A conference at the University of Oxford and online


This conference brings together a wide range of scholars and creators to explore the poetics and politics of resistance within comics and graphic literature. It is organised by the Oxford Comics Network at the University of Oxford (UK), a research network exploring the power, politics, and potential of the comics form. The conference is generously supported by The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities and St Edmund Hall, Oxford.

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Twitter & Facebook: @OxfordComicsNet | Hashtag: #comicsresist2023





THURSDAY 9.30am-11.00am BST | Chair: Cailee Davis

Say Her Name:  Teaching Persepolis after Mahsa Amini

Jane Tolmie

Content warning: Ongoing violence in Iran.

Always a complex text about Iranian diaspora and politics, since the 2022 death of Mahsa Amini in custody of the Guidance Patrol or morality police in Tehran, Iran, Persepolis now functions in the classroom as a comics touching point for human rights discourses around the world, and in particular – though not exclusively – those that impact women. Kimberlé Crenshaw, who brought intersectionality to the forefront of cultural and political discourses in 1989, has used the phrase ‘say her name’ to draw attention to the deaths of women and children, especially black women and children, at the hands of law enforcement officers. Chants of “Say her name, Mahsa Amini,” rang among protesters outside Khalifa International Stadium ahead of Iran’s first match of the World Cup 2022 against England. In March, 2023, anti-government protests are ongoing throughout Iran, and the current political situation remains volatile and dangerous.  The very least the comics classroom can do is bring to light the concerns and issues surrounding Amini’s death and the relevance of Persepolis as a coming of age text about living as a woman in Iran. In dialogue with the works of Sidonie Smith, Hillary Chute, and others, this talk addresses the pedagogy of human rights through comic art as crisis witnessing, including crises in education itself.

Jane Tolmie, PhD, DPhil Oxon, is associate professor of English & Gender Studies at Queen’s University. She is currently teaching a course called Comics and Politics, on the neverending story of that relationship, e.g. Maus read in relation to the current rise in antisemitism, Assigned Male read in relation to the murder of Brianna Ghey, The Sandman read to remind us that the same bad shit happens all the time.  Can the classroom help make change?


Comics Against War: Resisting Oblivion and Trauma Through Art

Iria Ros-Piñeiro

War is a shameful reality even today. Every time, the civilian population tries to resist the horror occurring around them in the best possible way. In the 1990s, Aleksandar Zograf and his wife suffered the NATO bombing of Serbia from Pančevo, an industrial city from which he wrote and drew daily, even during the bombings. Whenever he could, he sent his works by fax and e-mail to his friends and publishers in the West, despite not believing that they would ever be published, not because of their artistic value, but because of

what he believed was zero international interest in them. And narrated the futility of the war in which they were involved, resisting international oblivion and fighting different traumas. This paper aims to show through Zograf's work how comics were more than a way of documenting what happened in the author's life during those years. His comics became an aid against the constant struggle with the mental trauma of the bombings. Zograf created an international network of cartoonists and artists who were interested not only in their well-being but also in the citizenry bombarded by their own allies. This paper also aims to show the importance of publishing these resistance comics with editions that, as in the case of "Regards from Serbia", are accompanied by a large volume of documentation related to their creation that broadens the knowledge of the readers regarding the war suffered by the author. Actively fighting against the uselessness of war and oblivion.

Iria Ros-Piñeiro: Her main research focuses on comics as a resource for studying History, especially the armed conflicts of the twentieth century. Lately she has extended her investigations into Japan, and how manga artists represent armed conflicts. And the introduction of comics and graphic novels in the educational system to provide support in topics such as diversity, empathy and ecology.


“Personal is Political”. An analysis of the systematisation of misogynistic violence in culture through ˈfeminist testimonial comicsˈ.

Teresa Ferreiro-Peleteiro

This presentation defends the existence of a genre within comics that challenges the patriarchal hegemonic discourse through narratives based on real events that try to explain, analyse or criticise certain social practices or injustices that occur in our society and are linked to the concerns of feminism (Butler, 2006) (Wallach Scott, 1999) (Whitman College, 2012). This genre is named as ˈfeminist testimonial comicsˈ. In this presentation, the objective is to define ˈfeminist testimonial comicsˈ and to understand their value. In order to do so, the presentation focuses in the analysis of two case studies: Becoming / Unbecoming (2015) by Una and Dragonslippers; This is What an Abusive Relationship Looks Like (2006) by Rosalind B. Penfold; while giving examples of other key examples of this genre. This presentation will defend the need to recognise ˈfeminist testimonial comicsˈ as an autonomous genre with documentary value, and it will show how they are often not properly classified in libraries and bookshops, invisibilising them as testimonial pieces of social political value.  This perspective derives from a patriarchal culture in which the type of systemic violence against women was hidden in the sphere of the ˈintimateˈ and the ˈpersonalˈ - thus avoiding defining common guidelines in social behaviours that promote gender violence and discrimination.  Through the narratives of these comic-books, the presentation aims to link the normalisation of misogyny to contemporary social problems, such as the inability to legally label incels as a terrorist group.

Teresa Ferreiro-Peleteiro: PhD specialised in Art, Comics and Gender Studies, researcher and visual artist. Her thesis focused on the study of third and fourth wave feminist principles through the analysis of contemporary testimonial comic works. In 2016, her first comic-book Yolo/Flor y Nata (Editorial Elvira, 2016) was published. She is co-founder of the music & culture magazine: Ruido de Fondo ( and she is  writing her first long graphic novel for La Cúpula Editions (Barcelona).


THURSDAY 9.30am-11.00am BST | Chair: Alexandra Lloyd

Resisting “Usefulness”: Comics Perzines at Wellcome Collection

Lilith Cooper

Content warning: Discussions around mental health and madness, including suicide and self-harm; Iatrogenic Trauma.

This paper draws on my PhD research into the zines at Wellcome Collection, looking specifically at a genre of zines I call ‘comics perzines’: comics zines that explore autobiography, self-representation, diaries, and lived experience. Through a neuroqueer phenomenology of reading and writing comics perzines, and building on work on ‘use’ and ‘usefulness’ in Sara Ahmed’s (2019) What’s The Use?, I explore some of the ways these comics perzines resist being read for their use in communicating lived experience; a use they are often valued for in graphic medicine, medical humanities, medical pedagogy and within museum contexts like Wellcome Collection. In particular, through positioning comics perzines as a neuroqueer cultural production, this paper considers how they disrupt the somatic and narrative norms expected of both comics reader and writer. Where existing work in graphic medicine focuses on narrative, comprehension, the accessibility of comics, and comics as a tool for communication and education, this paper focuses on ambivalence, illegibility, and amateurism. Finally, through a discussion of how reading for narrative may ‘miss the point’ in these comics perzines, I locate this paper alongside work in the critical medical humanities that explores approaches beyond narrative, in order to propose some alternative approaches to reading comic perzines. This paper takes the form of both a traditional written conference paper and a short comic zine.

Lilith (Lea, as in sea) Cooper is in the 3rd year of their PhD working on a CHASE funded Collaborative Doctoral Award between University of Kent and Wellcome Collection, looking at Wellcome Collection’s zines. They are a zine and comics maker, co-founded Edinburgh Zine Library in 2017 and are part of the organising team behind Edinburgh Zine Fest. They can be found at or @lilithjcooper (twitter).


Resisting Monstrosity, Monstrous Resistance: Zombies in Contemporary German-Language Comics

Annegret Märten

Content warning: The talk will refer to fictional gory violence.

Graphic narratives prompt to engage in visual gutter crossings, consider temporal synchronicities and, in the case of horror comics, witness the figuring of violated bodies. This makes them particularly relevant when tracing crisis-related border-crossings. Assuming a transnational perspective, as prompted by the call of Denson et. al (2014), to engage with the ‘medially constitutive infractions’ of borders and ‘spatio-temporal hybridities’ of comics, I examine how the popular figure of the zombie in recent German-language comics complicates and challenges notions of the ‘national’ and the ‘local’. I turn to two German-language publications that employ zombie figures to elucidate how specific notions of German ‘belonging’ are constituted under global crisis conditions. The premise of the comic book series Die Toten (2013, ongoing) is that 19 years to the day after the Reunification of Germany a zombie virus breaks out. In this series, the story ‘Isar Palace’ (2019) by Adrian vom Baur, negotiates questions of ethnicity and integration which have been long-standing sites of domestic debate, not just since 2015 when the country opened its borders to over one million refugees from Syria. The graphic novel Endzeit (2018) by Olivia Vieweg is concerned with notions of personal trauma and belonging. Set two years after a zombie outbreak in the town of Weimar in Germany’s former East, the work imagines an ecological reckoning of the planet. What does it mean that regional cultural anxieties are expressed via the transnational figure of the zombie and “at what costs” (Lent 2014)? By looking at the aesthetic figuring of crises and the making of temporary communities in these works, I hope to trace the “border-defining and border-defying impulses” (Kraenzle and Ludewig 2020) of graphic narratives.

Annegret Märten has recently submitted their PhD thesis on experimental poetics in contemporary German-language writing as part of a joint degree between King’s College London (KCL) and the Humboldt-University Berlin. They have lectured on multilingual writing and contemporary forms of protest and have previously published an essay on Tawada Yoko’s eco-poetics. They hold a BA and MA in Media and Cultural Studies from Düsseldorf University. Their essay on Nora Gomringer’s monster poetry won the 2022 Women in German Studies Essay Prize.


THURSDAY 11.30am-1.00pm BST | Chair: Laura Bergin

Nódoa Negra [Bruise]: Drawn Words and the Poetics of Pain

Alexandra Lourenço Dias

Content warning: Nudity and female body exposure.

Nódoa Negra, Bruise, is an anthology that won the 2017 competition "Toma lá 500 Paus e Faz uma BD" by Chili Com Carne, a Portuguese comic book publisher. It was coordinated, designed, and published by Dileydi Florez, a Portuguese-Columbian visual artist and storyteller, and includes works by twelve female authors. Each of them has chosen to illustrate a particular type of pain: the pain of childbirth, the pain of confronting someone, menstrual pain, the pain of love, the feeling of loneliness, absence, mourning, growth. Through different visual interpretations of pain, the authors reveal its plasticity by exploring formal qualities of the medium such as gutter, frame, sequential narrative, and word bubbles. This anthology explores the theme of feminine pain in a male-dominated universe and industry, challenging dominant forms of storytelling and representation of the body. In this paper we will examine how breaking taboos against menstrual representation and vulnerable intimacy can be a form of resistance to cultural attitudes that require secrecy and silence that contribute to women's sense of shame.

Dr. Alexandra Lourenço Dias teaches Portuguese Language, Lusophone Studies and Comic Studies in Portuguese, at King's College London's Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures. In her research, she focuses on graphic novels from Portuguese-speaking countries. She is the author of Novela gráfica como género literário (Peter Lang) and O Diário da Morte do Palhaço K.: Transposição Intersemiótica de Raul Brandão a Filipe Abranches (Novas Edições Acadêmicas)


Drawing the Unspoken: Resisting the Menopausal Narrative of Decline in Graphic Medicine

Felicity Moffat and Sarah Yousri

The menopause acts as a ‘magic marker’ for women’s ageing and is used culturally as a signal for the start of a period of female decline (Gullette, 1997). Literature on the subject is generally framed in terms of the difficulties derived from it as a disorder or deficiency. Despite the growing plethora of self-help guides and expert texts on the menopause, ranging from sociological and medical description through to philosophical and fictional exploration, there remains a lack of awareness about what the menopause is and what it represents for those going through it. This paper will discuss Menopause: A Comic Treatment as a representation of the Graphic Medicine movement. Ian Williams, a comics artist, and physician, originally coined the term ‘Graphic Medicine’ to describe ‘the intersection of the medium of comics and the discourse of healthcare . . . a community where many people have found their voice’ (Czerwiec et al, 2015). In this study, we investigate the role of graphic medicine in destigmatizing menopause, looking at how the text challenges myths, stereotypes, and taboos, how it contests notions of menopausal ‘shame’ and ‘deficiency’, and finally how it resists the so-called ‘narrative of decline’ attached to the menopause (Gullette, 1997). The verbo-visual form of graphic narrative in Menopause offers an outlet for 25 women from various ethnic, social, and cultural backgrounds to unravel intricate layers of bodily, emotional, and psychological knowledge, derived from their personal experience of the menopause, and to communicate the diversity of that experience to the reader.

Felicity Moffat is currently a first-year PhD student at King’s College London where she is supervised by Professor Siobhán McIlvanney and Dr Ros Murray. Funded by the London Arts and Humanities Partnership, her PhD thesis explores representations of midlife women in French language fiction and film and is cross-disciplinary in approach, fitting not only within the context of French and francophone studies but also within women’s studies, cultural studies of age, and cognitive studies. She has an MSt in Comparative Literature and Critical Translation from the University of Oxford, a BA in French and Spanish from King’s College London, and a BA in Law from the University of Cambridge.

Sarah Yousri is assistant lecturer and a PhD candidate in the department of English at Helwan University, Egypt. She is currently a visiting PhD student at King’s College, London. Her PhD research focuses on Graphic Medicine and embodied cognition studies. During her PhD, she has participated in the Graphic Medicine Annual Conference of 2022, and The Second Medical Humanities Conference in The Middle East (Online) of Weil Cornell Medicine, Qatar. Sarah also participated in an advanced training program on applied linguistics at Trinity College, Dublin. She is a certified Arabic language teacher; she obtained the Career Certificate in Teaching Arabic as a Foreign Language (CCTAFL) at the American University in Cairo.


IF Comics Imagining Futures Beyond Self Harm With, By and For Young People

Emily Oliver and Lindsay Smith

Content warning: This paper discusses self-harm using a trauma-informed approach.

Imagining Futures Comics (IF Comics)is a pilot research project to create digital comics/zines about sensitive mental health issues through peer-design with, by and for young people, together with psychologists and artist/s. The initial project is funded by the Maudsley Charity in London and delivered in partnership with BeyondText and aims to improve communication and support about self-harming in youth. The project is as a prototype for a replicable trauma-informed approach to the co-production of comics about mental health issues, drawing on comicsability to represent trauma. The dimensions of resistance include:

  • The methodological approach is resistant to years of medical research being done to patients. Following critical developments in patient involvement, participatory research and user generated social media content, we support a co-design model that is an alternative to dominant models of the production and dissemination of psychoeducational materials.
  • The comics/zines focus on the creation of personal stories that resist the stigmatizing narratives of poorly understood mental health issues like self-harm, and resist the potential for re-traumatisation.
  • The digital mass distribution of the comic/zine seeks to oppose prevailing social media representations which enable self-harm; and to overcome the many known barriers to young people accessing mental health support. This paper will cover the aims and methodology of the co-production approach as they relate to themes of resistance, together with comic outputs, and where available data from the piloting and evaluation of participant involvement.

Emily Oliver is Director of BeyondText, a not-for-profit co-producing comics, other stories and creative co-production tools with artists, communities and organisations in health, research and wherever text out of context can marginalise vital participation. BeyondText is currently working with NHS, The Lebanese National Mental Health Programme, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Previously Emily was Managing Director of PositiveNegatives, launched the London Borough of Newham’s Arts Service, and has the unusual title of being the UK’s first Compassion Cultivation Trainer from Stanford University. You can find out more at: @beyondtextorg 

Dr Lindsay Smith is a Clinical Psychologist working within the Adolescent At-Risk and Forensic Service at the National and Specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services within South London and the Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM). She is a research affiliate at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London (KCL) and a South London NIHR Clinical Research Network Research Champion within SLaM. Currently her research focuses on partnership working, including co-production with young people, and blended arts and psychology programmes designed to increase reach and access to mental health supports amongst diverse communities. 


THURSDAY 11.30am-1.00pm BST | Chair: Cailee Davis

Comics for the Future: How Resistance to the Anthropocene and Climate Activism are Being Expressed in Comics Created by Teens

Andrea Hoff

Content warning: Issues of Climate Anxiety and Climate Grief.

Using critical analysis, this paper examines the comics created as part of an arts-based workshop in which teens explored speculative futures. In this workshop, the participants used comics-based research methods as a way to better understand and process their attitudes and emotions through visual-textual creative techniques, when envisioning their uncertain future. Understanding the impact of anthropogenic planetary devastation on young people and also their perceived lack of agency in mitigating the crisis, is at the heart of this project; the hope is that it will provide young people with a means of resistance and activism, as expressed in comics form. Applying a posthuman reading of the form, with a goal of identifying the comics’ mechanisms, this paper explores both the nuanced and discernible representations of resistance and activism as expressed in the comics crafted by the young writer-artists. In better comprehending how the comics form, through its visual and narrative devices, articulates a resistance to the damage wrought by the Anthropocene, this work aspires to add to the larger discussion on the posthuman potential of the form. Applying an analysis of the specific narrative, textual, and visual techniques of the resistance- and activist-themed comics created during this workshop, this paper shows how participatory comics-based research may offer agency through craft, speculation, and power in the process of imagining possible tomorrows.

Andy Hoff is an interdisciplinary media artist and writer. Her work explores methods of social and environmental interaction focused on inclusion, other-than-human centring, and speculative worldbuilding. Her doctoral research positions the co-creation of comics about the future with young people as an act of agency in the Climate Crisis. Her art and writing have appeared in publications and exhibitions in Canada and internationally. As a current Shadbolt Fellow in the Humanities at Simon Fraser University, Andy is creating a large-scale animation titled Drawing to Inclusion, a journey in collaboration with the self-identified community of disabled and neurodivergent students, scholars, and staff.


Resistance and the Ecosystemic Comic: Communicating the Climate Emergency

Logan Scott

The scale and complexity of climate change presents a challenge for traditional literary forms. Indeed, as critics Axel Goodbody and Adeline Johns-Putra argue, “climate change presents a profound challenge to the human dimensions of much art, particularly narrative art, in that it resists the sort of resolution which comes with normal plots and their expectation of closure”. Similarly, Pieter Vermeulen goes so far as to say that climate change “is intimated precisely in the breakdown of literary form”. In response, the focus of my research and creative work is on the development of a new hybridity that combines comics with non-sequential images and prose to provide a means of resisting narrative expectations in order to communicate the complexity and non-linearity of the natural world and the climate emergency. I call this hybrid form “Ecosystemic Writing”.  In this paper, I present Ecosystemic Writing as a viable response to the challenge of depicting climate change in fiction and what Raglon and Scholtmeijer call an opportunity to “open up the narrative form so that nature can remain ambiguous, enigmatic, and resistant to the imposition of human meaning-making exercises.” I will introduce the concept in relation to the challenges facing writers engaged with climate change and showcase specific pages from my graphic narrative as a demonstration of how Ecosystemic Writing provides a means of resistance in support of an accurate expression of the contemporary experience of the climate emergency.

Goodbody, A and Johns-Putra, A. The Rise of the Climate Change Novel, 2019, 236

Raglon, R. and Scholtmeijer, M. Heading Off The Trail: Language, Literature, and Nature's Resistance to Narrative, 2001, 260

Vermeulen, P. Beauty That Must Die: Station Eleven, Climate Change Fiction, and the Life of Form, 2018, 9

Logan Scott is a writer, comics artist and PhD student at the University of East Anglia.


Invaded Territories: Ecological resistance and resilience in 'La Borinqueña' and 'Aranyaka'

Ambika Raja

By narrativizing climate resistance, ecological justice, extractive politics and land dispossession, comic creators are increasingly critiquing and challenging anthropogenic activities, thereby being ‘agentive forces’ (Easterlin 2012) in the mounting discourse on environmental activism. Guided by this premise, my proposed study aims to undertake a comparative reading of Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez’s La Borinqueña (2016-2020), a superhuman comic series set against the backdrop of pre- and post-Hurricane Maria Puerto Rico and Amrita Patil’s Aranyaka (2019), a modern retelling of a Vedic tale in a graphic novel format. Both the texts call attention to the resistance of marginalized individuals and indigenous communities against external attempts to destroy their territories, ecology and culture. Drawing from Chadwick Allen’s Trans-indigenous methodologies, the proposed study would primarily examine the narrativization of these ecological resistances that are intertwined with the culture and history of the people and how indigenous epistemologies are used in the process. Simultaneously, since the chosen works contain central figures who are disadvantaged at the intersections of gender, race and health, the paper would also analyse how their personal challenges are tied to the larger resistance against environmental degradation. Alongside the discussion on the content of the two texts, the study would also delve into the format of the works that subvert and contest normative modes of storytelling (such as the absence of distinct panels in Aranyaka or costumes that highlight the heritage of Puerto Rico in La Borinqueña).

Ambika Raja: I am a first-year PhD student at the University of Warwick Department of English and Comparative Literature, currently being funded by the AHRC-Midlands4Cities (M4C) Scholarship. My doctoral research focuses on the representation and narrativization of Solastalgia, a psychoterratic distress, in a range of literary texts including graphic novels, from South Asia, the Caribbean and Pacific islands. I have previously worked as journalist with two national dailies in India and engaged with projects related to Climate Change with the University of Edinburgh and United Nations (UN) India.


THURSDAY 2.00pm - 3.30pm BST | Chair: Carolin Gluchowski

Graphic History: Drawing the Resistance

Bruna Martini

A nation is an imagined community - it's the feeling of being related to people who we have never met. What happens when you leave your country? Some recreate their communities in small in their adopted homes; others live a life disconnected from those around them. Most absorb new cultural and social habits but alter them, creating a new hybrid social identity. These are all acts of political defiance to cultural practices that challenge perceived hegemonies. How can a new identity be rebuilt in a new place without resorting to the jingoism of petty nationalism? Graphic Histories are a way of situating the migrant in a wider historical context. They tell the story of a person and of a society showing how the two are linked. In this paper I will focus on marginalized identity. What matters to me is to tell the story of those people whose voices are rarely heard. Graphic novels, which are about breaking borders between artforms, are successful in telling their stories. I will do so by using multimedia examples from two of my graphic novels: Homeland (2021) and Roots (2023). Homeland tells the story of those who stayed back at home during the second world war. Roots focuses on a modern Italian migrant rediscovering migrations of generations before her. Their stories are told through the Graphic History approach. Through historical research a family album becomes an investigation of a Nation. This is a new approach with tensions between graphic fiction, memoir, historiographical research and non-fiction.

Bruna Martini is a published graphic novelist. She has promoted her books in public events in Italy and the UK, from festivals to talks and university lectures both offline and online (including national TV). Her graphic novel Homeland has been judged one of the five best graphic novels published in Italy in 2021 and received a public commendation from the President of Italy for its anti-fascist content. She has been awarded a grant from the Art Council UK for developing my graphic novels.


“The Boy in the Cupboard”: Children in Indian Comics and Their Resistance of Heteronormative Interpellation

Ashitha Mary Christopher, Unni Krishnan Karikkat

Comics in India can be traced back to the introduction of cartoon strips in newspapers and magazines in the late 19th century. Over the years, the cultural specificity, illustrative techniques, mythological references, and socio-cultural observations inherent in Indian comics have given them an inimitable stylistic essence. As a form of visual storytelling, comics possess the ability to tackle power imbalances in society through meaningful social and political critique and engendered resistance, particularly with regard to concerns of gender and sexuality. This comparative study examines select modern Indian comics and graphic narratives, encompassing both commercially published works and those shared on online comic strip platforms from 2018 to 2022, to explore the following questions: How do children and adolescents in the comics subvert heteronormativity in postcolonial India? How are these acts of defiance represented in the medium? How does the medium serve as a tool for disseminating cultural resistance into the public sphere? The analytical framework employed draws from postcolonial theory, with a specific emphasis on Butler's conceptualization of the heterosexual matrix and interpellation, Muñoz's theory of disidentification, and theoretical perspectives concerning power, negotiation, and child 'futurity'. By closely examining digital and print comics published by various comic book platforms, including but not limited to Gaysi Zine, Pratham Books, and Dabung Girl, this study aims to shed light on the transformative potential of comics as a medium for challenging normative structures, engaging in resistance, and envisioning alternative futures.

Ashitha Mary Christopher is a PhD candidate and recipient of the Dr. T.M.A. Pai PhD Fellowship at the Centre for Creative and Cultural Studies (CCCS) in Manipal Institute of Technology, which is part of the Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) in India. Her research interests include queer theory, collective identity, literary theory, and auto/biographical studies within the larger frameworks of gender and sexuality studies.

Dr Unni Krishnan Karikkat is an associate professor, PhD guide, and the coordinator of the Centre for Creative and Cultural Studies (CCCS) at Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), India. He is a Fulbright Alumnus (doctoral FNDPR), postdoctoral Chevening CCLEP Fellow, Clore Leadership Fellow, and Bradford UNESCO BUCoF Fellow & ex-cultural advisor. He is an academician, senior artist & curator, and social educator who has taught various lecture series across India, the USA, and the UK.


The Noisy Valley - true stories of resistance from the Rhondda Valley, in comic form

Myfanwy Tristram

Content warning: Some images may contain mild profanities.

In Summer 2022, comic artist Myfanwy Tristram travelled to the Rhondda Valley, South Wales, to exhibit her drawings of protest at the 'small but fierce' Workers Gallery in Ynyshir. As an accompanying activity she intended to collect residents' memories of protest and turn them into a short zine. However, it soon became evident that the stories she was receiving were too rich, and too vital, for a zine to do them justice, and instead she set out to draw up 12 of the accounts as polished comics, to make up a full length book. From the septuagenarian who was arrested when protesting against development on ancient meadowland, to the daughter of a militant miner who remembers a childhood set against hardship and community spirit during the 80s, these stories amplify the voices of people who are not often heard. Myfanwy's aim is to underline the importance of activism at a time when our rights to protest are being actively eroded. By retelling these non-partisan stories of peaceful protest she hopes to preserve them with donations of the final books to radical libraries across the UK, and schools and public libraries in the Rhondda. By the time of the conference, she hopes to be able to go some way towards answering the question: can comics record social history? Can they bolster self-identity and can they, in some small way, leverage social change?

Myfanwy Tristram has drawn comics all her life. She fits her practice around a fulltime job at a digital democracy NGO; each side of her life inspiring and informing the other. She is interested in the power of comics to educate, enrage and create change in the world. As well as the small inequities of everyday life, she tackles global systemic issues, always with some humour and the aim of also putting visually appealing artwork into the world.


THURSDAY 2.00pm - 3.30pm BST | Chair: Alexandra Lloyd

Resisting Structural De-humanisation in Hayfaa Chalabi’s graphic narrative Refugees Welcome

Arundhati Sethi

Content warning: The discussed text portrays instances of violence, suicide, and racism.

Comics have been creative sites of critique and contestation registering the fantasies and anxieties of their societies. At present, the figure of the refugee has become one such charged discursive site. Prevailing scholarship has highlighted the visual  and narrative regimes that construct the meaning of refugees for a global audience, decontextualizing and dehumanizing them, by forcing them into narrow binaries of victim/threat and genuine/bogus (Malkki 1995, 1996, Vogl 2013, 2018; Woolley 2014, 2017; Scheel and Squire 2014; Stepputat and Nyberg-Sørensen 2014 Chouliaraki and Stolic 2017; Fiddian-Qasmiyeh 2020). In my paper, contesting this hegemonic figure-story, I will focus on a subgenre of contemporary comics problematizing refugee visualities. An example is Hayfaa Chalabi’s graphic narrative Refugees Welcome (2020). Chalabi, a former child refugee from Iraq, views her work as an act of resistance, articulating an independent refugee voice amid the din of institutional narratives in Sweden. Moreover, even within the genre of refugee comics, her work is among the few instances of refugee self-representation. Chalabi effectively employs the pluralistic and adaptable aesthetics of comics to mount her resistance. In particular, I explore how her text exploits the principle of distortion, aesthetically and thematically, to visualize and contest institutional scopic regimes and visualities. I further argue that the text adopts a forceful affective and corporeal visuality, to counter the de-humanization of refugees. Creative experiments like Chalabi’s are significant as they destabilize refugee discourse by inverting the gaze and confronting the fantasies and anxieties of modern nation states.  

Arundhati Sethi is a Ph.D. candidate in the Departments of Media, Film, and Communication and English at the University of Otago, New Zealand. Her research focuses on contemporary comics that deal with the subject of refugees and forced migration.  She received her Master of Arts in English from the University of Mumbai and explored Anup Singh’s Partition films for her dissertation. Her interests lie in migration literature and the intersections of literary and visual art forms 


A look at counter-narrative resistance in Iran's female-led comic book industry

Kamiab Ghorbanpour and Ali Khamseh

Much like any other media industry in Iran, the comic books that wish to be published and sold in the country need approval from the state; and thus, need to follow a specific narrative when it comes to historical representation, world politics, and Iranian identity. These circumstances have created a hegemonic voice when it comes to Iranian comics.

We have chosen “Marz” (The Border), a comic created by two female creators, that has tried to challenge the aforementioned voice in a subtle way by challenging certain cultural norms regarding gender, Islam, and history. We aim to interview them, compare their work with state-issued comics that came before, and try to understand their struggles in a male-dominated industry with a male-centric view of comic characters, and the extent of the backlash they felt for challenging the often-used narratives that the Iranian publishers and Iranian authorities are looking for which should fit within the Islamist ideals of the state. We will discuss the story of the comic, how it challenges the state-approved narrative, the struggles it had for getting published, and the aftermath of its publication for its creators. Our goal is to do a case study that could be used as a gateway to developing a further understanding of the marginalized voices in Iran's independent comic book industry which has become a source of resistance for women and minorities. Female creators have been a leading force for the current "Woman, Life, Freedom" movement and it is important to shed light on their struggles.

Ghorbanpour is a researcher, scholar, and writer from Uppsala University of Sweden.

Khamseh is a writer, director and researchers from Tehran University of Art with a degree in Cinema.


Comics as catalysts for health activism: the development of palliative care patients as change agents

Amanda Roberts

A life-limiting illness can severely diminish a person’s positive sense of self, impacting on an individual’s sense of identity, decreasing their belief in their own agency, that is, their ability to make a difference to the world.  Such feelings can be exacerbated both by people and processes which, all-be-it unconsciously, situate the terminally ill as victims rather than assets.  The PATCHATT initiative (Patients Changing Things Together) seeks to reverse this trend.  In online peer support groups, PATCHATT group members articulate something they wish to make a difference to.  They are then supported by peers and a group facilitator both to develop a plan of action and to act to bring about their desired change. The use of comics is central to this change leadership process.  Resisting a hegemonic conceptualisation of palliative care patients as rendered passive by illness, we use comics to exemplify how they can take control of important aspects of their lives. For some patients, the changes they wish to make are personal ones, situated within the family.  Others wish to make changes in the wider palliative healthcare system.  In both cases, patients are health activists, challenging a personal or societal status quo and leading change for themselves and those who follow.  Supporting such change ambition necessitates a clear understanding of the wider palliative care context.  Using Bronfenbrenner’s (1994) work on ecological models of human development, we explore how comics might support the development of palliative care patients as change activists across the wider palliative care ecosystem.

Dr Amanda Roberts leads PATIENTS LEADING CHANGE TOGETHER (PATCHATT), a palliative care patient-led change initiative.  Following educational leadership roles, volunteering in a hospice led to an interest in palliative care development and research. Building on a strong publication record in distributed leadership, recent articles explore how to support individuals with a life-limiting illness to lead change.  She is particularly focused on comics’ potential as catalysts for action and evaluation tools in palliative care patient-led change. 


THURSDAY 3.45pm-4.45pm BST | Chair: Laura Bergin

Refugee comics: resistance, reproduction and the potency of narrative conventions

Nina Mickwitz

Content warning: Violent themes.

Comics and graphic narrative as a tool for refugee advocacy comprise a variety of approaches, formats and projected readerships. This diverse grouping of works nevertheless share an ambition to resist, and indeed counter, the dehumanising rhetoric and erasure of individuality in (media and political) discourse casting refugees and forced migration as a security problem. Drawing on traditions of testimony, life narrative, and historical humanitarian advocacy models, many (although by no means all) of these comics employ a central protagonist as their main structuring device. Questions concerning the ethics of representation, agency and empathy have generated productive debates both with regards to advocacy more generally (Nelems 2018; Pupavac 2008; Smith and Waite, 2019) and more specifically comics (Davies and Rifkind 2020; Manea and Precup, 2020). The role played by narrative structures and devices has been less prominent. This paper considers how narrative conventions such as ‘the journey’, the compulsion for narrative closure (whether in a ‘happy ending’ or a tragic one) and others, intersect with the telling of these ‘refugee narratives’ in formative and fundamentally problematic ways. To account for the diversity of this sub-genre, comics and graphic narratives exemplifying different models of collaboration and projected readerships will be highlighted. The central question driving this discussion is whether narrative conventions limit the potential of resistance. Does meaningfully re-drawing the terms of engagement demand a more critical engagement with the story-telling devices themselves?

Dr Nina Mickwitz is a comics researcher and Senior Lecturer in Contextual and Theoretical Studies at University of the Arts London. She is the author of ‘Documentary Comics’ (2016), co-edited ‘Contexts of Violence in Comics’ (2020) and ‘Representing Acts of Violence in Comics’ (2020) and has published widely on comics as advocacy and comics telling refugee narratives. Research interests include representation and social justice in contexts of popular culture, as well as the transnational networks and circulation of small press and artisanal comics.


Panels of Revolution and Solidarity: Building resistance through graphic narratives

Debanjana Nayek

The Shaheen Bagh protest was a peaceful sit-in demonstration, led by Muslim women, that took place in the capital city of Delhi, India, from December 2019 to March 2020. It was against a discriminatory citizenship law, introduced by the government. This protest created history by raising an essential question: “who is a citizen of India?” and also marked a radical moment in the trajectory of Indian feminist activism. Graphic narratives became a significant instrument in this protest which propelled the movement by spreading the message of the protestors to a larger audience. Resistance was propagated through hand drawn posters, graffiti and webcomics. In her book, Comics and the Body: Drawing, reading, and vulnerability (2020), Eszter Szép states that “the experience of vulnerability is at the heart of nonfiction comics partly because of its drawn and embodied nature, and partly because of the special modality in which reality is presented in these comics” (3). This vulnerability possesses a “shared quality” (8) which helps in understanding the Other. My paper will trace the vulnerability that is embedded within the comics of resistance and will probe into that “shared quality” which enables them to be a powerful communicative tool. Protest graphic narratives are both transmedial and transauthorial in nature. They often originate in one medium and then seep into another medium, changing the essence and also the impact of the protest. Furthermore, under covid situation when protest sites became limited and physical participation also faced several restrictions, protest graphic narratives gained a greater prominence in the culture of dissent and dialogue. The audience/reader, in this case, is also an activist, a protestor and this identity of the audience often shatters and transforms into a creator/collaborator of an artist.

Debanjana Nayek is an Assistant Professor of English at Presidency University. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. from JNU, New Delhi. Her research focuses on digital storytelling, cyberfeminism, webcomics, graphic novels and postcolonial media theory. Her writings have appeared in the ‘Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics’, ‘Feminist Encounters: A Journal of Critical Studies in Culture and Politics, Critical Collective, Colloquium’ and in several edited collections.


THURSDAY 3.45pm-4.45pm BST | Chair: Alexandra Lloyd

Creating ‘Funnies’ for Resistance

Clari Searle

Content warning: This paper focusses on humorous comics, but may include autobiographical work and personal issues that could be triggering.

The paper posits that creating humorous comics (or ‘funnies’) can be a powerful means of resistance by reinventing representations of the self and others, challenging hegemonic discourses, and reimagining fixed ideas with creativity activated by ‘humour triggering mechanisms’ (Roukes 1997). My research is rooted in pedagogy and this paper draws from A/R/Tography research (Springgay et al 2008) in personal creative practice and educational practices with groups of students at Coventry University. In workshops, we experiment with creative prompts and humour mechanisms to resist and reinvent ideas. These mechanisms work with incongruity theory as a playful approach to humour, where ideas are subverted by the collision of the familiar and the unexpected (Carroll 2014). Mechanisms for this subversion of the familiar include free association, hybridity, and transformation. We also explore autobiographical funnies with the creation of a comics diary (Barry: 2014, 2019), where students consider how to represent themselves and others, along with sticky problems of stereotypes and the ethics of representation. This personal creativity is supported by close readings of comics work from renown creators who engage with these issues in various ways, for example from the anonymous ‘Worry Lines’ who ignores gender entirely:


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to Alex Norris who focuses on gender explicitly as a frequent theme in his ‘Oh No’ comic strip,


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this paper will investigate creating funnies as a form of resistance with reference to humour mechanisms used in workshops, student feedback, and illustrations from their creative work.

Barry, L. (2014) Syllabus. UK & USA: Drawn and Quarterly.

Barry, L. (2019) Making Comics. UK & USA: Drawn and Quarterly.

Carroll, N. (2014) Humour. UK: Oxford University Press.

Roukes, N. (1997) Humor in Art – A Celebration of Visual Wit. Worcester, Massachusetts: Davis Publications Inc.

Springgay, S,. Irwin, R.L,. Leggo, C,. and Gouzouasis, P. (2008) Being with A/r/tography. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

Clari Searle is a lecturer at Coventry University and is working on her doctorate under the supervision of Roger Sabin and Nina Mickwitz at UAL. She is researching how to reimagine Incongruity Theory as a tool for finding funny ideas and transforming them into humorous comics or funnies. This involves practice-based research and will culminate in a final submission piece of a graphic guidebook on ‘how to create funnies’ for higher education level.


‘Left School? No Job? No Money? Then F*** Off. - Gnatwest Bank' Resisting ‘the good life’: Viz and Lauren Berlant

Anna McCully Stewart

This paper examines Lauren Berlant’s theories of cruel optimism and the good life in relation to the British comic magazine Viz. Berlant defines cruel optimism as the ‘relation of attachment to compromised conditions of possibility whose realisation is discovered either to be impossible, sheer fantasy, or too possible, and toxic’; the ‘good life’ is a post-war cultural phenomenon in which capitalist production and economic success are framed as the only methods by which one may achieve self-actualisation. Viz was founded in 1979 by three teenagers in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. It had an initial print run of 150; within a decade, it was selling over a million copies and was the third most popular magazine in the UK. Viz is well known for its spoofs of normative forms of mass media such as children’s comics, tabloid newspapers, women’s weekly magazines and, most relevant to the topic of resistance, adverts. Through close analysis of spoof adverts featured in the magazine between 1979 and 1989, this paper examines the ways in which Viz explored and undermined the Thatcherite promise of ‘the good life’. By situating the magazine in a socio-political context of mass unemployment and the specific deprivation of the North East in the wake of deindustrialisation, this paper argues that humour, spoof and parody function as tools of resistance to the ‘cruel optimism’ engendered by neoliberalism in late twentieth-century Britain.

Anna McCully Stewart is a first-year PhD researcher in the School of English Language, Literature and Linguistics at Newcastle University. She is researching the British comic magazine ‘Viz’ in the context of deindustrialisation and unemployment in Thatcherite North East England. She is particularly interested in class, masculinity and protest, as well as the reparative functions of comedy. She has previously studied at Wadham College, Oxford and the University of Iceland in Reykjavík.


FRIDAY 23 JUNE 2023 9.30am-11.00am BST | Chair: Carolin Gluchowski

Comics as Narratives of Microresistance in Dead Balagtas Tomo 1: Mga Sayaw ng Dagat at Lupa(2017) by Emiliana Kampilan and Stuck Rubber Baby (1995) by Howard Cruse

Karina Pe Benito

Content warning: implied sexual harassment or assault, depictions of racial and homophobic violence.

The paper is a short comparative analysis of selected chapters from Dead Balagtas Tomo 1: Mga Sayaw ng Dagat at Lupa (2017) by lesbian Filipina komiks artist, Emiliana Kampilan and Stuck Rubber Baby by the late American cartoonist and “Godfather of Gay Comics,” by Howard Cruse. Whereas Cruse focuses on Toland Polk’s account of life in the American South during the Kennedy Presidency and civil rights movement of the 1960s as “Kennedytime,” the characters in Kampilan’s komik attempts to render our experience of time as one by bridging both Philippine geologic time and Philippine historical time in the early decades of the twenty-first century. This sense of fluidity with how time is experienced coincides with exploring and challenging fixed notions of what it means to come out and come of age, and how collective and individual history often bleeds into or influences one another, fostering awareness for struggles and experiences often different from one’s own.

Using Scott McCloud’s structuralist approach in understanding comics and informed by theoretical thought on the queer bildungsroman and the bildungsroman in comics or graphic narratives, the study aims to show how these are comics of narrative accounts of microresistance or counternarratives where its queer characters can possibly reclaim their place in the grander narratives of collective histories that at times selectively seeks to overlook and ignore them.

Karina Pe Benito (she/her) is a graduate student of Comparative Literature at the University of the Philippines Diliman. As of this writing, she is writing her thesis on the longform comics of artists like Alison Bechdel and Meags Fitzgerald among many others, and the alternative comics cultures that might have shaped these artists, from the Philippines to Japan, Canada, and the United States.


“The Cries of Grannies Ring through the Air”: Memory and/as Resistance in Keum Suk Gendry-Kim’s Grass

Amrutha Mohan

Keum Suk Gendry-Kim’s Grass (translated by Janet Hong, 2019) recounts the harrowing experiences of Lee Ok-Sun, who at a very young age was coerced into sexual slavery for the Japanese Imperial Army, during the Second World War. The graphic life narrative not only documents Ok-Sun’s personal history of suffering but also bears witness to the collective experiences of violation and trauma. It revisits the atrocities of war and evokes the plight of many Korean women who were forced to experience militarized sexual brutality. By sharing her traumatic memories with the next generation, Ok- Sun transgresses the normative temporalities, so as to combat the potential effacement of their appalling experiences from public consciousness. The preservation of the past and its reconstruction itself asserts the spirit of resistance. Ok-Sun is not just a victim and witness; she survived the adversities, reclaimed her voice and seeks reparation for the historical injustices inflicted by the regime. By borrowing extensively from theorisations of memory and post memory, I argue that the graphic narrative acts as a site of remembrance and resistance. Through the effective use of visual-verbal tropes, the narrative emphasises the role of memory as a form of resistance against historical erasure and forgetting. The paper also investigates on how comics as a medium are ideally suited for the representation of resistance. By placing the graphic narrative in the broader theoretical framework of memory and resistance, the paper strives to raise pertinent questions regarding human rights, witnessing and the politics of testimony.

Amrutha Mohan is a PhD Scholar at the Department of English, S.N. College (Research Centre), University of Kerala, India. Her doctoral project engages with memory and trauma in comics. She has completed her BA and MA in English language and literature from University of Kerala and has passed the UGC National Eligibility Test (NET) for lectureship. She has presented her research papers in many national and international conferences. Her broader research interests include comics studies, spatiality, memory, trauma and affect studies.


FRIDAY 23 JUNE 2023 9.30am-11.00am BST | Chair: Cailee Davis

Mapping Resistance in Contemporary Greece:  From Critical Vocabularies to Contemporary Cityscapes

Kristina Gedgaudaitė

Content warning: The paper addresses the issue of racist violence.

A Time of Crisis, regardless of duration or scale, is a transformative epoch where things feel different, lives take on strange and unexpected trajectories, folds and loops”, writes anthropologist Daniel Knight in Vertiginous Lives, an ethnography of contemporary Greece at the time of ongoing, multiple, interlacing crises. This paper will discuss two case studies of comics that offered resistance to these crises and opportunities for alternative visions of futurity to emerge, capable of accommodating the disorientations of the time of crisis as well as exposing tensions and contradictions that lie within it. The first example comes from the newspaper comics strip The Crisis Vocabulary (‘To Lexiko tis krisis’), which is discussed as indicative of the need to find new critical vocabulary and as a means that comics can offer for doing so. The second example is a collaborative project The Black Map of Athens – X them out (‘Val’ tous X’), an initiative that brought comics artists and cartoonists together to map and speak out against the attacks across the city of Athens committed by the criminal organisation Golden Dawn. This initiative – in a form of an exhibition, a book and a digital platform – is examined as a case of comics activism that reconfigures the memory of cityscapes as a site for social critique. Through these two case studies, I will examine comics as a way of thinking that can open alternative visions of futurity at the seeming impasses of contemporary crises.

Kristina Gedgaudaitė is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie postdoctoral fellow at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis, University of Amsterdam and the author of ‘Memories of Asia Minor in Contemporary Greek Culture: An Itinerary’ (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021). Kristina’s research interests lie in the fields of contemporary culture across media, cultural memory, migration, comics and graphic novels. Her current project examines Greek comics and graphic novels as a site of artistic innovation and social critique.


Defiance and Constraint: Caricature as Resistance in Jewish Anti-Racist Comics

Jamie Michaels

Content warning: antisemitism.

Caricature is an inextricable feature of comics. However, its usage is often underappreciated. A rigorous understanding of this device offers insights into its practice, as well as its potential limitations. In his discussion of caricature, McCloud uses the term “icon” to indicate “any image used to represent a person, place, thing or idea” while cautioning, “as resemblance varies, so does the level of iconic content.” The more an image is replicated the more potential it has to become identified as an iconic signifier. In comics, caricature and stereotype are ubiquitous because recurring distinctive features are by their very nature visually identifiable. The amount an image is repeated (inside or outside of a comic) is indicative of the dominance of a stereotype. Jewish comics occupy an intriguing intersection in the conversation on the use of caricature. These comics exist in a cultural landscape influenced by millennia of racist anti-Jewish stereotypes. Creators such as Will Eisner, Art Spiegelman, and Horst Rosenthal all make use of the comics form to resist anti-Jewish racism. Yet, their works—rife with stereotype—remain beholden to working constrictions of the form. This paper will unpack how Jewish comics wrestle with the conventions of stereotype, both employing it, as well as drawing attention to, and resisting conventional understandings of its use. Through unpacking how Jewish comics creators grapple with this tension we can better understand what insights their practice might hold for both creators of anti-racist comics, as well as comics studies as a discipline.

Jamie Michaels is a writer, educator, and filmmaker from Winnipeg. He researches the potential of historically informed graphic novels to generate social change as a SSHRC Bombardier Doctoral Fellow, Eyes High Doctoral Scholar, Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Scholar, and Killam Laureate at the University of Calgary.


Sights/Sites of protest: Visualizing people’s movement in a graphic narrative

Amrita Singh

This paper argues that contemporary graphic life narratives circulate as “soft weapons”, a term borrowed from Gillian Whitlock as a useful paradigm to understand life narration as both co-optable as well as an act of cultural translation. The graphic medium may be weaponized to intervene in contemporary cultures by probing how individual and community identities negotiate global and local affiliations, often finding innovative ways of social and cultural representation. Ita Mehrotra’s Shaheen Bagh: A Graphic Recollection (2021) is a graphic life narrative that draws aesthetic and political solidarity, as it views and recollects one of the biggest people’s movement in contemporary India. The anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests in the Muslim ghetto of Shaheen Bagh in New Delhi in 2019–20 was a citizen’s movement driven by ordinary Muslim women. By revisiting the site of protest, especially when it has been erased in a bid to remove it from public memory, Mehrotra’s book importantly memorializes the site and the movement. The paper focuses on the collision between site/sight/cite in the text, especially as it is a negotiation between the “I” and the “eye”, opening up the broad space for speculation between nature of self-writing and historical documentation. As an act of graphic witnessing, Mehrotra’s personal reflection on the movement intersects with the documentary mode. The graphiation disrupts objectivity and claims to a “reality” (such as that captured in photographs of the same site). In the “double visualization” of the movement the text makes it visible and recreates many of the iconic visuals from the protest site. The paper also evaluates the nature of the gaze – of the artist, witness and reader – especially to represent women and/in/on the protest site.

Amrita Singh is a PhD Scholar at the Department of English, University of Delhi. Her areas of research include graphic narratives, life writing, rethinking culture and power, and English language teaching. She has presented in international conferences and published articles and book chapters in these areas. She has been teaching literature for more than a decade and is currently an Assistant Professor in the English department at Kamala Nehru College, University of Delhi. She also writes and edits short stories.


FRIDAY 11.30am-1.00pm BST | Chair: Alexandra Lloyd

“For the People”: Mzwakhe’s (Muziwakhe Nhlabatsi) contribution to the comic Down Second Avenue

Jacqueline Deirdre Pretorius

Content warning: Racism, apartheid.

The South African Committee for Higher Education (SACHED) operated as an important and impactful educational NGO in apartheid South Africa by providing alternative education positioned in deliberate opposition to the apartheid state run education (Aitchison 2003:133). SACHED published educational publications, including the monthly Upbeat magazine aimed at school children, which included comic strips (Mason 2010:105). From 1979 to 1981, and again from 1986 to 1993, the organisation appointed the Sowetan-born and raised graphic artist Muziwakhe Nhlabatsi (1954) to, inter alia, create educational graphics and comics. During 1981 the artist, who signed his work “Mzwakhe”, created a serialised monthly comic strip for Upbeat, titled Down Second Avenue (figure 1), which was compiled into a comic book in 1988 and published as the first title in SACHED’s People’s College Comics series (Mason 2010:105). The comic was based on esteemed South African writer Es’kia Mphahlele’s autobiography written in exile and published in 1959. Mphahlele’s autobiography has been extensively studied, including as “a means of illustrating in minute detail aspects of resistance and the forging of alternative, counter-hegemonic identities” through autobiography (Raditlhalo 2015:16). The comic book, however, has received less attention, and existing studies on it appear not to have drawn on interviews with the artist. Astonishingly, the studies by Trimbur (2009) and Schauer Young (2010), do not even acknowledge Nhlabatsi by name. The proposed paper will offer an analysis of Nhlabatsi’s contribution to the comic Down Second Avenue based on interviews with the artist, archival research and an analysis of the comic.

Jacqueline Deirdre Pretorius: I am an Associate Professor at the University of Johannesburg and currently Iecture Design Studies on undergraduate level and supervise postgraduate students in the Honours Design, MA Design and PhD (Art and Design) programmes. My research focus is on contemporary and historical graphic design and visual culture in South(ern) Africa with a focus on resistance graphics. I have published in academic journals, presented at conferences and contributed a book chapter on topics including the South African Communist Party’s propaganda, Second World War posters and resistance posters from the 1980s.


Rediscovering lost voices of South African resistance through graphic history

Richard Conyngham

From academic journal articles to bookshop tomes, there is no shortage of written history in the world today – but who are its intended readers? By relying so heavily on text alone, historians have shown a lack of imagination in their methodology, potentially excluding millions from knowledge that concerns and belongs to all of us. For this reason, when Richard Conyngham discovered a collection of previously untold stories of resistance and rebellion in the dusty archive of an old South African court, he decided to bring them to life through a combination of illustrations and words. In his book All Rise, he collaborated with seven South African artists to transform turgid, opaque legal records into colourful, character-driven narratives. Drawing on this seven-year journey of discovery and revival, he reflects on the power of the graphic medium to stretch the boundaries of research and historical enquiry, aid the project of decolonisation, and promote a far more inclusive conversation about the meaning and importance of resistance. He also challenges a longheld stigma endured by proponents of the graphic genre globally – that as an educational medium it lacks rigour and seriousness – arguing that a creative shaking-up of historical storytelling is long overdue, and that the key to entrenching and disseminating the lessons of the past lies in a marriage of images and words.  

Richard Conyngham is the author of the graphic history ‘All Rise: Resistance and Rebellion in South Africa – 1910-1948’ (Jacana Media / Catalyst Press: 2022). South African born and raised, but currently based in Mexico, he is a writer and educator who has presented his work on numerous platforms, from the Bergen LitFest and Berlin’s International Federation for Public History to the Interference Archive (New York) and the 2022 Assembly on 

Literature for Adolescents (Los Angeles). 


Burrowing underground and untangling trauma: Two recent examples of Australian comic resistance

Danielle Terceiro

This paper paper will examine two recent Australian graphic novels: Underground: Marsupial Outlaws and Other Rebels of Australia’s War in Vietnam by Mirranda Burton (Allen & Unwin, 2021) and Still Alive: Notes from Australia’s Immigration Detention System by Safdar Ahmed (Twelve Panels Press, 2021). Underground narrates the stories of those who protested the forced conscription of Australian young men to fight in the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 1970s.  The “Marsupial Outlaw” is a burrowing wombat, and the text uses cultural scripts that Australians have run about their larrikin, nonconformist identity to depict the “underground” lives of conscription protestors. The text also foregrounds how creative output and painting in particular have been used to further political protest in Australia. Still Alive is a memoir by a comic artist that visited Villawood, an immigration detention facility in Sydney. It incorporates the art and stories of asylum seekers in detention. The text promotes the idea of comic art as a way of dealing with trauma, and the idea that comic art is an apt way to depict the abject “monster” status of asylum seekers that has resulted from their extreme social exclusion. The threads of many lives are narrated, and a common metaphor is that of the knotted-ness of trauma, and the need to untangle it. The paper will consider the multimodal metaphors at play in these graphic novels, and the conceptual blending that works in each to encode a unique understanding of resistance.

Danielle Terceiro is a PhD candidate at Alphacrucis University College (Sydney, Australia).  She is completing this PhD by publication, and considering how multimodal texts create meaning through the interaction of word and image. Her published work includes an article on graphic novels about WWI epidemics, an article on picture books about Frida Kahlo, and a chapter on graphic memoirs about pilgrimage. Her Masters’ thesis (Macquarie University) examined the depiction of felt experience in graphic memoirs.


FRIDAY 11.30am-1.00pm BST | Chair: Cailee Davis

The Poetics of Graphic Resistance in 'Bhimayana'

Rituparna Sengupta

How can individual acts of rebellion be grounded in collective resistance? How can collective modes of art-making (such as folk art) revitalise narratives of structural oppression? Can collaborations between the oppressor and oppressed yield truly fruitful and liberating (re)narrativisation of historical traumas? How can graphic accounts of discrimination and violence address the oppressor while resisting easy consumption and without compromising the dignity of the oppressed? These are questions raised by 'Bhimayana: Experiences of Untouchability' (Durgabai Vyam et al, Navayana, 2011)—a selective graphic (auto)biography of Dr B R Ambedkar, focussing on his life-long struggle against caste-based discrimination in colonial India.My paper seeks to study 'Bhimayana' for its many formal innovations that offer a new poetics of resistance in the graphic format. Foremost among these are the rejection of conventional panelisation and the conversion of the gutter from a blank space into a space filled with art, both of which work together to offer a radically different visual portrayal of social arrangement, subverting the centre-margins hierarchy. But what happens to closure here? How does 'Bhimayana' unsettle the usual spatial order of time in conventional comics (à la McCloud, 1994), and with what implications for the historical chronology and emotional intensity of recollections of injustice? How do the text’s many visual metaphors—stylised speech and thought balloons, the animation of the inanimate, the zoomorphism of humans, the setting of acts of human injustices against an expansive canvas of a lush, natural world— intensify the effects of spiritual isolation and resilience, psychological fragmentation and integration, that inform narratives of resistance? Ultimately, my investigation centres around the politics and poetics of the gaze that 'Bhimayana' elicits from its reader-viewers.

Rituparna Sengupta is Visiting Faculty of English at Ashoka University, Sonepat, India. She has a PhD in Literature from Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (2022). She researches and teaches literature, comics, cinema, and popular culture. Her scholarship on Indian graphic narratives has appeared as chapters in co-edited volumes. ‘This Side, That Side: Restoring Memory, Restorying Partition', co-authored with A P Payal, was published in Documenting Trauma in Comics, Palgrave, 2020 and 'Casting Caste through Graphic Narratives' in Trajectories of Popular Expression, Aakar Books, 2019. Her latest publication, on cinema, appears in ‘The Routledge Companion to Caste and Cinema in India’, 2023.


Resistant visuality in comics: Analysing depictions of workplace harassment in "Drawing Power: Women's Stories of Sexual Violence, Harassment, and Survival"

Deblina Rout

Content warning: Graphic representation of sexual harassment.

Sexism and sexual harassment at workplaces form one of the commonest yet insidiously concealed forms of gender-based violence affecting women worldwide. The critical act of representing it is being extended to various forms and mediums in the wake of the #MeToo movement, especially in mediums like comics, whose history is paradoxically based on the deflection as well as graphic expression of [mostly violent]sexuality. My paper attempts to read the graphic representation of workplace harassment in the American comics anthology Drawing Power (published in 2019 as a response to the #MeToo movement) as a new mode of feminist intervention that resists the culture of silence prevailing around sexual harassment through a visual-verbal mode. The focus on sexual abuse in comics and its valence as a medium for testimony is being representationally redefined by Drawing Power, where women are forging, in Leigh Gilmore’s terms, “testimonial networks,” by drawing their moment of vulnerability to reclaim power, exploring possibilities of social change. As women document their lived experiences of workplace harassment in different settings through these comics, they perform a creative model of resistance that breeds solidarity in deeply alienating contexts. I argue how this resistant visual reclamation of power through the comics medium is a disruption in the feminist literature on sexual abuse, both in terms of form and content.

Deblina Rout is a PhD Student at Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad, India. Her research focuses on contemporary graphic narratives from India. Apart from comics studies, her fields of interest include gender studies, graphic medicine, memory studies, and South Asian literature(s).


Arab Autographics: Cultural Memory, Historical Documentation, and Acts of Resistance in Contemporary Arab Autobiographical Comics

Hiyem Cheurfa

This article examines contemporary autobiographical comics from and about the Arab region as an emerging form of life writing that intersects documentation with graphic self-representation in its endeavour to transcribe and preserve personal and collective (national and regional) histories. Looking at a selection of texts form across the Arab world – namely Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt, and Tunisia – and in the diaspora, I argue that Arab autographics needs to be acknowledged, and theorized, as an independent and strongly emerging form of life writing. It provides a valuable literary form for artists to create alternative spaces of self-articulation, and thus to engage with longstanding issues of representation in the region. The scopes and potentials of visual self-representation enabled by graphic life writing, this article argues, allow authors to articulate and revisit transgenerational experiences and traumas of war in the region and render them visually. The form also offers a creative space for the negotiation of issues of cultural memory and national history and notions of identity and the homeland that have been central to postcolonial Arab literature in recent years. This article mainly explores the following points: the nuances in the visual-textual approaches of Arab autobiographical comics, the intentional use of the form as part of a larger cultural project of resistance and documentary literature(s), and the ethical position of the witness-readers towards the witness-authors and their texts.

Hiyem Cheurfa is an assistant professor in comparative literature and postcolonial studies based in Algeria. She received her PhD from the Department of English and Creative Writing at Lancaster University, UK, and she is an associate fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy. Her research interests include Arab(ic) literature and culture, autobiographical studies, and feminist/postcolonial comedy. She has published critical and academic works on Arab comedy, Palestinian diary, and graphic life-writing. Her first book Contemporary Arab Women’s Life Writing and the Politics of Resistance is forthcoming with Edinburgh University Press in March 2023.


FRIDAY 2pm-3.30pm BST | Chair: Alexandra Lloyd

Lu Xun, an icon of resistance: Modernist author turned revolutionary fighter?

Lena Henningsen

Lu Xun (1881-1936) is, allegedly, the father of modern Chinese literature. Opposing traditional Chinese culture and its contemporary remnants, Lu Xun’s massive literary output can be characterized as nuanced and ambivalent. A modernist writer and leftist intellectual, he was elevated posthumously by Mao Zedong as the prime model for art workers to emulate. Lu Xun was further immortalized as a revolutionary writer, as a revolutionary yielding his brush as a weapon against the enemies of the revolution. Chinese comics – lianhuanhua – are part of these propagandistic efforts: About 50 lianhuanhua adaptations of Lu Xun’s works and life were (re)published since 1949 and until today. At first glance, these adaptations into the medium of comic seem to purge Lu Xun’s texts of their ambivalence and thus to follow the official, but reductionist rhetoric contributing to the creation of Lu Xun as a revolutionary icon of resistance. After all, his texts were shortened, simplified or rewritten entirely to be remediated into comic. However, the interplay of words and images, the visual language(s) of Chinese lianhuanhua, and the underlying source texts seem to defy outright simplification. In this paper, I will therefore delve into close and distant readings of lianhuanhua adaptations of Lu Xun’s works and of his biography. Through this, I will argue that the icon Lu Xun and, with it, the genre of lianhuanhua, are resisting a reductionist view of Lu Xun as a revolutionary or activist of resistance. Instead, lianhuanhua adaptations bring back an ambivalent Lu Xun and his nuanced literature.

Lena Henningsen is the PI of the Freiburg based ERC funded project “The Politics of Reading in the People’s Republic of China” and currently a visiting researcher at the China Center, Oxford. She has worked on Chinese popular literature and culture and published widely, including her most recent book Cultural Revolution Manuscripts: Unofficial Entertainment Fiction from 1970s China (2021) and translations of a number of Chinese lianhuanhua comics ( From 2024-2029, she will be continuing her research into Chinese comics with another ERC funded grant: Comics Culture in the People’s Republic of China (ChinaComx).


John King and the aesthetics of historying decolonial resistance through comics

Kremena Dimitrova

“How do we represent those who cannot be written about but whom we know were present?” (Bressey, 2013). This interdisciplinary comics-based PhD responds to the wider debates, interventions, and renewed attention concerning the decolonisation of museums which have risen in popularity. It explores creative techniques that can produce a rethinking of the dynamics of power that have left very little space for the unrepresented, underrepresented, and misrepresented enslaved ‘other’ (Aldrich, 2010; Cubitt, 2012; Dresser & Hann, 2013; Giblin, et al., 2019; Drayton, 2019). I examine the affordances of comics’ cartographies, that is the conceptual as well as functional commixing of comics with mapping (Moore, 2009; Peterle, 2021), as an active way of learning about colonialism beyond the boundaries of the bound comics’ pages, in time and space. Using both walking and drawing to follow in the footsteps of John King, an enslaved boy who during the eighteenth century ran away from what is now Benjamin Franklin House, London, to Suffolk, this research maps the conceptualisation and deployment of a comics-based methodology as a contemporary form of decolonial resistance. In so doing, I adopt a postmodernist attitude by using comics as a means of experimenting with what Alun Munslow (2020) calls the aesthetics of historying, namely, the fabricated, factitious, factional, factious, factitive, factive, factualist, fictitious, fictive, and figurative, as a way of representing John King. These concepts construct the(ir) unique connection(s) between the past and history thus allowing John King to exist through different historioGRAPHIC creations in the present.

Kremena Dimitrova is an illustrator-as-historian, lecturer in Visual Culture, and practice-based PhD researcher in decolonising history through comics at the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom. She specialises in socially engaged and site-specific creative interventions and visual storytelling in the heritage sector with a focus on unearthing hidden and marginalised narratives. Kremena has chaired and presented at many international conferences. She is currently publishing two sections from her PhD with Routledge (2023) and Intellect (2024) and another section from her PhD with Cambridge Scholars Publishing (2023), a book which Kremena is also co-editing.


Ius Talionis. The Romani Genocide and Resistance in American Comics of the Cold War Period

Johannes Valentin Korff

In this paper, I explore the Romani genocide and resistance in American comics of the cold war period. It is a part of a chapter from my Ph.D. thesis on the “Gypsy” stigma in global comics, animated films, and games since 1945. Researchers claim that neither the national socialist genocide against Sinti and Roma nor the victims' struggle had been a visible topic in fiction until the 1980s. The claim is reconsidered in the context of comics, contributing to memory culture. For this purpose, I examine cases that were published before 1980. It becomes evident that prominent comics displayed the national socialist persecution of Sinti and Roma. The display contained rebellious notions: villainous Nazis being killed by members of the minority. While Romani resistors did exist during the second world war, the comics didn’t refer to their actual historicity. Instead, the authors created mysterious fantasies, horror stories where the murdered victims take revenge post-mortem. These fantasies were represented by the principle of retaliation, “eye for an eye”. Asserting the idea of inherently revengeful Romani, the portrayal derived from the premodern stigma of “Gypsy law”. I conclude that the interest in the persecution had no impact on the fantastic “Gypsy” stigma and its nuance of resistance in American comics of the cold war period. Accordingly, the increasing public awareness of the genocide since the 1980s was not deconstructing the stigma on its own.

Johannes Valentin Korff is a historian and Ph.D. student at the University College London. From 2017 to 2022 he was research associate at the Research Centre on Antigypsyism in Heidelberg, Germany. To achieve impact in political activism and education on antigypsyism in popular culture, Korff conducted commissioned contract research for the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma in 2020 and was a speaker for the Rom e. V. and the Goethe Institute in 2022.


FRIDAY 2pm-3.30pm BST | Chair: Carolin Gluchowski

The Utility of ‘Hinglish’ in Indian Comics

Varsha Singh

A growing linguistic phenomenon in the Indian subcontinent, ‘Hinglish’, as the portmanteau word suggests, is a mix of the two languages it spells: Hindi and English. Considering that the first comic books in India were perfect ‘vernacular’, low-priced copies of American comics, it would not be difficult to hazard a guess why English language comics are still ‘out there’. Indian comics in the English language, even with their restricted readership in the urban elite, acquired for themselves a bandwagon effect: they became signifiers of acquiring ‘taste’ and ‘class’. Tej Bhatia’s research on the translation of Superhero comics in Indian languages came across an interesting question: If Superman is all powerful and did what he wanted how come he did not speak Hindi? The question is culturally loaded. Unlike in the American culture scenario, where comics were symbols of sub-culture radicalism, India’s reception of comics was flavored with a naïve understanding of the genre as introducing literacy. Within this context, the present article seeks to assess the cultural and commodity-function of ‘Hinglish’ in Indian comics. It argues that the use of Hinglish provides an immersive context to a native reader, making the reading experience more ‘local’, while at the same time inviting the foreign reader to familiarize with new ideas and concepts, keeping the ‘authentic’ intact. The use of Indianized diction and syntax (what the author posits as ‘Indlish’), allows the creater/artist a greater translanguage freedom. More importantly, it acts as a lingua resistancia to a largely Anglophone world of comics production and hegemony.

Varsha Singh formerly served as Assistant Professor of English Literature at the Indian Institute of Technology, Jammu, Jammu and Kashmir, India.She was awarded her PhD in English from IIT Kanpur, in the year 2017. Her MA and BA are from Jadavpur University and Presidency College (CU), respectively. Her teaching and research interests include Image Studies, Popular representations of Indian epics, Cultural translation and Literary Theory. Her Articles appear in the JGNC, The Journal of Commonwealth Literature (Sage), The International Journal of Comics, and the Sahitya Akademi. She has co-edited a Special Issue of The Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics along with Dr Emma Dawson Varughese. Currently based in the UK, she is researching independently on the contribution of graphic narratives to global literature.


Mediation as Resistance in Mizuki Shigeru's History of the Shōwa

Patrick Gwillim-Thomas

Content warning: War imagery and protests in a cartoonish style.

Mizuki Shigeru’s komikku shōwashi (Showa: A History of Japan) describes the author’s life during the Shōwa era of Japanese history (1926-89). While the text’s treatment of Shigeru’s wartime experience has been covered, less attention has been paid to the volumes covering the post-war Shōwa period. In this paper, I focus on those final three volumes of the shōwashi to answer two questions: How do the comic form and narrative resist a dominant version of Shōwa history? And how does Shigeru conceive of his agency within that history? The answer to the first question shall be, firstly, that Shigeru's inert use of mass media photography undercuts a unified national history, and secondly, that his critiques of Shōwa modernity in entirety contradict dominant narratives of a post-war redemption. Regarding the second question, I show that much of the comic’s structure separates autobiographical acts from historical events, paralleling Shigeru’s economic and ideological alienation from Japan. Thus, I locate Shigeru’s agency in his role as a medium for yōkai (spirits) beyond the personal. Overall, we shall see that these yōkai take on multiple roles to resist dominant history in Shigeru's shōwashi, and that their successful summoning contrasts with modern photography’s failure to mediate throughout the text.

Patrick Gwillim-Thomas is an academic researching media and technology in modern Japan. He is currently studying for a master’s in digital media at Goldsmiths College, University of London and holds a BA in Japanese & Korean from the University of Oxford. His other publications include an article for Mechademia Second Arc’s 2.5D Cultures edition on the different platforms in Virtual YouTuber live performances. In the future, he will be continuing his study at the UChicago PhD in East Asian Studies.


“Deer Woman”: Indigenous Sexual Violence, Resilience, and Resistance

Melanie Proulx

Content warning: My paper discusses violence against Indigenous peoples as well as sexual violence.

Comics have a long history of catering to male audience, from the overt sexualization to “fridging” of women. Fridging in comics refers to the victimization of women as plot devices for male characters. The terms was coined by Gail Simone and refers to how Green Lantern’s girlfriend was murdered and stuffed into a refrigerator in the 54th issue of the Green Lantern comic series. To this day, many comics still cater to a straight, white male audience and fetishize violence against women. Perhaps one of the most evident and horrifying examples is Neil Gaiman’s portrait of Calliope in the Sandman series. Thankfully, some comics are shifting their assumed audience and changing the representation of sexual violence. For instance, the Indigenous comic anthology Deer Woman was created to “work toward disrupting the hegemonic [colonial] narrative and give Native women hope”. It shares true stories of sexual/colonial violence, trauma, and resistance. As a result, the work resonates with “Native and non-Native women alike”. Using an interdisciplinary lens combining trauma, comics, and embodiment scholarship, this presentation will demonstrate how Deer Woman accommodates a survivor audience by applying distancing narrative features, a term I use to describe visual aesthetics or aspects of narrative that provide readers with emotional distance, to lower the risk of causing psychological distress to survivors. Deer Woman resists dominant patriarchal narratives of sexual violence by sharing testimonies of violence from and for survivors.

Melanie Proulx is an FRQSC-funded Ph.D. candidate in cultural studies at Queen’s University. In addition to several academic publications, Melanie has also published creative works including a picture book about consent, ‘The Bum Drum Conundrum’; a short story published in the literary magazine Montreal Writes, “My Frankenstein”; and multiple comics. She is currently working on a graphic memoir based on her doctoral research and her experiences as a rape survivor.


FRIDAY 3.45pm – 5.15pm BST | Chair: Alexandra Lloyd

The Gift Economy of Comics: How Comics Resisted the Categories Librarians Knew

Joe Sutliff Sanders

In the mid-twentieth century, US librarians joined with most cultural gatekeepers to decry the influence of comic books on young people, locking comics out of libraries. In the 1970s and 1980s, however, a few librarians tentatively began to suggest that comics might have a place in libraries, especially libraries for young people. They found to their shock that the notion that comics had no cultural legitimacy had largely passed, that parents were in general highly supportive of seeing comic books in libraries for children. However, as librarians began to consult with one another about how to purchase, receive, catalogue, display, and circulate comic books, they found that comics themselves resisted the categorizations on which professional librarianship relied. Librarians eager to shelve comics had to find alternative ways of funding their purchases, processing the comics once they arrived so as to avoid indirect staff costs, cataloguing comics despite a decades-long policy of excluding comics from cataloguing protocols, and, most intriguingly, circulating comics within a traditional library model despite the resistance of child readers, who had their own ideas about how comics should circulate. This paper will therefore explore how librarians at this key stage in the history of comics and libraries anticipated resistance from patrons and did not find it. Instead, they found resistance in how to make comics and comics fans fit into the structures on which libraries had long insisted.

Joe Sutliff Sanders is a specialist in children’s media in the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge. He is currently working on a monograph about comics in US libraries from the mid-twentieth century to 2005. His most recent book is a study of ‘Batman: The Animated Series’.


Imagining Alternative Futures: The Comics Gutter as a Space of Resistance

Orla Lehane

Many approaches to thinking about and planning for the future are based on the assumption that the future is pre-existing or pre-given, ‘that there already is a future to be discovered and told, (Adams and Groves, 2007: 6). The need to harness and boost the imagination to find transformative pathways that offer new ways of thinking about and acting on possible and alternative futures has been identified (Galfassi et al, 2018). This research argues that the comics form, in particular the ability to experiment with time and space on the page (Chute, 2022: xv) and the use of the gutter, offers a unique space through which the reader can construct meanings in different ways. Pintor Iranzo (Comics Forum, 2021) highlights the significance of how readers engage with comics:

‘Human beings have the ability to imagine and at the same time resist using their imagination, which is central to comics reading: when reading a comic, there is a threshold to pass, as we enter a liminal zone thanks to our imagination … the medium relies on our ability to imagine things that are not shown.’

Located in the broader area of ‘Literary Futures,’ a method for harnessing creative practices, including literature and literary analysis to facilitate futures thinking, this paper, drawing on specific examples, explores how the comic book can offer significant insights into thinking about, imagining and constructing alternative worlds and alternative visions of the future, resisting futures approaches that favour the status quo.

Dr Orla Lehane is a postdoctoral researcher in the area of Creative Futures at the University of Galway. She is particularly interested in the role of storytelling – in a variety of forms – in fostering societal cohesion.


Resisting the Book. Building, Breaking and (Un)folding Comics

Enrique del Rey Cabero

Throughout their history, comics have changed their format and edition quality, from disposable to collectable objects. In the last two decades, comics are reaching cultural legitimacy thanks to the so-called “graphic novel”, the ultimate conquest of the book format. This sets, as well as a physical form, a monovectorised, lineal reading inherited from the way in which we traditionally read the book (codex), which Maasten, Stallybrass and Vickers call “narrative teleology”: “the book, as a technological form, is organized to be read from page 1 to page 2, from page 2 to page 3, and so on to the end of the book.” (1997: 2). However, authors are also increasingly breaking with the book format, including famous examples such as Chris Ware’s Building Stories (2012) and Joe Sacco’s The Great War: The First Day of the Battle of the Somme (2013). This paper will explore some of these works, particularly focusing on Éditions Polystyrène, a French publishing house which has shown a special interest in producing comics that involve readers in new ways through innovative devices, always taking into account the nature of comics as objects. How do these works resist the traditional book format and what do they imply for the discourse of comics? Are these just experiments in the fashion of the French collective Oubapo or will they have a role in the future of the medium?

Masten, J., Stallybrass, P. & Vickers, N. J. 1997. Introduction: Language Machines. In: J. Masten, P. Stallybrass & N. J. Vickers, eds. Language machines. Technologies of literary and cultural production. Londres: Routledge, pp. 1-14.

Groensteen, T. 2007. The System of Comics. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi.

Enrique del Rey Cabero is a Juan de la Cierva postdoctoral researcher at the University of Alcalá. He is the author of a book on experimental comics and book formats, (Des)montando el libro. Del comic multilineal al cómic objeto (2021) and co-author of How to Study Comics & Graphic Novels: A Graphic Introduction to Comics Studies (2021). He has also published on comics in journals such as The Comics Grid, Journal of Comics and Graphic Novels, Studies in Comics and CuCo. Cuadernos de Cómic.