MLA 2014: Collaboration in Comics (deadline 3/08/2013; conference 1/9-12/2014)

full name / name of organization: 
Modern Language Association: Discussion Group on Comics & Graphic Narratives

The verbal-visual form of comics offers unique opportunities for collaboration. We invite critical perspectives on the advantages, constraints, and effects of collaboration in comics.

Rationale: Though comics is a dialogic form, current academic work on comics has remarkably little to say about the possibility of genuinely dialogical creation, that is, collaboration. The bulk of recent scholarly and curatorial work on comics favors the concept of cartooning as a singular personal handwriting, that is, an autographic trace, ignoring the historical importance and artistic potential of multi-authored comics. The proposed panel seeks to illuminate this blind spot in comics study by inviting critical perspectives on collaboration from multiple angles. We seek proposals on all topics relevant to this issue, including but not necessarily limited to:

*The legal, ethical, economic, and artistic implications of creative teaming

*Instances of tense, difficult, or complicated collaboration

*Studio projects (e.g., Eisner et al., The Spirit; Hergé et al., Tintin)

*Notable collaborative teams in comics, e.g., Goscinny and Uderzo, Jodorowsky and Moebius, Koike and Kojima, Kurtzman et al., Moore et al., Pekar et al., Gaiman and McKean, Simon and Kirby, Stanley and Tripp, many more

*Collaborations that go beyond the usual division of scenarist and artist, e.g., Dupuy-Berberian, Karasik and Mazzucchelli (City of Glass), Trondheim/Sfar et al.

*Artists' collectives, e.g., Actus Tragicus, CLAMP, Fast Fiction, Stripcore, Wimmen's Comix

*Collaborative autobiography in comics, e.g., Pekar et al., American Splendor; Brabner, Pekar, and Stack, Our Cancer Year; Kominsky-Crumb and Crumb; Sowa and Savoia, Marzi; Wojnarowicz and Romberger, Seven Miles a Second

*Specific collaborative processes and their artistic ramifications, e.g., constraint-based experiments, exquisite corpse games, and jams; scripting by thumbnail v. full script; the Marvel method

*Metacritical consideration of how criticism and theory value, or devalue, collaborative work

*Creators who shift roles (scenarist, artist, etc.) between projects, e.g., David B., Frank Miller, Sfar, Shanower, Trondheim

*Editors as collaborators, e.g., Goscinny, Menu, Spiegelman/Mouly, many examples in manga

*Collaborations with family or partners, e.g., the Crumb family, Los Bros Hernandez, Mary Talbot and Bryan Talbot in Dotter of Her Father's Eyes

Send 200 to 300-word abstracts in .doc or .pdf to Charles Hatfield ( by 8 March 2013.

Submitters will receive notification of results by April 1.

PLEASE NOTE: This CFP is for a proposed, not a guaranteed, session at MLA 2014, meaning it is contingent on approval by the MLA Program Committee. Though the Discussion Group on Comics & Graphic Narratives will decide before April 1 which papers it would like to include, the MLA Program Committee will not consider the session proposal until after that date. All prospective presenters must be current MLA members by no later than 7 April 2013.