Countdown to the Eisners: 2018 Nominees for Best Academic/Scholarly Work

Fanbase Press’ coverage of the 2018 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards continues with the “Countdown to the Eisners” series. From Monday, June 4, through Friday, July 13, 2018, Fanbase Press will highlight each of the Eisner Awards’ 31 nomination categories, providing comic book industry members and readers alike the opportunity to learn more about the nominees and their work. Stay tuned for Fanbase Press’ continued coverage of the Eisner Awards, including live coverage of the ceremony at San Diego Comic-Con on Friday, July 20.

Added to the Eisner Awards categories in 2012, the Best Academic/Scholarly Work category honors books that critically analyze the comics industry and seek to engage and expand on scholastic dialogue.

Here are the 2018 Eisner Award nominees for the Best Academic/Scholarly Work category:




The Comics of Charles Schulz: The Good Grief of Modern Life, edited by Jared Gardner and Ian Gordon (University Press of Mississippi)

The Comics of Charles Schulz collects new essays on the work of the creator of the immensely popular Peanuts comic strip. Despite Schulz’s celebrity, few scholarly books on his work and career have been published. This collection serves as a foundation for future study not only of Charles Schulz (1922-2000) but, more broadly, of the understudied medium of newspaper comics.

Schulz’s Peanuts ran for a half century, during which time he drew the strip and its characters to express keen observations on postwar American life and culture. As Peanuts’ popularity grew, Schulz had opportunities to shape the inconography, style, and philosophy of modern life in ways he never could have imagined when he began the strip in 1950. Edited by leading scholars Jared Gardner and Ian Gordon, this volume ranges over a spectrum of Schulz’s accomplishments and influence, touching on everything from cartoon aesthetics to the marketing of global fast food. Philosophy, ethics, and cultural history all come into play. Indeed, the book even highlights Snoopy’s global reach as American soft power.”

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Ethics in the Gutter: Empathy and Historical Fiction in Comics, by Kate Polak (Ohio State University Press)

Ethics in the Gutter: Empathy and Historical Fiction in Comics explores an often-overlooked genre of graphic narratives: those that fictionalize historical realities. While autographics, particularly those that place the memoirist in the context of larger cultural conversations, have been the objects of sustained study, fictional graphic narratives that—as Linda Hutcheon has put it—both 'enshrine and question' history are also an important area of study. By bringing narratology and psychological theory to bear on a range of graphic narratives, Kate Polak seeks to question how the form utilizes point of view and the gutter as ethical tools that shape the reader’s empathetic reactions to the content.

This book’s most important questions surround how we receive and interpret representations of history, considering the ways in which what we think we know about historical atrocities can be at odds with the convoluted circumstances surrounding violence. Beginning with a new look at Watchmen, and including examinations of such popular series as Scalped and Hellblazer, as well as Bayou and Deogratias, the book questions how graphic narratives create an alternative route by which to understand large-scale violence. Ethics in the Gutter explores how graphic narrative representations of violence can teach readers about the possibilities and limitations of empathy and ethics.”

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Latinx Superheroes in Mainstream Comics, by Frederick Luis Aldama (University of Arizona Press)

Latinx Superheroes in Mainstream Comics blasts open barriers with a swift kick. It explores deeply and systematically the storyworld spaces inhabited by brown superheroes in mainstream comic book storyworlds: print comic books, animation, TV, and film. It makes visible and lets loose the otherwise occluded and shackled. Leaving nothing to chance, it sheds light on how creators (authors, artists, animators, and directors) make storyworlds that feature Latinos/as, distinguishing between those that we can and should evaluate as well done and those we can and should evaluate as not well done.

The foremost expert on Latinx comics, Frederick Luis Aldama guides us through the full archive of all the Latinx superheros in comics since the 1940s. Aldama takes us where the superheroes live—the barrios, the hospitals, the school rooms, the farm fields—and he not only shows us a view to the Latinx content, sometimes deeply embedded, but also provokes critical inquiry into the way storytelling formats distill and reconstruct real Latinos/as.”

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Neon Visions: The Comics of Howard Chaykin, by Brannon Costello (LSU Press)

“In Neon Visions, Brannon Costello offers the first book-length critical evaluation of Chaykin’s work and confronts the blind spots in comics scholarship that consign this seminal artist to the margins. He argues that Chaykin’s contributions are often overlooked because his comics eschew any pretensions to serious literature. Instead, Chaykin’s work revels in the cliffhanger thrills of heroic-adventure genres and courts outrage with transgressive depictions of violence and sexuality. Examining Chaykin’s career from his early successes to compelling contemporary series such as City of Tomorrow, Dominic Fortune, and the controversial Black Kiss 2, Costello explores how this inventive body of work, through its evolving treatment of the theme of authenticity, incisively investigates popular culture’s capacity to foster or constrain individual identity and political agency.
 
Challenging prevailing assumptions about the types of comics deemed worthy of scholarly attention, Costello reveals that the work of an artist as distinctive as Howard Chaykin demands a nuanced reading—one that confronts his unique approach to the comics medium, his blending of autobiographical themes and genre trademarks, and his engagement with comic books as artifacts of consumer culture.”

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Picturing Childhood: Youth in Transnational Comics, edited by Mark Heimermann and Brittany Tullis (University of Texas Press)

“Comics and childhood have had a richly intertwined history for nearly a century. From Richard Outcault’s Yellow Kid, Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo, and Harold Gray’s Little Orphan Annie to Hergé’s Tintin (Belgium), José Escobar’s Zipi and Zape (Spain), and Wilhelm Busch’s Max and Moritz (Germany), iconic child characters have given both kids and adults not only hours of entertainment but also an important vehicle for exploring children’s lives and the sometimes challenging realities that surround them.

Bringing together comic studies and childhood studies, this pioneering collection of essays provides the first wide-ranging account of how children and childhood, as well as the larger cultural forces behind their representations, have been depicted in comics from the 1930s to the present. The authors address issues such as how comics reflect a spectrum of cultural values concerning children, sometimes even resisting dominant cultural constructions of childhood; how sensitive social issues, such as racial discrimination or the construction and enforcement of gender roles, can be explored in comics through the use of child characters; and the ways in which comics use children as metaphors for other issues or concerns. Specific topics discussed in the book include diversity and inclusiveness in Little Audrey comics of the 1950s and 1960s, the fetishization of adolescent girls in Japanese manga, the use of children to build national unity in Finnish wartime comics, and how the animal/child hybrids in Sweet Tooth act as a metaphor for commodification.”

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Stay tuned to the Fanbase Press website tomorrow as we continue our “Countdown to the Eisners” coverage! Plus, follow Fanbase Press’ Facebook, Twitter (@Fanbase_Press), and Instagram (@fanbasepress) with the hastag #FPSDCC to stay up to date on our SDCC and Eisner Awards updates, including a live-tweet of the 2018 Eisner Award Ceremony from the Hilton Bayfront Hotel at San Diego Comic-Con on the evening of Friday, July 20th.


Last modified on Wednesday, 11 July 2018 17:25

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