CSS 2023 | Call for Papers

Call for Papers | "Comics on the Margins"

Comics have long been associated with both literal and figurative margins—think underground comix artists who worked outside the mainstream or cartooning’s common categorization as an inherently disposable low art. The history of comics calls attention to marginalization as a formal structure, visual aesthetic, and sociopolitical position that shapes and reshapes culture, from racist and sexist caricatures that capture the anxiety of their moment to resistant narratives of marginalized BIPOC, queer, and disabled creators seizing their own graphic narratives. Comics likewise become legible and purposeful through the formal use of margins and gutters, sites that open up radical space for rebellious reading and meaning-making practices. At the same time, librarians and instructors at every educational level across the nation have had to contend with comic book bans that seek to marginalize certain cartoon narratives into nonexistence. 

The 6th Annual Comics Studies Society Conference seeks to make space for comics on the margins, and encourages participants to consider the formal, aesthetic, political, and social ways of seeing and reading cartooning’s relation to the marginal spaces, concepts, and peoples. In direct response to the troubling legislation in Texas and elsewhere in the US, we hope to use this conference as a site of resistance to the politics of the state. To that end, we encourage roundtables, panels, workshops, and individual papers that work to better understand how comics creators and cartoons reshape, resist, and reclaim the margins. This year’s keynote presenters—Frederick Luis Aldama, Professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin, and MariNaomi, author of the forthcoming comic I Thought You Loved Me—reflect CSS’s ongoing commitment to supporting scholarship and cartooning by marginalized and underrepresented peoples.

Comics Studies Society Poster

Given the current post-Roe political climate, structured by anti-immigrant and antiblack violence and legislative attacks on LGBTQ+ identities, CSS recognizes Texas as a site of ongoing visible struggle against oppressive forces by marginalized scholars, teachers, librarians, and creators alike. In connection with the University of North Texas, a majority-minority Hispanic-serving research university serving 44,000 students in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, the 6th Annual Comics Studies Society Conference Committee will highlight comics art, scholarship, and pedagogy that resist marginalization, and is committed to intentional engagement with and support of regional BIPOC artists and academics. 

In an effort to increase accessibility and community for this conference, the entire program will be hybrid. We encourage both in-person and virtual participation. 

Proposals are due via Google Forms by February 13, 2023. Participants will be notified of acceptance by March 13, 2023. 

Possible topics may include: 

  • Marginalization/the marginalized in comics
  • Comics as a marginalized art form
  • Diversity, representation, and intersectionality in comics
  • Equity and social justice in cartooning
  • Underground, alternative, and independent comics
  • Locating/mapping the margins
  • Radical pedagogical approaches to comics and cartoons
  • Formal constructions of comics margins
  • The margins as potential/creative space
  • Comics creators working in the margins
  • Reading/writing the margins
  • Queering the margins
  • Disability and comics margins
  • Breaking/challenging/escaping/resisting the margins
  • Activism and Cartooning 

We are accepting submissions via Google Forms for:

Important Information:

Given that we are still operating under pandemic circumstances, the Comics Studies Society reserves the right to implement safety protocols. A presenter’s name may appear twice in the program. Presenters must fill out the appropriate Google Form to be considered. The conference organizers will send out notifications of acceptance by March 13, 2023. Please add our conference email—comicsstudiesorg@gmail.com—to your trusted senders to ensure email delivery. Conference presenters must be current members of CSS at the time of registration.