Call for Feature Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

Worlds in Panels

Friday, April 18 2014

What Do We Do When Our Online Comics Collections Explode?

Complications or confusion aside, the hacking of comiXology demonstrates a disconcerting vulnerability in digital comics.


Wednesday, February 26 2014

Digital Comics and the Return of Disposability

A lot of comics may be seen as cheap, but so what? That also makes them fun.


Monday, January 6 2014

Walking Through the Space of Childhood: Geneviève Castrée’s ‘Susceptible’

Comics is an ideal medium for showing memory, time and mind, as having "physical dimensions".


Monday, December 2 2013

Marvel Studios’ Major TV Launch Will Benefit from Staying Close to Its Comics Roots

While Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. may stem directly from The Avengers film franchise, like those movies, the show also has comics in its DNA.


Monday, November 11 2013

Geek Girl Con 2013 Synthesized Pop Culture, Science, Technology, and Critical Inquiry

I can't think of another gathering of academics, practitioners, and fans that places comics alongside not just other pop media, but also science, math, and technology.


Monday, September 30 2013

Do You Have What It Takes to Commit to Serials?

Once one has committed to a narrative, it can be hard to let go, even if creative teams have changed, or ideas are running out.


Thursday, August 15 2013

Eat, Drink, Draw: Lucy Knisley’s Comic Book ‘Relish’ as a Cookbook

Drawing her recipes for Relish, Lucy Knisley almost literally shows cooking to be more art than science.


Sunday, July 14 2013

How Does It End? Narrative Closure in the Marvel Universes

In Marvel's comics, narrative closure is always deferred, every ending a new beginning. Iron Man 3, with its now world weary characters and aging actors, draws attention to how live action is different from comics.


Monday, March 25 2013

Polymorphously Inclined: Comics as Influence, Comics Influenced

'Poaching' and 'copying' goes on in the making, reading, and interpreting of all forms of art and expression. The manner in which comics seem to invite connections to other media is what makes them vital artifacts of pop culture.


Sunday, February 24 2013

Why Is It Like That Here? Comics As a Medium for Exploring Our Varying Senses of Place

Comics give writers and artists a unique kind of freedom to make and remake places for their stories.


Tuesday, January 22 2013

The Conscious Materiality of Chris Ware’s Building Stories

If the digital ereader has made anything clear, it's that the physicality of the book is, for most practical purposes, incidental, an accident of time and place. Building Stories, by contrast, is deliberately material in a way that most books are not.


Wednesday, November 28 2012

What’s Lost in Translation When Print Comics Are Digitized?

Be they in analog or digital form, the struggle between art and commerce in comics presses on.


Monday, November 12 2012

Drawing Sound: James Stokoe and Godzilla’s Roar

James Stokoe's approach to visualizing how Godzilla's "EEYAEEEARRGH" sounds is one of those things that you didn't know you wanted to see until you see it.


Tuesday, October 16 2012

Your Friendly Neighborhood Hero: Clint ‘Hawkeye’ Barton

Clint Barton, while extraordinarily skilled in respect to his weapon of choice, is still human in the same sense that the characters he mingles with, or the readers of Hawkeye, are human. He has not had 'great power' thrust on him by accident, nature or social position.


Monday, September 3 2012

The Major Comics Publishers Skipped Geek Girl Again, But Is That Such a Bad Thing?

In my review of last year's convention I made the case for Marvel and DC to be in attendance. After attending this year's convention, I think a case could also be made for the major publishers to stay away.


Monday, July 30 2012

Brian Wood’s New York: The Conclusion of the DMZ Series

Whatever the social and political issues Brian Wood and Ricardo Burchielli, and their occasional collaborators, chose to examine through the DMZ series, those examinations were always grounded in and refracted through New York.


Monday, May 28 2012

Epic Ideas, Epic Images: Adapting Comics to Film

Superhero comics have become eminently exploitable resources for filmmakers seeking images, characters, and concepts that can be matched to the scale of the theater screen.


Monday, April 23 2012

Comics to Film (and Film to Comics): The Two-Way Street Between Page and Screen

Movies like The Avengers are better thought of as character adaptations than adaptations of specific books. When seen that way, we recognize the characters as transmedia creations.


Tuesday, March 27 2012

Pulp, Bricks and Mortar: Why Local Comics Shops Still Work in the Digital Age

Many comics stores have adapted in the same way that many comics conventions have: by developing new aspects of their business in related, but still distinct, areas of pop culture and fandom including comics-related merchandise, role-playing games, and genre entertainment.


Tuesday, February 14 2012

Digital Comics and the Limits of Sharing

Digital publishing and distribution not only changes the nature of reading for readers/consumers, it also has implications for another important aspect of American comics culture: sharing.


Wednesday, January 11 2012

Killing the Page: Comics’ Digital Conundrum

There are thorny creative and artistic questions to be addressed in the development of comics for e-reading; we'll have to get beyond models that see the digital as little more than an adaptation of the analog.


Wednesday, November 30 2011

Hard to Make a Living: Kickstarter and Comics Creators

Comics writers and artists are turning to Kickstarter both to fund specific projects and to buy themselves time to create.


Tuesday, October 18 2011

Comics Needs Women: Why Marvel and DC Should Have Been at Geek Girl Con

There is goodwill to be spent and good faith conversations to be had about the place of women and female characters in the DC and Marvel universes, and an event like Geek Girl Con is an ideal place for that kind of dialogue.


Monday, September 5 2011

Show and Tell: On Words and Images in Comics

While there are prose books that use pictures for illustrative purposes, only in comics are stories actively told through both written words and drawn pictures.


Tuesday, July 5 2011

How Intricate Can Marvel’s Storyworld Become on Film?

Marvel producers are attempting to create a film analog to the Marvel Universe that knits together the publisher's mainline titles. Will moviegoing audiences keep coming back for the next story, and the next?


Sunday, May 22 2011

Comics Superheroes Leap Across the Great Cultural Divide

Bounding from the pages of comic books onto the screens of films and TV, our superheroes unite formerly divided interests -- comics geeks vs. everyone else.


Tuesday, March 29 2011

BOOM! Studios’ CBGB Anthology: The Magic and Banality of Place

Whether CBGB had a special poetry to it or was nothing more than a decent rock club is less interesting than the debate itself.


Monday, February 28 2011

‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ as Motion Comic: Paper Doll or New Art Form?

Will motion comics become the digital equivalent of the film strip? Merely an interesting artifact of a particular period of media production? Or are they the crude beginnings of a new art form?


Thursday, January 20 2011

The Year in Review: The Best Comics of 2010, Part II

Regardless of format, what seems unlikely to change is the use of comics for serial storytelling. In the future, this may take place on the web, or in e-editions, it may not follow a monthly publishing schedule, but like television, comics is both historically associated with serials and well-suited to making and delivering these kinds of stories.


Tuesday, December 14 2010

The Year in Review: The Best Comics of 2010, Part I

Through some of the best comics of 2010, we look at how stories are told in comics, and how the medium benefits from being a subcultural or marginal form of narrative art.


Monday, November 15 2010

From Pin-Ups to Ass-Kickers: Girls in Comics Go Through Transitions

The original Supergirl and her readers would no doubt be scandalized by the current length of her skirt and exposed skin, not to mention her toned physique.


Monday, October 4 2010

Strange Tales and Mainstreams: When All Superheroes Are Uncanny

The long-term serialization of comics means that different creators get a chance to work with characters and storyworlds originally written by others. On occasion, they're given license to run wild.


Sunday, August 29 2010

‘Scott Pilgrim’ and What Movies Mean to Comics

Why do comics readers care about the movies made from their favorite books?


Sunday, August 15 2010

The Danger of ‘Girl Comics’

There's always the risk that efforts like the “Women of Marvel” are token exercises, small measures taken in lieu of further reaching commitments to change in how women are regarded, as characters, as creators, and ultimately, as readers.


Sunday, July 25 2010

Almost Lifelike: Drawing Out Reality in Comics Art

While leaving out details that we often associate with 'reality', the drawings of comics artists will often evoke a sense of place more effectively than the photos from which those images may be drawn.


Monday, June 7 2010

Freeze Frame: How Best to Capture Film in a Comic Book?

For both writers and artists working on adaptations of movies and TV shows, the challenge is to find a working space wherein one's own sensibilities can be effectively meshed with the look and feel of the original text and into a book that works for readers.


Wednesday, May 5 2010

Comics: It’s Such a Big Small World

One of the key differences between Stumptown and Comic-Con is that the bigger gathering is the fans' party, while the smaller event is the creators' shindig.


Tuesday, April 6 2010

Egads! Comics! In the Library!

Comics, that great corrupter and retarding influence on youth, evoke fear in librarians -- fear of the adults, that is, not the children.


Tuesday, March 9 2010

Creator: Various

In comics not everyone can write nor draw (nor ink, color nor letter). So, there will always be 'great' works that cannot be attributed to a single talented contributor.


Tuesday, February 2 2010

A Case for Comics in College

My name is (insert name here) and I am a visual learner -- and other reasons why comics is a relevant subject for the college curriculum.


Wednesday, December 9 2009

Forget McCloud (or Maybe Not, Baudrillard)

Scott McCloud's text does not make any concessions to doubters. It gives people permission to start from the presumption that comics are 'real' art, as well as 'real' literature.


Thursday, November 19 2009

What We Talk About When We Talk About Supergirl’s Shorts

Supergirl's summer costume change -- which included concealing shorts under her skirt as she flew about, kicking butt -- reveals a lot about our changing superheroes.


Monday, October 12 2009

Are Comics Like Reading with Training Wheels?

Reading a comic requires multiple forms of literacy and levels of interpretation. Every movement from word to image and back again so as to create a coherent, narrative whole engages the reader’s brain in distinct ways.


Thursday, September 17 2009

Comic Re-Imagining

Not all comic book adaptations are created equal, especially not when comparing our own imaginings with what actually happens when books are moved from print to screen.


Tuesday, August 11 2009

Comics, Art for the Idiosyncratic

With little pressure to conform to storytelling or visual norms, comics are rife with artists like Jason Shiga, who bends and splices genres, and whose aesthetic sense is readily identifiable as his own.


Wednesday, July 8 2009

Barbara Thorson, Giant Killer, is Within Us All

We needn’t substitute our daily fears with the supernatural to understand what it means to adopt different identities for different purposes and to feel both tied to and apart from others, but in Barbara’s case, it helps.


Monday, June 1 2009

Is the ‘New York Times’ Tracking Porn Sales Now?

That “comics” persists in connoting “pulp” and “graphic novels” implies something “literary” is purely a matter of convention, and is not because those are the inherent meanings or implications of the terms.


Wednesday, May 13 2009

Meaningless Landscapes: G. Willow Wilson’s and M.K. Perker’s ‘air’

Airports and airplanes are extreme manifestations of a placeless McWorld, and Jihad is a backward-looking form of resistance to that placelessness, but we need not be limited by those choices.


Wednesday, March 25 2009

English-Only? Not Quite: Linguistic Difference in Jessica Abel’s La Perdida

The interaction between cartoonist, language, and reader is unusually subtle and complex in Jessica Abel's La Perdida


Tuesday, February 24 2009

Getting Through Hard Times: Re-visiting Andi Watson’s Breakfast After Noon

In our sobering economy, Breakfast After Noon is more relevant than ever, as it addresses the psychic and emotional toll of unemployment.


Wednesday, January 14 2009

Convergence Culture: the Many Faces of Hellboy

Different media means different Hellboys. Mike Mignola's versus Guillermo del Toro's.


Monday, December 15 2008

Capturing the Abstract in the Concrete

What do the worlds contained within comics, within and between panels, tell us about the worlds in which we live out our lives?


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