80 Years and Beyond: The Past, Present, and Future of Canadian Comics

deadline for submissions: 
January 5, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Canadian Literature
contact email: 

The Canadian Parliament passed the War Exchange Conservation Act (WECA) late in 1940 to preserve its currency for the war effort by limiting the importation of nonessential goods. Periodicals, including popular American comic books, were one casualty. Within a few months, Canadian artists and entrepreneurs responded by launching a domestic comic book industry often regarded as Canada’s golden age of comics. This industry produced four publishing companies and six years of original Canadian comics production, including Robin Hood Comics and Triumph-Adventure Comics, which featured Adrian Dingle’s Nelvana of the Northern Lights, one of the earliest female superheroes in comics.

The eightieth anniversary of the first comic books published in Canada, now known as the WECA comics era, celebrates one important milestone in a long history of comics production in Canada, from early editorial cartoons to newspaper strips to serials, bandes dessinées, graphic novels, manga, and web comics, and in multiple languages. This special issue invites scholarly articles that reflect the breadth and depth of Canadian comics history before and after the WECA comics, across a diversity of forms and platforms. We are particularly interested in submissions that offer meaningful critical insights into the history, present state, and potential future of Canadian comics studies, as well as contributions engaging in Indigenous, settler colonial, critical race, decolonial, feminist, trans, queer and/or disability studies approaches. Articles that blend the creative and the critical, as well as the theoretical and the auto-theoretical, are welcomed and encouraged.

 

Possible essay topics may include, but are not limited to, the following as they reflect the issue’s focus on the past, present, and future of Canadian Comics:

  • How do we tell the story of Canadian comics from the early 20th century to now?
    • Do Canadian WWII comics have any relevance to today’s comics culture?
    • Which artists, genres, and formats has the dominant historical narrative of Canadian comics, including publications and exhibitions, hidden from visibility?
    • How have Canadian comics of the past stereotyped, excluded, obscured, or ignored certain Canadian voices and stories?
  • How does the current state of Canadian comics both reflect its past and direct its future?
    • Whether or not there is a “national tradition,” or specific regional styles and schools, within Canadian comics.
    • How contemporary Canadian comics can amplify the voices of Canadians and communities who were traditionally (and may still be) excluded from the conversation.
    • Canadian comics publishing, marketing, audience, and reception.
    • The role of translators and translation in Canadian comics (both translations of Canadian comics and translated comics in Canada).
    • The role of exhibitions, comic cons, festivals, and retailers in shaping Canadian comics as a cultural and academic field.
    • Children’s and Young Adult comics.
  • What might the future of Canadian comics and Canadian comics studies look like?
    • How should we be telling the story of Canadian comics?
    • Will the future of Canadian comics, and Canadian comics studies, look different from the past or present?
    • What local/national/global factors will influence the future of Canadian comics?
    • How can we understand Canadian comics today within larger shifts to digital cultures?
    • How can comics studies support comics pedagogy and the teaching of Canadian comics (K-12 and post-secondary)?
    • Comics as labour and the precarity of the profession for comics artists and comics scholars.
  • How have Canadian comics gone “global”?
    • Transnational artistic influences and cross-border collaborations.
    • Canadian cartoonists working in the US and elsewhere outside Canada.
    • Global audiences and the critical popularity of Canadian comics, graphic novels, webcomics, and Quebec BDs outside Canada.

All submissions to Canadian Literature must be original, unpublished work. Essays should follow current MLA bibliographic format (MLA Handbook, 8th ed.). Word length for articles is 6,500-8,000 words, which includes endnotes and works cited.

The journal recognizes that the current moment is full of challenges and precarities for the Canadian Literature community. We are open to considering submissions that go outside the bounds of conventional research articles, especially collaborative efforts and submissions from graduate students, early career scholars, artists, and members of the comics community.

Please feel free to contact the journal editor, Christine Kim, at cl.editor@ubc.ca, or the special issue guest editors, Zachary J.A. Rondinelli (zrondinelli@brocku.ca) and Candida Rifkind (c.rifkind@uwinnipeg.ca), to discuss ideas ahead of time. Submissions should be uploaded to OJS by the deadline of January 5, 2022. Our Submission Guidelines can be found at canlit.ca/submissions. General questions about the special issue may be directed to can.lit@ubc.ca.

Please limit images accompanying the submission to those receiving substantial attention in the article. Note that contributors are responsible for obtaining permission to reproduce images in their article, and must pay any permission costs. The editors can provide a sample template for permission requests and permissions must be cleared before publication. Please send low resolution images (small jpegs), in separate attachments. If the article is accepted, high quality images will be required.