New Approaches to Comics as Periodicals at ALA 2020

deadline for submissions: 
January 17, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Comics Studies Circle & Research Society for American Periodicals
contact email: 

The Comics Circle at the American Literature Association is pleased to co-sponsor the following panel at the upcoming American Literature Association Conference from May 21-24, 2020 in San Diego ( We hope that you will consider submitting a proposal and/or helping us to spread the word.

The history of comics is intimately tied to that of periodicals such as newspapers, magazines, and comic books. Many of the most familiar conventions of comics can be traced directly to their association with periodicals: Serialized stories, recurring characters and jokes, a penchant for subversive politics, and even their reputation as “cheap” or “trashy” pop culture. All of these features resulted, at some level, from the fact that most comics are released periodically by mass publications that audiences consider ephemeral and disposable. Conversely, comics have had a significant role in shaping periodicals as well. Cover art, editorial cartoons, and comic strips have all been consistent features—and drivers of sales—in periodical media ranging from the Hearst newspapers to The New Yorker to Instagram.

With this in mind, we invite papers that explore new approaches to how comics appear periodically. We are especially interested in essays that extend our understanding of the traditional chronological, thematic, and formal boundaries of the relationship between comics and periodicals. Topics may include (but are not limited to):

  • How conventions such as cliffhangers, character types and recurring jokes are influenced by the periodic release of comics.
  • Formal and thematic experiments, resulting from comics’ appearance in periodicals.
  • The influence that periodic release schedules exert on the depiction of social identity in comics, such as race, gender, and class.
  • Serialization in comics.
  • The periodical qualities of comics in new media such as Instagram, Tumblr, and Facebook.
  • How the topical and political content of comics is shaped by the timing of their release in publications like Harpers, MAD, The Nib, and others.
  • Alternative periodicals that feature comics such as zines and underground comix.
  • Comparisons between the way that comics and other literary forms such as fiction and poetry have appeared within periodicals.
  • Commercial elements of releasing comics periodically.

Please submit a 250-word abstract by January 17, 2020, to Jean Lee Cole at and Alexander Beringer at