I presented at the 2018 Network Detroit conference at Wayne State University. This was my first presentation in the region and in truth talking about my Florida themed work seemed a little odd. Not because it was not good work, but because as I move into this new position at MSU, I am seeking to vision projects that are rooted in my Michigan context. As I think about my DH work, I’m looking at frameworks that examine ideological links between people of color that can cross borders and capture ideology that unite the circumstances facing African-Americans. On the other hand, this work forced me to think about the structure and practice I used. I’m thankful for the great feedback I got from the participants.
Given my own experience, I'm supportive of the Department of English's effort to bring students from underrepresented groups into graduate study. As someone who served as a McNair Scholar, I understand how important an intentional program supporting students from non-traditional or first-generation households can be in creating success. Learn more about the MUSE program below.
I presented a paper at DragonCon 2018. Like the San Diego Comic-Con, DragonCon hosts an academic conference. The Comics and Popular Arts Conference (CPAC), not to be confused with Conservative Political Action Conference, allows scholars of popular culture and fans to interact. The official description is pretty good, "The Comics and Popular Arts Conference (CPAC) is an annual academic conference for the studies of comics and the popular arts, including science/speculative fiction and fantasy literature, film, and other media, comic books, manga, graphic novels, anime, gaming, etc. CPAC presentations are peer-reviewed, based in scholarly research."
For this presentation I wanted to follow up on an idea that I have not had the time to develop, mainly, I'm concerned with the construction of racial identity within the superhero structure. In particular the idea of an African-American liberatory vision versus a white vision in the structure of the Black Panther stories. My colleague Martin Lund has written extensively about racial identity in comics. His article on the Black Panther for The Comics Grid: A Journal of Comics Scholarship really highlights the Cold War politics underpinning the postcolonial imagery in Black Panther's 1966 appearance in the Fantastic Four. Hence my "Colonizer Scum" comment above. Ultimately, the idea of what a liberatory vision for the superhero must content with the discourse built within the superhero that emphasize the stabilization of a status quo with regressive norms for minority bodies.
I think the story of Image Comic is always mentioned in the context of the fantastic fanfare (and failure) linked to the emergence of the company in the early 1990s. I think we can't overestimate that moment. As this documentary hints at, the celebrity moment that was the emergence of Image Comic was also about a speculative bubble that defined the 1990s. While the creators that made the Golden Age (1938-1950) were unknown, the artists of the 1990s were stars. Oddly, the writers from this period were not as well known. It was a visual revolution at some level. Still, I think the idea of creators rights at the heart of the Image Comic remains an important part of the story. As you learn here, the legacy of the fortune loss shaped those creators in the 1990s. Check this short documentary out and read my interview with Chris Roberson to find out more about the debate about creator's rights in comics.
Christopher Priest is perhaps the most important comic book writer in the history of Black Panther after Jack Kirby. I say perhaps because it is not fair to ignore Don McGregor when talking about Black Panther in any circumstances. By his own admission, Priest built on the great premises created by McGregor. Still, as much as we laud him, he left comics for a time because he was dissatisfied with the racism in the industry. It is great to see his work recognized and him writing new comics. It does leap out at me that he is writing for DC at a moment when the character he help define has reached a cultural benchmark. #Interesting.