This Special Collection of The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship will focus on the global circulation of comics in digital forms, from webcomics to subscription services from traditional comics publishers. The Collection’s emphasis will be on the international, multi-lingual, multi-format, diverse nature of “comics”.
Comics have circulated in their original language and in translation since the inception of print: as a physical object, comics (including strips in newspapers) can travel across international borders with their readers, or they can be translated for publication in new locales. Recent technologies have made digital distribution possible, theoretically allowing for global access to comics published online anywhere in the world as well as the possibility of distributing translated versions within a proprietary system.
Translation is central to the global circulation of comics and comics as an art form are often experienced in translation (Evans 2017). While there is a growing body of work on the translation and circulation of comics (Zanettin 2008, Altenberg and Owen 2015, Mälzer 2015, Reyns-Chikuma and Tarif 2016; see overview in Zanettin 2020), little has yet addressed the new world of digital distribution and how this is affecting translation practices. Work on the digital distribution of comics (e.g. Priego 2010, Steirer 2014, Crucifix et al. 2017-19, Augureau et al. 2018) has tended not to address this at a global scale or to investigate how comics are distributed across languages.
Translation can be both official and unofficial: scanlation -- the fan translation (Evans 2020) of comics -- is a vibrant practice that has found a home online, but it is unclear how the shift towards digital publishing by legacy publishers such as Marvel and DC has changed the environment for the practice. Nor is it clear how extensively platforms such as Comixology have embraced translation and international distribution, as the French language site includes large quantities of untranslated, English language materials. Web comics as born digital objects may easily be distributed online, but there is less understanding of how they cross linguistic and cultural borders.
For this Special Collection, we are open for submissions that explore the intersections between the translation and distribution of comics, the latter understood in its most diverse, international sense, with a particular focus that goes beyond dominant themes that are over-represented in current scholarship. The Special Collection seeks original research articles that investigate the ways in which digital distribution has opened up, or closed down, access to comics produced globally. Are the old centres of the USA, France and Japan still central to comics production? Or has comics production been democratised and decentralised? How have different comics cultures adapted to and capitalised on digital distribution, and how are they reaching readers in other cultures (through translation)?
We are especially interested in the reception and translation of comics outside of the Anglosphere, which are typically overlooked, but also welcome work on American comics. We encourage research on the underrepresented areas of non-English language comics, LGBT+ comics, women’s comics and comics by people of colour. Contributions may use any relevant methodology to address the topic, but should follow the journal’s guidelines for submissions.
We call for submissions that are professionally written and presented, incorporating high-quality images that authors discuss directly and in detail. We will consider submissions from affiliated senior or early career scholars, practitioners and independent researchers, as long as they fit the journal’s call for papers, scope and editorial guidelines.
Deadline for first drafts: 30 June 2021
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