2023 Election Nominee Bios

2023 Election Nominee Bios

Nominations for 2nd Vice-President for CSS Election 2023

Aleksandra Chernyak
Aleksandra Chernyak graduated from Deering High School in Portland, Maine, in 2011; she received her Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies degree at Bay Path University in Longmeadow, MA, in 2015. She briefly attended American University’s School of International Service but realized her love for history and comic books and left. She worked in civic education and experiential learning before becoming a campus advisor and content and campaigns manager for a Boston-based nonprofit that corrects misinformation about Israel and the Middle East in mainstream media. Becoming a comic book history academic was one of her best decisions and has opened many doors for her. Under her pen name, she is considered one of the foremost voices advocating for Jewish education and quality representation in pop culture.

Sam Langsdale
Sam Langsdale is an independent scholar, educator and media critic. Her work employs intersectional feminist philosophies to analyze the politics around representation of race, gender, and sexuality in various types of media. She is the author of the forthcoming book From the Margins into the Gutters: Searching for Feminist Superheroes (University of Texas Press), the co-editor of Monstrous Women in Comics (University Press of Mississippi), and the author of numerous book chapters in volumes such as The Routledge Companion to Gender and Sexuality in Comic Book Studies; Supersex: Sexuality, Fantasy, and the Superhero; Comics and Sacred Texts: Reimagining Religion and Graphic Narratives; and Fantasy/Animation: Connections Between Media, Mediums and Genres. Her work has also been published in journals such as Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society; Animation Practice, Process and Production; MAI: Journal of Feminism and Visual Culture, and Unbound: A Journal of Digital Scholarship. Sam proudly served on the Executive Board of the Comics Studies Society from 2018 to 2021. While her primary duty was to serve as the Social Strategist (the person behind the Twitter curtain), she also served on several conference committees, and the code of conduct committee. She plays an active role in facilitating academic communal events in collaboration with The Digital Cultural Studies Co-Operative such as Realizing Resistance I, II & III and the Flyover Comics Symposium. You can read more about her work here https://www.samlangsdale.com/

Nominations for Executive Secretary for CSS 2023

Shawn Gilmore
Shawn Gilmore is a Teaching Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign where he teaches courses on comics, fiction, critical theory, and writing. He is the founder and editor of The Vault of Culture (https://www.vaultofculture.com/), a cultural criticism site devoted to public scholarship on a wide range of approaches to a variety of cultural objects. A founding member of the Comics Studies Society, he has written and presented on a bizarre array of comics and is co-editor of a forthcoming collection, The Comics of Karen Berger.

Nominations for Member-at-Large for CSS Election 2023

Chris Gavaler
Chris Gavaler is an associate professor of English at W&L University, comics editor of Shenandoah, and series editor of Bloomsbury Comics Studies. He has published six books of comics and comics-related scholarship: On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa 2015), Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury 2017), Superhero Thought Experiments (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Iowa 2019), Creating Comics (with Leigh Ann Beavers, Bloomsbury 2020), Revising Fiction, Fact, and Faith (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Routledge 2021), and The Comics Form (Bloomsbury 2022). His current book project is tentatively titled The Color of Paper: Representing Race in the Comics Medium. His comics and visual art appear in Ilanot Review, North American Review, Sequentials, and other journals. He blogs (mostly) about comics weekly at thepatronsaintofsuperheroes.wordpress.com.

John Edward Martin
John Edward Martin is Director of Scholarly Communication at the University of North Texas Libraries and a member of the Research Librarian Cohort of the Comics Studies Society. He served as one of the local hosts, along with Dr. Jo Davis-McElligatt, of the 2023 Comics Studies Society Conference in Denton, TX and as a co-organizer of the Flyover Comics Symposium (2020) and three Realizing Resistance Star Wars conferences (2019, 2021, 2023), all hosted by the Digital Cultural Studies Cooperative (https://dcsco-op.org/). His work with comics includes developing the Comics Studies@UNT initiative, which supports comics studies across the university. His own research interests include horror & crime comics, literary adaptations, and comics librarianship. He recently published a chapter on “Poe, Women, and Comics” in Amy Branam Armiento and Travis Montgomery, ed. Poe and Women: Recognition and Revision (Lehigh UP, 2023) and has presented his work at the 2021 CSS Conference, the Fifth International Edgar Allan Poe Conference, the Flyover Comics Symposium, and others. He is developing an Open Access digital monograph on the history of Poe in comics for publication in 2024. He holds a PhD in American literature from Northwestern University and an MS in Library Science from the University of North Texas.

Fi Stewart-Taylor
Fi Stewart-Taylor is a PhD candidate at the University of Florida, whose dissertation research focusses on self publication communities in zines and webcomics. They were president, then treasurer, of the UF Graduate Comics Organization, two roles in which they helped to organize the UF Conference on Comics and Graphic Novels. This involved balancing commitment to an intellectually rewarding conference with respect for the graduate student labor involved in producing it; two priorities which they bring to their analysis of comics studies as a field and academia as a profession. Fi has published with Solrad, an online literary criticism magazine for comics, and on disability justice informed pedagogy during Covid-19 in Activist History Review, as well as book reviews in Studies in Comics and The Lion and the Unicorn. As a union member and community organizer, Fi believes in the ability of communities to create safer and more rewarding spaces, in and outside of academia, and has the highest regard for the ability of CSS in doing just that. Prioritizing equity and accessibility is key to CSS’s work to create a welcoming and rewarding conference, and is more crucial now than ever. 

Kate Polak
Kate Polak is currently an Instructor at Florida Atlantic University. Her book, Ethics in the Gutter: Empathy and Historical Fiction in Comics, was nominated for an Eisner Award. Her recent research focuses mainly on the representation of violence and genocide, historical fiction, and 21st century women writers, and she is working on a monograph exploring the effect of social media on practices of Holocaust memorialization, entitled Excessive Feels: What is Empathy in the Age of the YOLOcaust? as well as developing an edited collection Days of Future Past, on the intersections between historical fiction and science fiction with Dr. Ian MacDonald. Her current creative projects include a collection of poetry and a graphic memoir exploring teenaged girlhood during the 1990s, tentatively entitled Just Okay

Adrienne Resha
Adrienne Resha is a Ph.D. candidate in the American Studies program at the College of William & Mary. She holds a B.A. in International Affairs and anthropology from Florida State University and an M.A. in Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies from the University of Virginia. Her dissertation, “From Superman to Sana Amanat: Alienation, Assimilation, and American Superhero Comics, 1938 to Present,” is about post-9/11 and post-Arab Spring Arab and Muslim American superheroes. She won a Lucy Shelton Caswell Research Award in support of this work. Her writing has appeared online at PanelxPanel, Popverse, Shelfdust, The Middle Spaces, and the Eisner Award-winning WWAC and in print in Mixed-Race Superheroes and Inks: The Journal of the Comics Studies Society. Adrienne currently serves as Assistant Editor for Book Reviews at Inks and previously served as the Secretary-Treasurer (18-19), Vice President (19-20), and President (20-21) of CSS’s Graduate Student Caucus. During her tenure as GSC President, she developed the mentorship program, served on the Awards Committee, and represented graduate students on the CSS Executive Board.

Sika Dagbovie-Mullins
Sika Dagbovie-Mullins is a professor in the Department of English at Florida Atlantic University where she specializes in contemporary African American literature and Critical Mixed-Race Studies. She is author of Crossing B(l)ack: Mixed Race Identity in Modern American Fiction and Culture (University of Tennessee Press, 2013) and co-editor of Mixed-Race Superheroes (Rutgers University Press, 2021) which examines the relationship between racial mixedness and the superhero archetype in comics, film, television, and popular culture. Her publications in comics studies include three co-written articles/chapters with her colleague Eric Berlatsky: “The Mixed-Race Child Within: (Psycho)Analyzing the Relationship Between Race and Trauma in ‘Spider-Man: The Child Within’” in a special issue of American Imago (Fall 2020); “The Whiteness of the Whale and the Darkness of the Dinosaur: The Africanist Presence in Superhero Comics from Black Lightning to Moon Girl” in Unstable Masks: Whiteness and American Superhero Comics (2020); and “‘The Only Nerdy Pakistani-American-Slash-Inhuman in the Entire Universe’: Postracialism and Politics in the New Ms. Marvel” in Ms. Marvel’s America (2020). She also has a single-authored chapter, “Guess Who’s Coming Home: Mixed Metaphors of Home in Spider-Man’s Comic and Cinematic Homecomings” in her co-edited collection.  She is currently working on an autoethnographic essay about black girlhood and superheroes and an essay on the Y.A. graphic novel, Goldie Vance. She serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Popular Culture.

Justin Wigard
Justin Wigard is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Distant Viewing Lab at University of Richmond, where he works and teaches on the intersections of comics studies and digital humanities. Conversations with Bill Watterson, his forthcoming book with University Press of Mississippi, is built on archival research at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum and Michigan State University’s Comic Arts Collection. This catalogue of Watterson’s interviews, speeches, and essays illuminates a reclusive cartoonist while recontextualizing Waterson as a seminal comics critic through his rare written voice. Wigard’s article on visual parody and pulp signifiers in Calvin and Hobbes was awarded a 2021 Honorable Mention for Best Article from the Comics Studies Society. His comics scholarship has been featured in KULA, Genealogy, Vault of Culture, and several edited collections on comics. Wigard maintains community engagement through biannual workshops connecting comics academics, librarians, specialists, and public educators with Wikidata. His research drives his pedagogy, bringing critical-making, digital humanities, and archival methodologies to his comics courses, leading to co-authored work with some of his students. More of his work, including his forthcoming book titled Attack of the New B-Movies: Essays on SYFY Channel’s Original Films (McFarland 2023), can be found at justinwigard.com.

Jay Fuglencio
Dr. Jay is excited to run as a member at large of the Comics Studies Society. Comics are more than superheroes winning the battles against the bad guys like romanticized in Hollywood. Comics can bring forth educational content to a world that needs more critical education on politics, business, life issues, and more. Dr. Jay has launched his comic studies research by creating an entrepreneurship series comic strip called Jimmy the Entrepreneur.  As a member at large, Dr. Jay will work with the society to bring forth more comic studies on the front at higher education institutions and organizations focused on learning, business, and education.

Monica Geraffo
Monica Geraffo is a fashion historian who utilizes superheroes to discuss the importance of dress in the construction of identity, the history of textile sciences within popular culture, and the importance of embodied movement within 2D and 3D representations. She is a current PhD student in Theater and Performance Studies at UCLA, with an MA in Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, and Museum Practice from FIT and a BA in Screen Arts and Cultures from University of Michigan. She is a museum contractor with FIDM Museum for their bi-annual Art of Costume Design exhibitions, and her work can be seen with TEDxBoston, The Film Fashion & Consumption Journal, The Middle Spaces, and as a co-host of VoxPopcast.    

GSC Nominations 2023

Member at Large (2 positions available)

Samantha Ceballos
Samantha Ceballos is an English Literature PhD student at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research focuses on Latinx/BIPOC popular culture with an emphasis in comics. She focuses her work on Latina characters and Latina comics creatives. As the assistant to the Latinx Pop Lab at UT, Samantha has helped coordinate events that bring together BIPOC creatives and scholars in community with one another. Her scholarly work on comics has been presented at El Mundo Zurdo, Popular Culture Association and  Southwest PCA. As a writer for Latinx Spaces, she has interviewed comic writer Terry Blas, written a review for La Boriqueña, and interviewed, in collaboration with Frederick Luis Aldama, comics creatives involved in Marvel Voices Communidades #1. Some of the interviews were picked up by Marvel.com. As a current Member at Large for the GSC, she helped plan the March Professional Development event.

Nicole Huff
Nicole Huff is a PhD student in the English department at Michigan State University. She received her bachelor’s from Kalamazoo College and her master’s from DePaul University. Her research centers on Afrofuturism, gender and sexuality, pop culture with a focus on Black women in horror and fantasy, and Digital Humanities methods.

Nicole also has experience hosting events through her  work with the Graphic Possibilities Research Workshop (GPRW) which combines critical inquiry with comics pedagogy. Specifically, the GPRW serves graduate students and faculty at Michigan State by providing workshops and programming that both brings graduate students and faculty together as well as provides them with more tools for engaging comics in the classroom confidently.

Keri Jane Crist-Wagner
I am a doctoral candidate in Learning Sciences at Clemson University. As a critical comics scholar and practioner of learning science, the goal of my research is to demonstrate how comics can be utilized in college classrooms to achieve democratic and critical thinking objectives. Additionally, I have completed my undergraduate, masters, and now (almost) doctorate while working full-time in a university setting. I am happy to bring my not insignificant organizational and time management skills to any endeavors which could benefit the Graduate Student Caucus.

Megan Podranza
Morgan Podraza is a PhD candidate who teaches, researches and writes about popular culture at the Ohio State University. Her courses and publications explore how we play with media and how those experiences shape our relationships with ourselves and one another. “Playing with Comics,” her dissertation project, explores play as an essential and productive element of the comics medium by analyzing the creative products and labor of readers, ranging from paper dolls to handmade scrapbooks.

Morgan has presented at a variety of conferences and events, including the International Comic Arts Forum and TEDxOhioStateUniversity. Her writing can be found online on Women Write About Comics and The Middle Spaces as well as in print in Horror Studies and The Routledge Companion to the British and North American Literary Magazine.

Gabrielle Lyle
Gabrielle Lyle (she/her/hers) is a doctoral candidate in history at Texas A&M University with interests in Jewish borderlands history and comic book studies. Her master’s thesis, “B’nai Borderlands: The Development of the Jewish Communities in the Rio Grande Valley,” focused on the growth of Judaism in the South Texas towns of Brownsville, Harlingen, McAllen, and Mercedes. Gabrielle’s ongoing dissertation research expands upon her thesis, including Jewish communities in the borderlands throughout Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. Her work examines borderland Jewry’s connections to wider Jewish social trends and organizations throughout the twentieth century. Gabrielle has received funding for her work from the Arizona Historical Society and Southern Jewish Historical Society. 

In addition to her dissertation work on Jewish communities, Gabrielle researches social and religious trends demonstrated in comics. She has presented on expressions of Latino/a religion and spirituality in comic books, discussing characters such as America Chavez, Jaime Reyes, Yara Flor, and Francisco Guerrero (El Gato Negro). Her dissertation work sparked her interest in religion in comics. Gabrielle’s current comic studies research analyzes the portrayals of real-world politics surrounding race, gender, and sexuality throughout the publication history of the Legion of Super-Heroes.

Secretary-Treasurer (1 position available)

Frida Heitland
Frida (she/they) is a PhD student at the University of Oregon, pursuing research in comics studies and ecocriticism. Their interest in comics germinated quite innocently while reading Donald Duck and Asterix as a child. It took a more theoretical turn during their undergraduate work on David Mazzucchelli’s Asterios Polyp and questions of (the presentation of) multimodal narrative identity construction. The arising theme of memory lead them to autobiographical works during their master’s and down the (somewhat darker?) rabbit hole of human experience, trauma, and its expression in works by Alison Bechdel, David B., and Katie Green. 

During the PhD, their aim is to build on this research and consider how/if comics can express non-human subjectivity, and to investigate corporeal/spiritual hybridity in comics, paying special attention to speculative and/or science fiction comics. 

To distract them from the baking distracting them from lockdown, Frida has translated the open access publication How to Study Comics and Graphic Novels (Enrique del Rey Cabero, Michael Goodrum and Josean Morlesín Mellado) into German. The German version will hopefully be available by spring 2023. Frida’s always eager to hear from fellow scholars or private enthusiasts and you can reach them on ResearchGate.

Vice-President (1 position available)

Anthony Ramirez
Anthony R. Ramirez is an Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of Houston-Downtown. Anthony is from El Paso, Texas, and received his Ph.D. from Texas A&M University. Prior to studying at Texas A&M University, he earned a B.F.A. in Drawing and a M.A. in Communication at the University of Texas at El Paso. His research focuses on Latinx representation in popular culture and media. Other topics of research that he focuses on are media representation of immigration and issues of the U.S./Mexico border.

During his time at Texas A&M, he has been an instructor for a variety of classes within the Department of Communication, a graduate assistant for the Texas A&M Office for Diversity, has served as the President for the Latinx Graduate Student Association, and has been involved in a variety of projects with the Latinx community. Throughout his academic journey, Anthony has discovered a love for public scholarship, peer mentoring, creating content, and creating community. Anthony is an award-winning instructor as his teaching has been recognized by Texas A&M’s Association of Former Students for the Distinguished Graduate Student Award for Excellence in Teaching (2022).

Marissa Zarangue
Marissa A. Zerangue is a Ph.D. candidate in Literary Studies at the University of North Texas whose scholarly interests meet at the intersections of gender, race, and crime in American literature. Marissa received her M.A. from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 2019 and her thesis explored domestic noir in contemporary fiction, focusing specifically on the work of Gillian Flynn. She is currently writing a book chapter titled “From the Wrong Side of the Tracks”: Ethan Brown’s Murder On The Bayou and the Invisibilization of the Jeff Davis 8” for the edited collection Voicing the Less Dead to be published by Rowman & Littlefield at Lexington Books. Marissa’s dissertation will examine true crime and crime noir across various media, including fiction, film, graphic narrative, podcasts, and other emerging genres. Last year, Marissa presented her paper titled, “Prosthetic Ears, Eating Dog, and Deadly Bird Flu: Examining Race in John Layman’s Chew” at the Comics Studies Society Conference and this year she will present her paper titled “Paint It Black: Claustrophobic Borders in Rick Geary’s The Saga of the Bloody Benders and The Borden Tragedy.” These works speak to Marissa’s interest in consuming crime in comic form through the graphic narrative. 

Lauren Chivington
Lauren Chivington is about to begin their third year in the PhD program in The Ohio State University’s English department. As a member of Ohio State’s Writing, Rhetoric, and Literacy (WRL) concentration, Lauren focuses on comics as visual rhetoric, particularly how they intersect with disability studies, trauma theory, women’s issues, queerness, and medical humanities (especially graphic medicine). Lauren’s methodology is particularly centered around auto/ethnographic qualitative research, and the power of narrative to spark social action. Lauren’s primary research object is the empty speech balloon–as she has coined it the ESB–and her dissertation is the first in-depth critical analysis of this ubiquitous yet understudied object that is close to all of us. As president of the Disability Studies Graduate Student Association (DSGSA) at OSU, the founder of Chronic Wellness–a therapy and resource space that pushes against chrononormative concepts of healing–and author of an autobiographical graphic narrative-in-progress about their own ongoing journey with Long Covid called Sensitive, Lauren is a firm believer in praxis, and utilizing their scholarship for activism and advocacy.  

If you are interested in reading some of Lauren’s work, you can find it in the International Journal of Comic Art (IJOCA) (2018) or in ImageTexT (2021).