News and Reviews: Transnational Perspectives on Graphic Narratives


Up to now, Transnational Perspectives on Graphic Narratives (which I co-edited along with Christina Meyer and Daniel Stein) has only been available in a prohibitively expensive hardback edition, but luckily that’s about to change: a much more affordable paperback is set to appear in September, and it is now available for pre-order on (here), (here), (here), and (here). If you can’t wait and you’re OK with reading from a screen, there’s also a Kindle edition available for a couple of dollars/pounds/euros/etc. less.

Recently, a brief review of the book appeared in Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics 5.2 (2014); according to the reviewer, Ralf Kauranen, “Transnational Perspectives on Graphic Narratives offers a wealth of concepts and perspectives for the study of the transnational in comics research … [and] signals the arrival of the ‘transnational turn’ in comics studies.”

And in case you missed it, you might want to check out the interview that Michael Chaney (professor at Dartmouth and contributor to the volume) conducted with Christina, Daniel, and me about the book and our experiences and interests in comics: An Interview with the Editors of Transnational Perspectives on Graphic Narratives.

Interview on Transnational Perspectives on Graphic Narratives


Over at his blog, Michael A. Chaney (professor of English and American Studies at Dartmouth College and director of the Illustration, Comics, and Animation conference there) has posted an interview he conducted with Daniel Stein, Christina Meyer, and myself on the topic of comics and our edited collection Transnational Perspectives on Graphic Narratives. Michael is a wonderful interviewer and an all-around great guy, and it was a lot of fun talking to him about our work. So take a look: here.

Transnational Comics Studies


Recently, I discovered an alternative cover concept — seen above — for Transnational Perspectives on Graphic Narratives: Comics at the Crossroads (which I co-edited along with Christina Meyer and Daniel Stein). I found this on the webpage of Daniel Benneworth-Gray, the designer who was also responsible for the final book cover. In the end, I have to say I like the final cover better, but I think this is a nice concept, and it gives me a kind of a parallel universe / Bizarro world / “What-if?” / retcon kinda feeling, which I think is quite appropriate for a book about comics.

Speaking of the book, Daniel Stein, Christina Meyer, and I will be doing just that: i.e. speaking about the book and the broader field of “Transnational Comics Studies” on October 9, at the Berliner Kolloquium zur Comicforschung. The meeting will take place at the Humboldt University in Berlin. I’ll post the exact time and place as soon as I know more.

Out Now: Transnational Perspectives on Graphic Narratives


This past week, I found my copy of Transnational Perspectives on Graphic Narratives: Comics at the Crossroads (edited by me, Christina Meyer, and Daniel Stein) in my university mailbox — hot off the presses, I’m told, and ahead of schedule!

Interestingly, both and list the book’s date of publication as March 23, while it appears that they both began shipping the book ahead of that; on the other hand, and even the publisher Bloomsbury are listing the book as appearing a full two months later, on May 23, though both sites are accepting (pre-)orders and are sure to begin shipping much before then.

In any case, I can confirm that the book does in fact exist! And it’s nice to finally see all the contributions in physical form. For the time being, however, the only physical form available is a relatively expensive hardback, but a more affordable paperback will be on its way, pending sales — so please ask your library to purchase a copy!

And, in the meantime, you can get a free digital preview on Google Books, or you can order the full e-book version for about $24 from the publisher or about €16 from the Google play shop. (Please leave me a comment if you see it anywhere for cheaper.)

Anyway, we are very pleased with the book and with the high-quality contributions we received for it, and we hope it will find an interested readership at the intersections of comics studies, cultural and media studies, and transnational American studies!

(Transnational Perspectives on) Illustration, Comics, and Animation


The schedule has now been posted for the Illustration, Comics, and Animation Conference taking place this spring at Dartmouth College (April 19 – 21, 2013). There are quite a few interesting speakers and exciting topics on the roster, so I encourage readers to look at the complete conference schedule. But here I’d like to focus briefly on a few people who happen to be both involved in the conference and associated in one way or another with this blog and the various projects represented here.

First of all, two of my European colleagues will be presenting papers:

Daniel Stein, co-editor with me on Transnational Perspectives on Graphic Narratives and fellow postdoctoral researcher in the Popular Seriality group, will be presenting a paper called “Animating Batman: Serial Storytelling, Cartoon Animation, and the Multiplicities of Contemporary Superhero Comics.” (Click the title for his abstract.)

Lukas Etter, contributor to Transnational Perspectives (with a great chapter on Jason Lutes’s Berlin) and member of the research project “Seriality and Intermediality in Graphic Novels” (a Swiss project associated with the DFG research group on Popular Seriality), will present “Seria(s)lly Episodic: Gradual Formal Variations in Alison Bechdel’s Feminist Comic Strip Dykes to Watch Out For (1983-2008).” (Click title for abstract.)

I will also be presenting a paper, titled “Animation as Theme and Medium: Frankenstein and Visual Culture.” (Again, click for the abstract.)

Finally, our American host and the conference’s organizer is Michael A. Chaney, Associate Professor of English at Dartmouth College, who is likewise a contributor to Transnational Perspectives (with an excellent chapter on “Transnationalism and Form in Visual Narratives of US Slavery”).

As it turns out, this will be the second time that all four of our paths cross — the first being at a comics studies workshop in Bern, Switzerland in October 2011. In this respect, and in addition to our cooperation on the volume, the upcoming conference marks the continuation of a very literal transnational exchange of ideas, which has brought together German, Swiss, and American (among other) perspectives on the study of comics and related media. I look forward to this and further such intersections and (national as well as medial) border-crossings!

Coming Soon: Transnational Perspectives on Graphic Narratives


[UPDATE March 28, 2013: The book is now available; see here for more info]

We’re in the home stretch now with Transnational Perspectives on Graphic Narratives: Comics at the Crossroads (eds. Shane Denson, Christina Meyer, and Daniel Stein). The manuscript is almost through the production phase at Bloomsbury, and everything is set for the book to appear on time in March 2013. A description can be found on the publisher’s website (here), and the book is already up on amazon (US site here; British site here; German site here). A more affordable e-book version is in preparation, and a paperback is planned as well (contingent upon sales of the hardcover — so please ask your library to purchase a copy)!

Here is the final Table of Contents:


John A. Lent

Introducing Transnational Perspectives on Graphic Narratives: Comics at the Crossroads

            Shane Denson, Christina Meyer, and Daniel Stein

Part I: Politics and Poetics

1          Not Just a Theme: Transnationalism and Form in Visual Narratives of US Slavery

            Michael A. Chaney

2          Transnational Identity as Shape-Shifting: Metaphor and Cultural Resonance in Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese          

            Elisabeth El Refaie

3          Cosmopolitan Suspicion: Comics Journalism and Graphic Silence

            Georgiana Banita

4          Staging Cosmopolitanism: The Transnational Encounter in Joe Sacco’s Footnotes in Gaza    

             Aryn Bartley

5          “Trying to Recapture the Front”: A Transnational Perspective on Hawaii in R. Kikuo Johnson’s Night Fisher  

             Iris-Aya Laemmerhirt

6          Folding Nations, Cutting Borders: Transnationalism in the Comics of Warren Craghead III

             Daniel Wüllner

Part II: Transnational and Transcultural Superheroes

7          Batman Goes Transnational: The Global Appropriation and Distribution of an American Hero

             Katharina Bieloch and Sharif Bitar

8          Spider-Man India: Comic Books and the Translating/Transcreating of American Cultural Narrative

             Shilpa Davé

9          Of Transcreations and Transpacific Adaptations: Investigating Manga Versions of Spider-Man

             Daniel Stein

10         Warren Ellis: Performing the Transnational Author in the American Comics Mainstream

              Jochen Ecke

11         “Truth, Justice, and the Islamic Way”: Conceiving the Cosmopolitan Muslim Superhero in The 99

              Stefan Meier

Part III: Translations, Transformations, Migrations

12         Lost in Translation: Narratives of Transcultural Displacement in the Wordless Graphic Novel

              Florian Groß

13         Hard-Boiled Silhouettes: Transnational Remediation and the Art of Omission in Frank Miller’s Sin City

              Frank Mehring

14         The “Big Picture” as a Multitude of Fragments: Jason Lutes’s Depiction of Weimar Republic Berlin

              Lukas Etter

15         “Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together”: The Cultural Crossovers of Bryan Lee O’Malley

              Mark Berninger

16         A Disappointing Crossing: The North American Reception of Asterix and Tintin

              Jean-Paul Gabilliet


Framing, Unframing, Reframing: Retconning the Transnational Work of Comics

              Shane Denson

Comics at the Crossroads: Update

[UPDATE March 28, 2013: The book is now available; see here for more info]

I am pleased to announce that editorial work on Transnational Perspectives on Graphic Narratives: Comics at the Crossroads has been completed, and the manuscript has been turned over to the Bloomsbury production department. The book is now scheduled to appear in March 2013.

The above image is an early mock-up of the cover; I will post the final version, along with any further info, as soon as it becomes available.

Transnational American Studies

I have yet to hear from anyone at the annual conference of the German Association for American Studies, which is going on now (May 31 – June 3, 2012) in Mainz, but the volume pictured above — Transnational American Studies, edited by Udo Hebel — was scheduled to make its debut there. (The Amazon page is up, but currently listing the book as not yet available.) In any case, I look forward to reading the contributions to the volume, which the publisher (Winter) describes thus:

Transnational approaches and theories have reshaped the interdisciplinary trajectory of American Studies since the turn of the millennium. The further extension of perspectives on the United States and North America to prominently include Atlantic Studies, Hemispheric Studies, and Pacific Studies has complicated long-standing notions of ‘American Studies’ and problematized concepts such as nation, identity, and American exceptionalism.

The collection gathers thirty original contributions to transnational American Studies from the fields of cultural studies, literature, history, politics, and media studies. Individual essays reassess the global role of the U.S. and its perceptions from within and without, discuss how transnational and comparative explorations emphasize multidirectional processes of cultural exchange and transfer, and show how paradigms of migration and cultural mobility have taken definitions and practices of American Studies beyond traditional geographical and disciplinary limits.

Oh, and did I mention that I have a chapter in the book? (Sorry for the self-promotion, but that’s what blogs are for, right?) Anyway, my piece is called “Frame, Sequence, Medium: Comics in Plurimedial and Transnational Perspective,” and it’s a reworking of a talk by the same title that I gave at last year’s DGfA conference. (In case you missed it but are interested, a screencast video of the full presentation can be viewed here.)

Transnational Perspectives on Graphic Narratives: Comics at the Crossroads

[UPDATE March 28, 2013: The book is now available; see here for more info]

[Update: our publisher, Continuum, now has an official announcement, complete with table of contents: here.]

I am excited to announce Transnational Perspectives on Graphic Narratives: Comics at the Crossroads, an essay collection co-edited by Daniel Stein, Christina Meyer, and myself, which is now officially under contract with Continuum, an international publisher with a strong comics program (you can browse some of their graphic narrative-related titles here). We hope to see the volume appear in 2012; more info will follow before then, but in the meantime here is a short abstract for the collection:

Transnational Approaches to Graphic Narratives: Comics at the Crossroads

Editors: Shane Denson, Christina Meyer, and Daniel Stein

Scholarship on graphic narratives has rarely looked beyond the confines of national borders. While a growing body of studies has turned to different national traditions (Anglo-American comics, Franco-Belgian bande dessinée, Japanese manga, etc.), most critics still treat graphic narratives from different cultures as relatively self-contained phenomena. In fact, scholarship in the emerging field of Comics Studies offers very little analysis of what Shelly Fisher Fishkin has called “the broad array of cultural crossroads shaping the work of border-crossing authors, artists, and cultural forms that straddle multiple regional and national traditions.” (“Crossroads of Cultures: The Transnational Turn in American Studies—Presidential Address to the American Studies Association, November 12, 2004,” American Quarterly 57.1 (2005): 32.)

The overall aim of this collection is to close the gaps in (at least) two major fields of research: 1) in American Studies, broadly defined, where graphic narratives are increasingly accepted as a hybrid, visual-verbal literature that is worthy of critical analysis but where they are frequently placed in an exclusively American context despite the opening of the field towards transcultural and transnational research; and 2) in Comics Studies, which is currently one of the liveliest and most dynamic young fields of critical inquiry but which has, by and large, marginalized the transcultural and transnational dimensions of graphic narratives.

The essays in this collection read graphic narratives as texts that are virtually predisposed towards crossing cultural and national boundaries because their unique visual-verbal interface translates more readily – though not without transformative distortions – across cultures than mono-medial forms of literature, non-narrative artworks, and even film. Our understanding of these texts and their history thus foregrounds the transnational flux of authors and graphic styles as well as the transcultural work that individual works and genres have performed for more than a century. As Paul Williams and James Lyons write: “There are good reasons to understand North American comics in a transnational context: the institutional transaction of texts, creators, and capital across national borders has contributed to observable productive tensions in the comic texts themselves.” (The Rise of the American Comics Artist: Creators and Contexts, Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 2010, xiii.) Following this challenge to consider the transnational exchange of creative energies and their transcultural effects, the first aim which all of the essays in our collection pursue is to engage in the study of American graphic narratives as texts that question and potentially transcend the ideological limitations of national borders.

A second aim of this volume is to situate American graphic narratives in a truly interdisciplinary space in which literary studies, cultural studies, media studies, as well as political and sociological approaches may contribute to redefining the fields of American literature as a truly transnational field of inquiry in which graphic narratives are a major, and increasingly prominent, element. Instead of following uni-directional approaches, all of the essays in this volume follow a notion of multi-directional relationality that has shaped the field of American graphic narratives from its inception (from Japanese woodcuts to early American newspaper comics; from the Eastern European origins of Superman’s inventors to the British authors and artists drawing most contemporary superhero characters) and that has always been at the center of this inherently transcultural and transnational literature.