Call For Presentations

Graphic Novels and The(ir) World

The Graphic Novel Project: 4th Global Meeting

Wednesday 6th May – Friday 8th May 2015
Dubrovnik, Croatia


Call for Presentations
This inter- and multi-disciplinary conference aims to examine, explore and critically engage with issues in and around the production, creation and reading of all forms of comics and graphic novels. Taken as a form of pictographic narrative it has been with us since the first cave paintings and even in the 21st century remains a hugely popular, vibrant and culturally relevant means of communication whether expressed as sequential art, graphic literature, bandes dessinees, tebeos, fumetti, manga, manhwa, komiks, strips, historietas, quadrinhos, beeldverhalen, or just plain old comics. (as noted by Paul Gravett)

Whilst the form itself became established in the 19th Century it was not until the 20th century that comic book heroes like Superman (who has been around since 1938) became, not just beloved characters, but national icons. With the globalisation of publishing brands such as Marvel and DC it is no accident that there has been an increase in graphic novel adaptations and their associated merchandising. Movies such as the X-men and Ironman series and the recent Guardians of the Galaxy have grossed millions of dollars across the world and many television series have been continued off-screen in the graphic form, Charmed, True Blood and Arrow to name a few.

Of course America and Europe are not the only homes to this art form: the Far East and Japan have their own traditions, which have exerted a significant influence on graphic representations across the globe. In particular, Japanese manga has not only influenced comics in Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, China, France and the United States, it has also inspired an amazing array of reflexive appropriations and re-appropriations in anime and other aspects of visual culture,

Smaller, independent publishers have played an equally important role in establishing the graphic novel as a literary genre whose complexity and sophistication are enhanced by the confluence of words and images. Art Spiegleman’s Maus, Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, Joe Sacco’s Palestine, David B.’s Epileptic and Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan are just a few examples of influential works that explore – often on a personal level –  contemporary concerns around gender, diaspora, post-colonialism, sexuality, globalisation, health, terror and identity.

Digital technologies have galvanised technical and aesthetic innovation that literally allow graphic novels to transcend the written page via web-based comics and hypertexts, such as John Cei Douglas’ Lost and Found and Shelley Jackson’s Patchwork Girl, and as platforms that work in tandem with other media to create immersive worlds which invite multi-faceted fan engagement.

This project invites papers, interactive workshops (e.g. drawing, translating, placement, layout, etc.), installations, performances and other modes of presentations that consider any aspect of the comic or graphic novel. This year we particularly welcome proposals that will discuss the uses of graphic novels for non-entertainment purposes.

This conference seeks participants from all fields. Whether you are theoreticians, practitioners, skilled professionals, voluntary sector workers, or others we intend to explore this dynamic theme from all angles possible. One of our goals is to encourage discussion and interaction in this very interdisciplinary field far beyond the conference itself. By creating this accessible space we hope to encourage a dialogue that will be able to further the understanding of the graphic novel in all its incarnations, forms, states, and implications and its importance to global understanding of ourselves and others. Through engaging with the multitude of themes, ideas, and ideologies featured in graphic novels we also hope to gain a deeper understanding of our selves and the societies in which we (could) live.

Themes of possible proposals might include:

Beyond entertainment: uses and issues around graphic novels:
~Graphic novels as educational tool (e.g. pedagogies for literacy, language acquisition, creative expression)
~Graphic novels in therapeutic practice
~Legal issues around graphic novels (e.g. intellectual property, identifying ownership over adaptations, etc.)
~Sustainable business models for graphic novel publishing
~Corporate and industry case studies

Identity, Meanings and Otherness:
~GN as autobiography, witnessing, diary and narrative
~Representations of disability, illness, coping and normality
~Cultural appropriations, east to west and globalisation
~National identity, cultural icons and stereo-typical villains
~Immigration, postcolonial and stories of exile
~Representing gender, sexualities and non-normative identities
~Politics, prejudices and polemics: banned, censored and comics that are “just plain wrong”
~Other cultures, other voices, other words
Just what makes a Graphic Novel so Graphic and so Novel?:
~Sources, early representations and historical contexts of the form
~Landmarks in development, format and narratology
~Cartoons, comics, graphic novels and artists books
~Words, images, texture and colour and what makes a GN
~Format, layout, speech bubbles and “where the *@#% do we go from here?”

The Inner and Outer Worlds of the Graphic Novel:
~Outer and Inner spaces; Thoughts, cities, and galaxies and other representations of graphic place and space
~ Differing temporalities, Chronotopes and “time flies”: Intertextuality, editing and the nature of Graphic and/or Deleuzian time
~ Graphic Superstars and Words versus Pictures: Alan Moore v Dave Gibbons (Watchmen) Neil Gaiman v Jack Kirby (Sandman)
~Performance and performativity of, in and around graphic representations.
~Transcriptions and translations: literature into pictures, films into novels and high/low graphic arts

To Infinity and Beyond: The Graphic Novel in the 21st Century:
~Fanzines and Slash-mags: individual identity through appropriation.
~Creator and Created: Interactions and interpolations between authors and audience.
~Hypertext, Multiple formats and inter-active narratives
~Cross media appropriation, GN into film, gaming and merchandising and vice versa
~Graphic Myths and visions of the future: Sandman, Hellboy, Ghost in the Shell
~ Restarting the Canon: what are the implication of the restart in universes such as Marvel and DC and what are its implications?

The Steering Group welcomes the submission of proposals for short workshops, practitioner-based activities, performances, and pre-formed panels. We particularly welcome short film screenings; photographic essays; installations; interactive talks and alternative presentation styles that encourage engagement.

What to Send:
300 word proposals should be submitted by Friday 23rd January 2015. All submissions are at least double blind peer reviewed. Proposals should be submitted simultaneously to the Organising Chairs; abstracts may be in Word or RTF formats with the following information and in this order:

a) author(s), b) affiliation as you would like it to appear in programme, c) email address, d) title of proposal, e) body of proposal, f) up to 10 keywords.
E-mails should be entitled: GN4 Abstract Submission

Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics or underline). We acknowledge receipt and answer to all paper proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic route or resend.

Organising Chairs
Nadine Farghaly: Nadine.Farghaly@nullgmx.net
Rob Fisher:gn4@nullinter-disciplinary.net

The conference is part of the Education Hub series of research projects, which in turn belong to the At the Interface programmes of Inter-Disciplinary.Net. It aims to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore discussions which are innovative and challenging. All proposals accepted for and presented at the conference must be in English and will be eligible for publication in an ISBN eBook.  Selected proposals may be developed for publication in a themed hard copy volume(s). All publications from the conference will require editors, to be chosen from interested delegates from the conference.

Inter-Disciplinary.Net believes it is a mark of personal courtesy and professional respect to your colleagues that all delegates should attend for the full duration of the meeting. If you are unable to make this commitment, please do not submit an abstract for presentation.

Please note: Inter-Disciplinary.Net is a not-for-profit network and we are not in a position to be able to assist with conference travel or subsistence.