Ph.D. student in history at the University of Maryland
What does the trajectory of comic books during midcentury America look like if we move away from the traditional, deterministic framing of Superman to Wertham to Comics Code? What do these tenuous years look like if we focus our attention instead on those that took a more dispassionate view of comics, promoting their use in education and the development of socially-constructive messages and endorsing what came to be known as multimodal literacy? (Tilley 2017, Jacobs 2013, 65-99)
This is but a brief survey of the National Social Welfare Assembly Comics Project, a twenty-year public relations project between the National Social Welfare Assembly (NSWA), an administrative confederation of organizations that promoted health, civic engagement, and youth development, and National Comics Publications (NCP), the immediate predecessor to DC Comics. involved the publication short one-page comic stories aimed primarily at youth. Topics tackled by the strips include racial discrimination, respect for elders, stay-in-school conversations, and many more. Over the course of the Comics Project’s near twenty-year run, they published over 170 public service announcement comics, and by the project’s cessation in 1967, they provided over a million reprints of these comic strips to public service organizations across the country.
Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Worcester State University
Coined by the Japanese philologist Motoori Norinaga, “mono no aware” refers to the moving power of things as they are encountered in experience as well as the sensitivity to the moving power of things in experience. For Norinaga, mono no aware was crucial to the capacity for art, specifically poetry and literature, to move the human kokoro, or heart-mind, in its consumption. It is the embodiment of mono no aware in poetry through the skilled organization of words that enables art to connect the kokoro of individuals across time, distance, and social position (Marra, 189). For Norinaga, the cultivation of mono no aware through consuming works of art enables an individual to cultivate their capacity to sense mono no aware in other realms beyond the aesthetic, including in social relationships.
Kokoro in Norinaga’s mono no aware and Japanese philosophy broadly, refers to the combined rational and affective capacity of an organism. Translated as “heart/mind,” the kokoro “involves a propensity for engagement, a sensitivity expressed as either being in touch with something else or being touched by it” (Kasulis 7), and it thus enables a mode of intersubjective responsiveness between the individual and the world. For our purposes, the movement of the kokoro in response to the encounter with the world is what gives rise to poetry as the articulation of an unbearable “aware” for Norinaga. While such aware may be released through a cry or a shout, or other emotional outburst, it is through poetry and art that the pent up aware within the human kokoro is given an articulate form so that other individuals might be moved by it and respond appropriately to the aware that moved the artist (Marra, 189).
Institute of Iberian and Ibero-American Studies, University of Warsaw
Comic book studies have different ideas linked to reading patterns. For example, we have z-path pattern/closure (McCloud), art of tensions (Hatfield), the network (Groensteen), path (Gąsowski), graphical equivalence (Birek), ECS (External Compositional Structures; Cohn), unflattening (Sousanis) or openness (Ahmed). All these approaches listed above are not the only ones that are likely to be applied by the authors when breaking down sequences into panels (in a nearly 100% conscious way, but we should keep in mind that all the creative activities are bound to carry over something that can be realized only a posteriori) by the readers (rather in an unconscious way or automatically) and by the researchers when analyzing the dynamics of storytelling in comics books (in a thoroughly analytical), but they do show a rather vast array of how we can approach comic books. Should we decide to treat them as guidelines, it will surely help us to understand the story, but would it also make an escapist experience out of reading it?
PhD candidate, Department of Comparative Literature at Pennsylvania State University
With its opening conceit—an aerolite crashing into Earth and the establishment of an altering-reality-zone—Alexis Figueroa and Claudio Romo’s 2009 graphic novel Informe Tunguska immediately pulls readers towards two distinct frames of reference: history and science fiction. “Tunguska” points to the mysterious meteorite collision that occurred in 1908 near the Stony Tunguska River in Russia, while the reality bending area calls to mind “the Zone” from Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1979 film, Stalker. Employing these referents, the text also turns us towards political history, linking the fictional crash and subsequent government investigations of the fallout to the 1973 coup d’état in Chile and the resultant Pinochet dictatorship which, like the mysterious zone, fundamentally altered the lives of the Chilean people. Although reading this text through the lens of political history is highly encouraged within the text itself and would lead to fruitful interpretations, the overabundance of references within the graphic novel resists a totalizing reading that would reduce the entire text to a historical interpretation.
Due to the ongoing pandemic crisis, ICAF was forced to cancel its events at the 2020 Small Press Expo. Over the next 16 weeks (give or take), we will be publishing