"Be a Germ-Buster", Douglas College, Vancouver, Canada, June 2013. Photo by Ernesto Priego
We are pleased to be able to contribute to The New Everyday by curating this cluster collecting short articles that focus on how comics infiltrate cultural representations or situations that fall outside extensions of the page.
While comic books have certainly transgressed the page by moving onto digital platforms and other forms of communication media, they have also embedded themselves in our sense of history, the design of our digital interfaces, academic conversations, urban spaces, cultural discourses, and representations of personal hygiene.
Nevertheless, current comics scholarship seems adamant to take paradigms of print for granted, leaving other manifestations of comics iconography and “language” largely unexplored. We’re moving comics off the page, both by publishing a digital collection and by addressing the extensions of comics that do not necessarily link back to Gutenberg’s machine.
As an international, multidisciplinary, collaborative online project, featuring a diverse range of scholarly timbre, this cluster is an experiment in online comics scholarship that offers a different kind of output than what might normally be expected from journal articles. If comics are to move off the page, then this cluster actively resists such associations as it strives for a kind of liminal, fragmentary scholarship that suggests offerings in search of responses.
Douglas College, Vancouver, Canada, June 2013. Photo by Ernesto Priego
Architecture, design, sex, web browsers, current politics, celebrity magazines, fandom, cities and advertising: the articles in this cluster explore just a few examples of comics not as a fixed paradigm, but as multimodality itself.
The articles here are not definitive answers to a set of questions; they are the beginnings of a conversation, reflections occurring in a newly framed space, and instigations for open resistance, dissent, optimism, and exchange.
From the outset, we undertook the creation of this cluster as a rapid online publication project, and as such we did not impose editorial guidelines apart from requesting brief contributions that addressed its thematic scope.
"Rapid", however, is relative: the seed was planted during the Comics and the Multimodal World conference in Vancouver in June 2013, and work for this cluster started in early September 2013. Moreover, writing and editing for different online content management systems is a skill set on its own that requires and imposes its own working behavior and timeframe, which usually account for very long working hours during extended periods.
On the one hand there tends to be a bombastic rhetoric of the 'simple', 'immediate' and 'intuitive' nature of online technologies; on the other hand the are the negative, snobbish academic prejudices against blogging and other forms of online publishing as legitimate, citeable academic outputs. In reality, digital labour remains intensive, complex and specialised, requiring not only appropriate expertise but also heaps of patience, willingness to collaborate and understanding of the technical idiosyncracies of specific platforms.
Authors composed their contributions for the MediaCommons platform, and therefore worked directly on its content management system, facing different challenges that up to a certain extent also determined what kind of contribution was and was not possible.
To this end, the cluster reflects the limitations of taking comics off the page at the same time as it seeks to position the critical dialogue about comics outside prescribed, or established, limitations.
Ultimately, the cluster hopes to help position comics and the scholarship about comics within a 21st century academic dialogue, pushing the subject toward new situations, contexts, and definitions.
If nothing else, we wanted a digital cluster about comics to instigate conversations and arguments about not only the practice of comics scholarship, but the representative spaces in which those conversations and arguments might take place.
Like other clusters within MediaCommons, this cluster is meant to reflect digital scholarship in practice, or scholarship created with digital means meant to be read and cited with digital means.
This cluster about the multimodality of comics in everyday life is in itself an expression of the everyday constraints and opportunities posed by academic worklife in the 21st century.
Rock on you crazy diamonds,
David N. Wright
"Please", King's College Hospital, London, UK, November 2013. Photo by Ernesto Priego