and a toy company. Our aim in this issue is not to
oppose works of art versus products of the industry, but on the contrary
to understand, as Marx put it, how “production is also immediately
consumption, consumption is also immediately production”.
We invite abstracts for articles that shift our focus towards the
multiplicity of material forms mediums. Our aim here is not to study the
discrepancy between an original work and its toys, for instance, but
rather to study the narrativizations … We welcome propositions on all
areas and time periods.
Suggested topics might include but are not limited to these three
The physicality of comics:
●The influence of publishing formats on the way readers understand
comics, for example the way publishers tried to address different
●How do publishers use publishing formats as a means to segment their
readership, to create niches?
●Is the boom of deluxe and limited editions a sign of a
re-materialization of comics?
●How do the authors play with these forms, pushing their boundaries?
●Did the interest for original art transform publishing practices?
●What are the codes used by the publishers to convey the idea of comics’
●What objects are favoured by collectors? What relationship do these
collectors have with the objects they’re collecting?
●How does the materiality of comics research (paper, microfilm,
digitized versions, etc.) impact the research or the methods used?
●How do ad campaigns transform the image of a character, alter the
●In transmedia strategies or in Japanese media mix, to what extent can
the support affect the fictional world and its reception beyond
narrators or marketing directors’ strategies?
●What is the impact of merchandising on the relationship between readers
and their comics? Is discovering Peanuts on a mug the same thing as
discovering it in the comics’ section? On the contrary, how is a popular
series such as Calvin and Hobbes affected by the absence of legal
●To what extent do toys transform the way readers interact with a
●Co-branding is a marketing strategy that involves an alliance between
companies to work together on ad campaigns. How does co-branding
Consumer culture in comics: the third perspective aims to understand how
comics depict consumer culture, following Ian Gordon’s work.
●How do children’s comics aim to initiate children to a consumer culture?
●Comics have been massively used in advertising; was advertising a
cradle of graphic modernity, or a haven of conservatism?
●House-ads/commercials in mainstream (or alternative) comics;
●Ian Gordon showed how Gasoline Alley could be understood as a study of
how automobiles shaped modern society and language;
●Philippe Squarzoni, in Climate Changed, depicts modern consumer culture
by recycling a vast number of movies and ads that convey the idea of
alienation. How do modern graphic artists use the visual language of
advertising and consumption, both in mainstream and alternative comics?
Please send a one-page abstract (3000 characters with spaces) and a CV
to Sylvain Lesage ((sylvain.lesage /at/ univ-lille.fr)
<mailto:(sylvain.lesage /at/ univ-lille.fr)>) and Bounthavy Suvilay
((bounthavy /at/ gmail.com) <mailto:(bounthavy /at/ gmail.com)>) before June 25, 2018.
Please feel free to contact us with any questions.
The articles will follow the formatting guidelines of the journal:
http://journals.openedition.org/comicalites/364?lang=en. We also welcome
alternative, shorter papers, such as interviews with professionals
(printers, production managers, collectors, curators…).
ALLISON Anne, Millennial Monsters. Japanese Toys and the Global
Imagination, Los Angeles, University of California Press, 2006.
CONDRY Ian, The Soul of Anime: Collaborative Creativity and Japan's
Media Success Story, Durham, Duke University Press, 2013
GORDON Ian, Comic Strips and Consumer Culture, 1890-1945, Washington
D.C., Smithsonian Institution Press, 1998, 233 p.
HAGUE Ian, Comics and the senses: A multisensory approach to comics and
graphic novels, London, Routledge, 2014.
MILLER Daniel, Material Culture and Mass Consumption, Oxford, Basil
RHODE Michael G, “The Commercialization of Comics: A Broad Historical
Overview”, International Journal of Comic Art, 1.2, 1999, p. 143-170.
STEINBERG Marc, Anime's Media mix: Franchising Toys and Characters in
Japan, University of Minnesota Press, 2012.
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