Edited Collection: BOOM! #*@&! Splat: Comics and Violence

deadline for submissions: 
May 31, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Jo Davis-McElligatt, PhD & Jim Coby, PhD
contact email: 

BOOM! #*@&! Splat: Comics and Violence

In the introduction to Seduction of the Innocent, Frederic Wertham suggested that “chronic stimulation, temptation and seduction by comic books [...] are contributing factors to many children’s maladjustment” (10). Anxious that children would be forever corrupted by the content of comics, Wertham identified representations and structures of violence as among his primary objections to comics narrative: “Here is violence galore, violence in the beginning, in the middle, and at the end” (8). Though anxieties regarding representations of violence in comics have largely fallen to the wayside, thematic and symbolic visual depictions of violence remain central to the comics form. From Captain America punching his way into the American consciousness to Phoebe Gloeckner’s depictions of sexual abuse, violence is an integral aspect of the comic medium. Though scholars such as Hillary Chute, Harriet Earle, and Martin Barker have addressed specific trends and/or themes related to violence in comics, such as war, trauma, horror comics, no sustained scholarly inquiry has yet to address this issue.

Our collection, in taking an inclusive and wide-ranging approach to both violence and comics, seeks to understand how the confluence of words and images might ask readers to consider violence in ways unique to the medium. We welcome scholarship from academics of comics and other fields alike. A notable academic press has expressed enthusiastic interest in this project.

Potential avenues for exploration include:

  • Form and structure elements (i.e., symbolia, jagged speech balloons, emanata)

  • Receptions of violence in comics genres (e.g., horror, superhero, war, and adventure)  

  • Cultural production and contexts

  • Cartoon and slapstick violence (e.g., Krazy Kat, Calvin and Hobbes)

  • Comics and war/witness (e.g., Joe Sacco, Marjane Satrapi, Art Spiegelman)

  • Physical and psychological family violence (e.g. Alison Bechdel, Craig Thompson, Will Eisner)

  • Sexual violence (e.g., Phoebe Gloeckner, Justin Green)

  • Superhero violence (e.g., Alan Moore, Frank Miller, Jack Kirby, Marvel/DC)

  • History and violence (e.g., John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, & Nate Powell, Keiji Nakazawa, Chester Brown)

  • The grotesque and/or bizarre (e.g., Daniel Clowes, Jason, Charles Burns)

  • Pedagogical approaches to teaching violence in comics

Interested parties should submit bio of 150-200 words and an abstract of approximately 300-500 words to Joanna Davis-McElligatt (jcdmce@louisiana.edu) and Jim Coby (james.coby@uah.edu) by May 31. Contributors will be notified no later than July 30. Completed essay drafts (4000-5000 words) will be due December 15th, 2018.