CLOSURE: Kiel University e-Journal for Comics Studies #10 (November 2023) Thematic Section: »Ocean Comics«

deadline for submissions: 
January 15, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
CLOSURE: Kiel University e-Journal for Comics Studies

Call for Papers – CLOSURE: Kiel University e-Journal for Comics Studies #10 (November 2023)

Thematic Section: »Ocean Comics«


Open Section

At the end of autumn in 2023, the e-journal CLOSURE once again offers a forum for all facets of comic research. From cultural, visual and media studies to social or natural sciences and beyond: our ninth issue of CLOSURE embraces (supports, publishes) essays and reviews that deal with the ›state of the comic‹. Whether detailed analysis, comic theory or innovative new approaches – our open section welcomes a diverse range of interdisciplinary studies of all things ›comics‹.  


Thematic Section: »Ocean Comics«

The main focus of the 10th edition of CLOSURE deals with the sea and its diverse representation and meaning in the medium of comics. In literature and the fine arts, the sea has always functioned as a place of longing, but also as a stage for great adventures. Classic stories by researchers and discoverers, from Captain Ahab and his hunt for Moby-Dick, to Captain Nemo's journey 20,000 leagues under the sea have been published as comic adaptations, but new comics of various genres also use the sea as a setting, metaphor, chronotope, or explore the aesthetic, economic, political, historical or ecological dimensions of the oceans. The sea fascinates as the origin of life, as well as being a source of danger and destruction, a recreational area, or the scene of historical and current horrors of flight and expulsion. The deep sea as a region of hidden knowledge and unknown, monstrous horrors has inspired comic artists, likewise the destruction of these ecosystems by climate change, pollution and exploitation with their dire consequences.

CLOSURE #10 asks what specific means of representation comics use to approach the global ocean. It's not just about a thematic focus on watery spaces, but also about the media ecology of graphic storytelling and the usage of the comic's network of symbols. If the sea appears like an »abyss of representation« (Blum 2010), the loosely connected forms of the comic promise a very unique approach to the apparent unfathomability: the panels show a section of the oceanic whole that makes no claim to completeness. We are interested in the comic as a mobile medium for a fluid space, with an image system for the ocean system – and at the same time with a transnationally adaptable form that allows global access to the watery Anthropocene.

We are looking for contributions that reconstruct the oceanic knowledge of the comics and, in doing so, consider both the metaphors of the alternative space ›sea‹ and the attempts to approach the reality, political negotiations, material change and historical constitution of the ocean through the graphic medium. The contributions in CLOSURE #10 not only reconstruct the representation of the sea, but rather aim at comic-specific Oceanic Studies: A search for »surfaces, depths and extra-terrestrial dimensions of planetary resources and relations« (Blum 2010) in panels and speech bubbles, images and writing, diagrams and cartoons.

Possible topics include but are not limited to:  

  • the sea as a boundary for land and panel
  • water and the sea as natural forces
  • on the two-dimensionality of the sea: visual transformations in cartography and surveying
  • Exploration, isolation, hierarchies: the construction of humanity and the world through the sea
  • The Black Atlantic: colonial past and present – and coming to terms with it
  • migration and flight across the oceans
  • the sea as a cultural contact zone for knowledge and practices
  • the sea and its depths as places of ignorance (and places of hiding)
  • naval and commercial fields of action, globalization
  • the sea as a place of adventure: pirates, explorers, the sea as a (contemporary) field of work
  • Mythologies, old and new: from Poseidon to ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn
  • Monotony? Repetition? Infinity? – the staging of the oceans and ice deserts
  • horror from the depth
  • the ocean as (living) space: origin, utopia and dystopia
  • negotiation of time and memory through the sea in comics

Please, send your abstract to the open section or to the focus »Ocean Comics« (approx. 3000 characters), as well as a short bio, for consideration for our ninth issue of CLOSURE to by January 15th, 2023. The contributions (35,000-50,000 characters) are expected by June 1st, 2023. For more information about the e-journal CLOSURE and our previous issues, please visit