Symposium

The program of the next symposium Comics in the Nordic Region is now published!

Comics and Society: Research, Art, and Cultural Politics (2019-2021) is an interdisciplinary three-year network initiative that aims to cultivate our understanding of comics as a social and socially defined phenomenon and to strengthen the status of comic art and comics scholarship in the Nordic-Baltic region. Through academic discussion, artistic work, and social engagement we explore how comics take part in making sense of societies, social phenomena, and societal changes especially, but not exclusively, in the Nordic and Baltic countries. The network is coordinated by Laura Antola (lahean[at]utu.fi) and Anna Vuorinne (ahvuor[at]utu.fi) and funded by the Nordic Summer University.

CfP

Feminist Comics in the Nordic Region

Contemporary comics in the Nordic countries have undergone an explosion in feminist comics and graphic novels since the 2000s. In Sweden, feminist comics have become commercial successes, winning prestigious prizes and appearing in exhibitions, Instagram and other social media. Recently, a new generation of artists has entered the scene with a renewed focus on queer and intersectional issues. This special issue seeks to call attention to feminist comic art throughout the Nordic region (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland), both by established creators and from emerging voices. The history of feminist comics can be traced back to the social movements of the 1970s, but the energy and creativity of contemporary feminist comics is new, reflecting both international trends and conditions specific to the region and to each national context.
This issue of European Comic Art invites articles on the diversity of feminist comics in the Nordic region in a variety of genres, from feminist satire and autobiography to fantasy and romance. Feminist comics have received a degree of attention from Nordic researchers, but few articles have been published in English. We welcome research on specific comics, creators, genres, or historical genealogies, as well as comparative or interdisciplinary approaches.Submissions of research articles should be between 6000 and 7000 words.Please send a short abstract (200 words) of your article to co-editors Mike Classon Frangos (Senior Lecturer, Linnaeus University, mike.classon.frangos@lnu.se) and Anna Nordenstam (Professor, University of Gothenburg, anna.nordenstam@lir.gu.se), no later than 1 March 2021. We will respond with decisions shortly afterward, and the deadline for the completed article will be 1 September. Eventual publication will depend on feedback after double blind peer reviews of the completed article.European Comic Art is the first English-language scholarly publication devoted to the study of European-language graphic novels, comic strips, comic books and caricature. For more information, see http://journals.berghahnbooks.com/eca

New book

2020

Kristina Arnerud Mejhammar

Självsyn och världsbild i tecknade serier

Den här studien handlar om självsyn och världsbild i serier av Cecilia Torudd, Ulf Lundkvist, Gunna Grähs och Joakim Pirinen. Hur gestaltar de sig själva och vilken syn på världen ger de i sina serier? I fyra fallstudier får vi följa hur Torudd, Lundkvist, Grähs och Pirinen upplever förändringar i samhället och hur detta påverkar deras liv, i verk från 1970-talet och framåt. Deras tecknade figurer tampas med frågor kring identitet, relationer, uppväxt och karaktärsdanande men deras serier rör sig även över ett bredare register av subjektiva uttryck. Studien ger en bakgrund till den självbiografiska seriegenrens framväxt omkring millennie-skiftet i Sverige och visar på förhållandet mellan den tecknade serien och självbiografin i en vidare mening. Genom att lyfta fram dessa fyra konstnärskap, analysera och tolka ett urval av deras serier samt visa på den tecknade livsberättelsens förutsättningar, uttryck och budskap bidrar Kristina Arnerud Mejhammars avhandling till ny kunskap på serieforskningens område.Kristina Arnerud Mejhammar är konstvetare vid Uppsala universitet och verksam som museilektor vid Norrköpings Konstmuseum. Självsyn och världsbild i tecknade serier är hennes doktorsavhandling.

New book

2020

Kristy Beers Fagersten
Language Play in Contemporary Swedish Comic Strips

This book focuses on the unexplored context of contemporary Swedish comic strips as sites of innovative linguistic practices, where humor is derived from language play and creativity, often drawing from English and other European languages as well as social and regional dialects of Swedish. The overall purpose of the book is to highlight linguistic playfulness in Swedish comic strips, as an example of practices as yet unobserved and unaccounted for in theories of linguistic humor as applied to comics scholarship.The book familiarizes the reader with the Swedish language and linguistic culture as well as contemporary Swedish comic strips, with chapters focusing on specific strategies of language play and linguistic humor, such as mocking Swedish dialects and Swedish-accented foreign language usage, invoking English language popular culture, swearing in multiple languages, and turn-final code-switching to English to signal the punchline.The book will appeal to readers interested in humor, comics, or how linguistic innovation, language play, and language contact each can further the modern development of language, exemplified by the case of Swedish.

Two new books!

The Phantom Comics and the New Left

A Socialist Superhero

Robert Aman

  • One of the first in-depth texts focused on the foundational superhero, the Phantom​Contributes to the ever-growing body of literature on the rise of the New Left, the student revolts, the solidarity movements and other events associated with the leftist radicalization during the 1960s-1970sDetails how The Phantom offers a direct commentary on Sweden’s perception of its own role in the world as a leading proponent of international solidarity

This book is about the Phantom in Sweden, or, more correctly, about Sweden in the Phantom. Robert Aman uncovers how a peripheral American superhero – created in 1936 by Lee Falk – that has been accused of both racism and sexism has become a national concern in a country that several researchers have labelled the most antiracist and gender equal in the world. When a group of Swedish creators began their official production of licensed scripts based on The Phantomcomic in 1972, the character was redefined through the prism of New Left ideology. The plots of these comics, besides aiming to entertain, also sought to affirm for readers the righteousness and validity of an ideological doctrine that, at the time, was dominant among the Swedish public and influential in the country’s foreign policy. Ultimately, Aman demonstrates how the Swedish Phantom embodies values and a political point of view that reflect how Sweden sees itself and its role in the world.

https://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9783030397999#aboutBook


Det rutiga klassrummet

serier, multimodalitet och litteracitet

Lars Wallner

Serien är en bred populärkulturell fiktion som de allra flesta kommer i kontakt med och knyter olika upplevelser till. En del kastar sig över Katten Gustaf och Nemi i dagstidningarna, andra är trogna prenumeranter på Kalle Anka eller Fantomen och några samlar de absoluta Batman-favoriterna på bästa plats i bokhyllan. Överallt i samhället möter vi serier – och ändå finner vi dem nästan ingenstans i skolans läroplaner.

Att arbeta med serier är en multimodal praktik, en praktik som innefattar flera sinnen, där kombinationen av de olika modaliteterna är avgörande för tolkningen – om det ena förändras eller tas bort så förändras förståelsen av det andra. Som fiktion ligger serien kanske närmast till hands för svenskläraren, men även andra ämnen kan med fördel fångas i rutnätsform. Det kan gälla allt ifrån klimatförändringar och teknikens utveckling till värdegrundsfrågor om makt, genus och utanförskap.

Den här boken ger grundläggande kunskap om serier ur ett skolperspektiv. Författaren redogör för forskning som gjorts om serier i skolan och beskriver hur lärare kan använda serieläsning i sin undervisning, men också hur de kan låta elever skapa egna serier för att lära och förstå.

Boken vänder sig till såväl lärarstuderande som verksamma lärare i grundskolans alla ämnen.

https://www.studentlitteratur.se/kompetensutveckling/skola-f-6/las–och-skrivutveckling/det-rutiga-klassrummet/#show

Nytt nummer av OEI – Serier

OEI #88–89 (2020): Serier
(288 sidor, gästred. Per Israelson)

OEI #88–89 (2020): Serier undersöker den tecknade serien med särskilt fokus på seriemediets materiella aspekter och seriens deltagarestetik. 
Den tecknade serien förutsätter en deltagande läsare. Detta är dels mycket konkret. Den tecknade serien, serieboken, kommunicerar explicit med ett antal olika komponenter som uppträder i en specifik relation såväl inbördes som till läsaren. Bild, text, formgivning, sekvensering, och så vidare, aktualiseras och upprättas i en rumslig konstellation genom att läsaren kopplas till mediet. Läsaren är med andra ord högst delaktig i att sätta samman seriens meningsskapande materiella förutsättningar.

Men denna betoning på objektets instansiering uppträder också genom det tydliga framhävandet av seriens serialitet, såväl vad gäller den enskilda sidan och uppslaget, som de reproduktions- och distributionssystem som varje enskild titel ingår i. Den tecknade serien utgör en upprepning, en standardiserad serie, men också en mycket specifik konfigurering av denna upprepning. Seriens mediespecifika materialitet är här avgörande, men också hur denna materialitet tar plats i en förkroppsligad läsning. Det är därför inte förvånande att Marshall McLuhan redan i sin banbrytande studie Understanding Media från 1964 talar om den tecknade serien som ett svalt medium, det vill säga ett medium som förutsätter interaktion och deltagande för att realiseras.

Denna deltagarestetik, som på en rad punkter – utöver läsarens medskapande funktion, också genom ett processuellt objektsbegrepp och en flytande textualitet, för att inte tala om seriens explicit flermediala och hybridiserade form – ifrågasätter en traditionell begreppslighet, har under senare år alltmer kommit att uppmärksammas av materiellt och affektivt orienterade teoretiska strömningar, som ekokritik, nymaterialism, posthumanism och posthermeneutik. Här uppträder också nya möjligheter att bortom disciplinära gränsdragningar och genealogier upprätta alternativa mediehistorier.

OEI #88–89 utforskar seriens deltagande och affektiva materialiteter från en rad olika positioner inom detta fält. Här sonderas kopplingen mellan teckningsverktygets kvardröjande och närmast hemsökande fysiska ingrepp och den tecknade seriens aktualisering av privata och kollektiva minnesprocesser. Den japanska mangans våldsgestaltningar ramas in i en affektiv läsart som gör motstånd mot hermeneutikens totaliserande våld. Olika former av återkopplingar och ekologiska virvelrörelser undersöks, som sätter samman inte bara skräckserien och superhjältar med William Blake och konkret poesi, utan också geologiska och biologiska virvelformationer och andningens grundläggande livsbetingelse med den alternativa och dokumentära serietraditionen. Serieberättandets praktiker teoretiseras och utforskas och inte minst gestaltas i två nya serieessäer. Ljuset sätts också på ett antal för en bredare kulturhistoria undanskymda men inom serietraditionen inflytelserika uttrycksformer och personligheter. Konceptuella, postdigitala praktiker inom den samtida och icke-så-samtida tecknade serien historiseras och teoretiseras. Men framför allt presenteras och introduceras, i flera fall här för första gången i en svensk publikation, ett antal norska och svenska serieskapare, vars konstnärliga verksamheter och unikt upprepade materialiteter tvingar till aktiv utforskning av den tecknade seriens medskapande läsningar. 

I OEI # 88–89 medverkar: Bitte Andersson, Andreas Berg, Amir Brito Cador, Herman Breda Enkerud, Catherine Anyango Grünewald, Per Israelson, Per Klingberg, Gunnar Krantz, Erlend Peder Kvam, Knut Larsson, Ylva Lindberg, Ilan Manouach, Christian Mehrstam, Linnea Sterte, Jesper Olsson, Erik Van Ooijen, Pushwagner, Emma Rendel, Elisa Rossholm, Erik Svetoft, Tim Ng Tvedt, Chris Ware, Emelie Östergren

Nordic Summer University Winter Symposium 19-21 February 2020 Södertörn University, Sweden

COMICS AND FEMINISM

CALL FOR PROPOSALS COMICS AND SOCIETY: RESEARCH, ART, AND CULTURAL POLITICS

OBS New deadline!

NORDIC SUMMER UNIVERSITY WINTER SYMPOSIUM 19-21 FEBRUARY 2020 SÖDERTÖRN UNIVERSITY, SWEDEN

Organized in collaboration by Nordic Summer University and the Subject of English at Södertörn University

19.10 Södertörn
© Moa Romanova; used by permission

We invite scholars, students, artists, and other professionals working with comics to the third symposium of the network Comics and Society: Research, Art, and Cultural Politics (2019- 2021). Comics and Society is an interdisciplinary three-year initiative that aims to cultivate our understanding of comics as a social and socially defined phenomenon and to strengthen the status of comic art and comics scholarship in the Nordic-Baltic region. Through academic discussion, artistic work, and social engagement we explore how comics take part in making sense of societies, social phenomena, and societal changes especially, but not exclusively, in the Nordic and Baltic countries.

In the third symposium, the focus is on transnational perspectives on comic art and feminism, particularly in the Nordic countries and the Baltic Sea region. Given that comic art has always been an international form, it is no surprise that comics should also reflect and respond to trends of globalization. If the rise of graphic narrative genres in multiple national contexts may in itself be seen as an effect of cultural globalization, comic art is, at the same time, deeply enmeshed in local histories and contexts. In the Anglo-American context, the emergence of women’s comic art and graphic narratives was closely associated with second-wave feminism, “which enabled a body of work that was explicitly political to sprout” (Chute 2010:20). At this time, self-published, underground ‘comix’ were proliferating, which gave rise to comics with a decidedly feminist orientation (Robbins 1999), albeit as “more a reaction to [underground comix] than their outgrowth” (Sabin 1993:224). Women’s underground comix thus paved the way for contemporary feminist comic art, and a growing number of contemporary comics are continuing to explore themes of feminism by creating new discursive spaces for problematizing gender, gender roles, and social norms. Indeed, many women creators in particular have achieved mainstream recognition thanks to the expanding graphic novel market and the popularity of autobiographical comics.

The symposium aims to explore, on the one hand, how the relationship between comic art and feminism has been shaped by global, transnational, and local trends, and on the other hand, how salient national features and transnational commonalities characterize feminist

comic art. Included papers will illuminate defining features of aesthetics, materiality, and thematic content as well as recurring strategies of visualizing and narrating female experiences. Particularly welcome are papers which offer analyses of multinational comic art that encompasses themes of gender, sexuality, power, vulnerability, assault, abuse, taboo, and trauma, often expressed with humorous undertones of self-reflection or social criticism.

Ideally, papers will also endeavor to broaden the research perspective of feminist comics to include national comics cultures peripheral to the cultural centers of US-American, Franco- Belgian, and Japanese comics. To this end, the symposium takes as a point of departure the comic art landscape of Sweden, where feminist comics that explore the political through the personal have established comics artists as influential social commentators. The success and popularity of Swedish feminist comic art warrants an exploration of local reverberations and transnational trends in feminist comic art both in and around Sweden, including marginalized or under-explored countries. For this reason, the transnational focus of the symposium applies to comic art or comics artists from the Nordic countries and those of the surrounding the Baltic Sea region.

Theoretical, conceptual, or empirical papers from a wide range of disciplines or interdisciplinary approaches are invited, and may relate to the overall theme of comic art and feminism by addressing questions such as (but not limited to) the following:

  • How can the dominant narrative or history of canonical works be challenged or deconstructed by local histories of comics and feminism and their transnational connections?
  • How do local histories complement or challenge our understanding of the relationship between feminism and comic art?
  • In what ways are feminist ideas expressed thematically, visually, or linguistically through the comics medium?
  • How are constructions of corporeality, sexuality, or gender called into question or renegotiated in comics?
  • What kind of local, transnational, or digital communities do feminist comic artists form? 
KEYNOTE SPEAKERS Elisabeth El Refaie (Cardiff University) Dr. Leena Romu (Tampere University) 
ARTIST ROUNDTABLE PARTICIPANTS 
Ingrīda Pičukāne (Latvia)
H-P Lehkonen (Finland)
Sofia Olsson (Sweden)
Moa Romanova (Sweden) Nina Hemmingsson (Sweden) 
HOW TO PARTICIPATE 
Generally, symposium sessions will consist of participants’ individual 20-minute presentations plus 10 minutes of discussion. However, alternative forms of participation, such as panels or roundtables, are possible. We welcome contributions from academics, artists, and other

professionals interested in comics. Please submit your proposal (max 300 words) and a short bio (max 100 words) to the organizers at comics2020@sh.se. If you would like to attend the symposium without presenting, please email a short bio and some information about your interests in participating.

The deadline to submit proposals is November 30, 2019. Decisions of acceptance will be sent by December 15, 2019.

REGISTRATION AND FEE

Students, freelancers, unemployed: 400 SEK Academic faculty or affiliates: 500 SEK

Fee includes lunches, coffee breaks, symposium dinner as well as materials.

We encourage participants to apply to their institutions, art councils, local foundations or sponsors to have their travel and accommodation costs covered. For those who cannot get any financial support elsewhere it is possible to apply to NSU for partial travel funding. Please provide a brief description (<100 words) of your financial situation and an approximation of the travel costs in your proposal.

INFORMATION ABOUT THE NORDIC SUMMER UNIVERSITY
The Nordic Summer University (NSU) is a Nordic network for research and interdisciplinary studies. NSU is a nomadic, academic institution, which organises workshop-seminars across disciplinary and national borders. Since it was established in 1950, Nordic Summer University has organised forums for cultural and intellectual debate in the Nordic and Baltic region, involving students, academics, politicians, and intellectuals from this region and beyond.

Decisions about the content and the organisational form of the NSU lay with its participants. The backbone of the activities in the NSU consists of its thematic study circles. In the study circles researchers, students and professionals from different backgrounds collaborate in scholarly investigations distributed regularly in summer and winter symposia during a three- year period. For more information: http://www.nordic.university

Organizing committee 
Södertörn University (funded by The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies): Kristy Beers Fägersten (kristy.beers.fagersten@sh.se)
 Anna Nordenstam (anna.nordenstam@lir.gu.se) 
Margareta Wallin Wictorin (margareta.wallin-wictorin@kau.se)
 Nordic Summer University
 Anna Vuorinne (ahvuor@utu.fi)
 Laura Antola (lahean@utu.fi)19.10 Södertörn B

Newsletter No.8 (October 2013)

As announced this summer, NNCORE’s interim board met at the University of Copenhagen on 14th October to discuss its new structure as a scholarly association charging a small membership fee. Besides summarizing the outcomes of the meeting, this newsletter also contains a report on the Performance Studies International conference in which some of us participated and ends with information about upcoming comics studies events in Scandinavia.

NNCORE Interim Board Meeting and Constitution

A constitution for NNCORE is currently under preparation for formalizing the network’s structure and functioning. It will specify the network’s aims of promoting comics research within and beyond Scandinavia, the membership fees, conference frequency and funding, communication tools as well as board responsibilities and elections.

At present, Rebecca Scherr is the president, Michael J. Prince is the treasurer, Anne Magnussen is in charge of the website creation and maintenance, Fredrik Strömberg is administrating the Facebook page and Rikke P. Cortsen and Maaheen Ahmed are editing the newsletter. The executive board will continue until the elections in 2015. The next board meeting will also be held that year, ideally in conjunction with the NNCORE conference in Oslo. Rebecca Scherr is organizing the event, which will coincide with the Oslo Comics Expo.

Furthermore most of the original members of the advisory board have already confirmed their interest in continuing to cooperate with us. This includes Roger Sabin (University of the Arts London), Ann Miller (University of Leicester), Bernd Dolle-Weinkauff (Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main) and Jan Baetens (KU Leuven). We would also to like to warmly welcome the newest member of the advisory board, Jared Gardner (Ohio State University), and thank him for his enthusiastic response.

The membership fees will be around 20 euro for faculty and 10 euro for students. Members will be entitled to discounts at the conferences. From now on, the conferences will not be covered by the network’s budget. Instead, the host organization will have to arrange for funding and charge conference fees.

As an association NNCORE will have a new, independent website which is currently under construction and should be ready early in 2014. Besides the official website, NNCORE also has a Facebook discussion group where, at present, members can invite non-members to join in:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/710593512304082/?fref=ts

 

Comics at the Performance Studies international Conference

By Gunhild Borggreen

In June, a group of NNCORE members participated in the annual Performance Studies international (PSi) conference at Stanford University, California. Ylva Sommerland, Rebecca Scherr, Frederik Byrn Køhlert and myself are all working with comics from some kind of performance studies perspective, so we decided to propose a panel at a conference in a field somewhat different from what comics studies is usually aligned with.

The PSi represents both academic scholars within the broad field of theatre and performance studies as well as practitioners and artists. Many of the activities at PSi conferences focus on the collaboration and exchange between theory and practice. Each PSi conference has a title or a theme, and this year’s theme was Now Then: Performance and Temporality.

To match this theme, our panel was titled “Drawing Time: Identity and Memory in Contemporary Comics”. In our introduction, we defined comics in broad terms as drawings and text structured in visual sequences that offer a particular organization of time and space. On the comics page, crucially, time is performed as space, and thus emphasizes a relationship between materiality and temporality. The time it takes for the artist to execute the drawing is intersected by narrative and visual structures that organize, negotiate or disrupt the aspect of time in the reading process.

Our performance studies approach focused on how comics “do” things through text and image, as well as through text-image relations and structure, narratives, formats, medium, distribution, and many other factors. Performance in the context of re-enactment relates to how comics perform repertoires of individual and collective memories of the past. This also connects to how comics perform instances of geo-political issues such as activism and resistance.

Frederik went first with a paper on “Autobiographical Performances of the Stereotyped Comics Self: Toufic El Rassi’s Arab in America”. Frederik pointed out how comics communicate via a performative iconography through which authors of autobiographical works can challenge, subvert or play with expected visual representations through the agency of performing the self on the comics page. Frederik took his theoretical points from Judith Butler, and argued that the performance of the self in autobiography can be constitutive of subjectivity as the writer creates a representation of a largely fictional self from the available discursive resources.

Rebecca, in her presentation “Joe Sacco’s Comics of Performance”, also drew on Judith Butler but rather than looking at the emancipatory dimensions of Butler’s theory of performativity, Rebecca focused on how Joe Sacco’s work Footnotes from Gaza presents news ways of thinking about everyday lives in which emancipation is nearly impossible because of the social and political situation. Rebecca referred to Butler’s Frames of War, and drew attention to framing suffering by arguing that Sacco uses framing in both a literal sense (in the book’s panels) as well as in an elusive sense by pointing out what is excluded in the parameters of “reality”.

My own presentation, “Documentary Manga on the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake”, focused on Yoshimoto Kôji’s Santetsu, a Japanese manga recounting a narrative of recovery in North-Eastern Japan after the earthquake and tsunami disaster in 2011. I argued that three significant aesthetic and structural devises in Santetsu are performative in creating disaster ownership and agency, not only for the characters in the narrative but the reader as well: the leaps of temporality in the visual and narrative structure, the framework of autobiography, and the labour of drawing. They convey an emotional truth that keeps the recollections and memories of the people involved present and alive.

Ylva’s presentation entitled “Gravity, Play and Visual Weight – Sport Performances in the Works of Manga Artist Takehiko Inoue” focused on Inoue’s basketball manga Slam Dunk, to highlight the kinds of performance involved, both as a part of the play established in the basketball game in the narrative as well as the imaginary performance carried out by the reader. Taking her clue from the notion of visual weight, Ylva argued that an imagined gravity is necessary when translating sport performances into drawings. This links to the make-believe aspect of Roger Caillois’ six criteria for defining play because the reader has to pretend as if a sport event is taking place in the pictures.

The audience responded by providing relevant comments and questions, and one member of the audience explicitly expressed his delight in seeing comics studies being present in the context of performance studies. Such a remarks highlighted the main goal of our NNCORE panel at the PSi conference: to expand the scholarly fields with which comics studies may collaborate and exchange knowledge and vision, and to demonstrate how comics studies may contribute new insights concerning the current social, political and cultural situation.

 

Upcoming comics events

Seriefrämjandet (The Swedish Comics Association) is organizing a conference on comics archives in Sweden (30th November 2013, Lund). NNCORE members Rikke P. Cortsen, Michael F. Scholz and Fredrik Strömberg will be speaking at the event. For more information please visit:

http://serieframjandet.se/2013/10/21/programmet-tar-form-till-framtidens-seriearkiv/

In addition, Frank Bramlett (Stockholm University) and Kristy Beers Fägersten (Södertörn University) are planning a Scandinavian Comics Workshop for 5th May 2014 focusing on linguistic research in Scandinavian comics but open to scholars working with comics in general.

As always, if you have any information that you would like to include in the next newsletter, please send an e-mail to ahmedmaaheen@gmail.com.

Newsletter No. 8 is edited by Rikke Platz Cortsen and Maaheen Ahmed

Newsletter No.7 (June 2013)

On May 23-25, NNCORE held an International conference at Helsinki University. It was the network’s biggest event until now, and it will therefore take up most of the space in this newsletter. But please note that the newsletter also contains a report from the last of the NNCORE seminars, about didactics and comics, held in Copenhagen on May 31. Read more about the seminar at the end of the newsletter.

NNCORE 2013 at the University of Helsinki

As will be apparent below, the conference was replete with presentations, discussions and lively exchange of ideas. None of this had been possible, however, without the work of the main organizer of the conference, Kai Mikkonen, his assistants and the infrastructure of the University of Helsinki, so thank you very much. From NNCORE we would also like to thank The Danish Council for Independent Research (FKK, Kultur og Kommunikation) as the main source of finance of the event. The Federation of Finnish Learned Societies contributed very kindly with funding that paid the hotel costs for the Advisory Board members, which we are very thankful for. We would like to thank the Finnish Comics Society for their hospitality and their help organizing part of the conference. Last, but not least, we wish to thank all the participants, including the Advisory Board members who are all busy scholars but nevertheless took the time to participate in the conference, – and of course the many non-NNCORE members from across the globe.

The NNCORE 2013 Helsinki conference according to Rebecca Scherr

The NNCORE conference was an intense 3 days, during which I found it very exciting to hear about the range of comics scholarship being practiced across Scandinavia and beyond. Since it seems that most of us who were there do comics scholarship alone at our various institutions, it was very meaningful to myself and many I spoke with to feel part of a scholarly community. Since the conference, I have had contact with several people I met at NNCORE, and we have exchanged our writing and ideas. More than anything else, it is these exchanges and networks that will continue to shape how comics scholarship develops in this region.

Rebecca Scherr, Associate Professor,

Dept of Literature, Area Studies, and European Languages, University of Oslo, Norway

 

NNCORE 2013: the Key Notes

The conference ran for two and a half days and included three Key Note presentations that were held by three of NNCORE’s Advisory Board members. Ann Miller, University of Leicester, opened the conference with her talk on Comics and Politics. On the second day, Jan Baetens, University of Leuven, discussed The ‘roman dessiné: A forgotten subgenre of the postwar era?, and on the last day, Thierry Groensteen,  le Musée de la Bande Dessinée (Angoulême), presented A few thoughts about self-representation in comics. All three Key Note speeches were thought-provoking and included truly original material and ideas.

The NNCORE 2013 Helsinki conference according to Jorge Falcones

In the next few lines, I will try to resume my experience in the NNCORE 2013. As someone non-related at any level to NNCORE, I hope this little recap will give another perspective about the meeting hosted in the University of Helsinki. I basically could sum up my experience in one word: Inspiring. I was inspired by seeing a lot of people from diverse backgrounds working together and I was inspired by observing how egos were put aside just to pursue a common goal. I was lucky to witness, how with some funding and a lot of human effort, a great research network has been built and how it is still working and growing up. It was a great experience and I hope I could be able to make it again next year!! Thanks to everyone!!

Jorge Falcones, Language Lector, School of European Culture and Languages, University of Kent, UK

 

NNCORE 2013: 15 sessions and a PhD seminar

The conference included almost 50 presentations, divided between 15 sessions, and they involved a broad range of themes, comics genres, theoretical frameworks and questions. The presenters were a good combination of experienced scholars and PhD and MA students, and there was a surprisingly broad international representation. The Nordic countries were very well represented, as many NNCORE members naturally participated, but it was a very positive surprise that the conference had attracted many participants from beyond the Nordic countries. The conference therefore combined two of NNCOREs main objectives: to strengthen relationships among Nordic comics scholars and to use NNCORE as a platform to connect to other comics scholars. The last session at the conference was a PhD seminar at which four PhD students presented their projects and received comments and questions from the Advisory Board members present. It was a pleasure to witness the high quality and enthusiasm of this new generation of comics scholars and we truly hope that they will continue to contribute to comics research in the future.

The NNCORE 2013 Helsinki conference according to Kees Ribbens

Travelling to the Nordic countries is especially rewarding when one has the pleasure to attend the recent NNCORE conference. I felt very welcome at the University of Helsinki where all attendants were well taken care of (and I easily forgive the organizers for letting us have to finish our meals within 45 minutes). The conference program showed an interesting variety, not only in the length of academic careers of those attending, but most certainly in the topics presented (from theoretical to historical items, showing a diversity in approaches from literary to more sociological) as well as in the geographical origin of the participants. The usually high level of the presentations combined with the willingness to exchange views made this trip to Finland an inspiring one!

Prof. dr. Kees Ribbens, NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Amsterdam, NL

The NNCORE 2013 Helsinki conference according to Sabrina Seerup

“So – how was the conference?” he asked me while picking up my suitcase. “It was nice”, I replied, barely being able to keep my eyes open as a result of three days of information overload and a diet consisting of mainly coffee and beer. “I guess it was more than ‘nice’ ” he said laughing, when I was unpacking at home – scrutinizing every place where a piece of paper might hide in my clothes or luggage, sorting whatever I found into small piles of references; piles that could form my future. The e-mail addresses were of course being handled with specific care.

“Yes”, I answered. “It was.”

Sabrina Seerup, independent Scholar, Denmark

 

NNCORE 2013: Debates

Apart from the Key Notes and the 15 conventional sessions the conference included a series of debates that introduced subjects with relevance for comics scholarship generally. Roger Sabin, Central Saint Martins (London) and part of the NNCORE Advisory Board, introduced a series of questions and challenges for comics scholarship as he discussed hot topics such as publication formats, peer reviewing and copyright. Bernd Dolle-Weinkauff, Wolfgang Goethe-University (Frankfurt), who is also part of the Advisory Board, participated in a debate about building and maintaining comics archives. The debate included Akihiko Ieshima, Shimane University, and Reija Sann, representing the Finnish Comics Society, and also Joachim Trinkwitz, Bonn University, presented his database of comics scholarship. Creating and maintaining databases of comics and comics research is crucial for the field as a whole, and all four encouraged everybody to participate in this work. Joachim Trinkwitz’ database is available on http://www.comicforschung.uni-bonn.de/, but we will be happy to publish any further information about the database initiatives in the August newsletter.

Two other debates, one about the potential for a comics theory reader, and another about the interdisciplinary characteristics of comics research. Both of these debates involved a panel of scholars and very exciting interventions.

 

The NNCORE 2013 Helsinki conference according to Katja Kontturi

It was such an amazing thing to meet all these brilliant colleagues and comics scholars, not only from the other Nordic countries but literally all over the world. Being part of the group and hearing about ongoing research was a great inspiration to keep on working my own dissertation. I got very good tips for source material and quite a few new observations that I need to include in my study as well. And what is best, I found another scholar working on Disney comics! All in all, I can’t wait for the future events and to see everyone again!

Katja Kontturi, PhD student

Dept. of Art and Culture, University of Jyväskylä, Finland

 

After NNCORE 2013: Publications, projects and the future of NNCORE

In his comment to the conference (see below), Stephan Packard states that the conference “started more chapters than it concluded,” which is exactly right. At the end of the conference, many both formal and informal initiatives and plans were taking shape, and we hope to see a series of common research projects and publications in near future as a result of this.

In the next NNCORE newsletter, in August, Kai Mikkonen will discuss the subject of publication, with a specific focus on special issues of journals, but this should not slow down plans that are already under way.

NNCORE is as mentioned earlier funded by the The Danish Council for Independent Research (FKK, Kultur og Kommunikation) for a two-year period, and that ends by August 2013. In Helsinki we agreed to continue the network beyond this period, and an interim board will spend the 6-9 months to figure out how to organize NNCORE as an association. The August newsletter will contain more information about the process and how individual members can participate. As always, if you have any advertisement or information that you would like to include in the next newsletter, please send an email to magnussen@sdu.dk before the end of July.

 

The NNCORE 2013 Helsinki conference according to Stephan Packard

In a few short and very full days, the NNCORE conference 2013 gave room to an amazing array of different perspectives and disciplines; and most importantly, it gave ample room for debate and discussion. Comics studies in its best sense happens between scholars rather than for each of them, and this was definitely the case here. The impressively interdisciplinary and international field of scholars was brought together for a truly productive opportunity for exchange. Together with the discussed projects concerning a comics theory reader, a perpetuated NNCORE structure as well as possibilities for a European umbrella cooperation of comics scholars, the conference started more chapters than it concluded, and offered participants lots of additional encouragement and motivation, new questions, ideas, and not least new reading lists. I’ve taken home a suitcase full of new perspectives to think about, and for that I am very grateful and happy.

JunProf. Dr. Stephan Packard, Institut für Medienkulturwissenschaft, Freiburg University, Germany

 

Didactics Seminar in Copenhagen, May 31

By Marianne Eskebæk Larsen

Few days after the NNCORE conference in Helsinki, the comic didactics group from NNCORE met at a workshop in Copenhagen to discuss their work and progress. The presenters involved the Danish cartoonist and illustrator Erik Petri, who talked about his work as a graphic facilitator. According to Erik the didactic potential of g.f. is that it activates people more, it makes discussions more concrete and it makes people more innovative. Erik had us all drawing in order to show that it is not about technique! Erik Petri was followed by Karin Kukkonen, who presented some of the points from her soon to be published book Studying Comics and Graphic Novels. Finally, Michael Løhde presented the outline for a model to analyze comics he has created in collaboration with the Rikke Platz Cortsen and Marianne Eskebæk Larsen. The aim is to come up with a model that gives a starting point for teaching comics. Attending the workshop was apart from the above mentioned, Sabrina Seerup, Andreas Gregersen and Malik Nairat. Subsequently Marianne has created a LinkedIn group for the discussions to continue.

The day after the workshop also filled the University of Copenhagen with comics scholars and enthusiasts, since the Copenhagen Comics festival began with an academic program filled with both researchers and practicing comic book artists. The international line of guests contained Karin Kukkonen from Oxford, who talked about how to teach students the art of close reading comics. Kalle Hakkola from Helsinki’s Comics Center talked about the lack of comics for children and presented the new Nordic anthology Dreambuddies. The British comic book artist Charlie Adlard attracted quite a few more people to the auditorium. He works on the popular American comic book series The Walking Dead. Among the local presenters were NNCORE’s own Rikke Cortsen and geographer Chris Kjeldsen, who presented their project with the goal of incorporating comic books in the research and teaching of the natural sciences. Also the two creators behind the Danish success Taynikma, Jan Kjær og Merlin P. Mann, came to talk about how they have managed to reach out to children all over the world with their unique combination of text and comic. Taynikma has been successful in motivating children who are not considered strong readers. The program also included Nota, the national library for people with reading difficulties, who presented sound-comics (?) that seem to motivate children with reading difficulties to read more. All through the day was a discussion on genre, both in relation to Taynikma and inevitably graphic novels, but also sound-comics where the dialogue is read aloud by actors thus giving the medium a scenic character. The program gave the audience examples on how and why to use comics in the class room and gave insight into the process of making comics.

Edited byAnne Magnussen