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The state of comics studies

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Thought Balloonists discusses the current climate in the world of comics studies. This is a really thorough article, and has some really well-informed comments.

I’m a fan myself, and expect always to be one. But academics have professional needs and priorities that are peculiar to the profession, and it’s my belief that comics studies in the academy must grapple more deliberately with those needs and priorities. Frankly, I think we’re going to have separate out our fandom connections from what we need and what we hope to accomplish as academics.


Written by The Department of Illustration

September 14, 2009 at 6:15 pm

Posted in Articles, Comics, Theory

Translation: Poison River and the vertiginous ellipsis

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Derik Badman takes apart translates an article originally written in French in which David Turgeon takes apart Gilbert Hernandez’s Poison River and sees what makes it tick for French site

The density of narration, the abundance of situations in a limited space, and the compressed representation of time all participate together to give the story a schematic impression. In other words, Hernandez tells his stories in broad strokes, showing details only when necessary. Among other things, this allows him to age his characters significantly in only a few pages or to show the type of large-scale social or political evolutions that would be difficult to notice were the story told “step by step.” On the other hand, these characteristics seems to prevent a certain degree of fluidity in the story.

Written by The Department of Illustration

September 7, 2009 at 8:01 pm

Comics aren’t literature apparently.

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The Cool Kids Table has a brief post on the recognition of comics as literature by a conservative thinktank co-founded by Lynne Cheney.


Above – a page from Tales Designed to Thrizzle by Michael Kupperman.

Written by The Department of Illustration

September 1, 2009 at 2:52 pm

Posted in Articles, Comics, News


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Derik Badman writes a brief post on Grandpapier, a project started by Belgian publisher L’Employé de Moi. The site features work in French and English as well as a number of wordless strips.


Recent Comics Bureau postee Darryl Cunningham comments on Derik’s post;

I was recently asked if I wanted to contribute to GrandPapier, and have now been doing so for a number of weeks. I find the style of the comics on the site to be so much more playful than US or UK comics. There’s a real freshness about the approach there which made me realise how staid English language comix have become.

Looking at the quality of the work, this is a hard opinion to disagree with.

Written by The Department of Illustration

September 1, 2009 at 2:27 pm

Work on spec?

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Web Designer Chris Williams writes for about the perils of working on spec. The crossover between commercial design and comics becomes particularly well defined when put in these terms;

Speculative work means you create something for your client, if they like it, you get paid. If they don’t like it, you don’t get paid. There is no assurance that you’ll be compensated for your efforts. By the way, “building your portfolio” or “getting a link” is NOT compensation.

Written by The Department of Illustration

September 1, 2009 at 2:18 pm

Posted in Advice, Articles, Webcomics

Comiket/Comitia 89

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Daniel Lau of writes up his impressions of Comiket and Comitia, two comics conventions in the same venue one week apart.


On Comiket;

Comiket is more about fandom than it is about comics. What I learnt was that in a convention that permits derivative work, the majority of output seems to be 1) fan favourite characters in compromising situations, 2) fan favourite characters being repeatedly compromised by other, same-gendered characters, or 3) anything + Fist of the North Star.

On Comitia;

Comitia prides itself on being all about original comics. When you take out all the fanfiction, even going so far as to ban cosplay, the bar gets raised a little. Creators have to get a bit more serious or stay home.

Is Comiket the Japanese equivalent of the comics conventions where you spend all your time queuing to meet a guy that once wore an ewok costume?

Written by The Department of Illustration

September 1, 2009 at 1:17 pm

Bitterkomix, Racial Stereotypes and Tintin

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Paul Gravett introduces South African Anton Kannemeyer and Bitterkomix. I found this article really interesting, especially following the news that a Brooklyn library has restricted access to Tintin in the congo.


Parallels can be drawn between the premise of Paul’s article

Satire is in the eye of the beholder. The most cutting political satire, if misread, risks cutting both ways and appearing to endorse the very things it set out to assault. Might resurrecting racist imagery from the past to condemn racism today also serve to perpetuate that visual poison and feed prejudices further? Or can a postmodern re-reading give it added potency to shock and shame?

and the accusations of racism arising from comedian Richard Herring‘s recent Edinburgh show ‘Hitler Moustache’ in which he rails against voter apathy and the BNP, and attempts to re-appropriate the toothbrush moustache.

Satire is certainly in the eye of the beholder, and reinterpreting controversial imagery and subject matter is risky. It assumes that the audience is aware of both the original material/circumstances and the fine lines that divide the satire from the original message.

Written by The Department of Illustration

September 1, 2009 at 8:35 am

Posted in Articles, Comics, History