Comics Scholarship

on the Net: A Brief Annotated Bibliography

There are huge numbers of websites devoted to comics. This listing indicates some key sites that take an academic perspective on comics.

Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics
Comics Forum website
This was established in 2009 as part of Leeds' annual sequential art festival Thought Bubble, which takes place at various venues across the city every November. Taking the festival's emphasis upon the educational value of comics as its starting point, Comics Forum aims to increase the visibility and accessibility of comics scholarship through an academic conference that brings together scholars, artists and fans in a spirit of mutual cooperation and development.
International Comic Arts Forum (ICAF)
One of the longest-lived and most respected annual conferences in Comics Studies
Comics Research Bibliography
This is an international bibliography of articles on comic books, comic strips, animation, caricature, cartoons, bandes dessinees, and related topics. The list incorporates newspaper and other articles on comics alongside more scholarly works. It consists of around 14,400 entries divided into four sections, arranged alphabetically by author. It also offers a number of lists on specific topics, including British Comics (which does have some gaps). Whilst patchy, it can, nonetheless, be a very useful starting point. The creators are also aware that there is much more material not yet included and welcome contributions.
Comics Research Libraries
The site introduction says that, "The libraries in this list all have some special collecting interest in the area of comics or cartoons. Many of the collections listed here fit into related but more general collections. Therefore, each entry begins by describing the part of each collection that makes it of special interest to comics researchers, and then, if appropriate a few words are given about the scope of the general collection at that institution". Again, the list is international, incorporating some of the key European collections.
Michigan State University Libraries Comic Art Collection
The Comic Art Collection holds over 150,000 items, predominantly consisting of comic books and nearly 1,000 books of collected newspaper comic strips. It also includes collections of comics from France, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Britain, Canada, Holland, Korea and Sweden and a specialist Latin American Comic Art Collection. Finally, it incorporates several thousand books and periodicals about comics, and a classified index is under construction. As with many of the listings on the Comics Research Libraries you will find that the site consists of their index of holdings rather than electronic access to those holdings. It is all very tantalising. If you are researching American comics in particular, and can afford to travel, this is the collection to physically visit.
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ComicsResearch.org featuring The Comics Scholarship Annotated Bibliographies
A gem. As the introduction says the bibliography "covers book-length works about comic books and comic strips, from 'fannish' histories to academic monographs. This site was designed to provide more information and guidance on such books than you'd normally find in a library catalogue entry. The goal for each entry is to include the book's Table of Contents as well as (if applicable) a list of comics works reprinted in it (and their sources, sometimes undocumented), other general notes on content and organization, ISBN numbers, and reviews - either included on these pages (*R*), listed from print sources (*P*), or linked to from on-line sources (*O*). Books in any language, about comics from any country, are included". This really helps to take wondering if a book may be useful on title alone out of the equation. However, it isn't the only use of this site, which has an extensive list of links included in the bibliography. Further, it has a selection of links through the Other Links section, mostly to popular sites dealing with specific creators, genres, publishers and national schools, and one to the contents pages of the International Journal of Comic Art, a key periodical in the field. It has not been updated for a while, but is still a hugely useful site.
Comics Scholars' Discussion List
This list offers an academic forum for those involved in research and teaching related to comics. It is possible to discuss all aspects of comics and cartooning and the list is open to theoretical and critical perspectives from all academic fields. As the list introduction says, "the list's common ground is its foundation in scholarship and its willingness to examine all the givens of comics form, history, fandom, etc. ...It is a place to debate theoretical and historical issues; course syllabi and assignments; call attention to potentially useful scholarship and other resources; and call for submissions for books, journals, and conferences. It is also a place to discuss job searches, pedagogy, library acquisitions, conferences, financial resources, and other institutional factors that affect comics scholarship". It also offers examples of online syllabi and links to other academic sites.
Online Essays on Comics
A bibliography which largely consists of scholarly essays about comics. As these are all online the bibliography offers direct links to the original work. Not been updated for several years, but gives a good coverage of the period it focuses on.
Comic Art and Comics Area of the Popular Culture Association
Here, key areas of interest are (in addition to the information on this conference, which has a major comics scholars presence) the Resources for Permissions in Publishing section and that on Comics Scholarship Citation Guidelines. Whilst it addresses the American situation with regard to copyright, the concerns and problems described are very similar to those in Britain. There are also links to resources on this issue.
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The British Library
These British Library links cover the British comics collection, incorporating both a key essay and a listing of holdings:
The following British Library links cover Zines, fanzines, alternative comics, and graphic novels held at the library:
European Comics on the Web
If trying to find information on specific European creators and titles, this is a useful site that attempts to gather both fan and other sites together.
Lambiek Comiclopedia
Another resource for materials on specific artists, offering brief biographies, contacts and, where available, websites that give further details.
The Grand Comics Database
An ambitious attempt to create an online catalogue including as many comic books from around the world as possible. The aim is to include "key story information, creator information, and other information which is useful to readers, fans, hobbyists, researchers". Most entries about specific comic books give contents information at the very least and some include scans of covers.
The British Cartoon Archive
Website of the Centre for the Study of Cartoons and Caricature established in 1973 at the University of Kent at Canterbury. The aim of the collection is to, "collect and preserve British cartoons of social and political comment, and make them freely available for study" and it contains a huge electronic archive of cartoons. It does not focus on comic books, but offers a superb resource in a related field.
Online Bibliography of Anime and Manga Research
is a very comprehensive listing of articles about manga and anime on the internet. Includes academic essays in a special section.
The Comic Art in Scholarly Writing: A Citation Guide
has not been updated for a number of years, but is still helpful.
The Comics Chronicles and CBGXtra.com
offer information on sales and other statistics in relation to comics in the USA. The latter also offers useful data and forums.
Comics-Related Dissertations & Theses.
Whilst not an exhaustive list, this gives a flavour of who is working in the field and their main areas of interest. In addition it has links to other, similar, listings.
The IBDS (International Bande Dessinée Society)
is a forum for scholarly exchange on all aspects of the bande dessinée, or French-language comic strip. It welcomes all critical approaches, be they historical, sociological, political, literary, linguistic or other.
The International Association of Word and Image Studies / Association Internationale pour l'Etude des Rapports entre Texte et Image (IAWIS/AIERTI)
seeks to foster the study of Word and Image relations in a general cultural context and especially in the arts in the broadest sense.
Anime Research
Anime, manga and Japanese popular culture research database, in the process of updating: follow @animeresearch on Twitter for news.
Scottish Word and Image Group.