Call for Paper Proposals: ImageText Special Issue Spring 2023
TECHNICAL STORYTELLING: COMICS AND COMMUNITY
Special Issue of ImageTexT, Spring 2023
Guest Editors: Alexander Slotkin & Laura Gonzales
While the social justice turn in technical communication is relatively new, comics have long served as venues for coalition building. From Jen White-Johnson’s work on visual activism for Black Disabled communities (https://jenwhitejohnson.com), to Alfred Hassler’s Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story, to the ongoing series El Viaje Mas Caro, a series of short comics documenting stories from Latin American migrant farm workers living in Vermont, comics have historically been used as a tool for community organizing. Taking up Natasha N. Jones’ call in “The Technical Communicator as Advocate” to integrate social justice advocacy into technical communication, we think it is important to highlight how comics have or might be used in technical communication to facilitate community and forward social justice movements by challenging, resisting, or calling attention to structural forms of White supremacy that continue to harm people of color.
This special issue of ImageTexT will consider how comics in technical communication have been or can be used to facilitate community and challenge everyday structures of oppression at the local or national level. Although there is no definite consensus on what constitutes a “comic,” we see comics as a broad genre of graphic storytelling that rhetorically structures text and imagery through juxtaposition to depict, demonstrate, and/or convey information, whether it be a joke or technical process (see Bahl et al.; Yu; McCloud). Building on Technical Communication Quarterly’s 2020 special issue on “Comics and Graphic Storytelling in Technical Communication,” we intend for this special issue to highlight how technical (and possibly scientific) communication in comic form might initiate or support localized community engagement and/or social justice movements.
The first issue of ImageTexT to explore comics in relation to technical communication studies, “Technical Storytelling: Comics and Community” works to constellate technical communication, comic studies, and community activism at a time when COVID-19 continues to disproportionally affect Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. It is perhaps no surprise then that we take inspiration for this issue from Josh Neufeld’s “A Tale of Two Pandemics,” a comic adaptation of a research article exploring the racial dynamics of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic to better understand racial disparities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Neufeld creates a text that is accessible and easily circulated while also highlighting Black voices and bringing greater attention to a problem facing Black communities. What other imaginative possibilities or futures are there for community engaged or socially oriented comic scholarship in technical communication?
We invite contributors—especially those from multiply-marginalized communities—to reflect on how technical communicators might use comics in their pedagogy, advocacy, and/or scholarship to support local or national communities and movements. To this end, we welcome a variety of genres and approaches to this topic, including but not limited to: comics, formal essays, ethnographies, case studies, video essays, and experiential reports. Contributors may address a variety of questions and issues, including but not limited to the following:
- How do technical communicators work with community members to design culturally informed comics that address localized concerns? And what does this process look like?
- How can we use comics to invite different cultural communities inside our technical writing classrooms, and why does that matter from a social justice point of view?
- How can we integrate social justice advocacy into our technical communication classrooms through comic writing and design?
- There are a variety of technical communication comics that, historically, have served as tools for coalition building. What might we learn about technical communication or social justice advocacy by studying one or more of these examples?
- How might comics and comic studies more generally help orient technical communicators toward social justice initiatives?
- How can or have communities used comics as a form of resistance?
- What specific affordances do comics as a genre of technical communication offer in support of community advocacy?
- How have technical communication comics served as an outlet or catalyst for community action during the COVID-19 pandemic?
- How do socially oriented comics in technical communication shift our understanding of technical communication and/or comic studies more generally?
- In what ways can comics in technical communication challenge White supremacy and other systematic forms of oppression?
- What might a socially informed comic in technical communication studies look like?
- How can we use comics in technical communication to center or highlight Black and Indigenous voices?
ImageText: Interdisciplinary Comics Studies is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal that advances the academic study of an emerging and diverse canon of image-texts, including—but not limited to—comic books and strips, graphic novels, animations, illustrated fiction, picture books, zines, and other media that blend images and texts in complex ecologies. You can visit previous issues of the journal here: https://imagetextjournal.com/
All submissions should be made through the journal’s Submittable portal, the link to which you can find here: https://imagetext.submittable.com/submit
Proposals (500 words) due March 14th, 2022
Authors notified by April 4th, 2022
Full submissions due June 27th, 2022
Submissions sent to reviewers by July 11th, 2022
Authors notified by September 22nd, 2022
Revised submissions due November 22nd, 2022
Submissions sent to reviewers by December 2nd, 2022
Authors notified by February 8th, 2023
Bahl, Erin Kathleen, Sergio Figueiredo, and Rich Shivener. “Comics and Graphic Storytelling in Technical Communication.” Technical Communication Quarterly, vol. 29, no. 3, 2020, pp. 219-221.
Bennett, Marek, Julia Grand Doucet, Andy Kolovos, and Teresa Mares (Eds.). The Most Costly Journey: Stories of Migrant Farmworkers in Vermont Drawn by New England Cartoonists. Vermont Folklife Center, 2021.
Krishnan, Lakshmi, S. Michelle Ogunwole, and Lisa A. Cooper. “Historical Insights on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), the 1918 Influenza Pandemic, and Racial Disparities: Illuminating a Path Forward.” Annals of Internal Medicine, vol. 173, no. 6, 2020, pp. 474-481.
Hassler, Alfred. Martin Luther King and The Montgomery Story. Fellowship of Reconciliation, 1957.
Jones, Natasha N. “The Technical Communicator as Advocate: Integrating a Social Justice Approach in Technical Communication.” Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, vol. 46, no. 5, 2016, pp. 342-361.
McCloud, Scott. Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. Tundra Publishing, 1993.
Neufeld, Josh. “A Tale of Two Pandemics: Historical Insights on Persistent Racial Disparities.” Journalist’s Resource: Informing the News, https://journalistsresource.org/race-and-gender/pandemics-comic-racial-h....
White-Johnson, Jen. jenwhitejohnson. October 2018. https://jenwhitejohnson.com.
Yu, Han. The Other Kind of Funnies: Comics in Technical Communication. Routledge, 2016.