First issue of the Journal of Graphic Novels & Comics online

Published On November 3, 2010 | By Joe Gordon | Comics

What looks to be the complete first issue of Routledge’s Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics has been placed online to read as PDFs or in HTML, even boasting (in proper academic fashion) abstracts for each of the articles so you can check those to see if the main article is what you are after. From the introductory editorial by David Huxley and Jane Ormrod:

The Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics incorporates all aspects of the graphic novel, comic strip and comic book. Its scope is interdisciplinary and international, covering not only English language comics but also worldwide comic culture. The journal will reflect interdisciplinary research in comics and aims to establish a dialogue between academics, historians, theoreticians and practitioners of comics. It will include all forms of ‘sequential imagery’ including precursors of the comic, but in the main emphasis will be on twentieth and twenty-first century examples, reflecting the increasing interest in the modern forms of the comic, its production and cultural consumption.


Academic and serious study of the comic and comic strip increased very slowly throughout the twentieth century. This, in part, is due to a perception that comics are trash culture in the USA and the UK and therefore unworthy of serious academic study. Although progress has been painfully slow, arguably this field of study is now in a similar situation to that of film studies in the 1930s; subject to not only an increasing interest, but also an increasing respectability. English language studies of comics have lagged behind pioneering European scholars such as Francis Lacassin and Umberto Eco, but now comics in all their forms and from all over the world are attracting a wide range of academic interest.”

(a panel from V For Vendetta from the long gone but fondly remembered Warrior, by Alan Moore and David Lloyd, borrowed from Maggie Gray’s essay on comics as cultural resistance)

As someone who did more than his fair share of film studies during college I find the likening of comics study in the Anglophone world to the way film studies was initially received in academia in its early days quite interesting, I can certainly see some parallels – a lot of early work regarding the medium as a serious artform coming from Europe, initial resistance then slow acceptance of the value of such studies and the development of an academic ‘language’ for discussing the medium, initially borrowing from older, more established forms of media studies (just as early film studies often borrowed from literary studies to develop models of analysis) before developing tools more suited to the particulars of the medium, all going hand in hand with both academic and general cultural acceptance of the medium, moving from a dismissive view of it as all disposable pop culture to accepting some of it as having genuine artistic and culture merits (you may all stroke your lecturer-style beards thoughtfully at this point).

It’s rather nice to see Routledge taking the subject of academic comics studies seriously too – I know from my many years in the book trade that they are a very respected purveyor of academic texts, so it’s quite pleasing to me to see comics studies included as one of their titles. The first volume includes “From Iky Mo to Lord Horror: representations of Jews in British comics” by Paul Gravett, “From fan appropriation to industry re-appropriation: the sexual identity of comic superheroes” by Gareth Schott, “‘A fistful of dead roses…’. Comics as cultural resistance: Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s V for Vendetta” by Maggie Gray, “The absence of black supervillains in mainstream comics” by Phillip Lamarr Cunningham and “Redrawing nationalism: Chester Brown’s Louis Riel: a comic-strip biography” by Andrew Lesk, as well as several comics related book reviews. This is obviously aimed at a more academic audience than a normal comics review or criticism, but I imagine quite a lot of our readers will find it interesting; there is a call for papers for consideration for the 2011 editions. (tip of the hat to Melissa Hutt and Christian Sager for the link)

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About The Author

Joe Gordon
Joe Gordon is ForbiddenPlanet.co.uk's chief blogger, which he set up in 2005. Previously, he was professional bookseller for over 12 years as well as a lifelong reader and reviewer, especially of comics and science fiction works.

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