Newsletter No.4 (September 2012)

Come October a whole year has passed since NNCORE’s founding meeting in Odense in 2011. This newsletter more than suggests that it has been a year of remarkable activity, and that the year ahead will prove no less fruitful and productive.

Below you will find reports from two of the NNCORE seminars, but before that we would like to advertise both our international conference in Helsinki in May 2013 and two seminars to be held this fall.

Call for papers: NNCORE 2013. International Conference in Comics Studies

University of Helsinki, Finland, May 23-25, 2013

Organized by the Nordic Network for Comics Research in cooperation with University of Helsinki and The Finnish Comics Society.

The NNCORE conference provides a major international forum for presenting and sharing recent research in comics studies. The NNCORE advisory board members Jan Baetens (University of Leuven, Belgium), Bernd Dolle-Weinkauff (Goethe-University, Frankfurt, Germany), Thierry Groensteen (independent scholar, France), Ann Miller (University of Leicester, UK) and Roger Sabin (University of the Arts London, UK) will speak and/or comment on papers at the event.

We invite proposals for presentations in comics studies in any discipline in human and social sciences. Preference will be given, but not limited, to papers that relate to the NNCORE research themes:

  • Telling stories, challenging convention
  • Comics in between: intertextuality and inspiration
  • Contesting and creating identities and communities
  • The power of comics: propaganda and censorship
  • Manga and the globalization of comics
  • Learning from and through comics: comics as a didactic toolPlease submit an abstract (max 500 words) in English of a twenty-minute presentation. The abstracts should be e-mailed to Kai Mikkonen at by Nov 1, 2012. Please include your title and institutional affiliation(s). Selected participants will be informed by Dec 15, 2013. For any practical questions please contact Warda Ahmed at

    NNCORE is a Nordic comics research network funded by the Danish Research Council (De Frie Forskningsråd) for a two year period ending summer 2013. For more information about NNCORE activities please see the website ( that includes further contact information or contact the NNCORE manager, Anne Magnussen,



The first of the two fall seminars will be held at the end of September 26-28 (2012) in connection with the international ComFor conference, the German comics research organization (ComFor, Gesellschaft für Comicforschung). The NNCORE thematic group, The power of comics: propaganda and censorship, willhold a seminar as well as participate in the conference with a session Friday afternoon named Between Propaganda and Entertainment: Nordic Comics in the 1930s-1960s. For more information about the ComFor and the conference, see  The coordinator of this group is Michael Scholz,

A thematic seminar will be held at Malmö Univeristy, October 25-26 (2012). The thematic group, Telling stories, challenging convention, will have an interesting two-day seminar that includes a session open for anybody who would like to learn more about comics. For more information, also about how to and what to do to participate, please write the group coordinator and organizer of the seminar, Fredrik Strömberg,



Marianne Eskebæk Larsen recently edited an issue of the Danish journal UP (Unge pædagoger) dedicated to the problematic of bringing comics into the class room,  and most of the articles are written by NNCORE members, including by Marianne herself. To read the articles, go to:

And to get a copy, to: The recent issue of Ekfrase, the Nordic journal of visual culture ( includes contributions from several NNCORE members, and so does the first issue of SJoCA, the Scandinavian Journal of Comic Art ( The editors of SJoCA are by the way all members of NNCORE and we congratulate them on this first and exciting issue.

That comics research reaches beyond the comics world itself is documented by Sam Myklebost’s contribution with a piece on Shakespeare manga and comics to the upcoming Cambridge World Shakespeare Encyclopaedia as well as to The Shakespearean International Yearbook. Another example is that Fredrik Strömberg took part in the public debate when he commented on the Swedish Supreme Court decision in the summer to free the manga translator Simon Lundström:



Work in Progress Seminar for the thematic group on Intertextuality & Intermediality

Kristiansand, Norway, 23 & 24 March 2012

Report by Michael Prince

The seminar group convened on the evening of Friday, 23 March at Patrick’s Pub for a Strategy meeting. We discussed diverse conferences and some experience with journals to which we have submitted. In particular, there is the Inter-Disciplinary.Net First Global Conference on the Graphic Novel (7-9 Sept. 2012); and a possible special issue of The European Journal of American Studies on American identity in the graphic novel in cooperation with editor, Pawel Frelik.

The seminar proper began on Saturday 24 March 0930 University of Agder Campus, Room F1-031. This was a work in progress seminar in which the nine participants were each given 40 minutes to present and receive feedback. All materials were distributed electronically beforehand and were read by the participants before the seminar. Some participants discussed more than one project. Many of the works have already been submitted to the University of Mississippi book project or diverse journals.

The participants and topics are as follows (new members and non-members of NNCORE have their institutional affiliation in parenthesis):

  • Martin Lund, “Chapter 1—Theory as Pre-Text”
  • S.A.M. Sv.-A. Myklebust, “Samurai Macbeth: ‘Painted Devils’ in Sequence”
  • Katja Kontturi, “Shades of Conan Doyle! A lost world!”: Fantasy and intertextuality in Don Rosa’s ‘Escape from Forbidden Valley'”
  • Helge Kleivane (University of Oslo), Thesis extract on Intertextuality in Fun Home
  • Johan Schubert Moen (University of Agder), “Unwilling interaction; miscommunication and the Truth in Transmetropolitan”
  • Maaheen Ahmed, “Mutations and Monstrosity in Comics: Possible Causes, Ancestors and Implications” and / or “Liaisons between artists’ books and graphic novels”
  • Steen Christiansen, “Between Media: David Mack’s Kabuki
  • Bjarne Markussen (University of Agder), “Law and Multimodal Aesthetics: Nils-Aslak Valkeapää’s Trekways of the Wind
  • Michael Prince, “HOWL: A Novel Graphic: Eric Drooker’s Adaptations of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” and / or “Identities and Territorializations: The Individual Subject in Smooth and Striated Space in Alan Moore’s The Ballad of Halo Jones and The Swamp Thing

The presentations were stacked from graduate students in the morning to tenured staff in the afternoon. Feedback from participants was good-natured and constructive. The seminar established some collaborative projects among and between these “levels”; also, some of the participants will be “readers” for a special edition of the European Journal of American Studies.

Future plans depend largely on the individuals’ diverse personal and professional situations. The “younger scholars” in particular have set up a supportive network via social media (and the google group site). Obviously, completion of degree requirements (MA & Ph.D. theses) is priority one for this group.

All parties are looking forward to May 2013 in Helsinki. We agreed to “sit on” concrete ideas for the seminar (though S.A.M. and Michael did threaten to bring their synthesizers with them for a Group C improve dance performance), and enliven the discussion start of Fall semester 2012.


Work in Progress Seminar for the thematic group onContesting and creating identities and communities

Oslo, Norway, 8-9 June 2012, Report by Gunhild Borggren

Group C is concerned with Contesting – and creating – identities and communities. We are in total 12-15 people joining the group. Most members of the group were gathered for a two-day meeting on June 8-9 in Oslo in conjunction with the Oslo Comics Expo. In attendance in Oslo were (in alphabetic order): Frederik Byrn Køhlert, Gunhild Borggreen, Kristina Mejhammar, Margareta Wallin Wictorin, Mervi Miettinen, Michael Prince, Rebecca Scherr, Ylva Sommerland, and Øyvind Vågnes. The practical and conceptual elements of the meeting were organized by Øyvind, who also acted as excellent host and guide on our trips through Oslo.

Friday June 8: Future Prospects

We met Friday evening for a dinner meeting at a restaurant. However, the surroundings of a lively restaurant on a Friday evening did not prove optimal for serious discussions, so after food and drink, we went to a nearby park and held the meeting on the grass.

Some announcements were made: European Journal of American Studies has a call for papers for a special issue on American identities in the Graphic Novel. Abstract should be forwarded to Michael Prince ( by September 30, 2012, and if accepted full text should be submitted by January 31, 2013.

Michael also pointed our attention to the Comix Scholars Listserve at University of Florida, and proposed that we use our own listserv for broader discussions among the group and the NNCORE community.

We talked about the upcoming NNCORE conference in Helsinki in spring 2013. We can submit panel proposals in the fall and we may think of 3 panels. We can consider other types of formats rather than conventional paper presentations, with focus on how we work, on methodologies, on theoretical overlaps of media, etc. We would also like to meet in the group at the conference, either in a special section for group meetings at the conference, or before/after the event. Three topics are proposed for our panels:

  • Comics and contemporary cultural theory (Deleuze, Butler, Agamben, etc)
  • Comics and aesthetics theory (different media, visual culture representation etc.)
  • Ontological work (materiality, the object, etc.)

We talked about the conference as a spring board to new research projects, and a number of topics for such research were suggested: European migration politics, ecology awareness, environment, human rights, imaging-picturing, etc. We also talked about funding possibilities, including the national research councils, EU framework programs, as well as private research funds (Danish Velux, Oticon, Novo Nordisk, Swedish Riksbanken and others). Or a combination of these. We can start working on an application text that can be reused and circulated in different applications.

Saturday June 9: Seminar

The group seminar was held at the top floor of Hotel Bondeheimen, at which most of the group members stayed. Papers and drafts from each member had been circulated for reading well in advance, so presentations were combined most efficiently with comments and discussion.

Frederik presented ideas for future research on “Autobiographical Constructions: Authorial Absence and Presence in Julie Doucet and Michel Gondry’s Comics/Video Hybrid My New New York Diary”. This included a screening of Doucet and Gondry’s video product, and talks about the relationship between still and moving images.

Mervi had just turned in her Ph.D. dissertation last Friday, so she shared her ideas about a new project on “What We Become – Post-Apocalyptic Narratives and the Crisis of Identity in Contemporary American Comics”. This included discussions about cold war and atomic disasters, as well as zombies.

Kristina presented sketches for the introduction to her Ph.D. dissertation, and in which five Swedish comics artists feature with a special attention to autobiography. Kristina showed images and talked about Joakim Pirinen and proposed the idea that autobiography in comics may have been early in Sweden compared to the USA.

Margareta also talked about autobiography as genre in her presentation “The Graphic Novel as Medium for Autobiographical or Autofictional stories” where she discussed the Swedish female comic artist Joanna Rubin. Discussions centered on autobiography as a relational form, including relations to family members and contract with readers.

Ylva is also about to finish her Ph.D. dissertation, so she presented ideas for a new project on the visual zone of sports in her presentation “Sport Manga: Sketches of Play and Resistance within the Visual Zones of Sport”. The project will include issues such as movement vs. stillness, and the pace of reading compared to motion of sport represented. Other types of media will be included as well.

Michael presented his ideas of “Identities and Territorializations: The Individual Subject in Smooth and Striated Space in Alan Moore’s The Ballad of Halo Jones and Swamp Thing” by including theoretical aspects of Deleuze and Guttari to focus on subject formation in Alan Moore’s work. Discussions evolved around philosophy and political theory and its relation to aesthetics.

Gunhild unfolded some details in her text “Ano Hi, That Day: Manga Response to the March 11 Disasters in Japan” and discussions concerned issues of collective trauma and how it is reactions that trigger traumatic experience rather than the event itself. Several suggestions as to where to publish the text came forward.

Rebecca presented the outlines of her text “Shaking Hands with Other People’s Pain: Joe Sacco’s Palestine and the Ethics of Representation”, which is accepted for publication and is a part of a larger project about visual culture and human rights. Parts of the discussions focused on how tactility can create intimacy and how the haptic element relates to the imaginary of the reader.

Øyvind discussed “Comics Reenactment: Joe Sacco’s Footnotes in Gaza” in his presentation, which was based on a conference paper from Bergen where W.J.T. Mitchell and Joe Sacco participated. The use of the term re-enactment as a performative means used by Sacco in visualizing collective memory and moments of remembrance. Discussions included reenactment as bodily memory and trauma therapy.

Several journals and publications where mentioned during our talk, and some references have circulated on e-mail after. Apart from the newly launched Scandinavian Journal of Comic Art, also European Comic Art and ImageText were mentioned as well as a special issue on autobiography in comics and graphic novels in Biography (31:1, 2008) Rebecca circulated her text on “Teaching ‘The Auto-graphic Novel’: Autobiographical Comics and the Ethics or Readership”, Frederik has forwarded a list of references on autobiography, and Kristina has forwarded a list of Swedish foundations to apply to for economic support in further research projects.

Saturday Jun 9: Oslo Comics Expo

After the seminar, we went to the venue of Oslo Comics Expo 2012 at Schous Plass, and enjoyed the display of various publishers and organizations in the market tent. Some of us made it for an artist’s talk with Chris Ware. Ware presented a slide show with many images, including autobiographical photos as well as images from his projects such as Jimmy Corrigan and ACNE Novelty Library. Afterwards a long line formed to get autographs of Christ Ware and Seth, who was also invited to the Oslo Comics Expo 2012. For a rather small venue, the level of energetic engagement and presence of top names in comics and graphic novels was amazing and inspiring.

After spending some time at the Expo, most of the group went to a nearby restaurant and had a final dinner together before we went back to the hotel. The two day-seminar was a great success in terms of most of us having worked on new proposals, core text or other concrete projects to forward others, as well as getting relevant and competent feed back on our thoughts and ideas. The social networking was important in order to keep up the energy and commitment of all group members and to generate new ideas for future projects. We all thank Øyvind for his work in organizing the fruitful event, and look forward to meet in Helsinki.

Edited by Øyvind Vågnes, University of Bergen, and Anne Magnussen

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