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The winding, pot-holed road of comic art scholarship

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Comic art scholarship has finally gotten a foothold in the academy, after decades of individual and short-term efforts. A number of reasons can be ventured for this hesitancy to study comic art, including academic snobbery and protection of disciplinary turfs, and lack of grants, organized research collections, and other resources.

Those who pioneered comic art scholarship were often fans, collectors, aficionados, and cartoonists, who researched from their personal collections. A substantial amount of the early research in the 1960s and 1970s was done in France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Sweden, England, Japan, and, to a lesser extent, China and the United States. A few individuals also recorded the histories of Australian and Canadian comic books. The stories of these pioneering efforts are full of interesting anecdotes.

More organized academic research has resulted since the 1990s. Reasons for this were that the academy could not continue to ignore popular culture (and comics) because of its importance; comics were reinvented as a more sophisticated medium; a theoretical framework evolved, and graduate students felt safer embarking on the writing of dissertations based on comic art.
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Keywords: Australia; Canada; China; Europe; Japan; United States; comic art scholarship; comics history pre-1980s; comics research; pioneers

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Founder, Publisher, Editor-in-Chief, International Journal of Comic Art.

Publication date: 2010-04-01

More about this publication?
  • Studies in Comics aims to describe the nature of comics, to identify the medium as a distinct art form, and to address the medium's formal properties. The emerging field of comics studies is a model for interdisciplinary research and in this spirit this journal welcomes all approaches. This journal is international in scope and provides an inclusive space in which researchers from all backgrounds can present new thinking on comics to a global audience. The journal will promote the close analysis of the comics page/text using a variety of methodologies. Its specific goal, however, is to expand the relationship between comics and theory and to articulate a "theory of comics". The journal also includes reviews of new comics, criticism, and exhibitions, and a dedicated online space for cutting-edge and emergent creative work.

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