Friday, 8 April 2011

Comics! and a Tights and Tiaras update...

I'm still trying to find the time to write a substantial post - I have some things to say about Gene Wolfe's latest novel, Home Fires. Lately I've had very little free time, though - between working near-full-time, studying a coursework masters degree part-time, assisting with the organisation of a conference, writing conference papers, and so on. I do, however, have time for comics!

My wife and I ventured into the city today to check out a new comic store: All Star Comics. The place is gorgeous, with nice staff and a great range of comics and graphic novels. I had to seriously restrain myself while I was in there, but I ended up buying a few trade paperbacks and a few individual comics. I picked up Birds of Prey: Of Like Minds, the first Birds of Prey trade from Gail Simone's run, which has been recommended to me by various people. I was also excited to find Fables, Vol. 15: Rose Red — I don't care what anyone says, I love Fables, overdrawn Israel analogy and all. I think the characters are great, the art and covers are magnificent, and I love what Willingham does with classic fairy tale and fable characters and stories. I grabbed Dollhouse: Epitaphs and The Guild: Tink one-shots (for my Felicia Day fix, apparently), and I picked up issue #21 of the graphic novel adaptation of Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (by Boom Studios and Electric Shepherd Productions). I remembered reading about this issue of DADoES on Gabriel Mckee's SF Gospel blog - it's the issue in which Buster Friendly and His Friendly Friends do the exposé on Wilbur Mercer, which is central to the religious and philosophical storyline of the novel. Mckee also has a short essay at the end of the issue on the role of religion in the novel, which I'm really looking forward to reading.

Anyway, while we're on the topic of comics, I should mention that the conference my reading group is organising, Tights and Tiaras: Female Superheroes and Media Cultures, now has a conference website and a second, extended call for papers (see below). We have also announced our keynote speaker, Karen Healey, an author of young adult fiction who is writing her PhD on superhero comics and has been active in feminist comics criticism with her now-archived blog on, Girls Read Comics (And They're Pissed). If you're into comics and plan to be in Melbourne in August, then come along to the two-day conference!


12-13 August 2011
Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

In 2010, the 600th issue of Wonder Woman celebrated the Amazonian superhero’s longevity in print media. To mark the occasion, the issue reinvented the superhero’s iconic costume to make it less revealing, introducing dark trousers and a blue, starred jacket. This shift to more practical, less sexualised wear arguably reflects changing attitudes about gender and the growing female presence in the comics industry. Nonetheless, the change prompted some controversy online amongst fan communities, again highlighting the problematic history of the representation of women as powerful figures.

‘Tights and Tiaras: Female Superheroes and Media Cultures’ is a one and a half day interrogation of the construct of the ‘superhero’ as female and more generally of the representation of powerful female figures in fantasy and science fiction. Looking at a range of print and visual media, papers will explore the range of female characters in superhero narratives, the material history of the female superhero, and how visual and textual constructs of female heroes - and anti-heroes - have been re-imagined, re-invented and re-packaged over time.

Keynote Speaker: Karen Healey

Karen Healey is the writer of the popular archived feminist comics blog, Girls Read Comics (And They're Pissed). She is currently an acclaimed author of young adult fiction and is completing a dissertation on superhero comics as fan-created text at the University of Melbourne.

Possible topics include:
  • The representation of female superheroes in print and visual media – in comics, comix, graphic novels, novels, short stories, fan fiction, film, television, and other media forms
  • Distribution of narratives and images of female superheroes across multiple genres and media platforms
  • The female hero quest
  • Deconstructing the superhero trope – studies in feminism, patriotism, politics, race, satire, comedy, and so on
  • Constructs of the female supervillain
  • Superhero fashions, including costumes, cosplay and sartorial signifiers
  • Female collaboration in comics
  • Female comics artists: historical and contemporary
  • Female comics audiences and fan communities
  • Analysis of the institutional, commercial and licensing histories of female superhero properties
  • The construction of powerful women in fantasy and science fiction genres
Please submit abstracts of no more than 250 words, accompanied by a brief bio, by emailed attachment to The extended deadline for abstracts is 26 April, 2011.

Conference website:

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